Trimeka Benjamin started as a marketing executive in healthcare, but her first client was more glamorous: NASCAR.
“I originally wanted to get into mass communication as a freshman in college, but one day my car broke down and my mom and dad had to pick me up from class,” says Benjamin, the owner of Swim Digital Group, a digital agency she started in 2009, and the mother of two young boys. “My dad pulled off a slip from a flyer that was on the job bulletin board at school for a marketing internship at NASCAR’s New York office, and the rest is history.”
Not too long into her career, Benjamin knew she wanted to have her own firm. “Being on the client side for so long, I know how hard it is to have an agency that understands how to quantify value of marketing dollars in ways that a “boss” could understand. So I spent years working in the industry, learning my trade, and grasping this concept of how digital strategy ties to overall growth – and then there was Swim,” she says. “It was an amazing ride that taught me so much about marketing and the future of content ownership and digital media.”
What do you think is the secret to your family’s success?
Well, if you know Anthony and I, you know that there is really no secret to why we are successful as a family. We love each other to pieces, and we are an amazing team. We have and continue to work really hard at making sure that we are each other’s biggest cheerleaders, pinch hitters and best friends. I just couldn’t image anything that I do being possible without the support I receive from Anthony.
When we made the commitment to being entrepreneurs, we also committed that we would be 100 percent steadfast to the “home team.” We both understand that nothing can happen outside of our family that can fill our hearts as much as a happy and balanced marriage. Because of this, it makes all the “crazy” much more manageable and exciting.
What is your biggest fear?
Time. Until I was married and had my children, I would have to say I was pretty fearless. But as a mother, wife, and career woman, I have come to learn that you can never be in two places. Because of this, I fear that I will miss precious moments – moments that I can never get back. I find myself holding my babies so tight and taking pride in spoiling them, kissing my husband and holding his hand – even if we are just home watching the news. Time is so precious and it is one thing that I can’t figure out how to get more of – and losing it is a little scary.
What advice would you give to other women?
My advice would be this: Don’t take yourself so seriously. Don’t have so much pride, that you miss those women around you that want to help you succeed. I would not be where I am today without the support from amazing women like Mindy Murphy, Lisa Brock, Jessica Rivelli and Renee Dabbs (to name a few). Recognizing this, and knowing you have a support system of amazing women – opens you up for opportunities to be bigger and better than you could imagine.
What is your proudest moment?
I have to say that I have three moments that I am blessed to celebrate every day for the rest of my life. April 4th is the day that Anthony and I promised to love and support each other for as long as we live. May 21st is the day that I gave birth to my first son A.J.; and October 29th is the day that my baby Christian was born. All three days helped shape me and my life in ways that I would have never imagined.
What is your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement was taking the leap into entrepreneurship. Owning your own business is not for the faint hearted. And doing what it takes to grow a business is for wackos (myself included). And I love it more and more every single day. Knowing that my sons will grow up knowing that they can follow their dreams and love and support a wife who is following hers as well means so much to me. I just hope their future wives thank me.
What makes you happy?
There are so many things! My parents, my friends, my clients; they really all make me happy. But what makes my heart smile is the look in my two boys’ eyes when they first wake up in the morning and see “mommy.” There’s nothing like it.
How do you relax and take time for yourself?
Well, I’m an extrovert. So I actually need people to relax… something along the lines of sitting by a fire pit, with a glass of wine, with my husband and closest of friends while the kids are playing—and some great music.
What kind of message would you like to give women in the community?
Opportunities to connect and meet people in Tampa Bay are plentiful. From The Junior League of Tampa Bay to professional organizations like Working Women of Tampa Bay – there are cool ways to find other women who are where you are in life and in your career. Joining these types of organizations gives you more exposure to advice, mentors, and support than you could imagine.
What else would you like to share?
Having balance is hard. Choosing what (or who) gets your attention at any moment isn’t easy, but knowing that life and the pathway to success are full of these choices and they will present themselves daily makes it easier to face when they arrive. Between my business, my family and my community involvement – I am at full throttle for 18 of the 24 hours in a day. But this also means that I had to become friends with a very special word: “No.” I try not to use it often, but when I do; it is because when faced with choices, I am getting better at choosing what (or who) needs my attention at the moment
What is your favorite thing to do with your family in Tampa?
I have to say, we just love Tampa. We love everything about raising our children here. One of our favorite places is the Glazer Children’s Museum. I took our oldest son, A.J. to Glazer in 2012 and he was addicted. We also can’t get enough of the Florida Aquarium. And our “not so hidden” hidden treasure is SPC’s Leepa Rattner Museum of Art, just a quaint but cool place to see modern and contemporary art.
What is your biggest inspiration?
My mother has inspired me in so many ways. Prior to her retirement, she paved the way for so many women and African Americans in cities that one would only dare to visit as a professional young black woman. Because of her, I can’t know fear and I can never stop pursuing my best me. She is watching me, she is cheering me on every step of the way, but she will never let me forget where I am and where I came from, and to give more than I receive.