In 2012, Ruby Taylor was in a car accident and suffered traumatic brain injuries that left her with thoughts of suicide. However, as of 2015, she is the creator of Smope, an app that reminds you to smile and hope every day.
The app is designed to pair your own pictures with inspirational quotes. It’s the first of its kind. But there was a time when creating an app was the last thing on Taylor’s mind. She remembers that her lowest point was looking out of her apartment window and contemplating jumping to her death, but she realized that she wasn’t high up enough—she only lived on the second floor.
“It never dawned on me to keep on walking up the steps or just take the elevator to the top floor,” said Taylor. “I couldn’t figure out a way to kill myself, so I needed something. That’s when those coping skills began to kick in.”
It was an act of what Taylor called “divine intervention.” Her brain injury took away some of her cognitive and processing skills. It saved her from herself. Now when she tells the story, she laughs about the irony of it all.
Taylor began coping when she started a Facebook page called “Smiling Counts” in 2013. “It gave me what I needed to transition into a much better place,” said Taylor. Although the page was started just for her to post inspirational things to help herself get through the day, it started to have an impact on the lives of others who were battling with depression. One follower’s comment still resonates with Taylor to this day.
“The person said, ‘You don’t know what you are doing. You are helping me stay alive one more day, because every day I look for your post,’” said Taylor.
She was shocked that her page was affecting the lives of others in such a meaningful way, but when people began thinking she was a therapist, which she didn’t want, and expecting her posts, she left the page. It was too much pressure at that time. The decision to leave the page would lead to an emotional regression.
“I felt myself getting back into a dark place, so I wanted an app where I could have pictures and inspirational quotes daily,” said Taylor.
She began looking for that app, but it did not exist. There were apps that used pictures of nature with quotes, but none that would remind her of her own memories. “I wanted to remember that I have had good times, and that I’m going to have more good times,” said Taylor.
After searching and asking friends for recommendations, she came up with her own solution.
“I said, I’m going to make one. I didn’t know how the heck to make an app, and I had no idea what I was doing, but God opened up doors and connected me with the right people,” said Taylor.
In three short years since her accident, Taylor has put action behind her idea to create Smope. It was a daring task to take on because the presence of Black women in the tech industry is almost nonexistent when compared with their white male counterparts. One of the opened doors led her to Sheena Allen. Allen, a young Black woman, has six apps under her belt to date. She is the founder of Sheena Allen Apps and had the experience and knowledge to help Taylor break into the industry.
“It’s always difficult when you don’t see people who look like you,” said Taylor. “It makes you think, ‘Can I really, really do that?’ But it also motivated me, because I want to be that other face.”
In the next three years, Taylor predicts that Smope will have reached its 1 millionth user, but most importantly, she wants it to branch off into a foundation for traumatic brain injury survivors. The foundation would provide financial assistance for medical expenses. “I didn’t even have money to purchase medicine,” said Taylor. “I don’t want anybody to be in that position.”
There is a lack of awareness about the effects of traumatic brain injuries within the African-American community that Taylor hopes to replace with knowledge through the foundation’s outreach. It’s a plan that’s near to her heart because within her own family, she experienced ignorance. Her ability to filter her words was gone because of the brain injury. Every other word was an expletive, and people could not understand the change in her behavior.
“My mother felt like it was demonic, and that was really hurtful, because I’m a strong believer in God,” said Taylor. Their relationship has improved since those days because of education.
Each day, Taylor is reminded to look toward a better tomorrow, and she wants you to have those reminders, too. “If you’re having a good day, it can become a better day, and if you’re having a bad day, it can become a good day,” said Taylor.
Smope is now available on the Apple Store for $1.99, while Android users will be able to download the newer version sometime in November. It will have the ability, among other things, to hold more of pictures and offer more quotes.