Entrepreneurs Grind

How Jacob Zuppke Is Changing The Landscape of Petcare

This week’s episode of the Tartare Project hosted by Phil Toronto features Jacob Zuppke, President and COO of Autopets. Autopets is most known for their innovative pet care products such as the ‘Litter Robot,’ and the company aims to deliver meaningful insights through their high-grade products to assist in making better decisions for pets. Priding themselves on their development, marketing, and elite customer service, Autopets continues to rapidly grow their company as they establish themselves as one of the leaders in quality pet care and accessories. Zuppke spoke with Toronto in a nearly 40-minute conversation that covered his early childhood, the beginning stages of his career, and the developmental strategies behind Autopets.

Toronto starts the conversation by asking Zuppke to give a rundown of how Autopets originally came to be. “Autopets is the maker of ‘Litter Robot,’ which is the highest rated self-cleaning litter box for cats, and that is how we got our start. As of recently, we launched the ‘Feeder Robot,’ which is a pet feeder for both cats and dogs. We also have our litter box brand which is the maker of refined cat accessories ranging from modern cat trees, to cat nips, to different litter boxing closure to hide your litter box in plain sight.”

Taking some steps back, Toronto and Zuppke discuss his childhood in Bloomfield, Michigan, how he viewed school growing up, and his very first business venture at sixteen. “When I turned sixteen, my buddy and I started TJ Bagel, which was a Sunday morning bagel delivery route,” he says, reminiscing about his teenage entrepreneurial days. “We would get up early and go to a bagel place near us called Brooklyn Bagel and pack up everyone’s order and deliver them. We did that for about a year-and-a-half, and it didn’t really turn into much. It was a fun hobby business where we could make a little bit of money, but it was the first real business entity that we filed for and learned that process.”

Two summers later Zuppke embarked on a power washing landscaping business with another friend, and it was there that he realized that he had a passion for entrepreneurship. “That’s when I realized that I had this creative marketing approach where we sat outside of a grocery store that we worked at, and gave away free power washing services. We gave out 100 square feet of power washing, which isn’t much, and we were eventually able to book out an entire summer of homes. It was a really cool first go!”

After diving into more of Zuppke’s early businesses, the conversation progresses into Zuppke’s decision to join Autopets and how he has approached each phase of his career. “It definitely wasn’t all rainbows, but I came to a head where I realized that my partner and I were no longer having fun growing the business together,” he tells Toronto. “I recognized that I am somebody who wants to be in business with a partner, and it’s hard to do that if you don’t enjoy each other’s company all the time or don’t want to have some form of a relationship outside of a business one. I was young and really wanted a mentor, and I felt like it was something that I wasn’t necessarily getting a piece of. I want to have fun with what I’m doing, and looking back, I’ve never had more fun than what I’ve had at Autopets.”

For more on Zuppke and Autopets, be sure to listen to the full interview above. You can follow the entrepreneur on Instagram and Twitter.

Entrepreneurs Grind

What Is Post Malone’s Net Worth?

Post Malone first rose to fame in 2015 with the release of his single ‘White Iverson.’ The following year the artist released his debut album Stoney, which featured the hit ‘Congratulations’ and set a record for the most weeks on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. In the five years since, Malone has continued his success with his follow-up albums Beerbongs & Bentleys and Hollywood’s Bleeding and has amassed a net worth of $30 million. Here is a breakdown of how the 25-year-old has been able to reach that number in just a six-year time period.

Getty Images
Post Malone at the Grammys

Post Malone was born in Syracuse, New York, where he spent the first ten years of his life, before moving to Grapevine, Texas. It was there that the budding artist discovered his love for writing music, and taught himself how to play guitar through YouTube videos. Malone used social media to build his profile and began gaining attention through his covers and original releases.

At this point in his career, the majority of Malone’s earnings have come from his music career and endorsements. The success of ‘White Iverson’ captured the attention of many esteemed rappers like Mac Miller and led the artist to sign a deal with Republic Records in August of that year. His first studio album, Stoney, went double platinum, and spawned two top ten singles with the tracks ‘Rockstar’ featuring 21 Savage, and the Ty Dolla Sign collaboration ‘Psycho’.

Getty Images
Post Malone at the Billboard Music Awards

His sophomore album Beerbongs & Bentleys was even more successful, earning the artist four Grammy nominations, and breaking a streaming record on Spotify. His latest release, 2019’s Hollywood’s Bleeding, solidified his place as one of music’s most successful young rappers as the album broke Michael Jackson’s record for most weeks on the Billboard’s Top R&B and Hip-Hop Albums chart.

