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Entrepreneurs Grind

OpTic Gaming CEO Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez Debuts Pine Park

Earlier this year (April 2021), Hector Rodriguez (better known to esports aficionados as OpTic Gaming CEO “H3CZ”) put out an intriguing tweet that pointed to his next business endeavor – “This year I will be launching a cannabis brand in California and a Hemp Brand Nationally. Needless to say, my time in California and in Oklahoma have been nothing short of F U N.” Cut to July 26, where Rodriguez’s 900+ Twitter followers found out what the name of his marijuana brand is. Say hello to Pine Park, a central hub for all things weed that’s been described as “a place you belong, feel at home, can visit, escape to, and are proud of.”

As someone that’s already built a sizable audience of loyal followers through his content creation efforts and esports endeavors, it’s awesome to see Rodriguez use his influence and notoriety to kickstart a new cannabis company. Pine Park stands as the epicenter of his latest venture and allows for the “goods” being grown there to prosper due to a beneficial climate setting and the essentials needed to make it the very best on the market today. As a whole, Pine Park is a massive establishment – it measures out at 5600 square feet and houses 1800 plants. It’s clear that several efforts have been made to enhance the potency of the cannabis being made there and create as much of it as humanly possible.

Rodriguez’s move into the ever-growing cannabis world certainly elicits plenty of excitement. Besides the signature weed brand that will come from his Pine Park initiative, we’re sure everyone can expect to get their hands on slick apparel and a wealth of other dope merchandise. The entrepreneurial spirit that Rodriguez exudes can not only be seen in his esports work – it can also be seen in his incredible Pine Park initiative. We can’t wait to see what else comes from this brand new cannabis company. Now, who’s ready to smoke on that Pine Pack?

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Entrepreneurs Grind

Rennia Davis Plans To Comeback Better Than Ever

Rennia Davis has a bright future ahead of her.

Coming off an incredibly successful collegiate career at the University of Tennessee where she averaged 15.4 points and eight rebounds over the course of her four years with the team, Davis finished top 10 in just about every statistical category imaginable in Tennessee history including scoring, rebounds, and double-doubles. Her performance during the 2020-2021 campaign earned her the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Women’s College Basketball Player of the Year, and she was subsequently drafted 9th by the Minnesota Lynx in this year’s draft.

Unfortunately, Davis suffered a stress fracture in her foot early in the season, putting her out indefinitely. Still, as we all know, setbacks are setups for comebacks, and Davis is working hard to come back better than ever. We caught up with one of Tennessee’s all-time greats to talk about her college career, what it was like to experience the moment of being drafted, and what we can expect from her in the coming months.

ONE37pm: Okay let’s start by taking it back to the University of Tennessee where you established yourself as one of the best women’s college basketball players in the country. What was that like for you?

Davis: Honestly, my time at Tennessee was not how I was expecting it to go. It was definitely a grind! It feels good now looking back, but it wasn’t easy. Teams played us harder because we were “Tennessee.” We’ve won eight national championships, and our name holds a lot of weight. I remember we played Kentucky my sophomore year, and they beat us. They were sort of rubbing in our faces like “yeah we beat Tennessee.” We were getting the best of teams every night, so it does feel good now.

ONE37pm: Draft Night is a defining moment for every athlete. Unfortunately, it was virtual like last year, but what was it like to hear your name called?

Davis: It wasn’t unfortunate for me at all! I got to be around my family and it was more of an intimate setting. It still would have been a special moment if I had been there, but to have all the people that love and care about me was great. You know this was my dream, and it was a really good feeling. A different energy for sure!

ONE37pm: You suffered a stress fracture in your foot just a few days after training camp, but we all know you are very resilient. How has the rehab process been going?

Davis: It’s been very tough, but as you said, I’m a very tough individual. I’ve actually had this stress fracture since March, so I went through finishing the season, pre-season, and that little bit of training camp with it. It’s a different approach to each day, but whenever I face challenges, I take a deep breath because I know there is a blessing waiting on the other side. It’s a balance of being positive and realistic. Sometimes it gets complicated because I’ll be trying to do core work, but then I have to worry about my leg. I’m working through it.

ONE37pm: Where would you say you are right now in terms of recovery on a scale of 1-10?

Davis: I’m not gonna lie—I’m very close to a 1, but it’s my doctor’s orders. I can’t rush this process at all.

ONE37pm: Absolutely! Don’t rush it at all because you’ve got plenty of time. On another note, what have you been doing to make the most of your time off?

Davis: I’ve been doing a lot of big things! I’m trying to stay involved in the game without necessarily having a basketball in my hands. I’ve been interacting with my supporters in different ways, and I’ve been focused on trying to build my actual brand with Distinction, my marketing agency. I’m working on my logo, and I am going to have t-shirts dropping soon. I also plan on starting a weekly live session, and obviously starting off it will be with people that I know in the league. I’m still very much involved with my teammates and the league, and I’m also starting a five meal in five days program. The first meal actually came out this week! I eventually would like to own a restaurant because I have other passions and dreams too.

ONE37pm: What can we expect from you in the future, and is there anything else you would like to mention?

Davis: I’ve got my t-shirts coming really soon! I want to have them released before the end of the season. Also, go Lynx! Keep supporting us!

You can keep up with Rennia on Instagram and Twitter for all of her latest updates.

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Grind Money

What Is Tyler, The Creator’s Net Worth?

Fresh off of the release of his last album, CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, Tyler, The Creator is the man of the hour in Hip-Hop at the moment. His sheer creativity is showing itself more than ever right now, especially with his performance at the BET Awards, which the general consensus said was the best of the night. Though his wider respect has only come in the last few years, Tyler has been around for a little over a decade now. In that time, he’s accumulated an estimated net worth of approximately $16 million. Here’s how he did it.

