Karley is everything. She’s the CEO and founder of Karmil Designs, a freelance design business she created in 2015. She is the Senior Marketing Director for Web and Creative at one of the largest technology companies in the world, Dell EMC. And most importantly she is a queen worthy of admiration. 

While we were in design school we hit it off instantly. We were in all the same classes and found out that we had a lot in common. Looking back at it, I attribute our comraderie to us both being Aries and the fact no one understood us but us.

It had been a few years since we last hung out, and grabbing a cup of coffee on a Saturday afternoon was well overdue. I wanted to catch up with Karley and talk about her journey as a traditional artist in the fast-paced tech world. 


What are the pros and Cons of working in the corporate environment?

Pros would be a constant paycheck, using all the tools the company provides me, meeting people who I would’ve never even dreamed of meeting. I have met people really high up in the company and it has given me amazing opportunities. I have done things here I don’t think I could do working anywhere else.

Unfortunately, there are a few more cons than pros. The cons are no time for yourself. I work all the time, and even when I’m at home, I’m working. I try really hard to find time to do the things I love. Losing yourself can be a huge con. I feel like since this job is my whole life, I can get lost in it. But another con that I often think about the most is becoming jobless. This job is great, but Austin is so competitive in this field if I make one tiny mistake I can be replaced by someone in an instant.


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You talk about losing yourself in the 9-5 and I completely identify with that. As professional Creatives we have passion projects in order to survive. How do you focus on things that you are passionate about without letting work interfere?

So, I have been working with this non-profit organization that helps South Sudanese children get the resources they need to focus on education and help change their community. The organization needs help with branding and putting their name out there, and I’m extremely passionate about helping them with that. I want to spend all the spare time focusing my efforts with them.

And another thing that I want to do is to build my own business stronger. As you know I started Karmil Designs in college and I have been keeping up with it and have had big clients over the years, but Dell has been a big focus for me and has distracted me from my own work. So I want to get back to that in a big way.


You’re so obviously a force to be reckoned with. You recently did the commencement speech for the graduating class of our alma mater. What advice would you give to creative professionals who are just starting out and are unsure of how to be successful in this field?

In my career, I have met people who are younger than me who specifically ask me how to be successful. I even have friends who I’m really close with who ask me the same thing. It’s kind of crazy because I don’t see myself as an inspiration because this is just who I am. I don’t know who else to be. 

I grew up fast, and I saw things no kid should ever see. I had to learn to be strong at a young age. The result of that was working hard to get out of an environment I didn’t want to be in. I wanted more for myself, so I’ve spent my whole life working towards that. It’s not easy. That’s the first thing I tell my friends who want to see themselves be successful. It’s never going to be easy, especially for young black men and women. We have to work twice as hard. So it’s never going  to be easy. You just got to work towards what you want and not let anything stop you. 

For me, I like walking around Dell EMC looking the way I do. A black woman, with long braids, all tatted up about to head to an important business meeting. I mean if I can be in this, position they can too. 

Monica Valenzuela