In the music industry, success on the charts doesn’t always mean that an artist is making a lot of money. In this current music climate, artists earn a good percentage of their money through performances and tours, and of-course, the more you know how to do on your own, the less money you have to payout to others.

Malone is his own principal songwriter, which means he gets to keep a higher percentage of his royalties as opposed to other artists who hire a team of writers for their projects. The rapper has also booked many performing gigs through the years, and has embarked on a major concert tour for each studio album.

His last concert, The Runaway Tour, was on track to be one of the biggest tours of 2020 prior to the pandemic cancellation, and was voted Best Hip-Hop/R&B Tour by the Pollstar awards over the summer. With the pandemic still being a concern, Malone hasn’t announced any new concerts, but is currently confirmed as one of the performers for Rolling Loud in May, and Rock in Rio in June. While Malone has never officially released his tour earnings, according to Forbes, the rapper reportedly grosses $500,000 per show.

Getty Images
Post Malone at Billboard Music Awards

In addition to his musical projects, Malone has multiple brand partnerships, with his Bud Light deal being the most financially lucrative. Malone has performed at various Bud Light sponsored events, and has earned millions with the company. The artist also has also secured on-going partnerships with True Religion and Hyper X.

Post Malone is still only six years into his professional career, but appears to be on a good track in terms of his success and overall net worth. With more music in the works, and upcoming entrepreneurial ventures ahead, Malone certainly has the potential to wind up being one of music’s top earners in the future.

Entrepreneurs Grind

Four Things I Wished I Knew Before Starting MiniSuperHeroesToday

In a recent study done by The Sun, it was discovered that 1 in 3 kids want to be a YouTuber, and 1 in 5 kids want to be a Blogger/Vlogger. I am both of these things, but I never planned to be. I absolutely love what I do for a living, which includes building LEGO, then turning around and creating content around what I build for YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and of course articles like this. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my LEGO hobby would someday become a career, but that’s the reality I’ve worked to build and I am truly grateful. It has been a lot of hard work, but I truly believe anyone can do this within their interests given the dedication and determination. 

With that being said, it’s not often that content creators pull back the veil and really talk about what it’s like. In March 2021, I celebrated my six-year anniversary of creating daily content online without ever missing a day. Yes, you read that right: WITHOUT EVER MISSING A DAY. Creating daily content with a perfect record is an achievement I am proud of, and I have learned a lot about myself, my followers, my hobby, and what it is to be an influencer.

Today, I want to share the four things I wished I knew before starting my influencer journey in hopes that it inspires you. Whether you’re working on building a new page or breathing life into an existing one, I hope these influencer insights help you gain a better picture of what life is like, un-photoshopped and unedited:

1.) Nobody takes you seriously… until they do.

I started my influencer journey in 2015 while studying my Freshman year at Belmont University. I was going through a tough time personally, and I had a random idea while looking at the toys I’d had on my desk: I challenged myself to post a daily LEGO photo on Instagram and see how long I could go for. That challenge remains ongoing to this day and has taken me further than I’d ever imagined. I went from a 19-year-old with six LEGO figures on his desk to a 25 year old with over 3,000 minifigures, a literal LEGO room in my house and a partnership with LEGO themselves through the coveted LEGO Ambassador Network.

My wildest dreams have (and continue) to come true every day. I had people I thought were friends laugh at my account when I started it, and for a long time, I ran my account anonymously. These days, more people think it’s cool than not when they learn about my alter ego, but things were not always that way when I had less than 200 followers and nobody took my dream seriously. 

Lesson Learned: The first few chapters of becoming an influencer are the hardest, but that’s why most people aren’t influencers. Stay true to yourself, don’t focus on the numbers and be consistent. Eventually, you’ll end up exactly where you want to be, right when you’re meant to be there.

2.) Finding a healthy balance of how often to post is important.

I wish I wouldn’t have made myself a “daily content creator,” because there are times I’ve felt uninspired to make a new post. At the same time, my daily commitment is what kept me going all these years. Just like the gym, once you skip a day it becomes a slippery slope to start skipping more often. Stay committed, stay focused, but don’t burn yourself out! 

After more than half of a decade, it seems silly for me to skip a day at this point. I know my following would forgive me if I missed a day, and the world certainly would not end, but at this point I might as well keep my perfect streak going!

Lesson Learned: Don’t overcommit to a schedule you can’t handle, but DO commit to a plan that holds you accountable!

3.) Finding a niche is crucial, but don’t stress it too much.

My original niche was “white background photography,” since that was the only way I could photograph my minifigs at my humble dorm room desk my freshman year. The white background quickly became “my thing,” and even to this day, when I deviate from it I do see a decrease in my engagement. Sometimes I wished I was more of a “general photography” page, but at the same time, I am glad my images have a certain consistency and brand to them. Catch-22! 

