Chicago Native, Edward Griffin, Builds Hip Hop and Athletic Empire From Scratch
Edward Griffin is a serial entrepreneur. Originally from Chicago, Illinois he has settled in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to running his empires, he is also a Corporate Trainer by day with a focus in Leadership Development. He runs several brands under his company E. Griffin Enterprises.
I was impressed that he started his journey with literally nothing and has turned his company into a successful empire. Check out the interview below.
Huey X: Growing up and still to this day who are your inspiration and mentors? How did they impact your life?
Edward Griffin: Growing up I was thankful that people took so much interest in my personal development. I could list people for the next hour of those who’ve had an impact on my life, but I’ll give you two for now in terms of mentors, Lol. James Wilson, he was like a father to me. I spent a great deal in Racine, WI. and he took me in and showed me what it meant to be a man. He made me feel like I was one of his children. They’re family to me and my brother and sisters. He and his late wife Carolyn always uplifted me; they always reminded me that I was good enough and that I could make it in life. The second person I’d say is Tonya, my big sister. She was a bit younger and a lot closer to my age, but she set an amazing example for me. Additionally she reminded me to gain as much life experience as I could knowing that would foster my personal growth. She always encouraged me, pushed me, and was a positive influence in my life as I was coming up.
My inspirations are the same. There are so many people. I would say the two people that I’ve been inspired by the most is JAY-Z and Nipsey Hussle. To me, JAY-Z is the greatest of all time, not just with his art but his impact. To know JAY-Z’s story and to see where he is today is something we can all be proud of. When we talk about a person who pushed through adversity to excel to the heights that he has today, it is the impact I aspire to have on our people. Nipsey Hussle is a true inspiration. I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking to him a few times for a few short moments and it was hard not to notice his bigger than life personality. He always made you feel like you mattered when speaking with him. After such a huge loss, we were all able to see how he wanted to make Black people better and wanted to advance his community. His life’s work, although cut short, should give us all the confidence to push our people forward.
Huey X: When did you realize your passion for entrepreneurship?
Edward Griffin: Very early, elementary. I knew I liked the idea of making my own money, my way and I didn’t want to have to ask anyone for anything. I didn’t realize what I was doing was entrepreneurship at the time. My Mom helped foster that feeling because she worked hard to get us everything we needed, but going to school with other kids I realized there were so many things I wanted but didn’t want to bug her with trying to buy them.
Huey X: You’re a writer/author with your book “The Power of Positive Thinking”. What inspired you to write this book?
Edward Griffin: I’m one of the most optimistic people. I see a light in everything. I do a lot of workshops and Masterclasses on The Power of Positive Thinking and when I do those, I see how people light up. They come up to me and tell me how the workshop was life-changing; they would cry and open up about their own experiences. So, I wanted to share those same tools with people who may not have a chance to experience one of my Masterclasses.
The response from the release of that book was extremely overwhelming; people writing in all the time about how much it helped them change their way of thinking. The mind is powerful, we have to know how to use it to benefit us. People always ask how I remain positive and my response is always the same: I like to tell my mind what to think, not the other way around. The Power of Positive Thinking was the first book in my three-part self-help book series. I recently released my second book; The Fear of Starting was designed to help people understand why fear stands in the way of their Dreams and Goals and how they can get started down their path to self-fulfillment, immediately. I plan to release my final book in this series at the end of 2020, Lord willing. I have a book that I have been working on for a couple of years entitled Dear President Obama, which I’ll release soon.
Huey X: If you had to choose, what are the 10 most influential books you’ve read over the years?
Edward Griffin: I’m an avid reader, I love reading. I’ve read so many books, but with my first thought I’d say these: The Coldest Winter Ever, The Alchemist, JAY-Z: Made in America, Decoded, Start With Why, The Hate You Give, Success Through Stillness, The Seat of the Soul, Becoming, Outliers, Purple Cow, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, A Dream Fulfilled, Culture Vultures, and Nigger. There are more books to list, I’ll stop at 15, Lol.
Huey X: You also own a media company, Hip Hop U-C-IT. What brought about this venture to found an online and print magazine in 2006?
Edward Griffin: Hip Hop U-C-IT was the first official company I started; I had always loved Hip Hop and Entertainment and I wanted to control my own news. I worked in Radio at iHeartMedia for over 10 years and I know how hard it is to break into the entertainment industry. I wanted to give writers, journalists, videographers, photographers, etc. a platform to showcase their skills in a national publication where they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity. I wanted my own print publication; it was always a dream of mine. I wanted to start the print publication first, but I understood that I needed to have a foundation until I could figure out how I’d get it done. I woke up one day 2 years into my venture and said you know what I’m going to start my print magazine now. From that moment, I got the magazine designed, layout completed, and secured Nicki Minaj and Trey Songz as our features because all of our magazines are double issues. Within 3-4 weeks from the moment I said I was going to start the print publication it was on sale at some of the largest retail outlets, including Barnes & Nobles.
Huey X: What were some of the goals you wanted to achieve by starting a media/news company short term and long term?
Initially, short term I wanted to give people an opportunity. Many of my writers went on to work for Ebony, Essence, Complex and more major media outlets and I couldn’t be prouder to say I gave them their start. Long term, it’s the same as I started, wanting to control how people see us in Entertainment News. The name Hip Hop U-C-IT came from the way our culture is seen. When you see us, we are the culture; how we look, how we dress, how we talk and more. Our impact is the most important to the world and we have to protect that. Long term, I want to grow the team and work with people who are passionate about their ability and take HHUCIT to the next level.
