July 13, 2017
source: T+L | photo credit: Made Nagi/EPA
Written By: Ron B. Clark | Mar 26, 2014
Nike, Apple, L’Oréal, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, and Mercedes. These are just a few of the brands that black America has bought into and have decided to spend their 1.2 trillion dollar purchasing power on. This is consumerism at its best and it’s running wild in the black community. The black community has lacked to develop the wealth mentality or financial literacy needed to become financially wealthy as a whole. We’ve been unconsciously taught and influenced by our most visible leaders and entertainers to become consumers. It goes as far back as to the 70’s when the once beloved, O.J. Simpson, was doing commercials for Hertz to influence black America to buy into Hertz’s services. It even goes back to the early days of hip hop when Run DMC became brand ambassadors for Adidas, and the Hip Hop community predominately black at the time, bought Adidas’ products. However, there was a time when blacks heavily bought and sold to black owned businesses, this was before desegregation.
Since then our most visible and influential leaders have capitalized off of their successes to gain endorsements from major corporations while influencing black America to unconsciously embrace a consumerism mentality (the poverty stricken mentality) by largely consuming, but has rarely taught or shown the black community the importance of owning. T.D. Jakes once said, “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day, teach a man how to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime, but show him how he can buy the pond and no one in his family will ever know struggle.” This is what we in the black community as a whole have neglected to teach and share — ownership; ridding our future generations of the financial struggles we’ve become accustomed to. This thought process is the growth mentality of the wealthy. We need to understand that neither wealth nor poverty are financial issues. Wealth and poverty at their core are mentalities. The amount of money we produce in the physical is a direct result of the financial mentalities we create and build. The black community’s financial mentality has been slow in its maturation process. Our mentalities have been hugely influenced by our current leaders to consume rather than own. In the process we have not developed an understanding of the difference between Assets vs. Liabilities. We’ve been taught to take on liabilities rather than accrue assets. “What we have to understand is that the wealthy work for profits they do not work for wages. They think 1099’s not W-2’s. The poor keep score by cars and clothes, the middle class they keep score by degrees and titles, but the wealthy they keep score by their bank accounts”, as Dennis Kimbro eloquently stated. This is where our mentality has went astray and as a result we have viewed cars, clothes, degrees, and titles as financial cornerstones (assets) in our lives, but they aren’t. They actually put us in deeper debt more times than not.
So, why does the black community spend so much on brands, and products. Is it that companies are advertising heavily towards the black community? No. You’d be surprised to find out that companies spend a very small portion of their advertising dollars marketing towards the black community as compared to what they spend in a whole. “In 2013 ,the top 20 advertisers that spent the most with media focused on Black audiences was a little more than $564 million which is a drop in the bucket compared to the total of $75 billion spent in 2013 on television, magazine, internet, and radio in a whole”, according to Nielsen. So, you see it’s our own and our major influences (made up of mostly entertainers) financial mentalities that have a played a significant role in not achieving wealth. Now, I don’t want to exclude or be misinterpreted of saying that the black community’s mentality is the only reason why we’ve had a difficult time in gaining wealth. As we all know, the extensive and often times brutal history that the people of the African diaspora have had in America. Slavery, Jim Crow, and many more prominent things & events have played a very large part but as we have made large strides in the last century to change the dynamics; in this current time our mentalities about wealth have to change. Before the last 30 to 40 years, the black community never knew what it was like to have much, let alone to be financially rich or wealthy. Therefore, when we were afforded the opportunity to become financially fit, we started valuing the wrong things and we’ve spent the last few decades adjusting and becoming accustomed to having money. However, now that we’ve broken through the financial opportunity ceiling it’s time to turn our mentalities into ones of wealth. Next week, I’ll continue this series discussing the difference between assets & liabilities, and how the black community should view and invest in them.
source: Ron B. Clark
Brennan Agranoff is a 17-year-old with a lot on his plate.
The high-school junior balances homework with another full-time job he’s had since he was 13: He’s founder and CEO of HoopSwagg, a custom socks startup.
HoopSwagg isn’t just a little project on the side for this teenager. In four years, Agranoff has grown his idea to make custom-design athletic socks into a profitable online-only business with annual sales of more than $1 million.
Agranoff’s lightbulb moment came in 2013 at a high-school basketball game, where he noticed most kids were wearing the same plain Nike athletic socks. If these simple socks started such a craze, he wondered: What would happen if he kicked things up a notch and printed custom designs on them?