Lesson Learned: Give people something to expect and recognize when they engage with your content. Let them know it’s your post before they even see your name attached.

4.) Getting started is more important than how you get started.

My first IG photos were taken on an iPhone 4s while I knew nothing about lighting, composition or any other photography basics. Still, I was able to attract an audience through storytelling, posting content at the right place at the right time and offering consistency. The fact that my first 100 photos look awful by today’s standards doesn’t matter in the long run; it helped me build a solid fan base all those years ago that has transitioned into my audience today, eclipsing 150,000+ followers across all platforms.

Lesson Learned: Your first several dozen pieces of content will probably be subpar, but that’s what will set you apart. Everyone dreams, but very few people do

I wouldn’t trade my influencer journey for anything. Although I’ve been at it for over half a decade, I truly feel like I’m just getting started and the best is yet to come! I wish you all the success in the world in whatever path lies ahead for you as a content creator, and if you ever have questions, DM me on IG and tell me you read this article.

Entrepreneurs Grind

NBA Strength Coach Haseeb Fasihi Discusses The Ins and Outs of Training Athletes

Staying physically healthy is an essential component of being a successful athlete. To ensure their performance remains at a high level, many teams/athletes have a designated strength and conditioning coach/specialist to help them keep in tip-top shape. Haseeb Fasihi has been a go-to trainer/player development specialist for many teams and athletes since 2010, working with some of the NBA’s brightest stars including Jae Crowder, Miles Bridges, and Robert Covington to name a few. Fasihi has been the strength and conditioning specialist for the Lakeland Magic (the NBA G League team for the Orlando Magic) the past three years and played a critical role this past season in making sure the players stayed healthy during a shortened campaign that saw the team winning the 2021 G League championship.

Taking a well-deserved break to relax and recoup, Fasihi will soon be back in action, and he caught up with ONE37pm’s Jael Rucker to discuss this past season with Lakeland, how he started his training career, and advice for young college students who also aspire to achieve a career in conditioning and player development.

Haseeb Fasihi

Jael: I wanted to first get your thoughts on the bubble. I know you guys weren’t out there for as long as the NBA, but I know it was still tough.

Fasihi: To be honest, it was exciting for all of us! We treated it as a way to evolve ourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually. I had a goal for the players to work on things to get them out of their comfort zones. A lot of the stuff I have players work on is reading books, staying on time, making sure they are communicating better than normal, and eating better than normal. With the bubble experience—all of the players had the resources needed to excel, and usually, the ones that utilize the most resources are the most effective.

Those first couple of weeks in the bubble taught us to establish a routine, and from there, move forward to keep building off that routine. The best part about the bubble was getting that routine, and working on winning habits. Lakeland has had a winning culture since 2017, so we had to make sure the new players understood how we go about things. It took time, in the beginning, to figure each other out, but once chemistry started building up, everyone began to understand one another, and it led to a championship.

Jael: How was the season? Did you guys go straight into playoff time, or were there exhibitions?

Fasihi: We had a 15-game regular season, a lot of back-to-backs. The players had to understand that going through the back-to-back process could mean more injuries, additional rehab processes, more treatment time, etc.—we had to make sure guys were playing effectively and recovering. My biggest goal as a strength and conditioning coach/player development specialist is to make sure guys are priming and at their peak at the right time. 

We had a system where I tried to make sure everybody was sore and growing their tissues from the start of the bubble. When the playoffs came, we had a ‘one and done’ system similar to March Madness. There was a one-day break in between the regular season and playoffs and then three games to win the championship. 

Haseeb Fasihi

Jael: That is a lot of games in such a short amount of time, so what was your strategy?

Fasihi: Trying to figure out what everybody needs because every player has their own specific needs. I would always try to find out if players had a routine prior to the bubble that they wanted to continue. Myself and my performance staff had a logistic performance plan to work on stuff in a strategic way. The biggest goal was communication—we didn’t want players hiding injuries just so they could play. I had to deal with that over the past couple of years, where players weren’t expressing if they were hurt right away, but with this situation, we had to be as transparent as possible.

We noticed a lot of other teams dealing with big injuries in the bubble, and in speaking to the other strength coaches, they said the players were trying to hide it. So communication was one thing, and the second was finding a routine that worked for the guys in terms of implementing it over time.

Jael: Let’s take it back. When did you start training?

Fasihi: I started doing player development around 20 or 21. I had just gotten done playing overseas, and I wanted to get into injury prevention because I started going to UCF for exercise physiology. I was 21 when I worked with my first NBA player on the development side—that is my bread and butter. Over time I’ve had mentors along the way that have really helped me. There was a time where ESPN had an article that featured me.

