087: Angela Goes to WordCamp US 2022

In this episode, Angela interviewed ten women in WordPress attending WordCamp US in San Diego, California. Connections made during this WordCamp with women in WordPress from around the world will lead to some very exciting episodes in the coming months. See the Show notes for names and contact information for each participant.

Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
087: Angela Goes to WordCamp US 2022
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Show Notes

Photo of Jessi GurrJessi Gurr

Start time: 1:00
Iceberg Web Design
https://www.icebergwebdesign.com
Anoka, MN

Jessi owns an agency in Anoka, Minnesota, and her team (“The Penguins”) are passionate about WordPress, marketing, and helping businesses grown. Jessi is very active in her local business community, and enjoys meeting and mentoring entrepreneurs in the WordPress space.

Jessi lives in Minnesota with her two young boys. When not wrangling penguins at Iceberg, cooking a vegan dinner, or pulling weeds from her vegetable garden, you can find her in the window seat of an airplane traveling to her next adventure.


Photo of Carol Stambaugh

Carol Stambaugh

Start time: 4:40
RadiateWP
http://radiatewp.com
Mesa, AZ

Carol has been creating websites for over 10 years, first as a freelancer and then as the co-owner of an agency. In addition to designing new sites, RadiateWP provides ongoing maintenance, support, and growth plans for clients using WordPress.

Prior to her work with WordPress, she was involved in the nonprofit sector with over 14 years of experience in executive roles. She has been volunteering with the WordPress community for over 10 years. She’s served on its organizing team every year since 2012 and leads the Arizona WordPress meetup group planning events and helping teach WordPress to the public.


Photo of Laura CoronadoLaura Coronado

Start time: 7:30
WebDevStudios
https://webdevstudios.com
Las Vegas, NV

With a love for all things marketing and communications, Laura Coronado manages the blogs, website content, and social media profiles for WebDevStudios and Pluginize as the Marketing Strategist. After work hours, Laura runs her own women’s lifestyle blog called Lollie Shopping and hosts a podcast about dating called There Are No Nice Guys.


Photo of Chris Ford speaking at a podiumChris Ford

Start time: 10:24
Creativity Included
http://creativityincluded.com
San Diego, CA

Chris is a traditionally trained graphic designer who graduated right before Webmonkey took off. She’s worked in industries from skateboarding to scrapbooking designing and developing websites. She developed some of the earliest Genesis child themes targeting women business owners. Since then she’s used her 20+ years of experience working on projects large and small into managing projects and project processes for both enterprise WordPress agencies and small dev/design shops who specialize in building WordPress sites.


Photo of Cami Kaos

Cami Kaos

Start time: 10:24
Automattic
https://camikaos.com
Portland, OR

Cami Kaos champions diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts in the talent division of Automattic, a company that she has successfully supported through a myriad of WordPress community-facing and internal-facing roles since 2013. For more than a decade she has consistently brought an empathetic and collaborative ethos to the WordPress community and its gatherings. Cami writes irregularly on camikaos.com, kaos.blog, and more consistently on Twitter or — if words somehow fail her — Instagram.


Photo of Beka RiceBeka Rice

Start time: 20:41
GoDaddy
https://godaddy.com
Pennsylvania

Beka is a Senior Director of Product Management at GoDaddy, where she builds WooCommerce experiences and platform APIs geared towards helping SMBs succeed.


Photo of Amber HindsAmber Hinds

Start time: 32:56
Equalize Digital
https://equalizedigital.com
Georgetown, TX

Amber Hinds is the CEO of Equalize Digital, Inc., a Certified B Corp specializing in WordPress accessibility, maker of the Accessibility Checker plugin, and lead organizer of the WordPress Accessibility Meetup and WP Accessibility Day conference.

Check out Amber’s past episode at:

053: Amber Hinds on the Value of Accessibility


Photo of Lydia RobertsLydia Roberts

Start time: 25:12
Lydia Roberts Design
https://lydiarobertsdesign.com
Las Vegas, NV

Lydia is a Las Vegas-based web designer and consultant serving businesses and organizations nationwide. With over a decade of experience on WordPress, she is a trusted website and email marketing specialist ready to help her clients thrive online. Lydia previously organized WordCamp Asheville in North Carolina before moving out west to pursue many outdoor adventures. She loves hiking and exploring new places, whether IRL or in the pages of a great book.
See examples of Lydia’s work at lydiarobertsdesign.com.”


Photo of Alison RothwellAlison Rothwell

Start time: 16:35
WP Fiddly Bits
https://wpfiddlybits.com

Alison owns a website care and maintenance business in the United Kingdom.


Photo of Nyasha GreenNyasha Green

Start Time: 36:55
MasterWP
Charlotte, NC

Nyasha is the Editorial Director of MasterWP and Software Developer with Howard Development and consulting. She mentors, codes, writes and loves to cook and travel.

Transcript

Announcer:

Welcome to Women in WP, a bimonthly podcast about women who blog, design, develop, and more in the WordPress community.

Angela Bowman:

Hi, this is Angela. I am here at WordCamp US 2022 at the Town and Country Resort in San Diego, California. I will be interviewing several women attending today’s WordCamp, which also continues tomorrow. So we are doing this, gosh, what’s the date, September 9th and 10th of 2022. I hope you enjoy this episode. It’s been a very rainy day, a little warm, cooling off. But overall just, wow, a lovely trip, beautiful beach weather, and just fabulous people. Lots of hugs and joy for this WordCamp to finally happen after three years. So enjoy today’s episode. Thanks.