Music & Touring

Since entering the game with Bastard in 2009 and dropping his debut album Goblin in 2011, Tyler, The Creator’s commercial success has only seen growth. Goblin sold around 45k copies the first week. His next album Wolf came two years later and with it, he sold roughly 89k copies the first week. For CHERRY BOMB, which split fans right down the middle, there was a slight dip, with Tyler selling just 51k copies the first week. No matter though because with another one of his famed two-year gaps between albums, Tyler returned with the critically acclaimed Flower Boy which sold 106k copies the first week. That’s an important one because it marks Tyler’s first album since streaming was really introduced. 70k of that number came from pure sales though, with the artist’s fanbase being extremely loyal. For his next album Igor, Tyler moved a very respectable 165k copies in its first week of release. With his most recent LP, Tyler managed to sell around 177k copies, continuing his streak of increasing each number.

Just like how for the most part, Tyler, The Creator’s albums became more and more commercially successful, the same can basically be said for his supporting tours. He’s yet to tour his most recent effort for obvious reasons, but for his last tour, Billboard reported that Tyler sold 225,703 tickets over the course of the 31-show tour which grossed him $12.8 million. He averaged around $414k per night on the tour for Igor, which contributed very nicely to his $16 million net worth.

Golf Wang Clothing Line

It shouldn’t surprise you that Tyler is a creative – it is part of his name, after all. One of his earliest avenues for expressing himself was by designing clothes when he was a child and now, a decade and a half later, he’s turned his own clothing line into one of his most successful endeavors.

In an interview with Ebro In The Morning in 2015, Tyler was asked if he could live comfortably just off of the money that was coming in off of his Golf Wang clothing line and he responded yes. That’s pretty insane considering it wasn’t even taking Odd Future merchandise into account and considering the fact that touring is usually the be all end all for musical artists.

Tyler’s uniqueness shines through in not only the designs but the philosophy around his clothing. He’s been quoted as saying that if famous people wore the line it “could be the worst thing possible” because he doesn’t want to become a trend that comes and goes. Caring as he does is exactly why Golf Wang is so lucrative for him.

Sponsorships

Tyler has a ‘no fucks given’ attitude, sometimes to a fault in his career. His musical content has matured along with him, but some things will live with him forever. You couldn’t fault Tyler for not being aware of this though. For years, his Twitter handle was @fucktyler, but he changed it to @tylerthecreator a few years ago. It was a business decision.

“My stock just went up because of that name change and only idiots won’t understand that,” he said. “How can I contact corporations like ‘yo, invest a bunch of money in me, I got a bunch of really good ideas’… that first impression is automatically out the window.”

Despite a somewhat controversial past, Tyler has been with some big brands in the past. For years he was with Vans, a brand he genuinely wore and he felt saw his vision. However, he hit a ceiling there. “Vans wouldn’t let me grow,” he said. From there, he made the jump to Converse and he has released a few pairs of sneakers with the brand.

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Grind Productivity

Imani McGee-Stafford on What the Pandemic Taught Her About Hustle Culture

I am currently writing this on a yacht in Greece. It sounds extravagant, I know. While here, I have attended summer classes for law school. I have also written a petition for readmission after being academically disqualified. I have sat on this boat in paradise and exhausted my network for letters of support, asking them to professionally vouch for me and my ability to finish this JD program. I sold my home, so that I could have less financial burden, because law school is expensive. I have yet to decide where I am going to live, mainly because I am waiting to see if I will be readmitted and allowed the opportunity to finish my last year of law school in person. But in the meantime, I am experiencing Greece. I am having a once in a lifetime experience with people that care about me. I am drinking champagne as if the life I will return to is not in shambles.

Imani McGee-Stafford

My family and my agent were upset that I chose to go on this trip. They thought that it would send a message that I wasn’t invested, or that I was being flippant about the very real possibility that I may be permanently kicked out of law school. Also, for reference, this was a free trip with a close friend—not that it matters. After a conversation with one of my school’s deans when I initially learned of my academic disqualification (a conversation that did not go well), I called my friend and told her I wasn’t going to come. But after she calmed me down, I realized staying behind would not change the outcome of my school’s decision. Did I need to post that I was sad and in distress for them to believe I take law school seriously? Did I need to visibly struggle to be worthy of an opportunity or second chance? For a slight moment, I believed the answer to that was “yes”. But then I realized that ultimately, their decision was out of my control and life would keep going. Quite frankly, struggle no longer needs to be a part of my origin story. So here I am, my life arguably in shambles, but enjoying it, nonetheless. 

My first draft of this article was quite terrible, but that was because I was trying to avoid talking about this. I am embarrassed that I was not able to seamlessly complete this task like I’ve done so many before. I am a bit sad that I was not above the very system I know and critique, that it still proved to be a barrier for me. I am worried and nervous that all I risked for this dream to become a lawyer was not worth it, because I’ll be academically disqualified and forced to start over, or return to basketball without my JD. 

Struggle does not have to be a part of your origin story. You do not have to fail and fight and scrap to deserve opportunity. We are all deserving of the opportunity and chance to both dream and pursue those dreams, despite the systems and propaganda that tell us otherwise. We may not all be able to accomplish those dreams, but we deserve the chance. You do not have to grovel or cry or have some sad story to make you deserving. You do not have to visibly struggle for others to think you are worthy of opportunity. You deserve to enjoy this life. You are playing against the house, the goalposts will continually move, and you will have missed out on moments trying to prove you are worthy of something that should have been afforded to you, regardless.

