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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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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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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/
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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.

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Entrepreneurs Grind

How Sole Retriever Is Changing The Sneaker Game

Whether you are a sneakerhead or a casual sneaker wearer, there will come a point where you have to purchase a new pair of kicks. For some of us (like myself), sneaker collecting is a passion the same way others collect items such as trading cards, comic books, and now crypto, however, the process of getting your hands on new sneakers has recently become quite difficult. That is where Sole Retriever comes in. Since its 2019 launch, the company has been somewhat of a “middle-man” to help give consumers a better shot at snagging sneaker Ws. Sole Retriever allows sneaker enthusiasts of all levels to have access to raffle-based drops, giving users a list of all upcoming releases, and the different retail shops offering raffles for that specific drop.

Recently launching their mobile app this past April, Sole Retriever is a must-have for any sneakerhead, and currently has a waitlist of 50,000 users (yes you read that correctly) anxiously awaiting their turn to get in. With their website and mobile app booming, Sole Retriever is already becoming a powerplayer in the sneaker market, and ONE37pm spoke to one of the co-owners, Harry, about the company’s beginnings, the success Sole Retriever has achieved so far, and their plans for the future.

ONE37pm: How did the concept of Sole Retriever come to be?

Harry: We launched the site in 2019, and just released our mobile app this past April. Sneakers in general are hard to get, and the process has become very fragmented. Sneaker raffles are a way to make that process more fair. We research, collect and aggregate data to source all of the places that are offering sneakers, so that way people can enter different raffles. More shops have leaned into raffles because of the first come first serve aspect of sneakers, and this is going to be the future! Also COVID played a major role in accelerating the trend of online raffles as well because obviously you couldn’t go in-store as much. We have a strong sneaker community online and via socials as well which is great too! 

ONE37pm: For those that may now be fully aware, just how important are raffles going to be in the future?

Harry: Depending on the release, which sneaker it is, and who is carrying the shoe, companies will typically allocate a certain amount of sneakers to retailers such as Foot Locker, KITH, etc. Raffles are super important because what we’ll do is provide a calendar of online release dates for sneakers that users can enter so that way they have access to all of the information and resources necessary to increase their odds of landing a pair. We are a supplement that helps people generally become more aware so that way they multiply their chances of getting Ws.

ONE37pm: Have there been any challenges that you have encountered along the way?

Harry: Definitely! It has sort of mitigated as of late, but there were some difficulties when we first started to gain traction. There’s three people on the team, and that meant (and still means) sometimes waking up in the middle of the night to stay on top of everything happening, keep our users updated, and put out any fires that may arise! There were also some growing pains along the way as well. As of now, we are investing into resources and working on scaling up to continue to support our increasing user-base, but these are definitely good problems to have!

ONE37pm: Obviously there are hyped releases with every brand such as Yeezys x Adidas, but would you say there is definitely more demand with Nikes/Jordans?

Harry: For sure. There has been a resurgence with the Nike SBs, and they have become one of the most demanded silhouettes, especially with a ton of recently hyped collaborations. Many of the recent Jordan and Yeezy drops tend to be released in sizable quantities, limited collabs, excluded, but with the SB’s, it’s been quite a combination of insane demand and great colorways that has resulted in their recent popularity spike.

ONE37pm: You touched on this a bit earlier, but it can be so hard to get sneakers retail, and the resell market can be crazy. How does Sole Retriever help with that?

Harry: Just by opening up the window to more potential Ws by introducing users to places and stories they didn’t even know existed. Even if you are unsuccessful with getting a W on a particular sneaker release, you are still benefiting from the knowledge gained, time saved, and convenience and accessibility provided to you.

ONE37pm: Last but not least, where do you see Sole Retriever in the future?

Harry: We have a lot of fun stuff in the pipeline, and right now we are really focusing on our mobile app. We launched the app in April, and there is currently a waitlist of 50,000 users, which we are letting in on a rolling basis. We are also releasing new features on the app, and it will be suitable for whatever sneaker level you classify yourself as. Whether you are an entry-level sneakerhead, or collector, we appeal to any sneakerhead! At the end of the day it’s all about access and convenience, and that’s what we’re here to provide.

The Sole Retriever app is available via IOS and Android devices, so be sure to sign up and mark your spot on the waitlist today. Boost your position by referring your friends and gain instant access when you reach five referrals! In the meantime, you can up with all of the latest Sole Retriever updates through their official website, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Entrepreneurs Grind

The 20 Best Celebrity Alcohol Brands

It’s almost a given these days that when someone become famous and some money starts rolling in for them, some kind of alcohol partnership is coming sooner or later. It’s par for the course now, so there are a heck of a lot of brands out there to choose from, even if you’re just going for something with a celebrity attached to it. There are vodkas, whiskeys, tequilas and more from rappers, singers, actors and more.