Angela Bowman:

We are here today with Jessi Gurr from Iceberg Web Design. She is our first interviewee of the day for WordCamp US. Whoohoo. Jessi, so tell us, what are you doing at WordCamp? What brought you here?

Jessi Gurr:

What brought me here? The community ultimately, but I have been involved in the WordCamp scene since probably 2016, 2017. I’ve been to a number of WordCamps. I speak frequently at WordCamps. I’m just really excited to be back.

Angela Bowman:

Isn’t it amazing? What was your feeling coming back today when you got to see everyone?

Jessi Gurr:

Oh, originally, I was super nervous, just not knowing what to expect the first camp back that I’ve been to in a couple of years. We got in yesterday. I brought my head of production, Kari, with me. When I walked into the lobby door, I was immediately embraced in three hugs. So my feeling was pure joy, just seeing colleagues, seeing friends, that person-to-person interaction. It has been fantastic.

Angela Bowman:

It’s been a long time.

Jessi Gurr:

[inaudible 00:02:12] while, man.

Angela Bowman:

What do you do? What does your company do, Iceberg Web Design?

Jessi Gurr:

Iceberg as a full service website development agency. We have an in-house content writer. We do WordPress development, imagine that, everything from pretty straightforward marketing sites to full-featured e-commerce and membership sites. Then we also do digital marketing SEO as well.

Angela Bowman:

What is your role?

Jessi Gurr:

I am the CEO, so my role, my focus at Iceberg is to continue to create a company where people love to come to work. I’ve been removed from production for a couple of years. I’m really just focused on business growth and community.

Angela Bowman:

Were you ever a developer yourself?

Jessi Gurr:

I was.

Angela Bowman:

You were I was freelancing solo-

Jessi Gurr:

Yes.

Angela Bowman:

… and you made this transition?

Jessi Gurr:

Yeah. I started Iceberg in 2005.

Angela Bowman:

Wow.

Jessi Gurr:

It was just me for a while with the one-odd contractor, very similar to a lot of the agencies that we see represented here, a lot of the freelancers. In 2008, I started working more with longer-term contractors. 2015, I hired my first W2 employee as an assistant, and today we are a team of 11.

Angela Bowman:

That’s amazing. Do you like the change that’s made in your life personally?

Jessi Gurr:

Yes.

Angela Bowman:

Has it been a good thing? What’s the advantage of having a larger team?

Jessi Gurr:

Well, so for me, the reason I grew, to be honest, was burnout. I was working 40, 50, 60 hour weeks, and I just didn’t love the building of the websites anymore. To be able to train somebody else up to do that work has been super fulfilling, but moreover, I just love creating jobs. So to go to work, we actually are pretty, well, maybe not unique, but we have a physical office space-

Angela Bowman:

Wow.

Jessi Gurr:

… in downtown Anoka, Minnesota. Before 2020, we were all coming into the office every day. That feeling, just walking into a room and knowing that you have a bunch of people there that you’re providing for is pretty great.

Angela Bowman:

Wow.

Jessi Gurr:

So I love that. Today, we’re very hybrid. We have had people actually move out of the country, which is super exciting to see some of our long-term employees exploring the world.

Angela Bowman:

That is fabulous. Well, where can people find you online?

Jessi Gurr:

You can find us at icebergwebdesign.com. Just look for the penguins here at WordCamp.

Angela Bowman:

Yay. I’m here with Carol Stambaugh with RadiateWP from Phoenix, Arizona.

Carol Stambaugh:

Yay.

Angela Bowman:

You have an agency that does website maintenance services.

Carol Stambaugh:

We do.

Angela Bowman:

We were talking about the type of clients you service, so let’s continue that conversation.

Carol Stambaugh:

We do a lot of nonprofit and, I would say, maybe service and mission-based organizations. There’s a difference in the type of things that our clients care about. Whenever you’re a nonprofit, they care about a mission. The KPIs or their key performance indicators may not necessarily be about a profit. It may be more about how many people served or how many people met their goals because they’re nonprofit, and they have a mission. So those are the types of clients that we look to serve as mission-driven or smaller to medium-sized businesses that have that kind of personal bent on them.

Angela Bowman:

How long have you been using WordPress?

Carol Stambaugh:

Oh gosh, I think I first touched WordPress in 2009, so it’s been a while.

Angela Bowman:

Wow.

Carol Stambaugh:

It was a while ago. I have been actually working with WordPress as a business or using it in my business since about 2012.

Angela Bowman:

Wow. That’s huge.

Carol Stambaugh:

For a while.

Angela Bowman:

It’s been worthwhile.

Carol Stambaugh:

It has. It has. It’s how I have built a business myself. My business partner and I have built our entire business around it. We only service WordPress websites.

Angela Bowman:

Oh, that’s amazing. You were saying you do maintenance, and maintenance is something that people don’t really understand that they need until they realize they need it. How do people find you then?

Carol Stambaugh:

A lot of people have been word of mouth. Honestly, a lot of people have been word of mouth that we’ve got. I know a lot of people in the Phoenix community. A lot of people just because of my experience in the nonprofit world will seek me out because of that. I also do presentations-

Angela Bowman:

Nice.

