From fashion designer to software developer: Milan Ball’s accidental career path


By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,
Report for the member of the America Corps.
[email protected]

Milan Ball, 24, doesn’t consider himself a typical software developer. First, she’s a woman. Second, she is African American. She also doesn’t have a degree in computer science – that’s strike three.

Instead, Ball graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and then began her professional career in fashion design.

From interning with Victoria Beckham to forecasting sustainable trends for Material ConneXion and buying for fashion tech start-up Corporate Catwalk, Ball has held many roles in the fashion industry.

When the pandemic hit, she started consulting companies she had built relationships with. Many of them were companies focused on social impact, confirming his love for philanthropy.

However, Ball realized that most people had no idea of ​​the impact on their spending if they bought from charitable businesses.

“It was frustrating to keep learning about all these companies that did so much good, but no one had ever heard of them,” Ball said. “My wish was to kind of try to shine a light on these companies and educate people about the social impact. Everyone wants to make change, but it’s pretty hard to know where to start.

Ball transitioned into entrepreneurship in March 2021 when she founded Philan. As a power grid that impacts consumers, Philan helps shoppers measure the impact of their spending to remind the world that every dollar counts. It also helps them discover charitable endeavors that match their personal values.

Several months after founding Philan, Ball had the opportunity to join Bubble’s Immerse program, which helps black founders launch web apps through a fully-funded pre-accelerator.

Oftentimes, technology can be a barrier for founders, especially because of the costs associated with hiring developers.

Bubble’s Immerse program aims to help non-technical founders become their own CTOs through a no-code platform. Instead of learning programming languages, founders use a drag-and-drop in-browser interface to build their apps.

Milan Ball started her career in fashion, but her love for philanthropy led her to start her own tech company. (Courtesy of Qway)

During the program, Ball was able to create Philan’s minimum viable product. This spring, Philan will have its beta launch.

“There are a lot of companies taking performative steps to bring about change. I think Bubble is one of those exceptions where they really seed the future of founders joining their cohorts,” Ball said. “Every ounce of time they’ve asked of us on this program is dedicated to investing in our future as Founders, and I couldn’t sing the praises of that more.”

After completing Immerse, Ball’s instructor offered him a job as a software developer at The Momentum Group (TMG), an Australia-based company that uses no-code tools to build scalable technology products.

Although she never imagined becoming a software developer, she is lucky to be able to seize this opportunity. As the first founder, Ball was able to add an additional revenue stream and build the skills required to perfect Philan’s app.

Ball said it’s empowering to embark on a dynamic career path and to encourage others to pursue professional opportunities, even if they’re unexpected.

“For those who have the luxury of choosing to pursue something else, I say do it because not everyone has the luxury of even considering doing what they want,” Ball said. “You don’t want to be the thing that’s stopping you from getting exactly what you want or what you want for your kids.”

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