I challenge you to think of life as more than a series of accomplishments and a mission to garner as much as you can before you leave. I challenge you to live, to be here with me in this moment, and every moment after this. 

Impact Over Influence

We are taught to strive for positions and titles, born with this inherent competitiveness. For people of color, that means we are consistently told that our good isn’t good enough. We are told we have to be twice as good, to be considered for even half of the opportunities of our fairer skin counterparts. There is no try, only do. And if you refuse to listen, or subscribe to this belief, failure is surely around the corner. But I want us to think of success differently. 

I have lived or visited over 15 countries and the US is the only country I’ve experienced thus far that glorifies work in this way. I am not saying that other countries don’t work hard, quite the contrary. I am saying other countries do not define themselves by their work or their need to work. They understand that there is more to life than work, than hustling, than striving for the next milestone or promotion. I want us to live this way too. 

I am not built for labor. I’m sure you are not either. I believe and embody this. I do have to work for a living and to pay my bills and live in such a way that I can take care of myself. However, my work will not kill me. It will not consume me. It will not take my joy or my passion. If we have learned anything during this pandemic, it is that our time is precious. It is that these companies and corporations will still survive with or without us. They will grow while we struggle. They will profit while escaping taxes and not paying us our worth; to be very clear, your worth will never be encompassed by a position or salary. 

What if we understood and quantified success by the impact we make on those around us instead of the arbitrary titles we strive to reach. What if we told our children no title or accomplishment could make them more worthy or enough than they were merely by being themselves? You will die one day, hopefully far from now, but you won’t be able to take your titles or accolades or accomplishments with you. When people gather, I doubt you want them to state how neat your paperwork was or how you never missed a deadline or always showed up to work on time. Maybe you will be okay with your life fitting into three or four cardboard filing boxes, encompassing your desk or office, but I challenge you to want more, to view your experience here as more than the sum of your work.

Imani McGee-Stafford

Choose Joy Even in the Midst of Struggle

I have recently been wondering what good all of the accolades, accomplishments and milestones are if you have no one to bring them home to, if you have no time to enjoy the fruit of your labor. There will always be another assignment, goal, task to complete, but the days will continue ticking down. You can’t wait until things are perfect or less hard to be happy, to choose joy. I think that is something I’ve learned while traveling. Outside of mental illness of course, happiness is a choice. I have been to the wealthiest of homes in western Africa, and to slums in eastern Africa; I have been to volunteer in Singapore and high-rises in Taiwan, but the circumstances do not dictate joy. I don’t think we as Americans understand that concept enough. There will always be reasons to be unhappy, circumstances hindering your daily pursuits. But you can choose joy.

It’s not about winning the battle every day; it’s just about putting up a good fight—acknowledging that, today, in this moment, you will not be defeated. The victory is in perseverance. Things will never be easy, for most of us at least. However, I have seen people with so much less than me enjoy and love and live. It is humbling to say the least, when we think of the people with bigger problems than our own, and their ability to persist. This is not to discount our experiences, but I have lived a life riddled with pain and hurt, and these days, I choose joy. 

I’m a very anxious person. Stillness has often been hard for me. I’m a planner. A woman of a thousand dreams and a thousand lives to live. Often too busy worrying about yesterday or planning tomorrow to truly embrace and experience today. However, the pandemic, among other things, has forced me to be still, for better or for worse. I have begun repeating to myself: “Yesterday brought its own set of worries, tomorrow will surely bring more. So today, if only for this moment, I will enjoy,” in an effort to slow down and truly be present. I hope this helps you value today and all the moments in between now and forever. There are so many good things outside of and before the goal or destination. Remember that. 

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Entrepreneurs Grind

GaryVee Talks To Pro Athletes About How to Make An Impact

If you saw the “30 for 30″—then you already know the story.

“By the time they have been retired for two years, 78 percent of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress; within five years of retirement, an estimated 60 percent of former NBA players are broke.”

Former Tennessee Titan, Derrick Morgan, is looking to change that.

Last Friday, Morgan spearhead a financial conference called “I AM Nation.” It included guests speeches from the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk and Anthony Pompliano.

“Life is only about access. And the great mistake of athletes is not going aggressive enough, to make relationships in the cities where they have played,” Vaynerchuk had to say when speaking at the event, emphasizing the need for personal connections.

In addition to increasing financial literacy, Morgan, and a slew of other current and former athletes, are hoping to also make an impact. They’ve laid out their priorities as capital, community, and culture.

When players are in the primes of their career, financial strategy and investing are rarely discussed in the locker room. The event was made to provide a forum for players to learn, network, and open that conversation.

The “I AM Nation” group has put together quite the team. The roster includes Josh Childress, Byron Jones, Stephen Tulloch, Winston Justice, Justin Forsett, EJ Manuel, Vincent Fuller, Kevin Byard, and Spencer Paysinger.

These players’ backgrounds are all different. Some of them have already dabbled in entrepreneurship and others are just getting started. Either way, their involvement is helping diversify the investment space.

At the event, the conversations revolved around NFTs, real estate, cryptocurrency, and stock trading. Each subsection was given a speaker dedicated to providing valuable information for the group.

“[Athletes] are playing in real cities, with real die-hard fans. Football is one of the great passions of our society.  And because of that passion, you can access some really influential people, who will take a meeting with you, who will say yes to doing business with you” Vaynerchuk emphasized.

The event united the focuses of Morgan’s vision, by bringing capital, community, and culture together.