Carol Stambaugh:

… and I speak to the nonprofits. I have done a couple different presentations to several different nonprofit groups in that area as well. Then, of course, after I have done some of the presentations, I oftentimes get people who want to talk with me, and sometimes those turn into those clients.

Angela Bowman:

I’ve had the same experience in the nonprofit world. The executive directors all end up talking or the marketing directors and like, “Oh, here’s who to use.”

Carol Stambaugh:

Yeah, right.

Angela Bowman:

Well, it’s been so nice to talk to you.

Carol Stambaugh:

You too. It’s great to be here.

Angela Bowman:

Thanks. We are here now with Laura Coronado with Lollie Shopping and WebDevStudios. Laura, tell us about Lollie Shopping.

Laura Coronado:

Well, Lollie Shopping is a women’s lifestyle blog that I launched, I think, in 2008.

Angela Bowman:

Wow.

Laura Coronado:

Not originally on WordPress. It was originally on blogspot or Blogger, whatever [inaudible 00:07:53].

Angela Bowman:

No way!

Laura Coronado:

It was a WordPress for John Hawkins, who is our WordPress expert in Las Vegas, who talked to me into going on to WordPress. My background is in marketing, so it’s a smart idea for me to know about content management systems and different technologies. That’s how I discovered WordPress.

Angela Bowman:

You are with WebDevStudios, which a lot of people know WebDevStudios. WebDevStudios has the famous Lisa Sabin-Wilson as COO/co-founder and the author of the WordPress For Dummies book-

Laura Coronado:

WordPress For Dummies.

Angela Bowman:

… which we did an interview with her for the Women in WordPress podcast. If anyone is interested in that interview, it is in our archives, and it’s one of our most fun interviews.

Laura Coronado:

Great interview, yeah.

Angela Bowman:

I just re-listed to that this summer and just nearly cried. It’s so precious.

Laura Coronado:

Isn’t she awesome?

Angela Bowman:

It just really touches-

Laura Coronado:

And I get to work for her.

Angela Bowman:

You get to work for her.

Laura Coronado:

I know.

Angela Bowman:

Anyone who listens to any of the WebDevStudios interviews is just going to want to work for WebDevStudios, you know what I mean-

Laura Coronado:

Thank you for saying that.

Angela Bowman:

… because you can tell how much heart is in there. What do you do for WebDev?

Laura Coronado:

At WebDev, I’m in charge of marketing and communication, which means I’m in charge of our blog. I’m in charge of all of our messaging. I’m very often the one pitching, getting people out there on the different podcasts and trying to get us out there. I’m in charge of our social media, our marketing strategies, all of it.

Angela Bowman:

Wow. How did you transition then from this fashion blogging kind of thing into being in this marketing role and this person you are today?

Laura Coronado:

Well, my background’s always been in marketing communications, so a 25-year career, so no matter what, I was always in marketing communications. But it’s been having this blog, this personal blog, it exposed me to WordPress and got me involved with the technology that then I was able to lend that experience over to WebDevStudios. So when I applied for the job, it was almost like I was a shoo-in. I don’t want to say that, but I’m going on record and saying that. Having the blog, being involved in the local WordPress community in Las Vegas, I think, is what really helped me get the position at WebDevStudios.

Angela Bowman:

Wow. So in a way it pays to follow your passion.

Laura Coronado:

Oh, for sure, definitely. You can definitely turn your passion, your hobby into your career.

Angela Bowman:

That’s exactly what you did, which is so inspiring in its own right. How can people find you online?

Laura Coronado:

Online, you can find my blog, lollieshopping.com. You can find me on Twitter @lollieshopping. But I hope you also follow us @webdevstudios on Twitter as well.

Angela Bowman:

Wonderful.

Laura Coronado:

Thank you.

Angela Bowman:

Great talking to you. We’re here with Cami Kaos, which is my absolute favorite WordPress person name-

Cami Kaos:

Thank you.

Angela Bowman:

… from Automattic, and Chris Ford, who is a project management consultant-

Chris Ford:

And process.

Angela Bowman:

… and process consultant. What is process consulting? [inaudible 00:10:43].

Chris Ford:

I go into companies that have existing project management processes, and I take all of the years where I was doing UX and UI design and apply it to their processes. Anytime you’re working on a project, there are friction points. There are points where communication breaks down or people can’t find things. So what I do is I observe, I do user research, I look at existing processes, identify where there are bottlenecks and friction points, and then roll out small iterative changes to their process so that people don’t freak out about change and not use it and hopefully make them more-

Angela Bowman:

Efficient?

Chris Ford:

… profitable and efficient. Developers hate doing work about work. They get paid a lot of money to do development and not answer emails or find that thing from three months ago when someone didn’t have the password because the intern who quit took it. So I just help get all that stuff organized, kind of create a single source of truth. I’m an Asana ambassador, so that’s my preferred tool.

Angela Bowman:

Nice.

Chris Ford:

I can also do general, here’s what’s going on. Here’s where people are saying they’re having trouble. Here’s some ideas to make that happen less.

Angela Bowman:

That sounds like an amazing job. What’s the smallest size company you work with?

Chris Ford:

Right now, I am contracting with a company that white labels development for design agencies. They have seven developers and three people. All their developers are in Ukraine, and the three of us who do management stuff are in the United States, so 10.

