University of North America

Katrina Parrott: Founder of iDiversicons™, the world’s first diverse emoji

Barbara's Flower Shop

By Robin Harris-Walker

Story Courtesy Women Leadership Magazine

WLM: It is so exciting, yet a little disheartening, that many people in diverse communities are unaware that diverse icons exist.  What is iDiversicons™  and what are the unique functions and capabilities for iDiversicons™  Revolutionary iPhone and iPad Keyboard?  

Katrina Parrott

iDiversicons™ :  You’re right—for the longest time people around the world have been asking for more faces of color when it comes to emoji.  And that’s exactly why iDiversicons™  invented the world’s first truly diverse emoji, satisfying a tremendous void that current emoji lack.  We did more than just introduce revolutionary new skin tones, we also introduced gender neutral emoji, biracial, couples, and family emoji, hair emoji, you name it.  Since we first invented iDiversicons™ , we’ve evolved into a new seamless iPhone and iPad keyboard featuring unlimited capabilities and user benefits, with over 900 different emoji to choose from.

WLM: What was the motivation behind the development of emoji diversity?

iDiversicons™ :  It was literally one of those a-ha moments—my daughter Katy Parrott, a Public Health PreMed student at UT, was texting someone and blurted out, “wouldn’t it be nice to have emoji that looked like the person sending them.”  And that’s when the idea for iDiversicons™  was born.  Six years later, my life’s mission is to help as many different people as possible truly express themselves, creating a sense of belonging and inclusiveness for all.

WLM: Tell us how iDiversicons™  went from idea to app stores globally

iDiversicons™ : The road to me becoming a Native App Developer began in the most unexpected way: when I was laid off by a NASA JSC contractor.  It was then that I decided to start my own business and assembled an experienced programmer, artist and video team to bring our unique vision for iDiversicons™  to life.  We officially launched in the Apple Store on October 11, 2013. 

Since then, I’ve been extremely fortunate to be featured in publications like PCWorld, Seventeen and the Houston Chronicle, and was interviewed in the documentary film “Picture Character.” and on “The Morning Hustle” radio show. Needless to say, it’s been quite a ride!

WLM: Did your professional background play a part in the development of iDiversicons™ .  

iDiversicons™ : I have over 30-years experience in logistics and supply chain management in the aerospace industry, having worked for companies such as Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, Rockwell International and United Space Alliance. For me, there is a direct correlation between managing and negotiating contracts for the government, and applying this knowledge to assemble an experienced team to ensure the success of iDiversicons™ .  And my time spent at American University inspired me to pioneer the five-skin tone emoji standard now used by Apple and Google.  You never know where inspiration can come from. 

WLM: What experience and feedback have you received from inclusion communities?

iDiversicons™ : The overall feedback has been positive and encouraging.  Just to give you an example: American University’s Black community (go Ebony Eagles!!!) highlighted me as one of AU changemakers, creating meaningful impact in our ever-changing world.  They shared that iDiversicons™  continues to touch lives by taking a step back to look through an all-inclusive lens and ensure everyone’s identity is captured.  And PCWorld noted how our drive for inclusiveness is important for kids’ self-esteem, which really meant a lot.

WLM: What advice would you offer Third Party software developers facing rejection from larger platforms? 

iDiversicons™ : Never quit!  iDiversicon’s biggest challenge were the design limitations in the software development kit that limited our ability to make our app more fluid and seamless. The only available option if you desire to operate on the larger platforms is to implement the technical adjustments required to get your app approved so that it can be distributed through the app store globally—and we simply kept at it until we did.

WLM: When can we expect to see what’s coming in future releases? 

iDiversicons™ : In addition to developing a new Android keyboard version, we are adding an even wider range of diverse emoji and animated GIFs as we acquire more resources to significantly expand the number of potential users. 

WLM: Are there plans to customize iDiversicons™  upon request?

iDiversicons™ : Over the years, we have been very responsive to custom requests including a red hair emoji, religious emoji, school mascot emoji, a Ray Lewis “Never Quit” emoji, the list goes on and on.  Back in 2015, we worked with the late disability rights leader Greg Smith to create our Disability Pride Emoji.  An Apple Software Engineer even asked us to develop gender-specific female police officers and construction workers—and a Unicorn. We delivered eleven new emoji to Apple the next day.

WLM: The subject of diversity affords us the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations about how we are represented.  It appears you have found a way to allow technology to help tell the stories of diversity.  Thank you and Katy both for your incredible work. Tell us how we can express ourselves and diversity using your technology.

iDiversicons™ : Thank you very much, we’re truly grateful for the opportunity to share our story!  Yes, we invite everyone to head over to iDiversicons™ .com and be a part of the emoji revolution—because one emoji does not fit all.

WLM: Today, Katrina Parrott’s life mission is to help as many different people as possible truly express themselves, creating a sense of belonging and inclusiveness for all. Parrott is a Washington DC native who holds a BS in Business Administration from American University (Procurement Acquisition Concentration) and currently resides in League City, Texas.

Courtesy Women Leadership Magazine

Check Out the latest edition of Women Leadership Magazine USA

UA-33579627-1