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Entrepreneurs Grind

Mendi Founders Rachael Rapinoe and Brett Schwager Want to Elevate Your Recovery

Performance recovery is a huge part of an athlete’s (or anybody who does strenuous exercise) road to success, and equally important are the products and strategies you choose when it comes to caring for your body in the recovery process. Fewer people would know this better than soccer star turned performance coach Rachael Rapinoe.

After her own experiences of trying to find a healthier alternative for pain relief and recovery instead of pain medication, Rapinoe discovered just how helpful (and healthier) cannabinoid products were as opposed to her personal healing process and naturally wondered how she could help others. Thus, the idea of Mendi was born. 

Joining forces with co-founder and fellow Oregonian friend Brett Schwager, Mendi is an athlete-built female and LGBTQ-led cannabis brand. It aims to provide all-natural solutions for sports and athletics performance recovery with Hemp-derived CBD products and is designed for anyone looking for natural holistic alternatives in their everyday lives and activities. Their products work together to target pain relief, inflammation, and mood to improve sleep and overall recovery. ONE37pm spoke with Rapinoe and Schwager to discuss the process of building Mendi to where it is today, destigmatizing cannabinoids, selecting their ambassadors, and where they see themselves five years from now.

Mendi
Rachael Rapinoe

ONE37pm: How did Mendi come to be?

Rapinoe: Mendi is a culmination of a long body of work. I grew up in rural California, where I saw drugs and alcohol abuse in my family. At 21, I started playing pro-soccer, and by 26, I’d had six surgeries. I’ve always been very passionate about the human body, and I was relying on opioids for recovery. I started training collegiate and professional soccer players, and that’s when I realized how passionate I was about the role recovery plays in being your best self.

I started seeing athletes using cannabis products, and I personally began using marijuana and hemp products. I immediately recognized the difference, and the entrepreneur in me saw the potential to take it further. We are a small business, originally we had five business partners, but now it’s down to Brett and me. We complement each other, and it’s been a three-and-a-half-year journey total.

Schwager: After working in design for 20 years now, Mendi was a long time coming. I had been seeking an opportunity to build a sports brand from the ground up in an entirely new industry, where the sky’s the limit in terms of redefining what it means to be an athlete. Conventional sports culture doesn’t have a great track record of fairly representing the competitive journey most athletes take throughout their life, and as someone who grew up hooked on youth sports and art simultaneously, I felt kind of locked into having to choose either-or, and be either a jock or an artist, sadly.

Fortunately, I grew up on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, and I think I subconsciously at the time had some sort of reassurance by all the musicians, artists, writers, and creatives living there that other career paths existed beyond sports. That perspective kept me going as I went to design school at UW while playing lacrosse. In a way, for me personally, you could say Mendi is the result of two decades seeking to expand what I thought were limitations of what a career journey looked like as a young, naive athlete.

ONE37pm: We are finally starting to see the stigma of CBD disappear. How important is that, and how do you hope Mendi continues to change the narrative in that regard?

Rapinoe: It is our job to tell sincere and real stories. Portraying cannabinoid products a certain way and governing bodies have not helped either. We want to tell the real story of cannabis in sports. People think athletes are smoking Js on the back porch, and that is a mischaracterization. Approximately 85-95 percent of athletes are using CBD in some form, and they are dealing with real problems such as stress and anxiety. We want to keep athlete health at the forefront. We are making some headway, and with Mendi, we are hoping to get support from the FDA. We’re excited to continue to destigmatize cannabinoids in a sincere, authentic, and very real way.

Schwager: We’ve still got a lot of work to do. It’s an interesting space in the marijuana and CBD world because sometimes it feels like we are moving too fast, and then other times it seems that we aren’t bringing people up to speed fast enough. Unfortunately, culturally, we also live in a clickbait society, where people root for you to win and also fail. There are a lot of grey areas, and highlight reels don’t cover the whole story. We want to help bring down the stigma, and it’s going to continue to take a lot of hard work.

Mendi
Brett Schwager

ONE37pm: Have there been any challenges you all have faced along the way?

Rapinoe: Yes! It’s been hard. This is a fast-paced industry, and as I said before, we don’t fully have the support of the federal government. We offer simple products that solve complex issues, and to make it even more difficult, we are a sports brand, though more and more leagues are starting to loosen up in regards to CBD so the tide is changing.

We knew what we were going into, and we faced it head-on. Also, we are a female-founded LGBTQ-based brand, and of course, we’ve had to battle through the pandemic as well, so we are still feeling the aftermath effects of this first year. We are raising money, and this is our second round of funding. We are going about this very differently.

Schwager: The start of the pandemic was a hard time, and our sports marketing arm was cut off. Every trade show, halftime advertisement, etc., was canceled as we were going to start in March 2020. We really missed out on a huge window, but the strength of our products and overall reception has been positive. Athletes look to us with trust.

ONE37pm: How do Mendi products best help athletes, and how do you feel they would have helped the both of you maybe five or ten years ago?

Rapinoe: It would have saved me opioid use, sleeping aids, etc. Our products can be a replacement for that, and they can help you stay on top of your game in a much healthier, more sustainable way. I like to think of the term “athlete” as being a mindset. We are trying to tell the stories of dealing with mood, stress, pain management, and sleep issues. We really just want to help people tap into their best selves.

Schwager: These products definitely would have helped with the ups and downs of starting a family and a business in terms of lack of sleep and things like that. Also I’ve suffered from torn discs and separated shoulders, so having these products nearby would have been helpful.

Mendi
Mendi Bath Salt

ONE37pm: Can you give an overview of the products you all offer?