I would forward that article to my mentors and people that I knew. One of my mentors at the time was the strength coach of the Orlando Magic; his name is Bill Burgos. He saw my progress, and then in 2017, the Orlando Magic invested in the G League team, and he asked me if I wanted the opportunity to work at the G League level. That was also when I started my strength and conditioning career. Everything prior to 2017 was player development, so now I have both roles, and players trust me on both sides.

Haseeb Fasihi

Jael: What would be your advice to anyone in college that wants to do what you do?

Fasihi: The best advice I can give is to just gain as much knowledge as possible and get as many certifications as you can. You also want to build relationships with people who are in the industry. You can’t just know people—they have to know you. People always say it’s ‘who you know,’ but if nobody knows you, then to me, there is no purpose for that phrase. The ones that really know me know what I am capable of doing. Build relationships and be persistent, but you don’t have to nag either. Just update them with things along the way, so they are up-to-date with your progress, and eventually, they will reach out to you. I never filled out an application to get into the NBA. It was more of a referral. It can be like that or the route of applying for a job. If you are applying, just make sure you have some sort of relationship within the organization or know their history because that can help your chances.

Jael: Final question. What is your plan for the future?

Fasihi: Right now, I’m still up-to-date with what Lakeland has going on performance-wise, specifically with their injury and medical prevention staff. The draft process will happen this summer, so God-willing I will be a part of that by helping the players work out before they get drafted. I will also have my off-season workouts in Miami—that is the new hotbed for NBA players to come train and hang out. I have a program/bubble situation here in Miami where players can come get their workout in and feel safe. That’s what the plan is, but still moving along the chain and making myself available for anybody, whether it is the NBA or working independently.

I have flexibility, and that is what I wanted. Learning from people who have worked in strength and conditioning for years has also been one of my biggest goals, and getting my masters remains one of my biggest priorities. I want to keep my clientele running independently.

The season will be back before we know it, so make sure you keep up with Haseeb on Instagram and Twitter.

Entrepreneurs Grind

Emily Schildt, Founder of ‘Pop Up Grocer,’ Discusses Her Entrepreneurial Rise

On this week’s episode of The Tartare Project hosted by Phil Toronto, Emily Schildt, founder and CEO of Pop Up Grocer, joined the show to discuss her meteoric journey in entrepreneurship. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rhodes College in 2009, Schildt has built a loaded resume over the past decade, which includes a stint at Chobani as the director of digital engagement and a role as the project food director at Fohr Card. Prior to starting Pop Up Grocer, Schildt created a consulting company called Sourdough in December 2013 to bring new products to the market by telling their stories, and from time to time offers a tech-free event series called ‘Things of Wonder’ to promote human connection in our ‘phone-addicted culture.’ Between all of her businesses, Schildt truly has her hands full and spoke with Toronto about her path to success with Pop Up Grocer.

Toronto began the conversation by asking Schildt about how Pop Up Grocer came to be. “Pop Up Grocer is a place to discover the latest and greatest products that fall under the food and grocery umbrella,” she tells Toronto before diving into the various products Pop Up offers. “It’s mostly food and beverage, but we also have home, pet, and body care. To date, we have traveled the country visiting different cities in which we open for 30 days at a time, and introduce them to the products that we select.”

Growing in the suburbs of Baltimore, Schildt wasn’t what she personally considered a ‘model student,’ but turned it around in college to eventually become the entrepreneur that she is today. While Schildt has undoubtedly achieved a lot in her career thus far, that transformation from the student that didn’t exactly care about school to one that became seriously focused on her grades and future remains one of her proudest accomplishments because it shows that how you start doesn’t determine how you finish. “I was not a good student as far as getting good grades, and a lot of people are surprised to find that out about me. In my junior year of high school, I had a 1.5 GPA, and I had to turn it around my senior year in order to get into college. I love to tell people that because it proves that you can turn things around if you are motivated.”

As the conversation continued, Toronto and Schildt discussed Schildt’s time in college, her many different internships, and how her early job experiences taught her the many lessons necessary to start a business. Referencing her days of doing marketing consulting for other companies, Toronto then asks Schildt how her role as a consultant prepared her for starting Pop Up Grocer. “I got the idea for it because I enjoy grocery stores, and pre-Covid, I traveled quite a bit.

