The number of women pursuing careers in technology is gradually growing these days, and St. James resident Joleen Barker is living proof.
Barker is opening up her own cell phone and device repair shop in her hometown on Nov. 1 at 523 Lake Ave.
And it all started with her needing her own repair.
“I like many people, broke my phone,” she said. “I went into the store and said ‘what? How much?”
Baffled by the price, Barker — who has a bachelor’s degree in science, studied Computer Information Systems, and has worked in the computer industry for over 20 years — felt like she could take matters into her own hands.
After some trial and error, she fixed her phone herself and thought this would be a great business to get into.
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Barker launched her business, CRKD Cell Phone Repair (pronounced “cracked”) in February 2019 and worked out of her basement during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working from her home allowed Barker to connect with her customers on a personal level, especially with seniors who struggle with the ever-changing technology.
Her office lately has been her front porch, she says, a comfortable setting where one can sit down, tell Barker what’s wrong and she can figure out a solution on how to fix it.
She hopes to replicate that same feeling in her physical store.
“Sometimes it can be challenging when it’s a family member trying to work with them and it’s better having outside people,” she said. “Unfortunately the old phones they were comfortable with are going out of style — if someone would rather work with mom and dad or grandma and grandpa, I do that.”
Besides cell phone repair, some of the other services offered at CRKD are iPad and tablet repairs, smartwatch repairs, replacing broken screens, hardware fixes, tutoring for seniors, and more.
A self-proclaimed townie, Barker said she’s become a trusted resource in the community and those who know her wish her luck on her next endeavor.
“I’m proud that I’ve gotten this far as I have, my field is more of a man’s world,” Barker said. “In the IT world, I was one of two women with 40 guys, and it has changed, I see a lot more women than I did before.”
CRKD Cell Phone will be open seven days a week. Visit the business’s website for more information.
Top: Joleen Barker talking about her business on Facebook.