Richie is moving in about 1,000 different directions at once and happens to be a writer, illustrator, columnist, inventor and pro-wrestler all rolled into one. A seasoned artist, journalist and columnist, Frieman is established in the fields of design, illustration, sculpture, painting, comedy public speaking, social media and marketing, having shown work professionally in sculpture, painting and illustration.
Richie Frieman was awarded a Laureate medal at the 2008 Computerworld Honors Program (formerly known as the Smithsonian Award), nominated by the CEOs of Research In Motion (RIM), the creators of BlackBerry, for the work we did through the technology of www.PensEyeView.com. To date, he is the youngest recipient of this award and PensEyeView.com is the smallest company to ever have this honor bestowed on them.
PensEyeView.com: Believing that “every great idea starts with a pen, paper and a vision”, The Pen’s Eye View (www.PensEyeView.com) features an interview with talented musician, artist, and/or visionary every 48 hours. Having nearly 1,000 consecutive interviews (a new one every 48 hours) from all over the globe such as emerging artists to Grammy winners. The site also features running sections on Style, Food, Tech and Reviews.
Collar Keeps is an invention that is used to keep the fly away collared shirt looking its best at all times. You don’t even need to have a collar stay (this is not a collar stay) to use Collar Keeps, it’s a 1″ square adhesive metal that will not ruin your shirt that goes under the collar and once folded over, keeps the collar looking sharp and new at all times.
Charm City Babies is a rock n’ roll, vintage inspired onesie company, with a philanthropic backbone. For every onesie Charm City sells online, they will donate one to child in need. Charm City Babies works with many different national and international charities to contribute onesies too. All the artwork is original and the onesies material is a very high quality and comfortable fabric. Frieman is planning for a February 2012 public launch.
MO: How have you been able to create 3 very different and thriving businesses and still find time to be a successful writer as well? Any tips for our readers on managing multiple businesses?
Richie: Even though my work seems disconnected from one another, they are all things I enjoy doing. Each one is an expression of my personality and passions. It’s not like I just did one to say I did. I did it because I feel strongly about the purpose behind it. When I think of an idea that I know will work, putting it aside – even for a day or two – kills me! Whenever I have an idea, I start doing my research right away and if it looks promising, I go after it, with an insane amount of energy. Even it takes me longer than expected, at least I’m doing it.
For other entrepreneurs that are managing multiple businesses, the best advice is to know your strengths and believe/trust the strengths of your team. I’m good at certain things, and my partners are better at others. I do my part, they do theirs. Even when my businesses aren’t related, and my partners are not the same people, I still make sure that they are doing the necessary things and so am I. And most important it’s all about your drive. Do you truly believe in it? If no, than stop wasting your time and others. If you DO, then put in the work. It’s that simple. I enjoy every business I launch and want them all to succeed.
MO: Where does your entrepreneurial and inventive spirit come from? Did you have any early influences, inspirations or mentors?
Richie: If you ask anyone that has known me for since growing up, they would never have said that I would be the one doing what I am now. Which I always enjoy hearing. It’s funny, but people often tell me that they think I have a chip on my shoulder – like I’m trying to “prove” something. First of all, if you are not trying to prove something, than what are you doing? If you want to be successful you have to prove yourself. And as for the chip on my shoulder, heck yeah, I have one! And proud of it. If you don’t have a chip on your shoulder, that means you never had to fight for something, which means you never had to earn anything. I could never live that way. I learned early on in life that you have to work for what you want.
I did not grow up rich, but not poor either. However it was stressed very early on from my parents that if you work you will be rewarded. When I got to college, I had all kinds of jobs to help pay for things, and I took notice of my friends and peers that did not have to work. It was clear that there was a sharp line of motivation that divided us. Not that we didn’t get along, but I found that work ethic comes to a screeching halt when you don’t have to worry about where your next paycheck comes from. That wasn’t me and that was not who I wanted to be. And to this day, I can still see with people I come across.
Both my parents work and work hard. My dad is 67 and still wakes up at 4:00AM to hit the road for sales meetings. My mom is a wedding/event planner and will work for 20 hours straight if need be, then wake up the next day ready to go. That is hustling. That is how it is supposed to be. So whenever I have an idea, I just go full force because I know that it won’t happen unless I put the work into it. I sounds old school, but it’s true. Nothing will come to you if you wait. And it’s that work ethic that makes me totally believe I can pull something off.
As for mentors, and people that inspire me, as I said above, of course my parents but the more I got involved in business, the more I got to meet and discover others that came from nothing to become true moguls. There are many but Sir Richard Branson’s story should be told in schools across the country, in my opinion. And another figure I really admire is the CEO of Under Armour, Kevin Plank. He’s a University of Maryland alumni like me, and I’ve heard him speak a few times and even got to speak to him too. He started from nothing. His story – similar to Branson’s – is just of a guy with incredible passion for what they do and of all else, did all by themselves.
MO: Where did the idea for Pen’s Eye View come from? How are you able to secure interviews with the best the best and brightest emerging artists and musicians?
Richie: I first came up with the idea of Pen’s Eye View (PEV) while in college but back then, the web was not what it is today, so originally the thought was doing a physical magazine. I love magazines and always wanted to run my own. I know I can, so maybe down the line. But while an art major at the University of Maryland College Park, I was meeting these incredible artists of all kinds. I mean just absolute geniuses! However, they had no platform. No one knew who they were because in the art world – pre internet – unless you had an agent (which you are better off finding a buried treasure in your backyard) or some super crazy gimmick, you were lost among the rest. This includes musicians.