Angela Bowman:

That’s such a typical sized agency, I feel like. Perfect. That’s fabulous. Cami, how do you know Chris? You guys go way back?

Cami Kaos:

Well, one time at WordCamp, so this is the true story of [inaudible 00:12:56] meeting. We knew of each other, and we kind of socially stalked with another a bit. But at WordCamp OC 2015, 2016-

Chris Ford:

Maybe, yeah.

Cami Kaos:

… I fell. I fell down. I crashed really hard on the floor.

Angela Bowman:

I think I heard about this. Was it in St. Louis?

Cami Kaos:

No, no, no, it was-

Chris Ford:

Orange County.

Angela Bowman:

Orange County.

Cami Kaos:

] Chris picked me up and helped me out. We had met just previous to that, but we’ve been really close ever since that.

Chris Ford:

It was, oh my God.

Cami Kaos:

Yeah, I fell hard. Everyone was afraid that it was an ambulance kind of situation. It was not. I’m just super clumsy. So that’s how Chris and I met. I just want to point out that Chris is really pissed at that intern still, your intern and your example. It would’ve been funnier if you were like, “Oh, the intern sucked. The intern took the password.”

Chris Ford:

I remember what she said. Well, I was like, the intern made you fall. What?

Cami Kaos:

Sorry. I was [inaudible 00:13:56].

Chris Ford:

How often does that happen though? It’s time to switch DNS on a website, and someone was like, “Well, who has that information?” No one has an email. No one knows. My favorite Asana story ever is we’d been working with this client for three years, and we needed DNS information, and no one knew where it was. We were like, “Oh my God, we’re going to have to find out. It’s going to take a week. We’re going to have to delay the launch.” I’m on the call, and I’m like, “We sort of remember this happening the last time we did this.” I went into their Asana board. I typed in DNS info, and it popped up. So a three-week process took three minutes. I was like, “Yeah.”

Angela Bowman:

Oh, I love that.

Chris Ford:

That is when I’m like, “I love this job.”

Angela Bowman:

Job, yeah.

Cami Kaos:

That is a huge one.

Angela Bowman:

Cami, what do you do with Automattic?

Cami Kaos:

I work in talent operations where I do operations in DEI or DEIB, so diversity, equity, and inclusion, and belonging.

Angela Bowman:

Nice, nice. Well, Automattic hit at least its gender diversity numbers for this WordCamp sending 50% women and 50% men. Automattic had about-

Cami Kaos:

Well, WordPress. Automattic does a lot of sponsorship of the WordPress community.

Angela Bowman:

But I mean, in terms of the people who attended WordCamp from Automattic.

Cami Kaos:

I just don’t want Automattic to have the credit for the WordCamp because it’s community volunteers all over the WordPress community that are organizing it, not Automattic.

Angela Bowman:

I mean for the official Automattic attendees.

Cami Kaos:

Oh, oh, for the people from Automattic?

Angela Bowman:

The Automatticians, you had the [inaudible 00:15:29].

Cami Kaos:

This is breaking news is that Angela is telling me about my own company. Fantastic.

Angela Bowman:

Because I think you have a lot of great female leadership at Automattic. There are a lot of women at Automattic.

Cami Kaos:

It is something that we are working with intent towards improving because it hasn’t always been that way. We still have less women in leadership positions at Automattic than we would like. Anyone who’s worked in DEI knows that the way that you really see that growth and that change is by changing it from the top level and letting people see who you are for real.

Angela Bowman:

I think that’s so true. I think that that ability to have those mentors at that level helps other women to want to aspire and feel like, “Yeah, there’s a place for me here.”

Cami Kaos:

Yeah, absolutely.

Chris Ford:

[inaudible 00:16:25] the ladder, the best thing you can do is reach down and pull someone else up with you.

Cami Kaos:

Absolutely, absolutely.

Angela Bowman:

Well, it’s been great chatting with you both.

Cami Kaos:

It’s great chatting with you.

Angela Bowman:

I’m so happy to meet you in person-

Chris Ford:

It’s so lovely [inaudible 00:16:31].

Angela Bowman:

… to see you again, Chris.

Chris Ford:

… as well.

Cami Kaos:

Well, thanks for having us.

Chris Ford:

Thank you.

Angela Bowman:

Thanks. I am here with Alison Rothwell from WP Fiddly Bits, which is now my most favorite WordPress company name ever. Tell us, Alison, what brings you to WordCamp, and what do you do with WordPress?

Alison Rothwell:

Well, I’m an agency owner over in the UK. We look after over 90 websites now all over the world, and we help people fix their fiddly bits. WordCamp US has been on my bucket list for a few years. Didn’t manage to make it over because of the pandemic previously. When I saw it’s in San Diego, one of my favorite US cities, I hovered over the computer until I grabbed the ticket.

Angela Bowman:

Oh, good for you. When did you manage this? Did you do that the moment they went on sale?

Alison Rothwell:

Yes.

Angela Bowman:

Me too. I was just right there. 10:00, 11:00 a.m., whatever time that was, I was on it.

Alison Rothwell:

They sold out in 20 minutes. I watched.

Angela Bowman:

Oh, really?

Alison Rothwell:

Yeah.

Angela Bowman:

I thought it was a little bit longer, but, yeah, it went fast. Well, I am so glad you could make it over. Where do you live in the UK?