Rapinoe: We actually have seven different categories of products that are 100 percent hemp, and we have two hemp lines. One has THC, and the other one is a CBD line, more so for athletes as more leagues have made CBD legal. Between both, we offer gel caps, gummies, and topical products that include lotion, massage oil, and salve sticks. Post Olympics, we will be offering products in the hydration space, and all of our products help with painful inflammation, mood, and sleep.

ONE37pm: You all have an incredible group of ambassadors already. How has it been working with them?

Schwager: Since day one it has been a wild ride! It’s actually kind of funny because we had been going back and forth with Megan Rapinoe before her contract. Then once she signed, she had that amazing performance in the World Cup, and we were all like “What?!” Who would have ever imagined that in a million years? We never could have predicted that.

Rapinoe: We have a lot of strategic partnerships and we have been very fortunate. I have been able to connect and build a lifetime worth of relationships, and I have always been sincere and genuine. Everyone has been 100 percent supportive—especially in this pandemic. Our relationships are not just transactional—we spent nearly nine months doing focus groups, pitching athletes, and gaining their trust before launching into the market. They have given us the opportunity, invested in us, and we have grown together. We’re very fortunate because they are our number one fans, and huge advocates in helping us tell stories while building a legacy that we are proud of.

Mendi
Mendi Ambassadors

ONE37pm: Last but not least, where do you see Mendi as a brand in the next five years?

Schwager: We want Mendi to be synonymous with natural recovery. The human body is designed to naturally have an endocannabinoid system, which is amazing! Hopefully, in the near future, people will continue to learn more about this system and how it affects our body’s ability to recover in short and long-term ways. Hopefully, people continue to wake up and think long term in terms of their bodies, and as far as our team goes, our goal is to keep broadening our team of leaders and advocates–not just the athletes that are globally recognized, but with people who are active in their communities.

As far as our team goes, our goal is to keep broadening our team of leaders and advocates–not just the athletes that are globally recognized, but with people who are active in their communities. We want to keep branching out and continue representing the broader story of what it means to be a healthy, thriving athlete beyond a wins or losses statsheet. If we can simply help people sleep a little better and feel a little better every single day, then we’ll be on track with our mission.

Be sure to visit the official Mendi website here, and follow the brand on Instagram.


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Grind Productivity

Where to Buy LEGO

Over the last several years, The LEGO Group has seen increasing numbers in builders of all ages—with a double-digit growth in sales last year. Compared to the LEGO sets of the early 2000s and earlier, today’s LEGO sets offer something for builders of all ages, from sets aimed at kids like Minecraft, DUPLO and VIDIYO to adult-targeted sets like the LEGO Creator Expert Series cars and buildings or the LEGO Star Wars line’s Ultimate Collectors Series Sets.

In recent years, LEGO has taken intentional steps to invite builders of all ages and backgrounds to join the hobby, but with that comes the ultimate question: Where are the best places to buy LEGO?

Before you pull your wallet out, it’s important to know what type of LEGO set you’re looking for. Here are some quick tips before we get started:

⁃ Big sets cost more and take up more space, while smaller sets can allow you more space at a smaller cost.

⁃ When researching sets, remember that LEGO sets are only available for about two years. Then they “retire,” meaning that no new copies of that given set will be available. It’s best to buy “older” sets first, that way you have more time to save up for “newer” sets.

With that in mind, this guide will be broken up into two sections: the best places to buy NEW LEGO sets and the best places to buy RETIRED LEGO sets.

The Best Places to Buy NEW LEGO Sets:
1.) LEGO.com

Shopping directly with LEGO is always my first recommendation for new sets. Signing up for the (free) VIP program entitles you to a wide range of benefits, from access to buying certain sets early to cashing in on promotional offers like free sets/items. It also allows you to rack up those sweet VIP points, too, which can be used on future LEGO.com purchases! This is definitely the best way to order brand new sets, and should you run into any issues, LEGO’s customer service is phenomenal.

2.) Target and Walmart

If shopping in-person is your preferred method, then Target and Walmart are superb choices for hunting down your wanted LEGO sets. Target is very consistent about keeping LEGO sets in stock, so while you’re rarely going to find something out of the ordinary (like a retired set or a massive bargain) it is a great place to shop and know that they’ll likely always have what you need. Walmart, on the other hand, is a little more inconsistent with their inventory. Walmart stores can be significantly larger or smaller depending on their location, and with that, their toy section can fluctuate in size and consistency of LEGO sets in stock. While Walmart is not as reliable for having the full line of LEGO sets on their shelves, they are a great place to snag an occasional deal, with most sets being marked as much as 20% off at any given time. 

  • PRO TIP: When shopping at Walmart, be sure to use the Walmart app to scan any sets you may be interested in. Sometimes Walmart has unmarked clearance sales and you can get a great deal that isn’t even advertised! I’ve found many sets 50-75% off over the years using this method.
3.) Zavvi.com

While you may hear mixed reviews on Zavvi from other people, I can attest that they have always been first-class with me. Their customer service has been very attentive, and my purchases have always arrived within 5-7 of placing an order. The reason Zavvi makes this list is because they are one of the few online LEGO retailers based in Europe that ships worldwide, meaning that when sets release in Europe before North America, Zavvi provides a pathway for people outside of Europe to get those sets “early” without breaking the bank. They’re a great up-and-coming force in the geek culture shopping world, and I highly recommend keeping an eye on them when shopping for LEGO online. 

The Best Places to Buy RETIRED LEGO Sets:
1.) BrickLink.com

BrickLink is the best resource for scoping out parts, minifigures and sets from any point in LEGO’s history. It can be a little tricky to navigate on your first visit or two, but there’s no doubt that the site offers the best deals on the web for complete, retired LEGO sets. Their site also has a function built in for mapping out what different sets’ value has been over time, which allows you to see if you’re paying a fair price or not. Even if you’re not buying from BrickLink, using their tools for mapping value is a great resource for valuing your current collection or assessing deals you find elsewhere.