Fast forward four years, and HoopSwagg now offers more than 200 original designs created by Agranoff himself: a mix of goofy (a melting ice cream cone), funky (a spoof of the infamous Portland International Airport carpet) and tongue-in-cheek (“goat farm,” a family inside joke scattered with photos of the real animals on the family’s property). Agranoff also wants to allow customers to create their own designs in the future.
The company is now shipping 70 to 100 orders a day, with each pair of socks priced at $14.99. And this week, HoopSwagg announced its first acquisition: It bought competitor TheSockGame.com, which will add over 300 designs to the portfolio and help expand HoopSwagg’s customer base.
But HoopSwagg started small. After Agranoff’s initial idea at the school basketball game, he spent six months researching logistics like machinery and technology needed for custom digital printing on fabric.
He then made the case to two potential investors: his parents. “They thought the concept was a little out there,” Agranoff said. But he was persistent and ultimately received a $3,000 loan.
In true startup fashion, HoopSwagg launched in the family garage in Sherwood, Oregon, just outside of Portland. Agranoff set up the design printing and heat presser machines with his family’s help. He enlisted his parents to buy “as many white athletic socks as they could get from Dick’s Sporting Goods.”
Hoopswagg’s first year was slow. But momentum grew quickly after the socks — which Agranoff said are “for everyone from 6-year-olds to 80-year-olds” — took off on social media.
Agranoff leveraged his own social network and targeted a group of social influencers to help spread the word. In particular, the sock design inspired by the Portland airport’s former teal-and-geometric-shape pattern went viral, bringing more attention to the brand.
As sales soared, the company quickly outgrew the garage. The Agranoff family built a 1,500-square-foot building on their property to accommodate production, warehousing and shipping.
His mother joined the business full-time, and Agranoff also has 17 other part-time employees. But self-sufficiency is key to his success, he said. Agranoff also taught himself to code, so he could better set up and manage his business’ website, and how to use graphic design tools to develop the designs. He remains the company’s only graphic designer, though he is colorblind.
For now, the socks are primarily sold through HoopSwagg’s website and via Amazon (Tech30), eBay ( ) and Etsy. The next three years are pivotal for HoopSwagg, said Agranoff, who wants the brand to be in retail stores,” said Agranoff. He’s also expanding customization to other products like shoelaces, arm sleeves and ties.,
Meanwhile, Agranoff is set to graduate high school six months early. While college is in the plan at some point, he’s slated to focus on HoopSwagg full-time after high school graduation. He currently spends about six hours per day on the business, after putting in a day of school and finishing his homework.
While Agranoff has never taken a business class, he learned a lot by buying items at garage sales and selling them on eBay — a pursuit he began when he was eight.
“So really, I’ve been learning how to do this for a while,” said Agranoff. “Especially today, with all the information available on the internet, you can’t be too young to learn how to be an entrepreneur.”
Here are some points I felt would be helpful to those starting their music production career and to those who are considering to become a music producer. If you have any other points to add feel free to leave a comment.
1. Consult/Hire an Entertainment Lawyer to prepare the type of contracts you will need to legally protect yourself and your intellectual properties. Form an official business for your production company.
2. Put consistent time into maximizing your skills, learning new skills and continue to improve daily; music is a feeling, make what you feel, stay in tune with the art while increasing your fundamentals of your craft. I encourage you to hire quality & reputable individuals or businesses to fill voids that you may not be skilled to do like graphic design, mixing or marketing; someone you trust with a proven track record of a specific skill that you need to elevate your career.
3. Create a marketing strategy and plan for on & offline branding and promotions of your production. Have a professional mix on your production that you are showcasing to help maximize your opportunities for placements.
4. Build Site to showcase and sell your beats, this also offers the ability to showcase songs featuring your production.
5. Every and I mean every artist in your immediate area should know you exist and have a place online to hear your work. Here’s an idea, create a platform for yourself in your market by doing a project with local artists featuring your production and promote the project in the market, on/offline. Speak to your lawyer on the legalities to make it an official release.
6ixx. Travel to other markets with your production, maximize your personal network and create new connections at various entertainment industry events and events in general where potential clients will be networking.
These are just some tips that crossed my mind when thinking of those are just getting started or those considering to become a producer. Finally, be authentic in all you do, in life and creating artistically. If these tips were helpful please let me know. Positive energy to all!!!