Tech is for everyone: Jessica Watson, founder and CEO

headshot of Jessica Watson with the text: Tech is for everyone

11 years ago, Jessica Watson hit something.

She was tired of working in a cubicle every day and she bumped into the glass ceiling.

“It was hard to advance past my roles as a graphic artist,” she said. “Working in corporate I hit the proverbial glass ceiling that all women are aware of.”

The idea of striking out on her own and starting a business meant Jessica didn’t know what the next year of her life would look like, but that’s exactly what appealed to her.

“I knew if I stayed in corporate I would be in the same gray cubicle a year later and if I started a business I had no idea what would happen. The path less traveled was more interesting to me,” she said. “I wanted a direct connection to people and helping businesses achieve their goals using my creative skill set.”

So she set out and founded Points North Studio. Even though she was a solo entrepreneur, Jessica was not alone in the early days of her company. She created the “fab five,” a group of mentors and friends who each had different expertise in business.

“I called this group the ‘fab five’ because it was back in the time when your cell phone plan allowed you to pick five people and call them for free,” she said. “They each welcomed my occasional invitations to lunch, coffee, or cocktails, where I could talk in detail about my plans, and they could point out things that I might be overlooking. This was so helpful.”

Marrying creativity and business is nothing new for Jessica. As a trained artist, she has always been looking for ways to combine her creative passions with a financially viable career.

“I remember even in middle school and high school I would draw characters and illustrate my classmates’ names. And someone would say ‘I’ll pay you for that’ and I’d ask them their favorite colors and work on designs for them,” she said.

Transitioning to graphic design and digital creative services has allowed art to have a purpose beyond beauty. Her company enhances the touchpoints their clients have with customers.

More than ten years in and Points North has grown into a company specializing in working with clients that are transforming healthcare systems, making a difference in their communities, and striving to solve global problems. If a company is using tech to make a difference, then Points North wants to work with them.

Functioning largely as a referral-only business, Jessica says Points North is one of the best kept secrets in the industry.

“I challenge my clients to push the needle, I think by getting us you are getting a diverse mindset on your project. It’s also incredibly important that we operate from the understanding that representation matters when sourcing words, imagery and illustrations for our projects. Inclusiveness and empathy are a part of our ethos.” she said.

But even though she is the founder and CEO, Jessica hasn’t always been front and center on the company’s website.

“We are coming into an age where diversity is more prevalent and celebrated. There were times, early in this business, when I didn’t want to broadcast that we were a black and woman-owned business. I didn’t want that to be the first thing you saw, or for us to be placed in a box. I have talked to other business owners about that fine line of how much you show,” she said. “Things are changing, I see more of an opportunity to be authentically myself with respect to how I amplify my voice and how we amplify the voices of others.”

As the cofounder of Baltimore Womxn in Tech, Jessica is helping Baltimore women find their own Fab five by creating welcoming and supportive spaces for women & female-identifying technologists working in Baltimore.

“Change is slow, but I do think it’s getting better,” she said. “The early days included several scenes of me being the only woman in a room, it was tough. But now, especially in tech, it’s becoming rare to walk in a room and not see others who look like me.”

Fearless is working to highlight technologists of color in our community to inspire the next generation. We know how hard it can be to see yourself in an industry if you don’t see anyone who is like you.

We want to shine a light on the incredible people who can and should be role models for our future, more diverse tech workforce. Is there someone you think we should feature? Get in touch!