Charanor Marcano is a woman of many talents: she's an entrepreneur. She's an instructor. She designs accessories – and digital user interfaces alike. She's even been a stock broker, in one of her previous lives. What can't she do? She has yet to find out. Twice a Magna Cum Laude graduate (first from South Carolina State University, in Business Administration, then from the Fashion Institute of Technology), Charanor is no stranger to long hours and lofty goals. These days, she not only works in tech full-time, but runs her own thriving leather goods business, hand-crafting each item from scratch. So how does she do it all? The Beaufort Digital Corridor was able to sit down with our featured member this month and ask her all about where she came from, and how she got to the place she's in now.
Charanor considers South Carolina her home, because it puts her close to her family. In fact, she cites her mother as her biggest inspiration in life, due to the "passion and work ethic" she displays as an early childhood educator. Charanor discovered her own passion for the arts at a young age, as the creative classes were always her favorites in school, recalling how math and reading bored her in comparison. "Even when I was younger," she says, "I would remake clothes. Now I know I can trust my hands, and have a good eye for design." She eventually leveraged her analytical side to earn a Bachelor's in Business Administration. But the itch to create never quite let up, even as she brokered stocks at Lehman Brothers and worked as a compensation analyst for major corporations. That's when Charanor proceeded to earn another degree in Accessories Design. She had such an aptitude for it, she could practically teach the class – so that's exactly what she did, rising to the level of Adjunct Professor. During her time living and teaching in New York City, she was able to count Calvin Klein, Marchesa, and Kenneth Cole amongst her employers, learning more about fashion and starting to develop her own eponymous line of accessories.
Then Covid hit, and Charanor recognized an opportunity amongst the upheaval: to make and sell leather face masks. "They were selling like hotcakes," she recalls proudly. Her accessories collection was taking off, but she wasn't settling down just yet. She realized she "didn't want to have to live in a big city," and relocated back to her home state of South Carolina to further expand her business – and, once again, her skillset. This time, she would become certified by Google in User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) Design. Now, she's as adept with a sewing machine and thread as she is with Adobe XD and Figma.
Charanor quickly landed a professional position at Luxoft in her new field of choice, and being remote, it afforded her a certain flexibility to balance her artistic and technological endeavors. They may seem at odds, but both roles she fills are actually quite complementary. "They're very similar – the inspiration process, the user interview to figure out what customers want before you even start designing. We do pencil sketches and mockups. In leather design we do patterning; in UX, wireframing. They run parallel to each other." Regardless of medium, she takes special care to make sure her work produces a "sense of delight" in whomever is experiencing it. "A fun fact about both UX and leather design," Charanor tells me, "is that they're some of the few careers you can do while watching TV in the background! For me, it improves my productivity." And it must be effective, as she manages to juggle her full-time post with her independent business pursuits. How? "I set my priorities. I learned I'm better at my full-time job when I'm fulfilled in my personal business. And I wake up at 5:30 in the morning – an hour in the morning is worth three in the afternoon."
That's not her only piece of advice, either. "I would tell anyone, 'operate in integrity.' There's a level of performance you're capable of, and you know when you're not doing your best. And if you are, advocate for yourself." That includes the way you put yourself and your services out there. Charanor markets herself on social media, but the majority of her sales are made word-of-mouth and in-person, and she credits the Beaufort Digital Corridor with expanding her networking prospects. "I've been able to connect to other tech industry professionals who have become friends. Even to the extent of putting on a (Digital Detox) workshop, I'm able to use all facets of myself to be a part of the community and give back as well." Now, she's been actively involved with the BDC for half a year.
With a strong sense of community and enthusiasm for public outreach, Charanor is thrilled to share her arts expertise and entrepreneurial wisdom with the Beaufort Digital Corridor, and Lowcountry residents at large. While she is "grateful for the ability to do work that I love every day," the richest part of her career, Charanor says, is "the warmth and nostalgia I get seeing clients enjoy something I made with my own hands." It's this people-centered approach that has helped make her so successful in every area she ventures into. No matter if she's stitching together a supple leather wallet or devising the most functional layout for an app, she takes every step forward "from a place of love and respect."
If you would like to support Charanor Marcano in her dual ambitions, her new website, Charanor.com, has recently been published, and more workshops open to the public are on the horizon.