To help make your decision a little bit easier, here are a list of some of the best celebrity alcohol brands.

1. 818 Tequila – Kendall Jenner
InsideHook

This past February, Kendall Jenner took to Instagram to reveal that for the past four years, she had been working on a tequila by visiting her distillery, taking blind taste tests and anonymously entering world tasting competitions and winning. Her alcohol was finally ready and it’s called 818 Tequila. It consists of the variants 818 Blanco, 818 Reposado and 818 Añejo. It’s being rolled out in select locations now, despite the controversy about Kendall appropriating Mexican culture and naming it after her Calabasas area code.

2. Armand de Brignac – JAY-Z
Decanter

Though Armand de Brignac was considered to be new in the mid-2000s, in reality, it was just making its North American debut. And though JAY-Z bought the entire company in 2014, he has had a stake estimated to be worth $50 million in it since around 2006. Originally a Cristal drinker, JAY, like many, was turned off by Frederic Rouzaud which had racial undertones. In his own words, he “he switched gold bottles onto that Spade shit”.

3. Aviation American Gin – Ryan Reynolds
Amazon

This is widely respected as arguably the best celebrity alcohol brand on the market, another feather that Ryan Reynolds can add to his cap. Aviation American Gin has been around since 2006, but Reynolds acquired his stake in February of 2018. The amount wasn’t public, but it was clear it was significant, because he took an active role in the business as well as the creative direction. In the summer of last year, the gin company sold for a whopping $610 million.

4. Casamigos Tequila – George Clooney
BienManger

Launched by George Clooney, Rande Gerber and Mike Meldman in 2013, the intention with Casamigos Tequila was originally to make a drink specific to their tastes and not for it to be a public success, but that’s what happened anyway. Eventually it became the fastest growing ultra-premium tequila in the States. In 2017, Diaego, the same company that bought the aforementioned Aviation American Gin, bought Casamigos for a massive $700 million, plus up to another $300 million based on their performance until 2027.

5. Cîroc – Diddy
Country Wine & Spirits

Since the 90s, Diddy has been known to be one of the best marketers on the planet. That’s why when Cîroc was struggling to move 40,000 cases of its vodka in the mid to late-2000s, they wanted the rapper and entrepreneur to hop on board. In a very short period of time, they were moving millions of cases annually. Today, Cîroc Vodka is one of Diddy’s main sources of income and a great asset to his net worth of nearly $1 billion.

6. Código 1530 Tequila – George Strait
Drinkhacker

When he was on a vacation in Los Cabos, during rounds of golf, George Strait and his friends would drink a tequila produced by a small family-owned distillery in Amatitán. They loved it so much that they started to purchased barrels of it for their own consumption. Then came the idea to buy the entire thing and to work with the family to produce it for the world. This happened in May of 2017 and ever since, it’s become a great success. He even has a song named after it.

7. Conjure Cognac – Ludacris
Liquor

Credit to Ludacris for getting into the alcohol business relatively early, in the grand scheme of things today anyway. Luda launched Conjure Cognac in the summer of 2009. He created it himself from a blend of over a dozen samples and his inspiration was to make something like one of his favourite drinks, Louis XIII, but for a more affordable price.

8. Danny DeVito’s Premium Limoncello – Danny DeVito
Pinterest

In November of 2006, legend Danny DeVito made an infamous appearance on The View where he was still a little drunk from the night before with George Clooney. He said “I knew it was the last seven limoncellos that was going to get me”, which he became the butt of some friendly jokes for. Turning a negative to a positive, he launched his own limoncello in May of 2007. It’s a 60-proof liqueur that’s genuinely top of the range.

9. Dos Hombres Mezcal – Brian Cranston and Aaron Paul
Mezcal Reviews

Brian Cranston and Aaron Paul will be forever paired in our minds for the pair of classic roles they played on Breaking Bad, which many consider to this day to be the greatest TV series of all time. When they teased something on social media a few years back, fans assumed it was about the Breaking Bad film that was due. Instead, it was the launch of Dos Hombres, a brand they wanted people who didn’t even like Mezcal to like.

10. Haig Club – David Beckham
Campaign

Haig Club was launched In 2014 with David Beckham as the face of the company. It’s described as a light and sweet single grain scotch whiskey. Beckham credited the experience with teaching him how whiskey is made and enjoyed best. In the years after his soccer career has ended, Haig Club has become one of his main business ventures.

