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A Monumental Milestone

15 years of growth and creativity

by Maiya Holliday
published on June 28, 2024
A bunch of assorted color balloons in the air

This May, Mangrove celebrated 15 years in business. In the last decade and a half, we’ve had the opportunity to work with hundreds of changemaking organizations, from non-profits to large mission-driven corporations in the US and Canada. These opportunities have allowed us to use our expertise of building websites and brands to tangibly support our clients’ impactful work. When we see our clients leverage their brand and website to reach a wider audience and create even larger ripples, we know we’ve succeeded. Witnessing this happen many times over has shown that our once-tiny studio has evolved into a fully “grown up” creative hub that we’re immensely proud of.

This birthday also coincides with the tail end of one of the most challenging years our industry has seen since Mangrove’s inception, and it would be remiss of us not to mention that stabilizing and positioning the business in a rapidly changing landscape has taken the bulk of our attention in the last year. However, innovation has always been at the heart of running a digital agency, and we wouldn’t be who we are if we didn’t know how to apply our curiosity and creative problem-solving skills to continually adapt and pivot. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing for 15 years (starting with many, many late nights of self-taught coding escapades), and we’re still here to tell the tale.

Amidst all of the ups and downs, we’ve remained fully committed to our purpose, of “creating joyful, equitable, inclusive digital experiences that enable changemakers to do their best work”. As we move into our next chapter, we want to revisit and appreciate some of the pivotal moments of our past and offer a glimpse of where we’re headed. Join us…

Mangrove milestones  

We became a Certified B Corp in 2016. Gaining our B Corp certification for the first time solidified our commitment to purpose-driven work, and aligned our business with “the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance.” We have always proudly prioritized collaborating with values-aligned, like-minded and women- and minority-owned businesses. But getting our B Corp Certification allowed us to dig into this space more concretely and to communicate our values to prospective clients and partners. When we first certified as a B Corp, we squeaked by with 80.5 points (a not uncommon occurrence) with 80 being the minimum for certification. The second time around, we surpassed 90 points. And our third recertification in 2022 brought us up to 112 points. (The median score for ordinary businesses who complete the assessment is currently 50.9) We’re as proud of improving our score over time as we are for having certified as a B Corp in the first place. Beyond scores and metrics, we have developed a deep and enriching community of other purpose-driven business owners who constantly support and challenge us to further our impact.

We joined forces with Manoverboard in 2023. A monumental shift for us was our acquisition of fellow partner and B Corp design agency, Manoverboard, located in Winnipeg, Canada. Mangrove and Manoverboard had worked as partners for years, but bringing the “MOB” and Mangrove teams under one proverbial roof expanded the breadth of our creative offerings and made it possible for us to provide a wider range of strategic digital services to our clients. Uniting two established and well-regarded Certified B Corps to create one multifaceted agency also reflects the growing strength of the purpose-driven business community in North America.

We deepened our capabilities and skills. The January 2023 acquisition leveled up our design services and augmented our capacity to prioritize digital accessibility. Together, our teams have developed more cohesive, informed processes to better support clients and deliver exceptional work. While our original team was largely dev and tech-focused, joining forces with Andrew Boardman and the other talented folks at Manoverboard deepened and diversified our overall creative and strategic design chops. With a robust team of designers and a highly experienced creative director in Andrew, the solutions we offer clients are now infused with an extra level of creative prowess. With this enhanced expertise, we’ve been able to take on larger, more complex design and development projects that represent a caliber of work we hadn’t previously encompassed. We’ve also added in-house services including brand and identity design, custom advanced animations, digital data modeling, and accessibility audits.

Our current focus  

In a constantly shifting digital landscape, we see an inherent need to prioritize usability, inclusivity, and accessibility as a creative services firm. Put another way: as technology and design quickly evolve, are all voices being represented and prioritized? Are diverse voices being considered? Are we doing our best in delivering ideas and information for our clients?

Embracing accessibility in the context of digital creation is one way we can ensure a level of inclusivity, and is a tangible commitment to embodying our core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We’ll continue sharing knowledge and resources to support others in enhancing their accessibility efforts. Helping others access the tools to do their work in an inclusive way is an important part of what we stand for – and sharing the voices of organizations and individuals that bring accessibility work forward is something we know everyone can benefit from.  

Ethical AI is also a topic of great interest to us as the technological landscape rapidly evolves. We’ve always had a keen interest in the ways in which technology can augment the work of changemakers. The current landscape begs the question: how can AI be used safely and fairly to support organizations and purpose-driven teams to thrive? There is so much to explore here, please stay tuned.

Where we’re going 

As our team and the scope of our work has evolved and transformed, an opportunity to get creative with our visual representation and other aspects of our brand surfaced as well.  

Over the last six months, our team has worked hard behind-the-scenes, reviewing and refreshing the Mangrove brand, and updating its foundation to better represent our purpose as an organization, and the evolved breadth of our skills and services. The brand updates are focused on making our site more usable and accessible while staying true to our most recent brand iteration developed in 2020. We’re excited to bring the refreshed Mangrove brand to life in a new way.

Thank you 

Success doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The things we’ve accomplished in our 15 years have been in large part thanks to our clients and partners who have trusted us to tell their stories and help them do their best work.

A strong and supportive community of fellow entrepreneurs, mentors, and coaches, has also made a substantial impact on our growth and the evolution of our business. Finding the balance in running a purpose-driven small business that’s also profitable and sustainable is rarely straightforward. Knowing we can connect and share with like-minded humans facing similar circumstances has helped us continue to learn and find our way through sometimes tricky challenges.

We’re also grateful for the power of community from the perspective of being a woman-owned business. While women entrepreneurs are having a profound and exciting impact on the economy, women-owned businesses still experience revenue and opportunity gaps when compared to those operated by men. A lack of market access, funding opportunities, and amplification channels all contribute to this. We’re grateful to belong to active groups and networks—including WBENC, where we recently achieved certification—that help us share Mangrove’s story as a woman-owned business and connect to opportunities we may otherwise not have heard of.

And thank you to our team, for your hard work, generosity, kindness and for bringing your whole selves to the job. 

We see each and every one of you as a pivotal part of our agency and recognize your monumental involvement in making Mangrove what it is today.  

Cheers to the past 15 years and cheers to you. 

-Maiya and Andrew

Image by Sagar Patil on Unsplash 

A Certified B Corp, Mangrove is a woman-owned website design and development company with a diverse, talented team distributed around the globe. We’ve been building websites since 2009 that amplify the work of change-making organizations and increase the competitive power of businesses owned by historically marginalized people.

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