2.) eBay

eBay: the garage sale of the internet. When it comes to buying retired sets, eBay is my go-to. It’s safe, it’s convenient, and frankly, I find the best online deals there when I put my nose to the ground and hunt hard. I like that eBay allows you to set up notifications for when new products are added; I’ve snagged some great deals using this feature. Using eBay’s “sold” feature is another great tool to compare prices of recently sold products, so all-in-all eBay is a tried and true tool for any collector.

3.) Facebook Marketplace

As inconsistent as it can be, I’ve found my best deals ever using Facebook Marketplace. In this scenario, you can often find people who are looking to sell their entire collection at once, or people who are selling more obscure things like promotional displays and original LEGO set boxes—which are hard to ship. The great thing about Marketplace, too, is that being able to see the person’s profile, set a safe place to meet and the ability to pay through the app all allow for safe transactions for both the buyer and the seller. I’ve always enjoyed hunting on Facebook Marketplace, but it requires a lot of dedication, refreshing your page and follow-up compared to the other methods I’ve suggested. 


Regardless of how and where you buy your LEGO, I’m glad you’ve read far enough into this article to be taking the hobby seriously. It’s a fun, but expensive hobby, so shop smart and feel free to reach out to me on IG any time you’re looking for advice or guidance in your LEGO journey.

Build on! 

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Entrepreneurs Grind

A New Era of ‘Dr. Seuss’: Meet the Rimes Family

Bedtime stories are meant to be simplistic, visually appealing, and playful. They are considered a universal pastime, one that’s been passed down from house to house, family to family, and bedtime to bedtime over the span of countless years. 

The brand new book series called “The Bedtime Chronicles” might represent the latest and greatest edition of nursery rhymes and storytelling for slumber time.

The soon-to-be collection of tales revolves around a bi-racial family of five—Benny, Mary Lou, Pam, Stan, and Hip-Hop. In each book, a different family member takes their turn telling Benny a bedtime story. Stan, the father, does so in the only book of the series to be released so far called, Legend of the Dadman.

Author of the series Derek Siskin and his business partner Ryan Alovis are spearheading the evolution of this up-and-coming series. Luckily, I got to chop it up with both of them—thus discovering the why behind their work.

The Bedtime Chronicles
Excerpt from “The Legend of the Dadman”

“We just wanted to put something out there that’s uplifting, that can make people happy and bring joy to families, Derek says. I think Legend of the Dadman is a great representation of that – you think he’s this superhero, but he’s really just a regular dad trying to be there for his family, eat their cupcakes, have all the trials, and tribulations that a dad has. We’re just trying to do something special and unique for people out there.”

Derek is more than just the driving force behind the writing, he is the lyrical wordsmith, the MC if you will, moving the audience with his rhymes and passion for a specific genre of music.

“The truth is, I’m a hip hop aficionado—I’m obsessed with hip-hop music. I wanted to try and find as many clever ways to incorporate that into this book series. With this, I have the ability to pay homage to the great rappers from my childhood and the ones I listen to now. I think it is (Hip-Hop) such an overlooked art form when it relates to creativity and storytelling. Once you’re able to bring your passion into something, it makes it fun. “

Along with the rhymes and natural play on words from the first book, you’ll find references to songs from old-school hip-hop as well, Derek’s preferred taste. Bars from Biggie Smalls, Def Jam, Q-Tip, and Dr. Dre are all hidden within the book’s scenes, giving those who are familiar with the lingo, myself included, some good old-fashioned goosebumps.

Ryan, the person who plays the critical role in the business promotion and overall vision of the series, is bringing to life the possibility of venturing beyond just books.

“We’re not just doing books. We’re creating a whole universe. Hip-Hop, our bunny character, has recently been made into a stuffed animal. We must’ve gone through 20 factories to make him look exactly the way he looks in the books. We want to do other items that complement the brand like pajamas, night lights, and sticker sheets too” Ryan elaborated.

Speaking of Hip-Hop, Derek had a heart-warming confession to make in regards to how a particular character from the book was inspired.

The Bedtime Chronicles
(Left) Benny, Pam, Hip-Hop, Stan, Mary Lou (Right)

“’Hip-Hop the bunny’ is inspired by my kids’ stuffed animal bunny.”

It turns out that Derek had more ideas for his book’s character representation – I mean he’s like a kid in a candy store at this point.

“Then I told my illustrator I want the dad to resemble Adam Sandler, I want the mom to resemble Maya Rudolph, and then Mary Lou was a combination of a couple of different people that I pulled from online. When I imagined Benny, that’s how I imagined him (bi-racial).”

Derek asserts that this is only the beginning, as he hinted at what is to come for The Bedtime Chronicles. “I cannot wait to drop the second book so people can see the full scope of what we’re doing with the universe. Each story is going to be completely different from the next. I get giddy thinking about putting this out into the world because it’s just so fulfilling to see little kids excited and happy.”

The Bedtime Chronicles
The back of “Legend of The Dadman”

Even though he has huge aspirations for the series, Ryan the visionary understands how important maintaining a solid foundation is. “We want to live on every bookshelf and inside the tv screens and drawers of every child in America. But we’re going to focus on the base, which is the books. We should stay solely focused on putting out the highest quality books and let the chips fall where they may. Let us put out the best on what we can in book form and go from there.”

