For over 25 years, YIKES, Inc. has built creative, proven web design and development solutions for businesses, nonprofits, and healthcare organizations with a core specialty in WordPress themes, plugins, and functionality.
As longtime SBN members, cofounders, and copresidents, Tracy and Mia Levesque are committed to building a more socially, environmentally, and financially sustainable local economy. YIKES, Inc. is a Pennsylvania Benefit Corporation and a certified B Corporation. As an LGBTQIA+ co-owned business, the company plays an active role in the Philadelphia community. Tracy cofounded #TechInColor, a networking group that brings together people from diverse backgrounds within the tech community, with other queer folx in tech.
We caught up with Tracy and Mia to learn more about their business, how they incorporate the triple bottom line practice of people, planet, and profit into their work, and their experiences as SBN members. Check out the interview below!
What prompted you to start YIKES? What was your impetus in creating a web design and development company rooted in the triple bottom line framework of people, planet, and profit?
We started the business [YIKES, Inc.] with another friend of ours who was also a lesbian in the mid-90s. We all had an interest in web technology and our skills complemented each other. After doing websites on a volunteer basis for several months we decided to start a business. It was that simple. The three of us came from non-profit backgrounds and wanted to run a “socially responsible” – the term at the time – business.
How long have you been an SBN member, and can you share more about the benefits of membership? In what ways does SBN assist your business?
We’ve been members of SBN since the early 2000s, though I can’t remember exactly when we joined. I think the main benefit of membership is having a like-minded business community. When we were starting out with business networking, many of the established organizations were very conservative. When we walked into our first SBN event we felt like we finally found our people.
Just having a thriving sustainable business community in Philadelphia is a big asset. It shows there is a different way to having a successful business that doesn’t follow a traditional roadmap.
As LGBTQIA+ business owners who use your business as a force for good, do you have suggestions on how the business community can better support other LGBTQIA+-owned responsible businesses?
We’re also members of the Independence Business Alliance, Philadelphia LGBTQIA+ chamber of commerce. The alliance is welcoming towards all allies and provides a great source of businesses to work with – plus their events are super fun!
YIKES has accomplished many things over the years – especially becoming one of the first companies in PA to become a benefit corporation – can you share what’s been the most rewarding for you?
We’re most proud of ourselves for committing to sustainability, being our authentic selves, and doing good when we founded our business and sticking to it for all these years. In our capitalist country, ethical decisions are put in corporations’ hands, and mixing that with the bottom line often doesn’t work. To achieve a certain level of success, the narrative says you have to compromise doing good for making money. We have not had to do that and have achieved success on our terms. We have always been out about being a women-owned, lesbian-owned, and sustainable business even when it wasn’t “cool.”
To up-and-coming local independent businesses, what is one piece of advice you would give them?
It is so important, especially as businesses owned by people from marginalized communities, to operate with a growth mindset and not from a place of fear. I have never regretted a risk we’ve taken (even if it didn’t work out) but I have wished we’d taken more risks over the years.
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