Drinking Water 
From a Fire Hose

“Attending undergrad at MIT is like drinking water from a fire hose.”

This was a common saying on campus to describe life at my world famous alma mater. To continue the metaphor, I felt there were true blueprints for how you navigate in such a unique place — you’d simply need to find your own way through the experience. And I was blessed to find my way with the support of so many people in and out of the Institute.

 

Intellectually, MIT was the greatest challenge I’d ever faced. Socially, it was my first time navigating a predominantly White environment. And professionally, I constantly faced the question “what’s next?”. In a land filled with so many possibilities, my future seemed bright on some days yet so cloudy on other days. Slowly but surely I found my stride. I followed one curious thought after another, met amazing people, joined dynamic clubs and watched the pages turn in the storybook of my college experience.

Presenting my 2.007 robot design for MIT’s Tech TV. May 2009.

Presenting my 2.007 robot design for MIT’s Tech TV. May 2009.

The famous MIT dome, Killian Court. Shot on my Blackerry, Feb 2009.

The famous MIT dome, Killian Court

I don't remember the assignment but I remember the pain. October 2007.

Killian Court, MIT, Cambridge, MA. October 2009.

College awakened a sleeping giant inside that I could not ignore.

My 2.670 Robot Design. January 2009.

My 2.008 Injection Modeling Yo-Yo Design. October 2009.

MLT Career Prep 2010, MIT CoHort. October 2009.

Crowd at Summit 21, Atlanta, GA. June 2018.

Crowd at Summit 21, Atlanta, GA. June 2018

Cross Culture Ventures 2018 CoHort Photo Shoot in Los Angeles, CA. May 2018.

Cross Culture Ventures CoHort 2018

Elton Anderson, Jr. shooting Cross Culture Ventures in Los Angeles, CA. May 2018.

Elton Anderson Jr Photography May 2018

 I had to mature quickly at this early stage startup, becoming more decisive and growing comfortable with ambiguity.

The Bevel Shave System. Photo courtesy of Walker & Company Brands.

Prior to my tenure at Blavity I spent a little over 2 ½ years at Walker and Company Brands, a consumer goods start-up founded in Palo Alto, California.

It was founded by Tristan Walker, a prominent and charismatic tech industry leader that dreamed of elevating the health and beauty customer experience for people of color. The first brand launched in 2013 was Bevel, a haircare brand developing products for men with curly, coarse hair.

 

I became completely enamored with the mission of the company. The cultural vignettes Tristan and team created in the marketplace spoke directly to my experience as a Black man in America, and I felt his company would be a great place for me to follow my curiosity and examine the intersectionality of design and culture in my work.  I joined the team in 2015 as a UI/UX designer, moved to California in 2016 and quickly climbed the ranks to become Design Lead. I helped launch Bevel’s second product, the Bevel Trimmer, curated editorial content, designed eCommerce platforms, and launched the company’s second brand Form Beauty.

Walker and Company Brands Palo Alto Office

Walker & Company Brands Office, Palo Alto. April 2016.

Nas Bevel Trimmer

AfroTech Conference at the Palace of Fine Arts. November 2018.

August Greene speaking at AfroTech Conference, San Francisco, CA. November 2018.

August Greene speaking at AfroTech

Cuts at Spelhouse Homecoming, Atlanta, GA. Photo by Aundre Larrow. October 2016.

Bevel Trimmer Spelhouse Homecoming

Aundre Larrow and I in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Captured by Jeff Hodson. February 2016.

The better you serve your people, both inside and outside the organization, the better business outcomes you’ll see.

I’m incredibly proud to have co-authored a historic moment in Silicon Valley alongside some of the most brilliant minds, including Mari Sheibley, Aundre Larrow, Mir Anwar and Iyore Olaye. In December 2018 the company announced that it had merged with Procter & Gamble, and moved its base of operations to Atlanta, Georgia.

Nana Achempong in the office, Palo Alto, CA. July 2017.

Nana Achempong in the office, Palo Alto, CA. July 2017.

Form Beauty Bottle Design. July 2017.

Form Beauty Bottle Design. July 2017.
Joanne Hsieh Walker & Company
Khaaliq DeJan Walker & Company
Rachel Heaton Walker & Company
Romy Macasieb Walker & Company

"God Light" portrait series featuring Joanne Hsieh, Khaaliq DeJan, Rachel Heaton, and Romy Macasieb in Palo Alto, CA. March 2017.

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