From Love & Hip-Hop to CEO: Rasheeda on Building a Brand Using Reality TV

RasheedaImage: DB Agency Image: DB Agency

Although Rasheeda was a recording artist before joining the cast of Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta, it was the platform offered by reality television that helped take her brand to the next level. Currently, Rasheeda is riding high off the success of her Pressed retail store and Poiz cosmetic line, while shooting for her sixth season on the popular VH1 reality series.

Later this year, the self-proclaimed “boss chick” will embark on several new projects, including endeavors in the health and fitness world and a new book. During a recent chat with Rasheeda, the Georgia native spoke on those ventures and gives advice on how to use reality television to jump-start a business empire.

On how things are going with Pressed:

Amazing! Things are going well; I’m so happy. Probably the summer, near the end of summer, I’ll be getting ready to expand the brand and open new locations, but things are going well. The store is doing well, PressedATL.com, the cosmetic line is doing well—I’m blessed!

On opening stores in other cities:

I was thinking about branching out into other cities. I’m just trying to narrow it down and do some demographic work, and just make sure when I make that move, it’s a smart one. I love New York, Houston, Charlotte, and Chicago, so those are some of [cities at] the top of my list.

On her other business endeavors:

I’m definitely looking forward to putting out a book sometime in 2017. I’m definitely stepping into the health and fitness lane. I have a couple of things I’m working on there; just about women out here really just trying to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves. A lot of times, we’re taking care of everybody around us, and then we’re sitting around like, um, OK. What about myself? So that’s something that I’m looking forward to. Expanding Press and doing more things; my cosmetic line [Poiz Cosmetics] as well. I’m definitely looking to try to get major distribution on my products as well.

On using reality television as a launching pad for other endeavors:

People ask me all the time about that. They’re like, what advice can you give me? I’m thinking about going into reality TV. And I tell them, you know what? Go into it with a plan, and that plan needs to be when you’re done with this platform, your life is better than before you got on it. And my thing is I always tell people if you have businesses, use that platform to expand your brand. Like a lot of times, people get caught up in the drama and the BS, and then you look up, and they haven’t started a business, don’t have any business going, and the TV’s over, the checks are gone, and now they’re standing around looking stupid.

So at the end of the day, I always tell people, I actually had my website before I started Love & Hip-Hop, and I, of course, was doing music before that, which is a great thing. But for those who didn’t, you know, whatever goals you have, or whatever aspirations or business ideas you have, make those a reality and use that platform to expand it while you can. You can’t pay for a better advertisement if you’re on reality TV; use it to your advantage. If you’re not doing something, I don’t give a damn if you’re selling napkins, you better figure something out—T-shirts, some socks, figure something out—while you’re doing it and utilize it!

On her music career:

I took a nice break, and now I’m looking to get back into the studio probably within the new month or so just to do that final Rasheeda project. Music is my love and my platform for me to spread my wings and do all of the things that I’m able to do, so I would love to end it off with some amazing, hood classy, empowering music, and then call it a day

 

 

Want Career Success? Then Stay Out Of the ‘Buffet Line’

buffet line

Here is another life changing concept from the great Coach Mitchell. As an elementary-middle school physical education teacher and coach, my husband, over the course of his career, had the privilege of teaching thousands of children. Not only did he teach and coach students, but as you can imagine he also taught life lessons. One of the great life lessons that resonated with me was the concept of “staying out of the buffet line.”

Being “in the buffet line” is likening an individual displaying “inappropriate behavior” with a food item in a restaurant buffet. The concept originated when Coach Mitchell started his teaching career over 40 years ago. He would occasionally have groups of students misbehave in his classroom. Of course, as a teacher managing a classroom of 30 to 60 students, it was very difficult to identify every disruptive child. However, he could easily identify the ringleader and a few others who were in the middle of stirring things up. In those cases, the singled-out child would always complain that “he was not the only one misbehaving, AND it was unfair to be punished when everyone else was getting a pass.” Coach decided to take this opportunity to teach the children to stand up to the peer pressure and to learn to choose independently of others. Thus, the concept of “staying out of the buffet line” was born.

At the very next group incident, Coach Mitchell picked the ringleader out of the group for individual punishment. The child, of course, complained again of how unfair it was to be the only one selected, when there were so many others also doing the same thing. Coach Mitchell asked the child in front of the entire class if he had ever eaten in a restaurant that had a buffet. The child immediately responded “OH YEAH!!!!!” Coach Mitchell then began to explain to the child that he, the student, was now a food item on the buffet line. As someone misbehaving in class, he was now on the menu. Coach Mitchell was now in the buffet line, ready to fill his plate, which meant that Coach could choose to pick one food item, two food items, or everything on the buffet. He could also decide to have one serving or he could decide to go back for seconds. Hey, it’s a buffet…OH YEAH!!! His plate, his choice; a little, or a lot. There was dead silence. Coach Mitchell was able to get his point across to the children; their responsibility was to do their best, to learn, and to work very hard to stay out of the buffet, vis-à-vis out of trouble. This concept resonated instantly with the children. They changed their behavior, because the message was simple, understood, and unchallengeable.

Now, let me tell you how “staying out of the buffet line” resonates with me.

Working in a corporate environment gives each person the opportunity to work in “gray space.” What does operating in “gray space” mean? It means that you, as an individual, will have plenty of opportunities to make questionable decisions and/or choose to advance your career in a not so straight and narrow fashion. The pressure of obtaining success, and how you choose to execute your strategies of advancement can lead you straight to the buffet line, if you are not careful and wise. You can be singled out with consequences, regardless of whether others are doing it too.

