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I put a price on myself, and then I became valuable

Name: Sorchè Morgan Organization: Hum Media, LLC | Taos, New Mexico

Hometown: Chattanooga, Tennessee

Breyana Ray: What is your connection to rural?

Sorchè Morgan: I'm one of 10 kids, and I was homeschooled and grew up on seven acres. So, I was used to country life. When I got older, I lived in big cities. Then I started to travel the world. I had never heard of New Mexico until I came by chance when I was 25. So, I got to Taos by way of San Francisco. When I got to Taos and saw how diverse it was, how unique it was, and how secluded and rural it was, I felt a natural draw. I never felt like settling anywhere but Taos — it's a good feeling.

BR: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

SM: I wanted to be a surgeon. I used to tell everyone that I was going to go to medical school and become a brain surgeon or something.

BR: What’s your current job and how did you get there?

SM: My current job is I run a multimedia agency, Hum Media LLC, and I do things like graphic design, branding, web development, and media things. … It came out as an inspiration: One day I was on Craigslist — I just love to read classifieds, so I was scrolling Craigslist one day and saw an office building for rent. It was such a good price and I went to go and see it. And at this point, I was at a crossroads, stuck at a dead-end job and looking for inspiration. So I went and saw this place and had an epiphany. I said, "I don't know what I'm going to do, but I'm going to do it." I knew I had a particular skill set with programs such as Photoshop, Adobe Suite, coding, and building websites, and at the height of the pandemic, that was a highly sought-after skill. Our slogan at Hum Media LLC is "Moving New Mexico online," and my goal is to help people move online.

During that inspiration period, I wondered how I could take it a step further. That's when my publication came about, The Hum Magazine. The Hum Magazine was created to highlight people in my community who were also trying to move online and keep their presence in the community because I felt they were essential. People like our artists, musicians, and other business owners. I describe The Hum Magazine as a community participation magazine because it became a ripple effect: I would have someone come to interview, and they'd say, "Hey, I know this other person who has this great story…." I found a way to link print and digital media and put it all together. I offered my services through my platforms and skill sets to help people take their businesses a step further. And having an online and a physical presence where people could connect and we could grow through entrepreneurship and community-building.

BR: How do you feel the lack of representation in tech affects women of color?

SM: I think anyone, any woman of color, which goes into business can feel the effects immediately. There are just specific challenges. I get emotional, but going into business is not for the weak, first of all. But going in as a woman and as a woman of color, you face many challenges like getting loans, getting access to information and resources — just that community integration part, that trusting part, breaking past the stereotypes. Because I'm still in a rural place, there's probably only a handful of African Americans here, if that. So we're a small bunch, but we're a mighty bunch.

BR: What do you feel has been the biggest challenge for you as someone who’s essentially disrupting the industry as a woman of color?

SM: I would say mental health all day long because business teaches you not to be reactionary. It teaches you to have a perspective and not take things personally when you're hearing so many nos, and you're not getting the support you need or are looking for. I think it's important not to take everything personally and self-care.

BR: Looking back, when do you feel like was the first time that you realized that being and remaining in an industry that’s usually male-dominated and not full of people of color is going to be a challenge? Or did you know that from the very beginning?

SM: I'd say I probably knew that from the beginning. But, like, many people say they don't see color. When I entered the world, it was all new to me. I grew up very secluded, I was homeschooled, so I didn't know a lot of the world, and I didn't experience a lot of stereotypical things like racism. So I learned fast. When I first went to college and took off and traveled after that, people treated me differently depending on where you are. But the case here, where I am now, I felt it in the transition before starting my business. I saw where I was valuable. I saw where I had skills. And I saw that I was in environments with push-back and a lack of leadership. To me, a leader is someone who can identify other leaders and give them a space to lead, and I was finding myself in places where I wasn't getting that and had much push-back. So there was that crossover between quitting the conventional job world and researching how to start an LLC, open up a business bank account, and be confident enough not to work an hourly salary. There were going to be days when I wouldn't make money. Navigating all that and having the confidence to trust myself, I'm still in business two, and a half years later, so it's good.

BR: Did you teach yourself how to code? How did you learn how to code and build websites?

SM: My mom was a coder and developed some of the first medical transcription software. So I grew up around computers. I grew up with Macintoshes and IBMs — we had almost every desktop computer. My siblings and I had nothing else to do, so we started taking computers apart and building motherboards. It was so interesting when I thought about how you can put computers together and how they're programmed to do a sure thing, and we would build these computers from the ground up. That coding came hand in hand. Then I was with the MySpace boom, where that natural curiosity for coding was so crucial — you could do some cool effects, and that was all strictly coding. I learned a lot there, and then it came to blogs, website buildings, and WordPress … it grew from there. And I love to learn — like, an expert learner. It's taken me 14 years to get a bachelor's degree because I just love learning. I'm a constant student. So I am self-taught, mostly. But in the last few years, since integrating my business, I have gone the extra step to get the professional certifications that go with the knowledge I have to solidify my professionalism.

