With a lead-in like that, this Paradowski bio has some ‘splaining to do. Lucky for you, dear reader, we have time. And even more fortunate is the fact that learning about Ari Ferrari is an unequivocal delight that leaves you more gentle, more open-minded and thinking about a million babies.
I asked Terri Mitchell, Paradowski’s leading unicorn expert, the color of Ari’s mohawk. “It’s somewhere between aquamarine and cerulean.” And then a second later, “Merhawk.”
That gets me thinking how interesting it is that what might qualify as our office’s loudest hair graces a human so introspective, he has to consciously switch on his ‘outside voice’ when he talks to others. Inside.
His boss, Bryan Reckamp, offers, “Ari's mohawk hair changes color based on (I'm assuming) current mood, goals, and ambitions.” This makes sense to me. Affability is a rainbow-like quality, so of course his physical self would reflect it so.
While Ari grew up in Creve Coeur, he and his four sisters had a bit of European flair about them. His mother made sure of it. Determined to raise children with minimal interference from men, she chose to have five of them on her own. Ari doesn’t refer to her as “my mom.” She is simply “Mom,” and she’s earned it.
“Mom was born in the wrong country,” he laughs. She grew up near the Central West End which was, at the time, a hotbed of culture. She befriended folks from Europe and the Middle East and made the decision then and there to give her children a worldly upbringing, St. Louis be damned.
And so, Aris childhood was one built on independence, hard-learned lessons and estrogen.
With sisters 10 and two years his senior and a set of younger twins, each member of the brood grew up like this: Be born. Start babysitting the other kids the second you’re able. Go grocery shopping for the week with the $200 Mom gave you. Buy a bunch of Pop-Tarts and Doritos because you can. Learn your damn lesson and buy real food next time. And eventually, start babysitting your older sibling’s kids because they’re part of the family now, too.
Ari helped raise his oldest sister’s first kid when he was seven. His twin sisters were born when he was 10 and he helped raise them as well. And finally, he had his own twin boys when he was 15.
Take this affinity for child-rearing, toss in his charming smile and Mom’s determination to model Ari after the central-European man (“They’re so romantic,” she’d say), and you get the chillest Mary Poppins around. Who, speaking of European flair, did actually teach himself how to play the piano by ear. And how to figure draw. AND has written three science fiction and fantasy novels.
As Ari puts it, international travel meant it was always feast or famine for the household. Eat ramen for a month because Mom is saving to take you all to Mexico for the summer instead of shoving you off to get lice at a Missouri summer camp. Visit Hawaii in 2nd grade. And Mom wasn’t afraid to take the crew out of school to scoot through Europe, either.
Traveling mostly in his formative years, Ari muses that he doesn’t have crisp memories so much as he has feelings of experiences. We talk about how often seemingly personal human memories are, in truth, formed on the memories of others. Then, Ari tells me about one of these ‘feelings of experiences’ while traveling.
He and his sister are in Egypt, riding down a dusty alley in a taxi. Mom buys them candy to hand out the window like Halloween so they can feel some semblance of American life. Kids are just swarming them, taking a piece of candy not like it’s one of a hundred they’ll get that night; not looking at it with disdain, wondering why they’ve gotten so many PayDay bars this year. They are overjoyed. They are physically overwhelmed with gratitude. And the ebb and flow of life becomes a little more clear for Ari.
The kids never feel comfortable asking Santa for anything ever again.
To be fair, Ari was still raising children. But man, does he remember coming into his own in 7th grade. In the same year, he figured out how to comb his shoulder-length hair, decided to stop wearing water shoes and got some true blue friends. Yes, those 7th and 8th grade years were great. No girls on their radar. “We just laughed all the time.”
“High school was filled with diapers and food stamps.”
Ari met the mother of his sons in a gifted program when they were eight. They dated in high school, fell in love, got pregnant n’ married. The newlyweds moved in with his wife’s grandparents, who Ari credits for his boys’ good nature. Their relationship progressed into their early 20s the way you’d expect. Ari ain’t getting married ever again.
Uh, YEAH there are babies at Paradowski. We often find ourselves saying there’s “something in the water.” And here’s how we were lucky enough to scoop up Ari.
Ari was a bank teller for many years. For some of them he was, and still is, in a loving ethically non-monogamous relationship with a woman whose husband has become one of Ari’s biggest fans. (Ari is borrowing his car at the time of this interview.) He pushed Ari to do something more with his gifted-program brain, and suggested coding. So Ari took a couple classes and went through LaunchCode. That led to him doing QA and automation.
As a QA engineer for us, Ari's still raising babies. These babies just happen to be Paradowski websites. They shit themselves all the same—throw tantrums and ask for the night light to be left on just a little longer. And our Mary Poppins with a Merhawk is the worldly, patient, inquisitive caretaker of our digital dreams.