New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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Beyond NYU: From coding websites to creating wearable tech

Tandon alum Alexis Williams started out studying ones and zeros. Now, she’s a social media influencer, the creator of a viral activism platform and the founder of her own clothing brand.
A+person+with+red+hair+is+sitting+in+front+of+a+white+wall.+She+is+wearing+a+white+shirt+that+says%2C+%E2%80%9CFEMME+IN+STEM.%E2%80%9D+There+are+Polaroid+photos+stuck+to+the+wall+to+her+right.+On+top+of+the+image+are+two+white+hand-drawn+words+with+black+borders+that+say+%E2%80%9CBEYOND+N.Y.U.%E2%80%9D
Alexis Williams, a Tandon alum, now has her own sustainable fashion brand and a viral activism website. (Courtesy of Alexis Williams)

When Tandon alum Alexis Williams realized she had grown bored of coding, she began to feel uncertain about her path in college. However, when she discovered the Tandon School of Engineering’s Integrated Design & Media major, she found the perfect way to merge her interests in both computer science and art.

In 2020, Williams went viral for creating PB-Resources, a website that offers resources for the Black Lives Matter movement and addressing police brutality. Her work in both activism and STEM has led her to collaborations with Teen Vogue, recognition in Harper’s Bazaar and opportunities to work alongside celebrities like model Karlie Kloss.

In an interview with WSN, Williams delved into the process of coding her own platform for activism, establishing a personal clothing brand and navigating social media.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

WSN: What prompted your decision to switch your major to IDM?

Williams: I found a lot of stuff to be redundant, and I was just genuinely bored. Not having as much experience in art going into IDM really gave me the opportunity to explore something I’ve always been interested in, but had way less technical expertise in. I found it so fun and engaging, and I had a really good time transferring into that program and then continuing that out until I graduated. It was the best time ever, and I miss it.

Williams grew up in the small town of Chatham, New Jersey, and began coding at a young age. Her skills eventually led her to Tandon in 2019, where she began her studies in computer science before making the switch to IDM. Following the murder of George Floyd, Williams created PB-Resources, which went viral on both the social media platform X and TikTok in June 2020. The website includes information about resources like podcasts and petitions for people who want to get involved in the social justice movement.

WSN: Can you speak more about what sparked your desire to create PB-Resources? 

Williams: I was just scrolling through Twitter, TikTok and Instagram and was like, ‘I’m seeing so many amazing different resources being shared by all of these different people in different places. What if I just made it a goal to centralize all of this information, take any knowledge that I have and put it on this platform to help educate others and help them get involved with this?’ A lot of people make excuses for why they don’t get involved in social justice causes, so I wanted to make it so easy that you couldn’t have any sort of excuse. I built the first iteration of PB-Resources as a place where people can find tools, action items and educational materials about the social justice movement, Black Lives Matter or anti-police brutality movements. From there, it was born and has grown into other things since.

When completing her senior project in 2023, Williams was motivated to combine her various interests to create her clothing brand softwear by lex, which repurposes old technology into wearable clothing. One of the brand’s pieces is a blazer with a “hush” pin that lights up when near noise, echoing Williams’ personal journey as a woman navigating the predominantly male-dominated field she studied in. Williams recently held a sample sale at a friend’s small business in the city, and said she hopes to officially launch a store in early 2024.

WSN: What was the process of creating softwear by lex like? 

Williams: I went into my class with a couple ideas — one a lot more ambitious than the other. I could play it safe or I could do something really, really crazy that would make me really, really happy. During our first presentations of our data ideas, I came into class and said, ‘I’m really passionate about engineering, fashion and sustainability. So what if I made a brand that upcycles old technology into wearable clothes and did a couple of street-wear T-shirts to go along with the brand to point to my experience in engineering with quippy little sayings on the front of the shirts?’ My teacher was like, ‘That is so much stuff I don’t think you should do that, you should probably size down your idea since this idea is super, super ambitious.’ Of course, in true me fashion, I’m not sizing down anything. I’m doing every single thing that I want to do because when I set my mind to something, I just have to get it done. 

Williams currently works at Kode with Klossy, a coding program for young women and gender-nonconforming youth in STEM founded by Kloss. Williams remains active in the realm of social media, creating content for TikTok and collaborating with various brands. 

WSN: You balance a lot of different types of jobs. Is there any one thing you see yourself committing to long-term?

Williams: I’m always gonna have a wide range of things that I’m working on just because I get bored really easily. It’s nice to be able to flip-flop between a bunch of different things. I do hope one day to narrow down and have a stronger focus on one thing, specifically in the nonprofit space. I don’t know what that looks like yet, and I’m not in any rush to figure it out. I’m really enjoying this time of being freshly post-grad and in my early 20s trying a whole bunch of different things, seeing what sticks and really understanding myself.

Contact Bruna Horvath at [email protected].

About the Contributor
Bruna Horvath, News Editor
Bruna Horvath is a sophomore studying journalism and English at CAS. When she’s not a Deputy News Editor, she’s a "Gone Girl" enthusiast, a Goodreads lover, and a Barnes & Noble frequenter. You can usually find her ordering an iced mocha, telling people her name is “Bruna” not “Bruno,” or on Instagram @brunaahorvath.
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