An intriguing venture to me that you’ve embraced was your marketing and PR firm “The Peblicitè Firm”. How did you become interested in representing some the world’s most influential people?
I started The Peblicitè Firm (pronounced: publicity) which is a Marketing, Branding & PR Firm with the idea that I wanted the clients I work with to have a home base. For the longest time, I have been helping people build their brands and, in my experience, I have found that Marketing and Branding are my specialties. Additionally, I’ve always had publicists, graphic designers, photographers, and videographers working with me. I wanted to pull it all together and offer our services to people that needed assistance with their brands.
I have been developing websites for over 20 years, so I wanted to bring that skillset to the table, I wanted to show people how important it is to have a website for their companies. Everyone we work with is important and they’re treated like a star. We focus on the quality of our work, our slogan is: “We take less work to do our best work.” That’s important because it’s always quality over quantity, when you do great work a lot more people want to work with you. It’s been great working with entertainers and athletes but it’s nothing like having the everyday person entrust us with their brand and seeing how happy they are with the results.
Can you tell us about some of the clients you represent and the campaigns/events you’ve had an opportunity to work on?
On our professional athlete side, we’ve had the opportunity to work with Allen Iverson and his team on his annual Allen Iverson Roundball Classic. Worked with and had an opportunity to develop and app for Jordan Clarkson and worked on marketing, videography, logo development and more for Jerome Baker. We’ve had an opportunity to work with many entertainers, musicians, and artists alike. Please visit our website peblicite.com for additional client details.
Another venture you’ve founded which is “Culture Shoes” which is supported and spoken high of by activist/culture leader “Killer Mike.” what does such an endorsement mean for you?
That endorsement for me was really surprising because it came out of nowhere. My cousin had watched the video and sent me the clip and asked: “Is he talking about you?” That was the first time I had seen it. It was filmed not too long after the release of his Netflix series, Trigger Warning. It’s the kind of promotion you can’t pay for and for my footwear company to be acknowledged in such high regards, it was greatly appreciated. I have a new sneaker set to be released in the next month or so and have a big campaign around it, I’m proud of it. All of our footwear is unisex, and I hope to talk to you about the release of our new shoe when it’s ready to go.
While creating your shoe company what were some your short term and long-term goals?
Man, everything I’ve ever done in my life has been a dream of mine. I remember as a kid my older brother, my cousin and I would sit around and draw Nike’s. I always said I wanted to have my own shoe and I did the research over a couple of years and put it in motion. I wanted to focus on quality and the unpackaging experience. I’m a sneaker head myself and I’m sure I have over 500 pair, but its nothing like getting a new pair of shoes and opening that box. As I was creating and thinking ahead, I wanted to create a quality, high-end footwear company with shoes that people could afford. That’s always the goal, long term I’d like to partner with some people I admire to create their own footwear with Culture Shoes. More than anything, I’m always thinking about legacy, creating products and services that I can leave for my family, the goal is to create generational wealth. Not only with Culture Shoes but all of my companies under E. Griffin Enterprises.
Each pair of your shoes is connected to a specific organization to find research on a certain form of cancer, is there any personal connection or what’s the meaning behind this selfless act?
To clarify, we partner with different organization where we donate a percentage of our profits to assist in their causes like, HIV/AIDS Education, Cancer Research, Breast Cancer Awareness, Homelessness, Organizations that provide educational support for Black Youth and more. Our new release will be a bit different but a percentage we’ll still be used to give back to an organization. With that said, I have always understood the importance of giving back, I don’t care what I’m doing, what type of company I create I will give back, that’s never a question. The connection I have with organizations that NEED is being a child that needed and didn’t always have. Giving back is not only about how much money we can give back but more importantly, time that we can’t get back.
With your shoe being a high-quality premium Italian leather, what differentiates your brand from the others?
For one, they are handmade, they aren’t mass produced, so no two pair of Culture Shoes are the same. All of my sneakers are limited editions, we create on demand but only so many pair will be released. The leather quality will last a lot longer than most commercial brands. More importantly, we’re Black owned and we have to support our people.
You’ve been able to partner with the Afterpay USA service, how do you see this partnership being beneficial to your brand & the shoppers?
I believe this is an awesome opportunity for our customers to buy our footwear in four easy payments in a way that makes it affordable for them. When the customers select Afterpay at checkout, they make their first payment and the shoes will be created and shipped out. It’s as easy as getting your shoes now and paying later. This gives our customers another convenient way of shopping with us, which is the ultimate goal.
What great words of wisdom and advice can you offer our readers and aspiring entrepreneurs?
I’d first like to thank you for your time and the opportunity to speak with you on your platform, its greatly appreciated. What I would love to leave with your readers is to tell them that one of the most important actions in life is starting. Just start, don’t be afraid to get started on your goals and dreams. I started my first company and many other ventures with no money, I didn’t know what I was doing; I did a ton of research and through trial and error I learned how to do everything I set out to do. Don’t be afraid to bet on yourself, you may not know how to get started or may even be afraid to start and if that’s the case, start scared. Additionally, I’d like people to understand the power of positive thinking. If you do or you don’t it starts in your mind first, you have to push those negative thoughts aside and keep going. Lastly, you attract what your fear, feel and think so don’t allow your thoughts to be on anything you don’t want. Feel free to send me a message on my website for more tips. Thank you, guys!
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