In celebration of Women’s History Month, we asked Tammy Coleman, Element212’s founder and president, a few questions about her journey as a businesswoman in the marketing industry.
“If I have learned anything in business it is to hire people smarter than myself.”
Favorite Place to Eat in Anderson: Farm Society
Interesting Fact: I was a stay at home mom before starting my company
Q. What’s your workday like?
A. Sometimes it feels like complete chaos jumping from strategist to secretary to HR to project manager to troubleshooter. But I thrive under pressure and love that every day is different from the last.
Q. How did Element212 become an agency that it is today?
A. I started the company as an idea around economic development for Anderson. Our original name was Community Networks. What I learned in business is revenue and cash flow matters almost more than a great idea, and I had to pivot the position of my company to stay in business. I changed our name to CN Design & Marketing. Our services were project-based: logo design, website development, and marketing materials. As we grew, we began adding other services like research and consulting. In 2011, we rebranded our company as Element212 and restructured how we offered our services, moving to a retainer model where we functioned more like an outsourced marketing department for our clients. This change allowed us to serve our clients more long term and supported the business with steady revenue that we could depend on for future growth and planning. That change greatly improved our business.
Q. Were there any challenges you faced as a woman in leadership?
A. Honestly, I don’t believe so. I gained confidence in myself and my ability to run this company very early. In my opinion, it is having or lacking confidence that will cause challenges, not what a person’s gender is. I know that is not the case in every industry, but I believe it is in marketing.
Q. Who or what shaped you as who you are today?
A. My parents played a big role in who I am today. My dad was always a risk-taker and was fearless in everything he did. I watched him succeed because he knew who he was and walked boldly and confidently in his career. His example made me believe that if I worked hard and was honest in my efforts, I would not fail. My mom was the hardest worker I knew and she never complained. She raised three kids, worked full time, and kept a spotless house amongst the rest of us being slobs. Her work ethic taught me to take pride in my career and do everything to the best of my ability without complaint.
Q. Why do you love your company/job?
A. I love the fact that my company provides me the opportunity to not just be creative in my strategies but to be creative in how I grow and shape the business. I am a person who needs and thrives on change, and the fact that I am able to continue to develop new ideas and direction for my company is such a blessing. I also love the flexibility of being an entrepreneur allows me. I have three teenagers who keep me on my toes and I love the fact that I can work but still be available to them whenever they need.
Q. How do you see yourself in 10 years? Element212 in 10 years?
A. My goal for Element212 is to grow our research and consulting services to a place where we are known for it by name. When people see two CEOs talking about their struggles in engaging their customers, I want them to say “You need to contact Element212 for that.” But I also want my business to be known as an amazing place to work, where we have a balanced environment between work and life and our employees feel valued. I feel like we have already achieved the latter, but in growth, my desire is to maintain our amazing culture.
Q. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
A. I love spending time with my husband, Grant. It doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we are together. He has been a constant and consistent supporter of mine and shows me every day how proud he is of what I have built. We love playing games with the kids, going on walks, and playing basketball.
Q. Any advice for young professionals looking for success?
A. Learn your trade well and be confident in your decisions. Be kind and respectful to your co-workers. Also, go above and beyond in your role. Don’t say “that’s not in my job description” or just sit when your work is done. Offer to help others when you have time and be a team player – because even if the business is not yours, the whole boat rises on high tide and every team member plays a role in how high the tide can get. Remember that your work directly impacts your company’s bottom line, which directly impacts you and your job security.