Feb 05, 2015
When Deven Smith and TC Maiero graduated from Humboldt State with degrees in computer science, they never thought they’d be working for a local flower farm.
“Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect,” says Smith (’08, Information Systems). “But the truth is, there are a lot of industries out there that need people with computer skills.”
Smith and Maiero (’14, Computer Science) helped develop Stargazer Barn, a website for Sun Valley Floral Farms, the national flower supplier based in Arcata. The site sells a variety of Humboldt Made products—Sun Valley flowers, Dick Taylor chocolate, Holly Yashi jewelry, Tulip perfume, Kinetic Koffee, Laceys Cookies and wine from grapes grown in Willow Creek—that can be purchased as a gift collection or individually, then shipped around the country overnight. It’s also the first time consumers can buy Sun Valley flowers and wine directly online.
As the largest cut flower grower in the United States, Sun Valley is a thriving, year-round operation. But Bill Prescott, who does marketing and communications associate for Sun Valley, said the company was looking for ways to partner with local businesses to sell its goods online.
“We wanted to give people the opportunity to purchase our flowers, wine and other Humboldt Made products, whether they’re living in Humboldt County or somewhere else in the country,” says Prescott.
An effective website was critical to Stargazer Barn’s success and after an outside contractor built the framework, Sun Valley turned to two Humboldt State grads—Maiero and Smith—to make it work.
Maiero is a software developer at Sun Valley, and Smith is a senior web developer at Precision Intermedia, a local multimedia company hired for the project. Using skills they gained at HSU, the two worked together on making the site functional.
“I worked on the back end, taking data coming out of Stargazer Barn and making it easy for our warehouse people to ship it out in timely manner,” says Maiero.
“What I wrote was a specialized boxing code that takes into consideration what products can fit into a box and what can’t, creating a much more accurate shipping charge,” says Smith.
According to Prescott, plans are underway for a national marketing campaign. And as Stargazer Barn continues to grow, Smith and Maiero expect to build on their skills in programming, software and web development. “It’s basically been an extension of my schooling at HSU,” Maiero says.
Both Maiero and Smith feel lucky to get to work in a field related to their majors—especially in a place as beautiful as Humboldt.
“I had the intention of staying in Humboldt after I graduated and I realized that there are all the same job opportunities up here as in the Bay Area—you just have to be open-minded,” says Smith. “I love this area and I don’t see any reason to rush down to the traffic anytime soon.”