Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
The daughter of Middle Eastern immigrants (my father is from Jordan; my mother is Chaldean from Iraq), my stringent upbringing helped instill my motivation and drive to be a strong, successful, ethical businesswoman. I grew up in San Diego, attending Valhalla High School, and graduating from UCSD-Revelle with a degree in Economics and a minor focused on literature. At 24, as a single mother who had been financially struggling after college to support my then young daughter, I was able to break into pharmaceutical sales – I had been one of the youngest hired at my company and earned accolades such as “Rookie of the Year” and “Sales Rep of the Quarter.” My education and selling ability set me on the path for a lucrative career, allowing me to create a beautiful, stable life for my daughter. At 30, I remarried another local San Diegan, USD Graduate and Mortgage Broker, Daniel Benitez. Though I was finally happy with my personal life, I was still unsatisfied with her career. I had an entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to create something that was my own. I decided to strike out on my own, and create a mommy and me clothing brand. Entrenched in the children’s/parenting world, my best friend, Tuni Gazelle, and I designed and self-funded a line of wildly popular baby clothes, Tuni & G, with trademarked phrases such as, “Don’t ya wish your mommy was hot like mine?” Within a few months, I had figured out that the key to success was planting our designs on celebrity babies and utilizing the media exposure to secure media attention. Tuni & G even appeared in J.Lo’s baby debut in People Magazine. Although I wasn’t a formal publicist, I instinctively knew that PR was my true passion. Within days, I created a PR agency, registered my business name, printed business cards and landed my first client, the locally based children’s entertainment group, The Jumpitz, who had been impressed with Tuni & G’s media presence.
Today, THROUGH my PR firm, GG Benitez & Associates PR, I am proud to have achieved a significant amount of press and celebrity attention for my diverse clientele, which spans the technology, children’s, fashion, and beauty, health and lifestyle industries. I maintain a strong track record for garnering consistent, valuable media impressions and have orchestrated celeb-studded happenings, including decorating nurseries, planning baby showers and enhancing celebs’ kid’s birthday parties. I have had the pleasure to work with Shonda Rhimes, Jason Bateman, Mario & Courtney Lopez, Phaedra Parks, Garcelle Beauvais, and more. While continuing to push hard for my pr clients, I have recently partnered up with local San Diegans Jeff and Veronica Konecke, and Good Carma Studio’s Chrissy Kling and Nicole Levine, to launch a clean, K-Beauty skincare brand, Aloisia Beauty. We have been able to grow this business, in spite of the limitation of the current pandemic, with amazing feedback from our customers, great press hits in outlets such as Forbes, People Magazine, and more; and, celebrity/influencer attention from Adriana Lima, Sherri Saum, Leyla Milani, Jennifer Stano, and more. I wake up every day excited to see what we are creating next to help women take their journey to healthy, glowing skin.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has not been a smooth road. With working in pharmaceutical sales, I loved the position. I loved the people I worked with, and the day to day job. But, I HATED having a boss. With being my own business owner, it was hard to learn with my first business when to cut my losses and move on, as I wanted it to succeed so badly. I have learned how important it is to have a strategic business plan; hire the right people who are experts in their fields to support the business and allow myself to focus on my areas of strength; and, to also have an exit plan, if needed. It also has taken me years to try to create a work/family life balance, which I believe I have finally been able to establish that in these last years.
As you know, we’re big fans of www.GGBenitezPR.com. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about the brand?
GG Benitez & Associates Public Relations Inc., is one of the industry’s leading independent public relations professionals with full-service capabilities. GG Benitez PR is renowned for our expertise in delivering buzz-building campaigns that elevate products and services into premier brands. As seasoned strategists for media placement, branding, personality management, and celebrity/influencer programs, we have built a stellar reputation for helping clients realize their full business potential while supporting their vision and goals. I found I had felt a real passion for public relations – and have since continued to develop and manage public relations campaigns for others with perseverance, enthusiasm, intuition and intelligence. Having previously been on the corporate, sales and client sides of the business, our well-rounded approach includes personalized attention, sharp communications skills, and a hand-selected team of pr specialists to support our hands-on efforts. We employ both traditional and innovative public relations tactics to command the results that have made our firm so successful. To date, GG Benitez PR has achieved significant media and celebrity attention for a diverse clientele and maintain an extraordinary track record of garnering consistent, valuable media impressions on national and local levels in print, broadcast, and online outlets.
Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
I don’t know that this is much of a surprise, but rather something I am compelled to share. I am honored to have volunteered my PR time for several years to a cause that is very close to my heart, childhood cancer, through the locally founded non-profit organization, Friends of Scott. Friends of Scott was founded after San Diego teen Scott Delgadillo lost his life to cancer before attending his own prom. The foundation throws a yearly prom for kids with cancer, as well as helps these kids and their families year-round emotionally and financially. I do it in honor of losing my own best friend, Dina Aon, to cancer at a tragically young age over a decade ago. I am also extremely proud to be the mother of teen humanitarians. My daughter, Cathedral Catholic High School Junior, Daniella Benitez (16) and my son, Cathedral Catholic High School Freshman Gabriel Benitez (14), have dedicated the past four years fundraising and building homes for families living below the poverty line in Tijuana, Mexico through the non-profit organization, locally-based Build A Miracle (BAM). Thus far, they have fundraised close to $200k (it takes $16k to build a house) and have built 11 homes with their own hands for families who were either completely homeless or lived in makeshift shacks without running water, electricity, plumbing, bedrooms, or working bathrooms and kitchens, to give them a safer and better quality of life.
In February 2020, Daniella was a featured “hero” on the Disney+ show Marvel’s Hero Project in “Dynamic Daniella” – and the building of her 12th house, dubbed “the Marvel Hero House,” broke ground just recently. Due to COVID-19, our family had to FaceTime last weekend for two families’ home reveals, vs. being able to go down to Tijuana and help build the homes, as we had been doing pre-pandemic. Faced with many challenges due to the COVID-19 lockdown, Daniella and Gabriel have adjusted their process by splitting their efforts to fundraise, being sensitive to the financial struggles many families are facing due to the pandemic, while still supporting BAM as the COVID-19 is most dire for the homeless and poverty-stricken families in Tijuana – many of the families Daniella and Gabriel have already helped aren’t even to even able to provide food on the tables of the homes we have built, so the siblings have also been sending down fundraised money to help them eat. From fundraising to physically building homes to connecting with those least fortunate who live right over the border, Daniella and Gabriel have inspired kids of all ages, races, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds to join their BAM teams and help these families. This humanitarian journey for my kids started in 2016. Daniella (then age 12) participated in a home build with BAM sponsored by her school, Notre Dame Academy. Inspired by the experience, she resolved to personally help build one home per year. BAM founders Chris and Julianne North have built over 370 homes since 1999, and through BAM, Daniella assembled a 16-member team, made up mostly of kids her age, to each raise $1,000 towards the $16,000 needed to build a fully-furnished home. This included devising her own fundraising campaign, coordinating building dates and volunteers, and traveling to Tijuana to physically build the home. Since then, Daniella and her brother have continued to raise funds, create teams, and build multiple homes every year – even inspiring anonymous donors and a donation from The Today Show. This past year, Daniella earned her 2nd Presidential Service Award (Gold Level) and Gabriel earned his first.