Alison Rothwell:

I live in the northwest in Lancashire-

Angela Bowman:

Nice.

Alison Rothwell:

… between Preston and Bolton, so my nearest city is a place like Manchester.

Angela Bowman:

Great, great, lovely. I was just in the UK in 2018 for the first time, and I fell in love. I loved it.

Alison Rothwell:

Where did you go?

Angela Bowman:

I was in London, and then I went up to Newcastle and did the Great North Run.

Alison Rothwell:

Fantastic.

Angela Bowman:

Then I went to Edinburgh. It was just fabulous. I just happened to hit fabulous weather, which I’m sure affected how I was utterly impressed. How long have you been working with WordPress?

Alison Rothwell:

Well over 10 years now.

Angela Bowman:

Wow. What got you going?

Alison Rothwell:

Painful experiences with the usual kind of hosted sites. Trying to learn code, not doing very well. Basically, I had an e-commerce website. I manufactured children’s baby clothing. What I learnt from that was that I was a bit rubbish at manufacturing children’s baby clothing, but I was really good on the SEO side, so I set up a small, little SEO agency. But my marketing clients, I was always saying to them, “You need to do XYZ. Ask your tech guy to do it for you.” They’d say, “He doesn’t know what an autoresponder is. He doesn’t know what you mean by Google Analytics or anything like that.” So I set up WP Fiddly Bits to do those kind of marketing fiddly bits for people that needed them doing. But it kind of moved from that into full self-care, website care package for clients. Now we look after all these clients. We build. We develop. We do anything basically WordPress orientated now. So I do the odd SEO clients now, but not much. Most of my time’s taken up running the agency.

Angela Bowman:

How lovely. What an incredible transition. I think it’s so inspiring to know that you can transition. You can grow. You can change it up.

Alison Rothwell:

Absolutely.

Angela Bowman:

You can just see what you kind of organically fall into, and there’s a space where you can [inaudible 00:19:46] launch.

Alison Rothwell:

Absolutely. I was completely offline. My background’s PR and marketing. When I got onto the digital side, I suddenly realized that so much of it was transferable if you knew what to do and if you had a good piece of tech to work with, which WordPress is just perfect for. I really think it levels the playing field for so many people.

Angela Bowman:

Yes, it totally does. Well, where can people find you online?

Alison Rothwell:

You can find me basically by googling WP Fiddly Bits-

Angela Bowman:

Nice.

Alison Rothwell:

… or my name, Alison Rothwell. I managed to have bagged most of the kind of tag for that.

Angela Bowman:

Fabulous.

Alison Rothwell:

There’s apparently a famous Canadian guitarist with the same name, but I managed to get in there before her.

Angela Bowman:

That’s wonderful.

Alison Rothwell:

Anybody, just reach out to me, I’m always happy to chat about WordPress.

Angela Bowman:

Thank you, Alison. I’m here with Beka Rice who is working with GoDaddy. Beka, what are you doing with GoDaddy these days?

Beka Rice:

I’ve been with GoDaddy now about two years. During the SkyVerge acquisition we all joined. So I still spend a lot of time working on SkyVerge and e-commerce extensions, but also working on e-commerce initiatives across broader GoDaddy and commerce-related initiatives as well.

Angela Bowman:

That is super cool. Now, the last time, we were saying, we really spent some quality time together was at WooComp because you were so involved with SkyVerge and WooCommerce. WooComp was a WooCommerce conference that was probably one of the best I’ve ever been to.

Beka Rice:

It was a lot of fun.

Angela Bowman:

So much fun. In your role at GoDaddy focusing on the SkyVerge products and WooCommerce, what do you specifically do?

Beka Rice:

I’m leading a team of product managers now. We still work with the Woo community on the extensions that are available on woocommerce.com. So everything in the SkyVerge brand is still us day in, day out, same care team, same product team, same engineering team. We’ve grown the team a lot though. We also are working on WooCommerce just outside of our little bubble, which is a lot of fun. So we can work with the WooCommerce sites who are more broadly across GoDaddy, and we’ve also been working with the Pagely team on a new, from the ground up website stack that is built for WooCommerce. So we’ve been really busy with other areas of GoDaddy, too, and just learning a lot more about the Woo ecosystem with a much bigger customer base across a lot of different use cases. So it’s been a lot of fun. I spend a lot of time with working across different teams, understanding how we can best work together, and my team specifically helping uncover, what do customers need out of these different products, and how can we make them work together?

Angela Bowman:

Do you feel like the acquisitions that have happened…? Every week, there’s another acquisition. What positive impact do you see from SkyVerge being acquired by GoDaddy? What’s come out of that?

Beka Rice:

It’s been a really interesting experience for our team. I think a lot of people, rightfully so with any acquisition, you’re nervous about how that’s going to play out. I still won’t forgive Google for their Sparrow acquisition 10 years ago when they killed off my favorite mailbox app. So I think people were a little bit afraid of that, but we think it’s been really positive. We learned a lot more about the Woo ecosystem because we got to interact with a lot more merchants than we did through our plugins, and we’ve learned a lot about different use cases that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen. So I think net benefit has definitely been there, and we’ve gotten to expand both the breadth and types of merchants we work with. But by being part of GoDaddy, we also got to dig really deep into the payment space and in-person retail and multichannel selling-

Angela Bowman:

Wow.

