interviews

Holy P. AKA codegirlcode

Elyssa Macfarlane
Holy P. AKA codegirlcode

Very few people know this, but Holy is one of many reasons why I started teaching myself how to code a while back. I stumbled upon her Instagram account @codegirlcode, and immediately started following it because the content was interesting and before her, I hadn’t been exposed to many narratives from females working in developer positions.

While hustling as a freelancer, Holy is well known in the tech community for her advocacy and community work through social media. Not long after we connected on Instagram, she launched UNTOUCHD, a lifestyle magazine dedicated to showcasing the narratives of women inspired by, and working in, tech. From my perspective UNTOUCHD is the equivalent of Kinfolk for technical people. It is visually driven, well articulated, and has a strong focus on community. While there are plenty of discussions surrounding the issues of women in tech, there are few outlets that showcase these voices by intertwining both their personal and visual dialogues in the way that UNTOUCHD manages to.

I don’t only respect Holy for using her creative skills to fill a void in the market (I can’t think of any other outlet similar to UNTOUCHD), but for the attitude and kindness that she exerts in the relationships that she develops. She has always made time for me, despite the fact that she is juggling a great variety of projects and partnerships at the same time (including the launch of UNTOUCHD’s second issue and preparing to attend a conference with Richard Branson that Virgin had invited her to attend). For these reasons, I’m excited to showcase Holy’s story on Meditations on Tech’s launch today.

Interview:

Tell me a bit about yourself and how you ended up in the tech industry.

I’m Holy, the one girl army, founder and Editor-In-Chief of UNTOUCHD Magazine - A lifestyle magazine for women inspired by tech, and blogger behind CodeGirlCode! My journey into tech was a bit of a surprise. I used to be a vegan blogger, and one day I began to wonder how the wordpress theme i was using worked. I used my dear friend Google and simply asked “how to make wordpress theme?”, and from there I learned about “coding - HTML and CSS”, along with front-end and back-end development. That’s when I enrolled in General Assembly’s Front-End Web Development course, and the rest is history!

Can you tell me a bit about some of your favourite projects that you’ve worked on as a web developer?

While in my cohort, we built a few sites, and games which were fun. I think my favourite thus far has been the small iOS app i’ve built via Swift. I have been meaning to get back to it in order to add a few more features but haven’t found much time (blame UNTOUCHD). I am putting some pieces together on a learning software I want to build by end of year through UNTOUCHD - stay tuned. While I haven’t found much time these days to work on a full project (aside freelance gigs), I still remain connected with all things tech and follow a lot of dev accounts via Twitter.

You’re well known on Instagram for your advocacy and community work as @codegirlcode. How did this start and build a following to what it is today?

Ah, this is so kind of you! Honestly, I started my Instagram while in my cohort in July ‘15. I actually wasn’t going to create one which is the funny part. I had already closed my vegan food account, and wanted a detox, but alas! I started my account purely for myself, and to document my journey - a brand new one. Fast forward a few months, I realized that I wasn’t alone in my journey, and that there was a solid community behind this four cornered square, hehe! I want to continue to encourage women to get into tech, and have them know that it’s not a scary road. And this goes for men, too! I receive a lot of DM’s from men looking to get started into tech. There’s nothing like a strong woman voice!

You recently started a new project called UNTOUCHD magazine, a lifestyle magazine dedicated towards showcasing women inspired by tech. Can you tell me a bit about what inspired you to start this and where you hope to take it?

Ah, UNTOUCHD! Yes, it is my proudest project. My little sister inspired me to do it. One day while working on a client’s website, I found her on her laptop digging into Codecademy’s Hour of Code. I asked what she was doing, and she replied “I want to see why you are on your computer all day.” I laughed, but mostly out of surprise. She was halfway through, and loved what she was learning. She later decided to sign up for one of the intro to computer science classes at her middle school! I was even more shocked! And that’s when everything clicked! What if I create a publication that will inspire young girls and women into tech? I was tired of seeing so many men driven magazines on the shelf. I didn’t want to do your typical one, I wanted a clean and minimalistic feel but visually-driven. I want our readers to know that they belong in the world of tech - there are so many layers in technology! I want our readers to know that UNTOUCHD magazine is for them! I hope to take it far! We are launching our second issue on April 18th and will have a small shop, too! I hope to build an instructional platform through UNTOUCHD, and build a scholarship fund for young girls and women who are ready to take a on career change!

I know UNTOUCHD is still in its early days but what has been some of the meaningful feedback that you’ve received in response to its launch?

Wow, to be honest it’s been overwhelming positive! I couldn’t believe it! When you work on a project for six months, and finally release it for the world to see, you get scared. I was scared, I didn’t sleep the night of the launch, I even set an alarm just in case I didn’t make it for 9am. I was shocked at how positively it was received. A lot of our readers were able to relate to it, and a lot of have said it’s “the perfect balance we needed”. Our readers love how visually-driven the issue is, and I was happy to hear this! This was my goal! To make UNTOUCHD resourceful and minimalistic, but also clean, and inviting!

What has working on UNTOUCHD taught you about yourself and your career path?

Discipline! I wish I was kidding! But I oversee all details and production which means deadlines galore, emails left and right, brand partnerships, and meetings. I love it, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have also learned that I get more shit done under pressure, haha! Being your own boss is fun, yes! But remember, you are your own hustle! So everything falls on you…I don’t have just one client when it comes to UNTOUCHD, but thousands (and I love them all)! So whatever I do, - it projects my image! I love mentoring, and encouraging others to write their first line of code. I have also learned that I learn a lot quicker while teaching others. I love to research, and learn about new technologies on how they work to better explain others. I have been looking into Instructional Design/Technologist as my next path. This is what I love about the world of technology - there are so many layers!

Finally, what are some things you hope to see take place in the tech industry over the next few years?

I hope to see more unity. Tech is for everyone, let’s remember that! It’s also not a competition! I would love to see more companies work hand-in-hand as opposed to competing on who makes it better. I love seeing communities work together, and I hope that this model continues to grow and flourish to its full potential.

Holy is a Montreal native and currently resides in Atlanta.