The grocery store would always be the first place I would go to get a sense of how people ate and lived.” Always knowing that the ultimate goal was to create a grocery store of her own, Schildt struggled early on with figuring out the logistics of opening her own store. Through her clients’ help, Schildt was eventually able to get the help she needed to launch. “I knew that I wanted to open up my own grocery store, but I didn’t know how to do it because it’s a very capital-heavy business, and I didn’t have any money. Through working with my clients who were emerging food brands, I identified a white space where I could create a grocery store and cover my costs.

Toronto and Schildt covered a lot in their 30-minute conversation, including the details of how Schildt was able to get Pop Up Grocer off the ground. You can listen to the full convo above, and follow Schildt on Instagram

Entrepreneurs Grind

Jamia Fields Launches New Streetwear Brand ‘Stoic Los Angeles’

When we last spoke to Jamia Fields in September, 2020, she was in the midst of her season with the Houston Dash, and we primarily chatted about her life-long love of fashion. Frequently recognized for her dope fits (which she regularly showcases on social media), Fields made it clear that she was determined to make big waves in the fashion industry and hinted that she was working on an upcoming fashion line. Fast forward seven months later, that line has finally come to fruition, officially launching online today. Named Stoic Los Angeles (which is a testimony to anybody who has had to power through tough times and situations), Stoic L.A. is a luxury streetwear brand that is ‘street but sweet.’ 

Working on Stoic primarily by herself, Fields has been completely hands-on in all the elements of her company, pulling from her experiences in fashion, life, and sports to create a brand that encompasses what it truly means to be a warrior. Ahead of its release, Fields spoke with ONE37pm’s Jael Rucker to give a full background on how Stoic Los Angeles came to be and what the line means to her.

Jamia Fields

Rucker: What has been the process of starting Stoic?

Fields: I would say the process has been pretty long but an exciting journey. I’ve always had this passion for fashion, clothes, and styling, and I got inspired to start my own brand. It was exciting but also fearful, like with everything new. I felt called to it, and the message of Stoic Los Angeles was huge to me. I was excited to start something meaningful through fashion. It has been a lot of work, but still fun!

I started over a year ago—It took me at least half a year to come up with the name because I wanted the brand to have my journey intertwined in it and be something that other people could relate to. Within that year, I definitely got all the bits and pieces together.

Rucker: Obviously you are going to have the online site, but are there plans for a Stoic Los Angeles store?

Fields: Yes, it is definitely part of the vision that I have for Stoic with different pop-up shops in the future. So online for right now, but building towards that for sure.

Jamia Fields

Rucker: Why Streetwear? I know it is a natural part of being an athlete as you guys tend to have an affinity for streetwear, but what made you want to start a line that you can offer to everybody? 

Fields: For me, it is a huge part of my wardrobe. I like throwing on crewnecks and hoodies, but I also love dressing up or down and still having that streetwear vibe. I wanted the basis of my line to be streetwear because I like athleisure and the oversized look. Being comfortable is my main thing, but it was also perfect timing because since the pandemic people have been wearing sweatshirts and hoodies more. I have always dressed like that, and I definitely wanted those things to be a part of my brand.

Rucker: What is it like starting an athleisure brand?

Fields: For me, when I’m looking to shop, I look for good material. I knew I wanted to start a luxury streetwear brand where the clothes that I am making may cost a little bit more but are great material and a great message that people can relate to when they are buying clothes. They can see their story in what they are wearing, and that has a lot of meaning behind the name Stoic.

I’ve tried it all—I’ve been a ‘bargain shopper’ my whole life. I like to find the best prices, but I also enjoy high-end things as well. I have felt and worn different fabrics, and for me I’ve seen how the cheaper fabrics wash and wear over time. I tried to create something in the middle of that, but still high-end luxury. 

Rucker: You are pretty much a one-man band with this right?

Fields: It has been very challenging but rewarding at the same time because I put a vision out there, and I would go to sleep thinking about it, and wake up to write something down because I am that passionate. Obviously I’ve had help here and there with the creative part of it, the website, etc., but with the complete vision and having to find every piece, as well as getting the licensing—you know you could start it within a month, but I didn’t want that to be the case with me. I wanted to put all my time into it because I want the brand to sustain for years to come.

Jamia Fields

Rucker: What does Stoic mean in a fashion sense?

Fields: It’s enduring hardships and overcoming, being an underdog. That is what stoicism has meant to me and my journey, and making sure you keep going when things aren’t in your favor. As an athlete, I know other athletes can relate, but creatives in other industries can as well. My mom is in the tech world, and we go through the exact same things. I wanted to build another platform where people can tell their story, and know that if they are going through a struggle and want to give up , they can have something from Stoic LA to remind them to keep going.  For me, it was my faith and reading articles that helped me the most. Creating a platform is a pivotal aspect of what I want to do with my brand.

