by Bryan Carter
So, what’s the story with you two? Christopher Grant: I already knew what I wanted to do in high school. Simply put, the passion never changed. I was the only way to get to my destinations without much outside help. This led me to multitasking, and learning more than I thought I would in trade schools and college.
Kenyatta James: JamesGrant Design was built on a mixture of friendship and opportunity. My consulting work had grown to the point where I needed office space to help legitimize my business. People feel uncomfortable giving large contracts to consultants working from home. I also knew I wouldn’t need the space all of the time so I decided to look for a partner to help fill the space. That’s when I thought of Chris. I knew he was struggling with his studio space and thought we could benefit from partnering up. After we started talking more about our skills and experience, we realized we could not only share space, but build a business together. Then, the most amazing space became available downtown. I was able to close on the space and next thing I knew we were in business.
Are you guys active with JamesGrant Design? What’s the purpose of your business? CG: Yes, we are fresh a company with a varying background from our previous ventures. Right now, we are building our brand. Keep checking on us for ongoing updates. The purpose of JamesGrant Design is to help business owners learn how to impress their clients visually. With our consultant, we give you new lanes to grow in you never thought of or didn’t know you could get achieve own your own. KJ: The goal of our brand is to help people tell better stories. Our hope is that these stories will help our clients understand how to share their impact - whether that’s through their business or some other avenue - so they can connect with people. Better stories require better text, visuals, and branding which is why we try to offer a full suite of services.
Photo Credit: Christopher Grant
How successful have you been in your actions since starting? CG: JamesGrant Design officially opened May 1st of this year. With a lot of preparation, looking at our previous business choices and fixing them, we expect to propel ourselves forward. Our new amazing office is sure to impress clients visually before even getting started. I feel like the skies are the limit on how far we can take our commercial marketing to a whole new level for small business owners. KJ: We are still pretty early in the process so it’s hard to say. Our first goal of building a great office space has been a huge success. We’ve had business owners, executives, artist, and activist walk into our office and they have all been impressed.
How have your recent experiences been influenced by what you’re learning on your road to success? CG: To be honest, I’ve learned and developed a better understanding at knowing what not to do. Looking at another small business is like looking in a mirror. What works for them may work for you. Or, you see the mistakes you could correct with something that doesn't work for them to work for yourself, leading to smarter decisions. KJ: I think the main difference is I’m way more confident than I was before. I don’t shy away from saying I can provide things; I’m comfortable asking for what I deserve; and I don’t mind turning down clients who don’t fit my target market. The confidence of knowing a client who is a better fit will walk through my door soon has allowed me to be much more focused.
Photo Credit: Christopher Grant
What are the top 3 things you’ve learned personally and professionally since starting out? CG: The grind/ hustle is mandatory. Know where to look for the money and if your successful then don't be afraid to repeat the process. Stay away from people that are looking to grow off your talents without truly intending to push your company forward. We should always encourage small business owners in our own city. KJ: One of the first things I’ve learned is you have to know who you’re dealing with in any business situation. Not everyone we’ve dealt with has respected us and our space. We learned very quickly that if you deal too much with people who don’t treat you like a serious business owner, top notch clients won’t be attracted to you either. The second thing is pricing. Nothing forces you to seriously think about your pricing like having business expenses. You can’t negotiate yourself out of a rent payment. The third thing is quality. We’ve bought cheap furniture from amazon and handmade custom furniture from Etsy. I’ve only ever heard anyone comment on the Etsy furniture. Serious people can spot quality a mile away and they will respect you if you surround yourself with it.
Overall, how has your journey affected your personal and professional life? CG: Personally it’s never been good. A local artist, PnB Rock, mentions in one of his songs "I ain’t got no time for you.” His songs describe my personal life since I went into business for myself. Its evident that I try, but the success of my business always sets me back. Professionally speaking, the money is coming in. I get to live my dream and create new stuff with every project expanding my mind creatively all the time. It’s a plus but with every up it’s a reminder that gravity is still a reality. KJ: Being in business has helped me understand who is really in my corner. When you start something new everyone has advice, everyone wants to be involved, but very few people lead with what’s best for you. The ones that do are the people you can count on.
Photo Credit: Christopher Grant
What do have cooked up for 2016? Please describe any opportunities you’re creating for others in similar fields. CG: A new market, understanding where the money is and how to get it; making it possible for my team. Building a new bridge with a partner I’ve known for years and letting more than just Philadelphia know I’m here as one of the best in my lane is one of my goals for this year. KJ: For 2016, we want to start helping people build their personal brands. The internet is a great place if you’re well positioned and a very dangerous place if you’re not. This year we want to help people build their space into something impactful and positive for them. We hope to create opportunities for others in the field.
What’s your most memorable experience? CG: I really don't know. It’s been so many years living in Philadelphia where everything is constantly live and people are always thriving to be self-employed. The mentors I meet are always unexpected - 50cent, Russel Simon, and even talking with John Legend in VIP after a concert as a guest. Not to mention icons like Stephanie Cain, Jackie Fraser and plenty more. Meeting big, important and influential people will always be my memorable experiences. I never know what’s around the corner. KJ: Getting to know all of the local restaurants in the area. One of the great things about having a downtown office is amazing food is never far away and we hope to show you or culinary adventures on social media.
Where do you see yourself by the end of 2016? In the next 5 years? CG: Well, a lot of people put trust and faith in my abilities. One thing every millionaire I’ve ever met that told me to go big or go home. I’m living by that quote every day now. Sleep is not an option. I’m not getting any younger and being self-employed part time, I know growth is small yet changing always. By 2021, I don’t want to just go to the next level. I want to hit the mark where people are inspired to be like me, to work hard for something and know it pays off. KJ: By the end of 2016 I think we will be the go to firm for personal branding and career development work in Philadelphia with a growing portfolio of business branding, creative problem-solving, and digital storytelling (multimedia) work.
Any last words or shout outs to your fans and support people? CG: The list goes on for my clients and supporters. Young and driven entrepreneurs allowed me help them in their growth as a company, artist and individuals with great ideas. I appreciate every opportunity that is given to me and my team to further develop our selves. Thank you Main Course for your time and hopefully some of my work will make your magazine. KJ: 2016 is going to be the year of Quality and style, look out for my new personal website and you’ll see what I mean.