BR: That’s amazing. I love hearing your journey. There’s not a lot of people that you talk to who are self-taught, and then turn that into something that’s blossoming like your business. What do you feel like is changing for women of color in tech and what is staying the same?

SM: I think it's just that go-getter attitude. I've met so many powerful women of color. I'm big on TikTok, so I have a platform there as well, and just connecting with other powerful women that are not afraid to speak up — we're in this new generation. They say that women of color, we've got attitudes and we're loud, and it's like, now, we're in this phase of walking it like you talk it and breaking stereotypes. We've had what I call generational trauma, generational curses that we carry as women of color. Yeah, that makes us reactionary and emotional because we want equality. We want what everybody else wants. But now we're no longer asking for it. We've created platforms, we've built businesses, and we're doing really well thanks to the internet and access to tech. And most of us are self-taught, most of us are self-motivated, and that's the power. I'm an example of that, and I know how passionate I feel about it, so I can only imagine how somebody else feels about it.

BR: How should employers or allies or supporters step up for women of color who want to also be involved in tech-based jobs and careers, places where you don’t see faces that you recognize?

SM: We're in this new era. Race gets brought up a lot. In the last couple of years, with the Black Lives Movement and all that that came before and after, employers need to be aware that — it's such a stupid thing to say — it's not about skin color, it's actually about culture. It's a cultural difference. No, there's not a lot of us in tech, but there's a lot of us that could teach ourselves and learn the skills and be really, really great. And some of us are already naturally great. I think to "eliminate the color" is just the management training everyone needs. Everyone needs respect. Everyone needs the same equal playing field. Everyone needs a space to be themselves. I get a little jaded when I see tech ads and you see an African American on the ad, and they're not included. You go to all the company's programs, and there are no African Americans. ...

So I haven't really figured out what that is, and I think maybe there's a level of intimidation. I know there's a level of just not understanding when you see a woman of color. There are so many things that come to mind. It's just a barrier thing, and I think that's conditional and case-by-case, person-by-person. Having a policy or a business structure or a training manual that's universal not just about color but about common decency to people, that everyone has the ability to make choices and do what they love. If it's in tech, that's what they love. Everyone should have an opportunity.

BR: If there was an ideal world, what do you think an inclusive future of tech and entrepreneurship would look like for women of color? What does that look like to you?

SM: I had an economics class that was similar in question. I would probably answer it the same way. There will come a time and a point where we need to circle back and seek out the knowledge of our BIPOC, Indigenous women. It's the knowledge that only they have. Each of us holds a specific power, and as a culture and people, we carry an extraordinary power. We've seen this influence many times through the media and art and how African American culture influences much of it.… And I think we're at this point of time of circling back — and this goes for everything, this goes for other things like climate change. We need to circle back and ask for a different perspective. We need to ask our people of color what they see. And what I see is circling back to an all-inclusion, non-colorful workplace where everyone is equal, and it's our talents that make us colorful.

BR: You mentioned your mom earlier and so I’m curious, was she someone you really looked up to in the tech space? Did you have someone you looked up to when it came to doing things that women of color don’t often do, the science- and math-based jobs? Who was that person for you?

SM: My inspiration draws from my strength: I understood as a child that the world could be a better place. Because it certainly wasn't a good place when I was younger. But if I can remember a pivotal moment of someone who really did change my perspective, I did go to public school for three years starting in fifth grade, and I had a history teacher, her name was Mrs. Adams. I was so confused as a child that I didn't understand the school system, so I always asked many questions. And anytime I asked her a question, she had this sign that said "common sense," and she would point to that sign. I'd come with millions of questions, and her answer was always the same. She would point to the sign. And that stuck with me after all these years, that you just have to have a lot of common sense. YOU have to look at things from all different perspectives. You really have to search for the answer because nobody will give it all to you.

BR: Is there a question I didn’t ask that you would’ve liked me to ask? Or something else on your mind?

SM: I think a lot of people of color need to hear how you did it. A lot of people have asked why and whom you do it for. And I would tell people that you have to cry a lot, and you have to recognize that discrimination does happen, and it's going to hurt, it's going to be painful. How I did it — I went, and I cried, and I got back up, and I started again. I heard no. I got in debt and cried some more. And I got back up and said, "How did you do it?" I got my first sale, and then I got another one. I got more clients. And then now you get busy, and they're telling everyone else, "No." I put a price on myself, became valuable, and stopped letting people tell me no based on the price that they saw me at because they wanted a lower price. I started letting projects go that no longer served me. How'd you do it? In tech and business, I stood my ground as a proud woman of color. They asked me what I would do if I ever failed... I guess we'll never know!

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