When I look back on my life and career now, it all makes sense. I feel like God gave me a vision, and it is because of all that I have been through and overcome. It is definitely what inspired this brand, and if I hadn’t gone through those things, then the brand wouldn’t be here today.

Stoic Los Angeles officially launches today. You browse the website here, and follow Jamia for more updates on Instagram and Twitter.

Entrepreneurs Grind

Annabel Lawee, Founder of Breeze, Wants To Reinvent How You Eat At The Airport

On this week’s episode of The Tartare Project, host Phil Toronto welcomes Annabel Lawee, founder of Breeze. Breeze is a company that serves specialized airport food packages for those that may not be interested in eating actual airport food.

Pulling from her experiences of flying with Celiac disease, Lawee’s mission was to create a company that would provide airport travelers with convenient access to healthy meals instead of standard restaurant food. Noting the stress and inconvenience that can come from meal planning while trying to make your flight, Breeze provides different meal options made straight from scratch with high-quality ingredients. The menu also accommodates those with dietary preferences and restrictions such as gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan, and you can plan your meals up to 24 hours in advance through the Breeze App.

Toronto and Lawee covered a lot of ground during their conversation, primarily discussing how Lawee built Breeze and how she continues to navigate her business through the pandemic. The discussion kicked off with Lawee giving listeners a general view of how Breeze came to be. “Breeze is an on-demand service for airport travelers. You can choose a selection of food, snacks, and beverages, as well as your pick-up time, and we will be ready for you in a centralized pickup point within an airport terminal.” Going on to describe how airport food can be a ‘sucky experience,’ not just in terms of quality, but with various factors such as long lines and other inconveniences, Lawee is determined to change those annoyances by becoming the ‘antithesis’ of airport food experiences.

The conversation then takes several steps back, with Toronto asking Lawee about her childhood experiences growing up in Montreal, attending the Richard Ivey School of Business in London, Ontario, and moving to New York after graduation. After moving to New York, Lawee joined Echo, a tech startup, and worked there for five years in sales and partnerships, learning many essential skills along the way that would ultimately help with the development of her own company.

Pivoting the conversation towards the early stages of Breeze, Lawee describes what the ideation process was like. “I started ideating about Breeze around 2017. I went on a trip to Cabo, and I remember feeling so bloated and disgusting because I overdosed on almonds since I couldn’t find anything else to eat. It was something that kept happening when I would go on business trips,” Lawee says as she recalls the difficulty of finding quality foods to eat while traveling.

The negative experiences fueled the idea for Breeze. After toying around with the idea for a long time, Lawee finally got the confidence to put her plan into motion after receiving encouragement from her peers and colleagues. Building a startup isn’t the easiest process, and Toronto asked Lawee about the beginning stages of Breeze and how the company has been able to get to where it is today. “I didn’t really know how to start a company, and I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that I had a great idea that I had to raise money for. I put together a deck that was super catchy and something that potential tech investors could resonate with. My fundraising process happened really quickly—we basically raised $1.5 million on a PowerPoint  slide that said, ‘Airport Food Sucks!’ While that was amazing, the main challenge was this ‘imposter syndrome’—if I had known then what I know now about getting into an airport, I don’t think I would have ever done it.”

Toronto and Lawee had an incredible conversation full of many valuable gems. You can catch the full episode above and follow all of the latest updates from Breeze on Instagram and Twitter.

Entrepreneurs Grind

Celeb Stylist Calyann Barnett Is Gearing Up To Launch “The Shop Miami”

When we last spoke with Calyann Barnett in January 2020, the celebrity stylist was in the midst of launching her newest venture, The Shop In Pop Up Shop, a place for brands trying to enter the Miami market that didn’t have a traditional brick and mortar presence. Inspired by companies such as Airbnb and Uber, The Shop In Pop Up Shop was designated to be an outlet that clients could use to essentially outsource their products. The company was experiencing a lot of success, but like many other businesses, suffered a setback due to Covid-19.

You know what they say, ‘A setback is a setup for a comeback,’ and after going back to the drawing board, Barnett is ready for round two. Now named The Shop Miami, Barnett will officially be re-launching this June with 20 individually designed spaces, making it a must-shop destination in Miami. Barnett sat down with ONE37pm’s Jael Rucker to discuss the revamp, how a trip to Africa has further inspired her creativity, styling Dwyane Wade, and what she is doing to create more opportunities in fashion for Black designers.

“When I first spoke to you guys—I was like nine months pregnant! We had just opened The Shop in Pop Up Shop, and then Coronavirus happened, and it was unexpected,” she says, reflecting on a time period where there was so much uncertainty. “We closed down and attempted to open again with a temporary spot, but then we decided to go back to the drawing board.”