Buy “Legend of the Dadman”
http://www.thebedtimechronicles.com/
Categories
Entrepreneurs Grind

New Orleans Pelicans Star Wes Iwundu Announces Partnership With Diplomacy

New Orleans Pelicans star Wes Iwundu is teaming up with black-owned streetwear brand Diplomacy for a new capsule collection called Free The Future. A life-long lover of streetwear fashion, Iwundu and Diplomacy have collaborated to bring forth a capsule that includes high-quality statement tees, shorts, socks, and accessories all made in California. Working closely with Diplomacy founder and creative visionary Eric Archibald, the ultimate goal of this collection is to create expression through fashion, escapism, and pieces that promote mindfulness, tact, and civility, as we continue to battle a global pandemic, racial injustice, economic hardship, and political division.

Diplomacy
Wes Iwundu

Additionally, Iwundu and Diplomacy will be helping the community, as a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Houston, as they will work to deliver high-quality afterschool to their community’s most at-risk youth. Ahead of the launch, ONE37pm caught up with Iwundu to discuss how this partnership came to be, and his aspirations for this capsule.

ONE37pm: First of all, congratulations on this partnership! How did this come to fruition, and how important is it for you to be teaming up with Diplomacy?

Iwundu: I’ve always wanted to be able to bring an idea to life through fashion. Partnering with Diplomacy gave me the opportunity to be in a creative mindset.  We chopped it up, they listened to my ideas, and the project evolved from there

ONE37pm: Has streetwear always been something you have loved or been passionate about?

Iwundu: Streetwear was always a passion of mine. Ever since I was a kid asking my mom to take me to the store to pick up the cool trends. Elementary school had a dress code, so I wasn’t able to show really off my drip yet, ha-ha.  But I love the socially conscious vibe that drives streetwear, and I think Diplomacy does this in really creative ways.

Diplomacy

ONE37pm: You have been working with creative director Eric Archibald on this Free The Future capsule which has hoodies, tees, accessories, etc. There is truly something in this collection for everybody. What was the design process like in terms of creating and selecting the pieces?

Iwundu: Eric has been amazing.  So inspiring to work with. Being in the same room with his imagination really gets me thinking in new directions. The process of creating and coming up with the pieces was very detailed and took time. We needed to explore what “free the future” means and how we could represent it visually in the most exciting ways. From there we looked for fabrics, and Los Angeles is a great place for that, I wanted the fabric to feel so good that when you try on the hoodie or the shorts or the tee there is an immediate reaction.  You don’t want to take it off.  Same with the fits — it had to fit like the favorite pieces in my closet.  In the end I think we came up with stuff that’s super dope.

ONE37pm:  A portion of the proceeds from the capsule will be donated to the Boys & Girls Club of Houston, your hometown, which is awesome! How much does it mean for you to continue to give back to the community?

Iwundu: I’m so excited to be teaming up with The Greater Boys & Girls Club of Houston. The name of the collab is “Free the Future”, and kids literally are the future, like Whitney says, so the partnership made a lot of sense.  It’s really gratifying to be able to give back especially to the community where I grew up. 

ONE37pm: Last but not least, what does Diplomacy represent in your eyes, and is there anything else you want people to know about this collection?

Iwundu: Diplomacy to me is about being heard.  Listening to others and having them listen to you.  The toleration and/or acceptance of opposing views.  I can make my point without making an enemy.  Even if we just agree to disagree.  That’s Diplomacy to me.

You can shop the collection here.

Categories
Grind Money

The 15 Highest-Paid Athletes Right Now

The influence and impact of the professional athlete have changed over time. Some athletes reach superstar status in their sport and have recognized the influence and reach that they possess. It makes them an instant magnet for higher salaries on the court but also opens up endorsement and sponsorship opportunities. 

The highest-paid athletes come from different sports and also earn in different ways. Some athletes like tennis superstar Roger Federer primarily make their income from endorsement deals, while other athletes such as Tom Brady and Russell Westbrook take home more in salary. Here are the highest-paid athletes in the world at the moment. 

*Forbes, Spotrac, and Sports Reference were used for salary and off the field earnings information.

1. Conor McGregor, Total Earnings: $180 million

Salary/Winnings: $22 million, Endorsements: $158 million

One of the top fighters in the MMA realm, Conor McGregor did well for himself in business. He founded Irish whiskey distiller Proper No. Twelve in 2018 which he sold earlier in 2021 for $150 million. McGregor is also a major box office draw in the fighting arena. He made $22 million for fighting Dustin Poirier in January of 2021.

2. Lionel Messi, Total Earnings: $130 million

Salary/Winnings: $97 million, Endorsements: $33 million

Lionel Messi has accomplished a lot and then some in the sport of soccer. He’s won FIFA’s Player of the Year a record six times. The captain of Barcelona as well as the Argentina national team, Messi’s huge earnings mainly come from his salary. He reportedly has a contract with Barcelona that pays him $168.5 million per season. Deals with Anheuser Busch, Adidas and Gatorade also contribute to his status as a top-two earning athlete.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo, Total Earnings: $120 million

Salary/Winnings: $70 million, Endorsements: $50 million

In the middle of a four-year, $64 million contract with Juventus, Cristiano Ronaldo is an unrivaled brand name in sports. A five-time Ballon d’Or award-winner with 770 career goals, Ronaldo also has a lifetime deal with Nike and has earned over $1 billion in career earnings. The 36-year old forward has sponsorship deals off the field with Unilever, DAZN and MTG.

4. Dak Prescott, Total Earnings: $107.5 million

Salary/Winnings: $97.5 million, Endorsements: $10 million

A former fourth round pick, Dak Prescott exceeded expectations for his career, making two Pro Bowls in his five-year career. Though he’s still on the mend from a season-ending ankle injury last year, Prescott signed a four-year contract extension worth $160 million. 