11. Heaven’s Door Whiskey – Bob Dylan
Wine Enthusiast Magazine

Legend Bob Dylan was approached about a trademark he filed for “bootleg whiskey” by Marc Bushala, asking him for his pitch. The drink was released in 2018 and was partially named after a classic song of his (which you might know from the Guns ‘N’ Roses cover). Bushala raised $35 million for the project. Since the launch just over three years ago, they’ve entered new markets successfully, with people praising it as a premium whiskey.

12. Longbranch Whiskey – Matthew McConaughey
Breaking Bourbon

Matthew McConaughey went about his own alcohol brand the right way. The actor spent years with Wild Turkey as a creative director, all the while working on his own whiskey. Longbranch launched to rave reviews and it was respected as a genuine competitor to other bourbons in its space, despite being a celebrity brand. You might remember some of the minimalistic commercials to promote this.

13. Maison No. 9 – Post Malone
Reserve Bar

Post Malone surprised most last year when he announced the launch of his own wine. If anything, based on one of his album names, we expected him to have his own beer. Nonetheless, Maison No. 9 is a French rosé which was launched in the second quarter of last year. Post started getting into wine through Mark Wahlberg and was inspired to do his own thing after meeting James Morrissey.

14. Teremana Tequila – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Teremana

Given that he is one of the biggest (figuratively and literally) stars on the planet, it felt like it was only a matter of time until The Rock got involved in the alcohol game.

Meaning “spirit of the Earth”, Teremana aims to “create a high quality, responsibly sourced tequila that brings people together. One that starts conversations, creates laughter, and moments to appreciate those along with us on this journey of life.”

15. Mulholland Distilling – Walton Goggins
Living Out Loud LA

Mulholland Distilling has been an incredible success for Walton Goggins who co-founded the L.A. company a few years ago with friend and cameraman Matthew Alper. The pair aim to capture the spirit of Los Angeles in a bottle and have done so with vodkas, gins and whiskeys, amongs others.

16. Proper No. 12 Whiskey – Conor McGregor
Urban Drinks UK

Some thought this was a cash grab when this was originally announced, and perhaps it was, but either way, it’s clear that The Notorious One was genuinely passionate about his Irish whiskey venture. It was worth it too. It recently sold for a deal worth up to $600 million.

17. Recuerdo Mezcal – Jorge Masvidal
Uptown Spirits

Masvidal had been wanting to get into the alcohol business for a while, but there was no better time than after his win over Nate Diaz last year. Having to be conscious of what was going into his body as a professional athlete, he was impressed with Recuerdo’s process from start to finish. He also made it a point to become an owner as opposed to just a brand ambassador.

18. Sauza 901 Tequila – Justin Timberlake
Drinkhacker

Justin Timberlake partnered with Sauza back in 2014 after he was inspired to create his own tequila after seeing it made in Jalisco, Mexico firsthand. The 901 tequila (which was named after the Memphis area code) can be served on the rocks or as part of a cocktail.

19. The Pogues Irish Whiskey – The Pogues
Malt Review

This is 50% a 10-year-old single malt Irish whiskey aged in sherry oak casks with a similarly old Irish whiskey aged in bourbon oak casks and 50% a four-year-old Irish grain whiskey aged in bourbon oak casks. It’s a unique blend that makes for a great Irish coffee.

20. Virginia Black – Drake
DrinkSupermarket

Drake teamed with Deléon Tequila in 2016 to launch Virginia Black, a strong American whiskey. The brand was based on 70s nightlife and interestingly, was made 80-proof to help appeal to women too. It seemed to work, selling 30,000 cases in its first year.

Categories
Entrepreneurs Grind

Jimmy Butler Is Partnering With Rhone to Elevate Your Lifestyle and Performance

Jimmy Butler has always been known not just for his elite basketball skills but for his smooth style off the court, infectious personality, and content creation. So it should come as no surprise that Butler is looking to take things up a notch, as it was officially announced today that the five-time NBA All-Star is partnering with performance lifestyle brand Rhone in a rare first-of-its-kind collaboration.

Jonesworks Company

As a part of the deal, Butler will serve as the face of the company, while taking on a role as an investor and business partner. The Miami Heat superstar will also be an active collaborator with Rhone as he will assist in the design and marketing components of the brand, and as always, Butler will be giving back to the community as a part of Rhone’s outreach programs (which also includes a summer basketball camp for underprivileged youth).

Butler is set to make his official debut with Rhone’s Summer 2021 campaign and has been working extremely hard behind the scenes in preparation for his new role while balancing the final stretch of the regular season as the Miami Heat are set to begin postseason play next week. We spoke to Butler ahead of this announcement to talk about all things Rhone, and what we can expect in the near future.

ONE37pm: Jimmy, you have always been known for your pulse on content, marketing, style, etc., so this partnership with Rhone seems like a natural next step. For you personally, why Rhone?