The summer of 2020 was a trying and sensitive time for everyone; the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent worldwide protests, along with the attempt to bring the cases of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery to the forefront, the country saw massive protests in the name of racial equality that it had not seen for some time.

There was also a nationwide blackout in which businesses and consumers halted their buying activities for one day as a way to further take a stance and bring awareness. It reshaped our perspectives, and for Barnett, the desire to use her talents, platforms, and connections as a way to provide even more opportunities for Black people began to fuel her even more.

“It was taking what we learned from George Floyd, the blackout, the blackout amongst Black designers, etc., and realizing that Black people lead the charge.” 

As Barnett began the process of relaunching, those ideals alongside the changing landscape of consumerism have been a part of the day-to-day motions. The pandemic has completely changed the way we shop. Major brands have seen the loss of many physical retail locations (Barnett points to Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom as examples.) The process of leasing a building was already difficult. Now, especially with the pandemic, designers sometimes have challenges literally trying to find a ‘space’ for their work, which has also played a part in their ability to build a stable clientele.

Calyann Barnett

“Designers of color are not given the floor space to tell their story. If they are lucky enough to get into a department store, only pieces of their collection are purchased and thrown on a rack or in a section with similar brands. It is crucial for brands to connect with consumers and convert them into loyal customers that relate to their identity. I have learned brand identity is established organically when designers can show their collections the way they intended. Loyal consumers equate to sales which equal capital- and you’ve got to have the capital to build a brand.”

And that is where Barnett is coming to help. Having been in this business for fifteen years, Barnett knows the challenges involved in this business. The entrepreneur has been working hard to execute her vision.

“We started back outreach to brands. The Shop Miami has 20 individually designed spaces,” she states when asked about her upcoming relaunch. “We are looking to open in June, and we are fortunate to be in a place where the weather is always beautiful. This June is a great time to be opening because normally people travel to Europe during the summer, and Europe is completely shut down right now.” 

Calyann Barnett

Aiming for a Juneteenth opening, the objective is still the same: To create a space for designers to have more opportunities without having to worry about the logistics. In short, Barnett and Co. will take care of the gritty work, while designers can focus simply on creating. “Trust me. I know how hard it is with finding your own space and tacking the business side of things! “We are helping designers, from emerging to established, dropping a new collab, translate their brands into sales, without dealing with the logistics, staffing or other operational aspects.” 

And the creativity is especially on ten for Barnett after a recent trip to Africa. Showing off an interesting take on Kente cloth she recently received, Barnett was inspired on an eleven-day trip that saw her mixing business and pleasure. “Going to Africa was an infusion of inspiration, colors, patterns, and designers. When you look at Ghana tailors—their goal is to make a suit that fits.” Barnett then lifts the piece to show the juxtaposition of a Kente cloth with cooler tones as opposed to the brighter, warmer colors we are used to seeing. “You look at it and automatically think it’s couture!”

Calyann Barnett

Barnett’s trip made it even more clear that she wants her shop to be a journey. “I want it to be an experience like you are on a period where you go on a journey. The shop is a journey and a consumer experience.”

Last but not least, we had to ask her again about working with Dwyane Wade. Barnett has been with Wade for fourteen years, and in that time, we’ve seen the style evolution of him going from a 25-year-old a few years into the league to the more suave, mature looks he’s been showing off on Inside The NBA.

“We’ve been having fun with it! We made the decision to use his platform to highlight black designers. He is wearing only shades of grey. We started out with dark greys, and have been gradually going into lighter greys. So far we’ve worked with Virgil for Louis Vuitton, Richfresh, Romeo Hunte, and 3.Paradis to name a few. As a stylist, I am constantly looking for new brands  for my clients, and have built a lot of relationships over the years, as well as helped develop and put brands on the map.”

Between styling clients, building her business and raising 2 boys, Barnett has her hands full. You can continue to keep up with her on Instagram. Go to to sign up to receive info about the grand opening.

Entrepreneurs Grind

Brightland Founder Aishwarya Tyler Talks About Her Entrepreneurial Journey

The week’s episode of The Tartare Project hosted by Phil Toronto welcomes special guest Aishwarya Iyer, founder and CEO of Brightland, a modern pantry essentials company that launched in the summer of 2018. Offering an assortment of authentic oils and vinegars, Brightland sources their products from a California-ran family farm, assuring customers that they will only be consuming products straight from the Earth with no fillers or artificial preservatives.

Prior to founding Brightland, Iyer was the co-founder of Elephant Partners, a communications consultancy for technology companies, and served stints as the head of communications for Whisper and ffVC. Iver also worked as a public affairs manager at Second Market for over three years and started her career in public relations at Lancôme after obtaining a Bachelors in Arts from NYU.

