little image I made for my Harlem Renaissance class. Portrait of Kendrick Lamar over a very powerful quote I found in the homework: “the negro is a poet by birth”
A Letter To Tristan Walker
Dear Tristan Walker,
To say you are a profound inspiration to me would be an understatement. I have spent hours researching you, your companies, CODE2040, and your past professional work. I have been overcome with pride watching your success.
To give you an idea of who I am, I want to share a very short story with you. When I was about 15, I was taking a walk with my father. He talked to me about how our barber shops were so unorganized, “our barber shops” referring to the Black predominately male barber shops in the city. It was painful to make an appointment, wait for one, then enter a place that did a poor job of professionally representing the great cultural history it embodied as a Black barbershop. He asked me if I thought I could make a system for our local barber shop where the barbers could log in and accept appointments online and better manage their schedule. He told me that if I could do it, he would help me present it to the barber. Perhaps this sort of system would also point our rather shabby barber shop in a more professional direction. Even though I had only worked with iWeb on my mid-2008 Macbook, I told my dad I could do it. From then on I spent almost every day designing the interface, finding an appointment scheduling plugin, and even talking to my uncle about how I should price my service. My father drove me to the barber shop, I walked in, binder presentation and all, and I pitched. The barbers couldn’t understand why I was doing this independently, or why I would even bother building a product and pitching it to them. They wondered why I wasn’t doing other things as a 15 year old kid, and sometimes I still wonder that myself. I couldn’t answer them, I just had to do it, it was my responsibility. After my pitch, the barber told me he would get back to me, but he never actually signed on. Even though I was upset with the rejection, after leaving the barber shop that day I began to fall deeply in love with entrepreneurship and product building.
Today, years later, I study Interaction Design at the Maryland Institute College of Art where I spend my time building digital products from start to finish. I identify problems my peers face and I pitch ideas to them. I form teams with friends, we assign each other roles, schedule production, distribute, and manage the product independently. I’ve built products both physical and digital for everything from teaching kids how to use color, to starting parties, and kicking your roommate out when you want private time. Watching you from my screen on the East Coast has inspired me to keep working, in hopes that one day my work will be recognized and I will be able to bring more users to my products and change the world. However, in my position, it’s difficult to find progressive summer programs that cut to the chase and provide young, self-motivated, entrepreneurs with what they need— authentic mentorship. I’ve done my share of typical internships in a cubical of a design firm, and it’s safe to say that I not only want more, but I, along with other students in my position need more than that. I want to learn the ropes of entrepreneurship and product directing with someone who will take me under their wing. I’m proud that my work has been featured by BuzzFeed, Al Jazeera, College Humor, and even regarded as “taking on the two giants of social media” on Technica.ly, but I still have a lot to learn. Whether it be as an intern at Walker and Co, a student entrepreneur in residence, or even your apprentice, my ambition is to learn, teach, and grow. I hope this letter opens the door for us to start a conversation.
If you are moved to do so, please reach out to me. I look forward to hearing from you.
never gets old :) // walkerandcompany.com
This guy is just killing it right now. GO TRISTAN WALKER!