Prescott has also been a major marketing tool in the NFL with endorsement deals with the likes of PepsiCo, Beats Electronics and AT&T. He also just recently agreed to terms with Jordan Brand on a contract.

5. LeBron James, Total Earnings: $96.5 million

Salary/Winnings: $31.5 million, Endorsements: $65 million

With four NBA titles and three NBA MVPs, LeBron James is in rare company and at 36-years old has a slight chance at breaking the NBA’s career scoring record. Off the court, James is still a mega hit, raking in earnings from deals with brands like PepsiCo, Nike and Beats Electronics. 

The 17-time All-Star has built his own media empire with the development of production company SpringHill Entertainment and media company Uninterrupted. James’ portfolio doesn’t stop with a 2018 launch with several other athletes in Ladder, a health and wellness company as well as investments in the Blaze Pizza franchise.

6. Neymar, Total Earnings: $95 million

Salary/Winnings: $76 million, Endorsements: $19 million

There aren’t many soccer players that can measure up to Neymar on the pitch. The forward is just as lethal off the field with sponsorship deals with Puma, Qatar Airways and Redbull. He also added more attention to his name with an appearance in popular video game Fortnite. Neymar has won the Samba Gold award four times in his career. He also recently signed a contract extension with PSG worth around 30 million Euros. 

7. Roger Federer, Total Earnings: $90 million

Salary/Winnings: $30K, Endorsements: $90 million

Endorsements are a game-changer for Roger Federer compared to most of his peers on this list. The 20-Grand Slam men’s singles title winner takes in most of his earnings from endorsements. Federer has a 10-year, $300 million deal with Uniqlo, and also has contracts with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Barilla, and Mercedes-Benz.

8. Lewis Hamilton, Total Earnings: $82 million

Salary/Winnings: $70 million, Endorsements: $12 million

Arguably the most significant name in Formula 1 Racing, Lewis Hamilton has endorsement deals with Puma, Mercedes-Benz and Tommy Hilfiger. Most of his earnings come from his racing success. He holds the joint-record of seven World Drivers’ Championship titles. Hamilton also has his name in the history books with the most wins (98), pole positions (100) and podium finishes (169). Considered the greatest driver of all time, Hamilton’s influence in the sport is a huge factor in his place on the list.

9. Tom Brady, Total Earnings: $76 million

Salary/Winnings: $45 million, Endorsements: $31 million

A seven-time Super Bowl champion, Tom Brady is just as creative off the field as he is on. Brady has endorsement deals with T-Mobile, Under Armour and Fanatics. The 43-year old quarterback recently signed a contract extension with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He will make over $41 million in salary for next season and also has branched out with his TB12 lifestyle brand, Autograph, an NFT company and 199 Productions, a media imprint. 

10. Kevin Durant, Total Earnings: $75 million

Salary/Winnings: $31 million, Endorsements: $44 million

In the second year of a four-year, $164 million deal with the Brooklyn Nets, NBA star Kevin Durant has successfully recovered from a ruptured Achilles tendon that cost him a full NBA season. The two-time Finals MVP has sponsorship contracts with Nike and Degree. He’s showcased a passion for entrepreneurship, investing in companies like Postmates, Coinbase, and Acorn while fronting his own media outfit with Thirty-Five Ventures. 

11. Stephen Curry, Total Earnings: $74.5 million

Salary/Winnings: $34.5 million, Endorsements: $40 million

Despite the Golden State Warriors missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season, guard Stephen Curry had a great individual season. The former two-time MVP was a finalist for the award and led the NBA in scoring with 32 points per game. The three-time champion’s brand off the court has grown with his own individual line for Under Armour, deals with Google and CarMax, and an equity partnership with beverage brand Oxigen. 

12. Naomi Osaka, Total Earnings: $60 million

Salary/Winnings: $5 million, Endorsements: $55 million

At the age of 23, Naomi Osaka has already made her mark in tennis. She is a four-time Grand Slam singles champion and is the first Asian player to hold the top tennis ranking in singles. Osaka has used her platform well, earning over $50 million in endorsements this past year while addressing mental health awareness and racism. 

13. Tiger Woods, Total Earnings: $60 million

Salary/Winnings: $200K, Endorsements: $60 million

Tiger Woods is tied for first in PGA history in PGA Tour wins and is second in men’s major championships. The golfer is on the mend from a car accident earlier this year that caused multiple fractures in his right leg. Woods earns $60 million in endorsement deals with brands like Nike, Bridgestone and Monster Energy. He just added another deal, signing a contract with EA Sports to add his likeness and name to the PGA Tour 2K franchise.

14. Russell Westbrook, Total Earnings: $59 million

Salary/Winnings: $33 million, Endorsements: $26 million

A player who puts up video game-adjacent numbers, Russell Westbrook is a triple double threat every night. The majority of Westbrook’s annual earnings comes from his NBA contract. The 2017 NBA MVP is still on the five-year, $207 million max deal that he signed back in 2017. A nine-time All-Star, Westbrook also has a signature shoe deal with Jordan Brand and owns several car dealerships in Los Angeles.

15. Patrick Mahomes, Total Earnings: $54.5 million

Salary/Winnings: $32.5 million, Endorsements: $22 million

A Super Bowl champion, Patrick Mahomes has achieved more than most NFL quarterbacks in a short amount of time. With just four seasons under his belt, Mahomes has played in two Super Bowls. The three-time Pro Bowler upped his earnings after signing a ten-year, $503 million deal last summer. Mahomes also has endorsement deals with many brands including Adidas, Bose, Electronic Arts, and BioSteel.