Beka Rice:

… in ways that we just simply wouldn’t have as an independent company. I think it helps us to make much better products as a result.

Angela Bowman:

That’s so great to hear. What about you personally? Have you grown in your career in the past couple years that way?

Beka Rice:

Yeah, absolutely. When you come from a small company and you’re in a leadership position in a small company, we were like 35, 37 people when we were acquired, your day to day is very different. So it’s been cool because it’s forced me to think differently about how I can impact a team and how to be more of a force multiplier. So for my career, it’s helped me develop as a much better leader, I think, and also giving me mentors, which you don’t really have when you’re the leader of the company and everything’s on you. It’s also really cool to have other people to learn from.

Angela Bowman:

I love that. I miss that. Having worked in a software company-

Beka Rice:

It can be lonely.

Angela Bowman:

… there’s an energy. There’s an energy. There’s a vibrancy. There’s always something new, and you’re on the cutting edge of things. It’s pretty exciting.

Beka Rice:

It is. It’s really exciting. One thing I’ve always been motivated personally by is that team mentality and working with really great people. So I think, for me, that’s been one of the most rewarding things is you get to work with a lot of different people all of whom are very passionate about helping small businesses, which is fun.

Angela Bowman:

Yay, awesome. It’s been great chatting with you.

Beka Rice:

Thank you so much.

Angela Bowman:

Where can people find you online?

Beka Rice:

On Twitter, you can find me @B-E-K-A, underscore, R-I-C-E, Beka Rice. If you hit the GoDaddy or SkyVerge Twitter handles, though, you’ll find me through those, too.

Angela Bowman:

Awesome. We’re here with Lydia Roberts who has a web design company, Lydia Roberts Design. Where do you live? What brought you to WordCamp?

Lydia Roberts:

I live in Las Vegas. This is my first WordCamp since 2019, representing, and first WordCamp in person since 2019. I attended a couple online. I’ve never been to a WordCamp US before. So in all my years of organizing a WordCamp previously and attending WordCamps, I’ve never been to a WordCamp US, so I really wanted to make that happen. This was pretty convenient for a Las Vegas road trip.

Angela Bowman:

Did you drive or did you fly?

Lydia Roberts:

We drove.

Angela Bowman:

You drove?

Lydia Roberts:

Yeah.

Angela Bowman:

I used to live in LA, and Las Vegas was definitely an easy drive. So that had to be like, “Well, I have to go to this.”

Lydia Roberts:

I took it as a sign that I had to come. I’ve always wanted to come to a WordCamp US, and took that as a sign to make that happen. So it’s really nice to be reconnecting in person with folks that I’ve seen years ago at other WordCamps and just making new connections here.

Angela Bowman:

Were you sitting on the ticket sale button? Yeah, I was too.

Lydia Roberts:

I was. Fortunately, I had a heads up that it was going to sell out quickly, so I was on right at 10:00 a.m. when they went on sale, and I snagged one.

Angela Bowman:

Well, I’m so glad that you were able to get it because what I noticed when I was looking for women to interview and looking at the attendee list, it was like, “Oh my gosh.” The majority, probably about 50% of the people here are sponsored people with companies. Then that leaves the 50% who aren’t sponsored by a company who are solo entrepreneurs, small agencies. Then of those, only a third were women.

Lydia Roberts:

Oh, interesting.

Angela Bowman:

So it was like, oh, if you weren’t somehow in the know and on that button right at the moment, you weren’t going to make it. The attendance got a little skewed that way. It’s a little bit more male dominated than it would normally be, I think.

Lydia Roberts:

That’s interesting. I definitely felt that it was more dominated by the larger companies.

Angela Bowman:

Yes, about 50%.

Lydia Roberts:

It’s great. We got to get all those folks together. But as an independent company, I’m a one-person company, it’s nice to have that heads up, I guess, about the tickets. I guess one thing I’ll say about WordCamps as a former WordCamp organizer is that I so appreciate the low price point and just not making it this exclusive club of it’s $500 for an early bird ticket. This is doable. It was, fortunately for me, drivable.

Angela Bowman:

I love that.

Lydia Roberts:

Yeah, you’re right. The limited ticket count this year, I think, was kind of inhibiting people.

Angela Bowman:

Well, since you’re so close and it was so convenient and you are an organizer, you needed to be here, so it’s fabulous that you made it. How long have you been using WordPress?

Lydia Roberts:

I’ve been using WordPress probably upwards of 15, 16 years. Going back that far, I was really more like a dabbler. I started as a graphic designer professionally out of school, but I really enjoyed all things web, and that was really my strength. So I was looking around at different CMSs, and I was building HTML sites. That’s how long ago it was. Even 15 years ago, we were still building HTML sites. So I started looking at Joomla, started looking at Drupal, and they just weren’t clicking. They felt like they were created with one person’s view of what a CMS should be and not what the people’s actual experience would be using it. So I found that WordPress was just a lot more intuitive. Then I found that WordPress has this great community behind it. If I needed some help, even locally, I could kind of lean on that community. So that really solidified WordPress for me. Maybe about 12 years ago is when I really started doing WordPress professionally and building professional sites with it.

Angela Bowman:

Did you find the community around that same time?

