Skimmons is founder and co-president of Sister Webs Design Studio. The company name serves as a reminder of its partnersâ€™ commitment to finding a cure to breast cancer, and Sister Webs donates 5 percent of its profits to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, an organization dedicated to fighting breast cancer worldwide.
â€śEveryone knows someone who has been impacted by this disease,â€ť said Skimmons, whose older sister, Faith, is a breast cancer survivor and is actively involved with the Komen organization. â€śThis is a small way to give back to something thatâ€™s important to my sister and a lot of other people.â€ť
Skimmons has been doing independent web design since 1998, mostly on a very part-time basis while her children were young. She founded Sister Webs in 2008, adding a partner, Charlene Dillingham, the following year. The two serve as co-presidents of the firm, which prides itself on providing strong personal service to a small group of clients.
Sister Webs offers services ranging from creating and maintaining websites to providing technology solutions such as e-mail consolidation and domain management. Most of the companyâ€™s clients are small business owners or nonprofit organizations located across the country, from California to Illinois to New York, as well as locally.
â€śOur projects vary in size. Some customers want us to design an entire website from the ground up, or redo an existing site for them,â€ť said Skimmons. â€śOthers get 95 percent done themselves and just want us to come in for the finishing touches.â€ť
She said the majority of their work is split evenly between content management system (CMS) websites, such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, and membership-based websites.
â€śCMS sites allow businesses to have someone else design [their site] and then run it themselves,â€ť Skimmons said. â€śThey can do things like change paragraphs and add new pages on their own, and then they can come back to us just to do the more technical stuff.â€ť This can save clients both time and money, she said.
To work with nonprofits and other member-based groups, Sister Webs is a partner with Wild Apricot, a platform for creating websites for organizations that need to keep track of memberships, donations, event registration, and other related tasks. Skimmons used Wild Apricot to redesign the Rachel Carson Elementary School (RCES) PTA website when she became membership chairperson several years ago.
â€śFirst I used it for the membership piece [of the site], to allow people to join online,â€ť said Skimmons, â€śand then for the full site.â€ť
While families still have the option of sending in a check for their PTA membership dues, she said the vast majority now take advantage of the option to join or renew online. The process is easy, which Skimmons believes has helped increase overall membership.
This past summer, Skimmons redid the Lakelands Park Middle School (LPMS) website as well. The newly designed site includes options to purchase spirit wear online, donate to the PTSAâ€™s fundraising campaign and volunteer for activities.
â€śThe more we can put online for people to do up front,â€ť she said, â€śthe more likely they are to participate.â€ť
As a mother of three, Skimmons can relate to this need for simplification. Her job and her kids â€” Elise (14), Jake (12) and Ben (10) â€” keep her busy, as does her volunteer work with their schools. She served as membership chair for the RCES PTA for three years, and this year is president of the LPMS PTSA.
Skimmons and her husband, Brian, have lived in Kentlands since 1996. They moved into their new home one month before their daughter was born, and they have watched the trees they planted in their backyard grow up along with their children. The trees now shade their enclosed sunroom addition, which serves as Skimmonsâ€™ office.
Aside from her companyâ€™s investment in breast cancer research, Skimmons is also involved on a personal level. She is a participant in the Sister Study, a 10-year study being conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) 50,000 of women ages 35 to 74 whose sisters had breast cancer. Sister Study participants are asked to complete annual health updates and more detailed biannual questionnaires that researchers hope will uncover valuable information about the reasons women get breast cancer and potentially other diseases such as heart disease and other types of cancer.
Skimmons said her companyâ€™s financial investment in finding a cure for breast cancer has had an unexpected side effect.
â€śI didnâ€™t think it would be as well received as it has been,â€ť she said, â€śbut I get a lot of calls from people who are picking us just for that reason.â€ť
Clearly sheâ€™s not alone in her commitment to this cause.