Toronto and Iyer covered her career up to this point, discussing her path to starting Brightland, how her early experiences paved the way for her current success, and more during their 25-minute interview. Toronto began the conversation by asking Iyer to give a rundown on how Brightland came to fruition. “Brightland is a modern pantry essentials brand that really champions traceability, the supply chain, and elevated design. We are best known for our extra virgin olive oils from California, and our vinegars that are really fruit-forward and wonderful.” 

Born in India and growing up in Houston, Toronto and Iyer chatted about Iyer’s childhood, balancing both American and Indian customs and her awakening from being a party student at UT Austin to finding her calling at NYU. “I found a little more of my purpose because I joined the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU,” Iyer says as she recalls her final two years of undergrad. “Gallatin is a school within the university where you create your own major, and it is very entrepreneurial. No two people have the same major, and you have to bring something together that makes sense while also knowing that you are charting your own path. I had a blast with it!”

Only a handful of people can have the privilege of saying they specifically crafted their own major, and Iyers time at NYU has played a critical role in her path since. As the conversation progresses, Toronto and Iyer dive into her first job at Lancôme, her move into the world of tech start-ups at SecondMarket after the 2008 recession, and how that job gave her the ‘entrepreneurship bug.’ Toronto then asks Iyer when she began crafting the idea for Brightland. “At that point, I had been living in New York for about eight or nine years. Just living this New York life where I basically never cooked even though I came from a family where home-cooked food is our love language and the biggest sign of love and appreciation.” After a decade of living the ‘restaurant life,’ Iyer then decided it was time to incorporate more cooking into her lifestyle. Realizing that she and her partner were getting stomach aches after each meal, Iyer did some research into the olive oils she was using and found that nearly 70 percent of the Olive Oils here in the United States are spoiled in some kind of way.

At that particular time, Iyer didn’t necessarily have her sights set on starting a business. The idea of Brightland was one that came gradually over time. “I wasn’t seeking out an entrepreneurial endeavor’ Iyer tells Phil. “That wasn’t a part of my thinking, and you start automatically thinking about what you don’t have. It took me about two-and-a-half years to wrap my head around the concept that I could do this.”

We certainly don’t want to spoil this conversation, so be sure to check out the full episode of The Tartare Project above. You can follow Brightland on Instagram and check out their products on the company’s official website.

Entrepreneurs Grind

Myles Garrett Is Tackling The Global Water Crisis By Partnering With Waiakea

Myles Garrett put it simply. 

“There are people who do not know what clean water looks like. They do not know what it tastes like. There are people drinking the same water as their livestock.” 

Today is World Water Day, and the NFL Superstar wants to do his part to help address the growing crisis that affects people all over the world. 

One of the most important things to remember about athletes is that they have a life outside of the game. For Garrett, he is focused on helping others and giving back, wherever and however he can.

It is easy to get caught up in our lives. For a large majority of the United States, water is something that we take for granted. 

When I talked with Myles, I was curious about something that I myself struggle with. So many people are advised to “not care what other people think.” Yet, it is so important to be a good representation of your family, the company you work for, or any community you might be a part of. Garrett says it comes down to one thing: 

“My mom kinda said there was only one thing that mattered, kindness. She was the one who showed me the water crisis when I was a kid.”

He said that he knows what it is like to, “be under the microscope,” and to be at the center of the conversation, but he does his best to not pay that much attention.

Instead, Garrett said that he has a lot of faith “in listening to my heart and my gut.” He feels that he is in a position where he can really change the world and affect lives. 

I asked Garrett about seeing the lives he is affecting through his new partnership with Waiakea

“I went on a trip a little over a year ago to Africa and that really opened my eyes.” 

Obviously, during this pandemic, it is difficult to get around, but Garrett is, “absolutely,” going back to Africa as soon as he can. This is something that he speaks about with passion. 

“People have stomach aches and headaches from drinking unsafe water.” 

When you are a superstar in the NFL, there is no shortage of networking opportunities and Garrett wants to put the power he has and the advantages he has to the test.

“I’ve been able to get David Njoku to help out. I am trying to get Baker (Mayfield) and Christian McCaffrey next.” 

But not all of us are friends with Baker Mayfield. I wanted to know what can someone such as myself do? What can the average person do to help this cause?

“Just donate. The amount doesn’t even matter cause anything helps.”

And he’s right. 

A $5 donation can hydrate a community for a week or a farmer for a month. 

No one is asking people to break the bank. But that statistic really proves a lot. Every little bit helps.