Lydia Roberts:

I did. It was maybe around a year or two after I started my first job building WordPress sites that we started attending some local meetups. They weren’t necessarily WordPress meetups yet.

Angela Bowman:

Oh, wow.

Lydia Roberts:

I think that maybe came a little later, but it was sort of a local tech, like, Let’s Talk Tech or something. People had built some really, to me, very neat and beautifully designed websites with WordPress. That, again, drew me in. I was like, “Oh, I can really use my design skills and make something look nice and not be limited.” With Joomla or Drupal, it’s like this, I don’t know, here’s a template. I could always spot a Joomla site. I knew what that looked like.

Angela Bowman:

That’s really funny.

Lydia Roberts:

Then discovering the local WordPress meetup group, I got involved in that. Then I became a organizer for the WordCamp where I used to live in North Carolina.

Angela Bowman:

It’s so interesting. It seems like meetups are the gateway drug to becoming a WordCamp organizer.

Lydia Roberts:

Yes.

Angela Bowman:

I’ve escaped that because I’ve been a meetup organizer for many years and managed to avoid being a WordCamp organizer. Someone’s probably going to twist my arm and make me do that.

Lydia Roberts:

[inaudible 00:31:35].

Angela Bowman:

I’ve gotten to be a speaker, and that’s stressful enough.

Lydia Roberts:

And trying to do both, I think [inaudible 00:31:44].

Angela Bowman:

You can’t really do both.

Lydia Roberts:

I’ve spoken maybe a lightning talk while also organizing, and it was like, “Why did I do this?

Angela Bowman:

Yeah, exactly.

Lydia Roberts:

This is crazy.”

Angela Bowman:

How are you liking this today? Today’s our first day.

Lydia Roberts:

I’ve loved it, and I’ve also been a little overwhelmed, if I’m being totally honest, just being back with literally hundreds of people after, what, almost three years of remote work and seeing people in cubes on Zoom, so overwhelming but in a good, positive way. I’m only really getting positive vibes from people, and everyone is just so kind. That’s one thing I love about this community as well.

Angela Bowman:

It’s so wonderful. Yeah, I feel the same.

Lydia Roberts:

Yeah.

Angela Bowman:

Well, it’s so wonderful to chat with you. Where can people find you online?

Lydia Roberts:

My website is lydiarobertsdesign.com. I’m on Twitter @lydiaroberts, and I’m on Instagram @lydiarobertsdesign, so [inaudible 00:32:53]-

Angela Bowman:

Wonderful.

Lydia Roberts:

… to connect with you.

Angela Bowman:

Thank you.

Lydia Roberts:

Thanks, Angela.

Angela Bowman:

Hey, we are here with Amber Hinds with Equalize Digital, a web design agency. Amber is also the organizer of the WP Accessibility meetup, which is all online and accessible to everyone. I highly recommend joining the meetup on meetup.com. Amber, how’s it going at WordCamp, and what brings you here?

Amber Hinds:

It’s super fun. I got to speak this year, which was on my bucket list.

Angela Bowman:

Oh, wow.

Amber Hinds:

It was one of those things. You want to speak at WordCamp US. So that was very exciting.

Angela Bowman:

That’s huge.

Amber Hinds:

The other fun thing that happened was my business partner, Steve, who lives in a totally different state from me, I got to see him, and I haven’t seen him since December 2017. So that was kind of cool and exciting.

Angela Bowman:

That’s amazing. Wow. That must have been such a good feeling.

Amber Hinds:

Yeah. It’s been interesting. We’ve been talking about all the people that you get to know in the community that you only see… Obviously, your business partner is one thing, but also just the people that are helping, I’ve been working with, to organize events or from the meetup or Twitter. You see them, even if you Zoom with them, but then you see them in person, you’re like, “Oh, you’re so much taller than I thought.” [inaudible 00:34:14].

Angela Bowman:

I felt that way when I saw Taco with Yoast. It’s like, “You’re taller up standing up and not on Zoom.”

Amber Hinds:

I had met him in person before, so I kind of knew how tall he was. It feels like reunion, I think.

Angela Bowman:

Oh, I love that. What did you speak on?

Amber Hinds:

I spoke on website accessibility testing. I did a joint presentation with Alex Stine, who’s a core contributor on the Accessibility team and also is helping to organize the WP Accessibility conference. We talked about how you can test with a keyboard and a screen reader to see if there are problems that make your website not usable for people with disabilities.

Angela Bowman:

I love that. Your talk will be on WordPress.tv, right?

Amber Hinds:

It will not.

Angela Bowman:

Why?

Amber Hinds:

Big bummer. I found out five or ten minutes before it started that they didn’t record. They weren’t recording the workshop sessions.

Angela Bowman:

Oh, because it was a workshop. You-

Amber Hinds:

And it was an hour and 45 minutes, so I don’t know if that’s part of why.

Angela Bowman:

No, because all the workshops at WordCamp US 2019 were recorded.

Amber Hinds:

I don’t know. I thought they were, because I even promoted it to the meetup. I was like, “You’ll be able to stream it. There’ll be captioning.” Alex and I were talking about it. We might try and do it separately as a Zoom webinar, like a separate thing.

Angela Bowman:

We would love that.

Amber Hinds:

We’ll see if we can figure that out.