Don’t be confused—there will be a multitude of opportunities to make wrong and unethical decisions. There will also be plenty of opportunities to categorize some of these decisions as not really being wrong or unethical, but being very, very close to the line or “gray space.” I call those decisions the big, almost bad, but not really that bad options.

Newsflash: There is no such thing as almost, and it will land you in the buffet line. If you land there, your boss, for all practical purposes, is now Coach Mitchell, deciding how to fill his plate; he can choose you as a food item, or he can pass you up. His plate, his choice!!

Here are my corporate takeaways:

  1. You must maintain your own moral and ethical compass and not succumb to peer pressure. We all know the difference between right and wrong; it is inherent and in each one of us. So, if you hear your inner voice telling you that the decision that you are about to make is questionable, stop, listen, and weigh the decision again. Make sure it is the right thing to do.
  2. There is no such thing as a “little” wrong thing. Doing the wrong thing is like a cancer in the body. It grows and consumes what is healthy and good—definitely an item in the buffet line.
  3. Politics are not enough to win. Don’t base your success on who likes you and how much perceived power they have; it works, until it does not. Your performance, integrity, and metrics of success should stand alone, and will help you to stay out of the buffet line, when politics or people change.

Right is right and wrong is wrong. Choosing to operate in the “gray space” gives your boss the power to decide your consequences. Honesty, hard work, integrity, and a determination to succeed will give you the very best chance to avoid becoming an item in the buffet line.

Toys-To-Life And Gaming Industries Turn To Startups For Innovation

Toys-To-Life is a trend that incorporates physical toys into digital games. The industry had bumps, but startups are now driving Toys-To-Life innovation.

The gaming and toy industries have often been dominated by a small group of companies with the assets and marketing reach to secure shelf space in retail stores and online traffic. The continued growth of the Toys-to-Life sector, however, is shifting the scales in favor of small businesses and solopreneurs alike.

Toys-to-Life is a gaming trend that incorporates physical toys into digital games. With the launch of Activision’s Skylanders occurring in 2011, the industry is projected to grow to over $8 billion in revenue by 2013. When other major names like Disney and Lego joined in on the toys-to-life movement, it seemed that this industry would also be dominated by major players. The opposite has been the case, however, as Disney left not only Toys-to-Life but the entire gaming industry earlier this year.

Initially, industry pundits were saying Disney’s exit was the beginning of the end of the movement. However, the emergence of several innovative startups in the space tells a different story. In fact, it would seem that Disney’s size and experience may have been what prevented it from innovating at the pace required by this developing industry.

Entrepreneurs and small businesses, however, are experiencing increased success in both the toy and gaming industries. Jia Shen is the CEO and founder of PowerCore, a company that helps make digitally activated toys and objects for gaming experiences. At a recent DesignerCon in Pasadena California, Shen and his team partnered with fellow exhibitors in a digital version of a scavenger hunt to demonstrate the potential for augmented reality beyond games like Pokemon Go.

Examples of Toys-To-Life Innovation

Reinvigorating Older Franchises

One of the key ways Toys-to-Life is impacting the toy and gaming industries alike is its ability to revive popular franchises that may no longer be in the spotlight. Shen shares, “In a recent project, we partnered with Mattel, Animoca Brands, and Super7 to create a line of character cards that activate powerups in the new He-Man Tappers of Greyskull mobile game. We do this by using NFC (near-field-communication) technology to make the cards scannable from the game.”

Integrations like these create intrigue for existing franchises by generating new and exciting versions of gameplay. Toys-to-life enabled games encourage consumers to collect the various characters or power-ups required for enhanced gameplay, making it easier than ever for brands to bundle toys and games that go together.

The Toy Blank

Another trend in toys that is giving small businesses an edge is the emergence of the Toy Blank. Shen explains, “Toy Blanks, also known as Toy Platforms, are becoming a sound way for brands to license their characters to companies who can produce and distribute them more quickly. Players like Funko and Lego are mainstream examples of how much demand there is for this kind of toy.” As licensed toys designed by smaller toy manufacturers grow in popularity, there will be increased opportunities for designers and manufacturers to collaborate.

3D Printing Enabling Faster Innovation

Finally, larger companies are turning to firms with 3D printing capabilities to more rapidly prototype both standard and digitally activated toys. One reason pushing these larger organizations to leverage startups with 3D printing capabilities is the complexity involved in the modeling process.

Most 3D printers require a significant amount of engineering or computer science expertise, which means to develop their own solutions most companies would have to hire entirely new, highly qualified teams to maintain any 3D printing efforts. The result is an increase in demand for 3D printing startups that can meet the needs of larger organizations.

Enabling Designers

All of these changes are bringing about mutually beneficial updates for designers, game makers, and larger brands. By partnering with larger firms, small businesses in the toy and gaming industries can access assets that would otherwise be unattainable. By the same token, established industry leaders can leverage the innovation and lean speed with which startups operate to create content and collectibles that consumers want.

Conclusion

The relationship between startups and established toy brands is a model for how other industries can innovate. Innovation moves rapidly today, and startups are frequently the ones driving that change. If established companies want to survive successive cycles of disruption, and if young startups want a boost in their early days, partnerships can be mutually beneficial.

Skylanders Balloon Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Toys-To-Life And Gaming Industries Turn To Startups For Innovation” was first published on Small Business Trends