The importance of having buying power in our communities and the lack of support from the big labels and lines have opened the door for independent entrepreneurs to take the initiative to build their brand and pave their way. It is fast becoming a phenomenon with many creatives looking to express themselves, create multiple streams of income, and have control over their production and marketing.
“Word of Mouth” sat with William Blagmon, CO-CEO of On Da Grind, to talk about some of the things that drive the vision of being an entrepreneur.
Founded in 2003, On Da Grind Entertainment is a multi-faceted company that houses an independent music label, catering, and apparel division. William Blagmon, a co-founder of this independent conglomerate, sat with me to talk about the company, their vision, and the importance of “building the table you want to eat from.”
The company’s founders hail from Mount Vernon, NY. William Blagmon/Bigg Chedda; Munford Rivers/Claude Nelson/Immakkulate Milz, Andre Rivers/the GodSoe; Tyrone Cooke/Tyme Zone are the masterminds behind On Da Grind Entertainment, the music label, On Da Grillz Catering and their apparel lines On Da Grind, Gutta Pact Vulture and Interstate Fiend which was started in 2015. They specialize in hats and shirts in a variety of styles for all sizes.
On Da Grillz Catering, which started in 2007, offers a variety of menu options for all your needs. They have a healthy menu that includes a food plan tailored to your taste and delivered in all five boroughs of New York, and Westchester County. They have not only catered corporately and privately but have also hosted private events to allow potential clients to taste their fantastic cuisine.
The company began out of a desire to create their music platform, which can be found streaming on YouTube, Tidal, Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, etc. under On Da Grind/Bigg Chedda. They have appeared in shows around the tri-state area with a bevy of hip hop artists such as Will Traxx and Rah Digga.
The On Da Grind apparel line includes a signature collection, On Da Grind, as well as Gutta Pact Vulture and Interstate Fiend. Their colorful creations carry their brand name and come in a variety of colors, textures for all sizes. They also have gear for all seasons. Since the release in 2015, their customer base has grown astronomically to include all corners of the U.S.
“Our music can be downloaded on all streaming platforms, and it’s very accessible. We also have our own YouTube channel. Our main goal was to create quality music and have control over our production and sales. We pride ourselves on that!”
On Da Grind is also a massive supporter of the community in which they live. The importance of being the village is a concept they have adopted by doing giveaways at churches, shelters, and youth facilities.
- Were you a dreamer growing up? What kinds of dreams did you have?
Definitely. Ironically, when I was about 9 or 10, I dreamt of opening a restaurant. Looking at things now, I believe it was fate, and this was meant to be.
2. What made you decide to be what you have chosen as a profession today? Who were some of your earliest influences?
Some people influenced me in different ways. My family had the most impact, from my parents to my cousins. My grandfather was a professional chef, my dad was in the Navy, and my mom loved to cook and entertain, and I loved to eat! So, it was instilled in me the whole cooking/catering thing. When I was young, there were always block parties and such in my neighborhood. One of my cousins was a promoter, so that influenced me with the music. As far as the clothes, I never considered myself a fashionable guy, but I always had up to date clothing and wore them the way I wanted to. I always wanted to have a clothesline that was unique and of good quality. We try to create custom gear that caters to the individual. It helped me learn to appreciate fashion, color, and creativity.
3. How hard was it breaking into the business? We hear stories of people who try for years and never make it, and then other stories of overnight “in the right place at the right time” sensations. Which one do you think there’s more of? Those who pay their dues or opportunity meeting preparation? It can be a combination of those things.
To me, there are a lot of people that are not that talented yet successful. I believe it is their DRIVE, work ethic, and desire that makes them successful. They invest in and work on their craft. We are all employed in addition to running this business. That provides us with the stability we need while we make our dreams come to life. We put not only our time but our money and effort into it. There is no “big machine” behind On DA Grind. Some people are fortunate enough to get that opportunity, and that’s great. But if you don’t have a big money machine behind you, it is all up to YOU. You have to put your time and energy into your business until you get where you want. We have seen growth, personally and economically. It’s a slower grind, but it’s our grind. That is why we stand by our independency. A steady, committed grind and a good lawyer that helps with any legal matters will keep you moving forward, achieving your dream. Being independent, you don’t have a lot of the issues that others have regarding ownership.
Would I do the big machines? Yes, but that is where you want to have a good lawyer that keeps you from making stupid moves that can suck you in. You have to be ok with saying NO! So if that time ever comes, it is important to move carefully, make sure you are being treated fairly. Everyone has something to lose and gain. We can all work together, pool resource,s and everybody eats.
4. How do you maintain your integrity in an otherwise very competitive and sometimes unscrupulous industry, as the business at times can be cutthroat?
Stick to your principals and know how to embrace the negativity, the sharks and vultures, and how to maneuver. There is a lot we didn’t get into because it wasn’t for us. I’m not going to do some of the stuff that is out there. As company owners, we maintain our integrity; without deviating, all money isn’t good money.
7. What advice do you have for others who have THE dream?
Once again, I must go back to the principals, sticking to the hardcore basics. There are specific ground rules and standards that you have to meet, you can play with some things, but others are written in stone. Moneywise, put YOUR money in…it is cool to get loans but better to use your own. It makes you a more influential business person because it’s YOUR money on the line instead of getting it from someone else. Stick to your principals. Be on time, be responsive, be professional at all times. Show up to meetings dressed accordingly with everything up to par. These are all stepping stones to a seat at the big tables. You have to pay your dues, start small, and grow. Stick to the script. Once you start deviating, it usually never works. That is my advice….you will hear the haters and negativity but keep pressing. We have multiple streams under our company, and if one doesn’t work, another one will.