Why I Left a Six-Figure Salary to Pursue My Personal Venture

On Thursday, October 18th, 2018, I said, “Peace Up, A-Town” for the last time at TechStyle Fashion Group, where I was on the User Experience team since 2013.

How I ended up making over $100K per year

During my senior year of high school in 2006, I got my first job as a barista at Starbucks making roughly $800/month.

After two years of smelling like coffee bean and steamed milk, I found an internship on Craigslist for a video content startup company, called VIMBY, as a web producer. After a short time, I was finally getting paid around $2000/month. I was responsible for creating graphic designs, banner ads and front-end development. I never went to college for it, so my experience came from years of editing MySpace profile pages in high school, watching tutorial videos on YouTube and editing numerous source codes from websites I thought were a little too legit to quit.

Two years later, I got hired as a front-end web developer for an advertising agency in Culver City, California, called Lunchbox (now acquired and named Mirum), where I ended up making $72,000/year.

Fast-forward three years to 2013, I left Lunchbox and my role as a web developer to join ShoeDazzle (then acquired by JustFab and now rebranded as TechStyle Fashion Group) as their User Experience Designer for a 2% pay cut of $70,000/year. Two years later, in 2015, I transferred to their sister brand, Fabletics, as their Global UX Lead for $96,000/year. A year later, they bumped up my annual salary to $108,000/year.

Why I revealed my salary history

I was, and still am, proud of myself for being the first in my (extended) family to make that much with tattoos from the face down, glutes that won’t quit and no college degree.

Why I left a nice paycheck and a place I called my second home

In December of 2017, there were fortune tellers at TechStyle’s holiday party and I asked a fortune teller what 2018 would bring for me. The fortune teller said, “You will plant your seeds.” And I said, “Well, that’s kind of obvious because my girlfriend is pregnant and she’s sitting next to us getting her palms read, too.”

The conversation continued:

Fortune Teller: No, dummy. I can tell you’re a very creative person and you’ve been wanting to make something of your own.
Me: Brother, if you’re looking for a generous tip, I have to stop you right here because I didn’t bring cash since this is an open bar party.

For the record, I usually bring cash, especially at open bars. But since this was a company event and I knew how much they threw down for the party, I figured I’d leave the tipping to them.

Fortune Teller: I see you planting your seeds in 2018—your seeds of starting your own business.
Me: Oh, you’re good, you. You’re good.

I don’t know if it was the fortune teller or the five glasses of Jameson I had, but I whispered to myself, “Thank God we took an Uber here because I don’t have cash to tip the valet.” Followed by, “He’s right. I need to start planting my seeds in 2018.”

Fast-forward to September 2018

Alexandra went back to work from maternity leave and I started working from home to watch our son, Arro, because our babysitter situation fell through.

For the entire month, I was contemplating my options:
Do I continue to juggle working from home and taking care of our newborn or start planting my seeds while taking care of our newborn?

I chose to plant my seeds — as a business owner; not in Alexandra (at least for another two years).

So in the beginning of October, I gave my team my final notice and told them I was going to have Jesus take the wheel.

And for what?

For me to take a chance on myself and start my own business that involves my passions and interests? Not knowing how it’s going to play out but knowing it’s all mine and I can say I did it? To be the first in my family (both here in the U.S. and in Indonesia) to say I own a business in America? To provide for my new family with wealth I made my own way?

Y’damn right.

End of story,

In my next story

I’ll be writing about my new venture and how I balanced a full-time job, a relationship and parenthood.