Angela Bowman:

Because yours was one that I wanted to see, but I was busy other things. People, if they want to get more involved with accessibility, they can join your WP Accessibility meetup on meetup.com. They can also go to Equalize Digital. You have a plugin.

Amber Hinds:

Yep. We have a plugin called Accessibility Checker. There’s a free version on .ORG. What it does is it’s like those SEO plugins that we all love that give us a score and help us figure out if our SEOs [inaudible 00:36:06]. It does the same kind of thing for accessibility, to help people find problems and hopefully eliminate them before they hit publish on their content or if they’re remediating something that exists. The other way to get involved is to contribute to Accessibility [inaudible 00:36:22], and on the [inaudible 00:36:24] Slack, there’s an accessibility channel, and you can go there and check that out.

Angela Bowman:

I’ve become super passionate about that doing university sites there. I just have to.

Amber Hinds:

Everything has to [inaudible 00:36:34].

Angela Bowman:

Everything has to be accessible, and you don’t know what that means until you do it, and you don’t know what’s inaccessible until you test. It’s certainly a learning curve. It’s so great to see you here. How can people find you online?

Amber Hinds:

The best place to find me online is on Twitter. I’m @heyamberhinds.

Angela Bowman:

Great. Thanks.

Amber Hinds:

Thank you.

Angela Bowman:

I am here with Nyasha Green with MasterWP. Nyasha and I just met today, and I’m just like, “Hey, I want to interview you.” One is I love MasterWP, but I want you to tell other people what MasterWP is about.

Nyasha Green:

MasterWP is our tech organization where we write about all things in WordPress, whether it’d be technical aspects, like changes, or social issues, like getting more people into the community. It’s a way for everybody to talk and just vent or talk about their ideas or their opinions on what’s going on in the community. It’s just a big tech broadcast newsletter. Having all of these different opinions, it’s sometimes a mix up, but we want everybody to be able to speak their truth in the community as long as it’s not hate speech.

Angela Bowman:

Wow. So it’s really kind of WordPress journalism.

Nyasha Green:

Yes, it is.

Angela Bowman:

Really, what do you feel like are the topics that you end up covering the most?

Nyasha Green:

Me personally, since I’m a mentor, I mentor a lot of newbies getting into tech, it’s on how to get newer people into tech, how to make it more diverse, more diverse communities so we can have more people. Financial ways to help people as well, because we know financial issues are a big barrier to getting into the community, tech in general, and to get into places like this, like WordCamps. So mostly that stuff.

Angela Bowman:

So, one, accessibility hurdle is just like, “Okay, you need a computer. You need good internet. You need to be able to get to these networking events to make these connections,” because they’re hugely important.

Nyasha Green:

They are.

Angela Bowman:

So advocating and assisting people and realizing that’s just not something you can take for granted. People do need assistance to have that happen.

Nyasha Green:

That’s why we love our guest contributor posts. We do pay people to come in and contribute to us because we have a big platform. Our voices are already amplified and elevated. But if we can get people in that maybe are not big people in the community, one, we expose the community to more ideas. Two, these people get a platform, and they get to meet other people in the community.

Angela Bowman:

I mean, a platform is everything. By doing this podcast, Women in WP, we created our own platform. It’s amazing how much then people recognize that coming from nothing and just creating a platform and giving a platform for other people to be seen and heard, women in this community. I don’t know how much we’ve helped other women, but I hope at least we’ve inspired a lot of women especially. When did you get started in WordPress?

Nyasha Green:

I’ve been in WordPress about four years. I actually got started through two mentors. One is actually right to my left, meeting him at a Google Developers conference. He introduced me to another woman in WordPress. She was the one who really launched me into it because she taught me… When she first tried to get into tech in 2004, she was pregnant, and nobody would hire her. Pregnant in rural South Carolina, nobody wanted to hire her in tech. So she turned to WordPress and started her own business. She ended up having a big family. She owns her own business. She’s a tutor. She’s a mentor. She does all of this. She’s happy, and she has it all, and she has WordPress to thank for that. WordPress gave her a way into tech when she couldn’t get in as a woman.

Nyasha Green:

So hearing her story, and I always share with other people, her name is Shambi Broome. I love her. I wish she was here. But sharing her story, that’s how I got into tech because she showed me, “Hey, you don’t even have to work for anybody if you want. You can come into this community. You can take this platform, and you can take this product. You can take WordPress, and you can turn it into a business. You can turn it into your own thing, but also never forget to share it with others.” So that’s why I do what I do.

Angela Bowman:

I love that. And I love WordPress. I love what you said. It’s a way to tech. It’s a way to tech, a way into tech. I feel that way. I feel like it’s provided a low barrier for entry for women. Then you can go as far as you want with it.

Nyasha Green:

You can.

Angela Bowman:

You can get as nerdy as you want. You can get as designy, markety. Whatever you decide to do with it, you can do with it. Oh, man, that’s inspiring. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story.

Nyasha Green:

You’re so welcome. Thank you.

Angela Bowman:

How can people find you online?

Nyasha Green:

You can find me on Twitter. I’m NY underscore the… Underscore? Can’t speak anymore. Spoke too much today. @Ny_The_Creator on Twitter. I don’t have a website yet. It got delayed, but I’ll have a website soon.

Angela Bowman:

Great. We’ll have all your information, of course, in the show notes on our website. It’s so great to meet you.

Nyasha Green:

You too.

Announcer:

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