Butler: I think Rhone is in the market where they are really good at what they do. We have a lot of things in common, we both come from nowhere but we hang with the big dogs. Rhone is full of good people who make good clothes and apparel for working out, lifestyle, etc. The biggest thing is that we see eye to eye on the community.

Jonesworks Company

ONE37pm: This is such an exciting announcement! We know we can expect the first campaign in Summer 21’, what has the day-to-day process been like?

Butler: You know there is so much going on in my life right now! I’m playing basketball, and anybody that knows me knows that when I’m competing, basketball is always on my mind. Right now everything is full speed because the playoffs are starting and we want to win a championship, but I’m also focused on this. I love building things and helping others.

ONE37pm: You sort of just mentioned it, but how are you balancing being in-season, along with this partnership? The postseason starts next week, and you guys are aiming for another Finals run and ultimately a championship. When it comes to Rhone, are you going to temporarily take a break?

Butler: Yes, I’m locked in, but I also think too much of anything can be a bad thing. I can’t be so locked in on basketball that I’m missing out on other things like my family, Rhone, Dominoes, and coffee (Big Face Coffee). Basketball is so stupidly important to me, and it will always be, but I have to make sure I focus on other things too.

ONE37pm: You mentioned the importance of community involvement. I know that there are plans for summer basketball camp, but is there anything else you can tell us at the moment?

Butler: Just making sure that everybody has an opportunity to be an active part in Rhone, and it’s something that we can all have in common. I can’t really say too much right now because we are still working on everything, but you guys will be the first to know!

Jonesworks Company

ONE37pm: Not only are you the face of the brand, but you will also have a hand in the designing and marketing components as well. How has that been for you?

Butler: It’s been great! This has really given me the opportunity to show my creative side and marketing aspects. Rhone is a real family vibe, and I also have a great social team helping me out when it comes to marketing on Instagram, Twitter, etc., for different strategies. It’s been fun!

ONE37pm: Last but not least, what we can expect from you and Rhone in the future?

Butler: To be the best, that’s it! That is both of our goals. We want people to look fly, and when people wear athletic gear, we want to say “Rhone did that.” When people wear swimwear, we want to be able to say “Rhone did that.” No matter where you go, we’ll have you covered!

Categories
Entrepreneurs Grind

How Michael Mayer, Co-Founder of Windmill, Is Changing Air Conditioning

This week’s edition of The Tartare Project hosted by Phil Toronto features Michael Mayer, the co-founder of Windmill. A consumer electronics company, Windmill is a small business headquartered in New York that focuses on building eco-friendly products that help keep the air clean. The brand’s most notable product is their personalized Windmill Air Conditioning unit that targets better airflow and smoother cooling while keeping away outside air.

Prior to co-founding Windmill in 2018, Mayer had a resume full of business experience, including being the co-founder of smartphone gadget Lookalu, and a three-year stint at Betterment For Advisors in which he served in various different roles.

Toronto and Mayer sat down for a 45-minute interview in which they discussed his career trajectory. Toronto began the conversation by asking Mayer about the decision to start Windmill. “Before Windmill there was no brand association or loyalty when it came to air conditioning. You know the big-name companies, but they haven’t been able to connect with the customer. For that very reason, this is an opportunity for innovation and experience.”

Growing up in Orlando, Florida with Disney World as his ‘backyard,’ education was a huge part of Mayer’s upbringing, attending college at the University of Pennsylvania, where he eventually received a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. “I actually wanted to be an English major because I loved 18th Century Poetry in high school, “ he tells Toronto before going into the decision to go down the finance lane. “I went from an English major to finance. I spent the rest of those three years doing international currency finance and accounting. I felt the air just get sucked out of me. I wasn’t myself, and I wasn’t vibing on the stuff that I was learning. I ultimately graduated and realized that it wasn’t who I was.”

Windmill

Like many young adults, Mayer had to discover himself and find his own path in life. That journey was a spiritual one that included lots of meditation and therapy. “I’m a big fan of mental health. Even if you think you don’t need therapy, it’s helpful to dig into your past to figure out why you are the way you are—especially with starting a business. It’s very helpful!”

As the conversation continues, Toronto and Mayer cover his decision to leave banking, trusting your ability to live in uncertainty, and his early career experiences. Naturally, the conversation gets back to Windmill, and how the company values their customer’s experience. “LG, GE, Frigidaire—they aren’t thinking about how to word their installation manual in a way that you would understand it—they have third-party companies doing their manuals,” he says before detailing Windmill’s game plan for the future. Ultimately the vision of Windmill is to expand outside of air conditioning and to think about air care more broadly—especially with Covid and the wildfires out west. Air care is becoming more important.”

For more on Mayer and his business Windmill be sure to listen to the full interview above. You can also check Windmill’s official website here.