Once I saw the possibilities of doing it online, that concept of showcasing emerging, unknown and even successful artists, became a possibility. I thought that every 48 hours would be a great way to keep a solid turn around of new, fresh people but also give people enough exposure on the site.
When I first started I knew NO ONE in the entertainment business. I had one friend in LA who knew one guy in a band. That was it. So I spoke to him, he loved it and told another band. It started rolling on from there. Artists need exposure to get their work out there and you never know who is watching. It took a while to get the first month of people ready for launch but after that, it was all grassroots, and word of mouth. But to finally get the big names that were already established, came because we were able to get a hold of some nice emerging talent who had a record deal or major publicist. The labels and managers really liked what we are doing and invited us to interview the bigger acts. One label became two labels, became three labels, became acts over seas, and so on.
I knew that if I got the machine going and came through with the product, then there was no stopping it. Now, I can turn on the radio and hear artists in the top 10 of Billboard Charts right now, and know that I interviewed them before they “made it”. That is pretty awesome.
MO: You’re also known as the Modern Manners Guy for Macmillan Publishing’s Quick and Dirty Tips.com, where you write and record a podcast every week. Why concentrate on manners and etiquette? Do you think they are becoming a lost art or are the rules constantly changing?
Richie: An editor at Macmillan who I knew, emailed me completely out of the blue and told me about the Modern Manners Guy gig. Right away I fell in love with it. First off, QuickAndDirtyTips.com is an incredibly trafficked site, and so the energy behind the team there was something you rarely find. That alone is a huge selling point. It’s like a family over there. All us experts email one another, and help each other out, which you do not find in the writing world often. The editor knew my personality and wanted a different take on manners and etiquette that people could laugh with and enjoy. No more “your fork goes here, your spoon goes there…” They wanted something more updated like, “I just sent my boyfriend an embarrassing text. What do I do?!?!” I knew I could do this because there are so many times a day you witness such bad behavior that you wish you could do something about. And that’s what I offer – actionable advice. I get emails every day from people all over the globe (Australia, South America, Europe, Afghanistan, Egypt, China, South Africa, you name it) asking advice about awkward situations they witnessed where manners were thrown out the window. I love interacting with them.
And yes, manners and etiquette are a lost art and that’s why we need to keep talking about them. I mean, take one day and actually watch the people around you and see what happens. From the guy that hovers over your shoulder as you are ordering coffee, to the person that doesn’t say thank you when you hold the door for them, to the person in the bathroom that doesn’t wash their hands, to the person that spills their soup in the microwave at work and doesn’t clean it up, to the person that thinks no one can hear their phone conversations, to the person that would rather text on their phone than talk to you while you eat lunch. Luckily for me the list goes on and on and I am never short on material. Every day is like an episode of Seinfeld. “You double dipped the chip!”
MO: Charm City Babies is such a wonderful concept. Where did the inspiration come from for cool onsies with a philanthropic edge?
Richie: True story… Earlier this year, I went to visit my cousin who just had a son and when I get there the baby was wearing a onesie that my cousin made for him. Nothing special just an iron on. But it was cool. So, as we sat there all day with him, the wheels started spinning in my head. Which is always a good thing. My cousin is a musician and always wears these cool vintage tshirts, which is a style that I really enjoy. Even today everyone from thrift stores to J.Crew and Nordstroms, are selling the soft cotton shirts with a vintage shirts for adults, with funky fonts or images on them. So, I thought it would be cool to make vintage onesies for babies that weren’t just your run of the mill, over priced onesies you see in stores now. There are only so many giraffes, ducks and the word “cute” you can take. Why not let the babies look as cool as the parents, right?
As well, I always enjoyed the concept of social entrepreneurs, like TOMS Shoes (who I actually interviewed for PEV back in 2007) and Warby Parker, who give back and once I thought of Charm City Babies, I realized this was my chance to give back too. From there, I coined the phrase, the “Buy One(sies) Give One(sies) Program” (Buy One Give One) which is our dedication to donate one onesie to a child in need for every onesie we sell offline. It’s our unique BOGO concept. I called up my cousin and we got to work that day. Within a week I had thirty designs. We narrowed them down to our final launch line of 12 designs and plan to expand as soon as we can.
After we got the foundation in place, I reached out a bunch of charities, all over the world and they were very receptive. But I’m still looking for more. We hope people will enjoy our clothes and of course our message.
MO: Charm City Babies is not your only charitable endeavor. On your long list of successes you’re also a children’s author and illustrator and pen books about a turtle called, ‘Terple’. Your first book “Terple – The Sky Is Just The Start” has all of the proceeds going to charity. Can you explain to our readers how a book about a turtle was autobiographical?
Richie: I released “Terple – The Sky Is Just The Start” in 2008 and am currently finalizing the details for my next edition, that will have a winter 2012 launch (February). I wanted to do one sooner but when Terple came out I was very green (like Terple!) in the literary world and really had to learn a lot. There was great energy behind it but when I thought about my next one to run with, I wanted to make sure it was done better than before. That’s why it’s taken a bit longer than I would have liked. As well the children’s book industry was hit very hard by the economic downfall. Picture books are in color, different sizes, and are very costly. So, publishers settled for reprints of other books and stores began to cut them first before anything else. Occasionally you get a new author coming through and it’s great.
Writing and illustrating children’s books is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life but never knew where to start. Prior to Terple, I knew NO one in the literary world and had no guidance. So, the thought of becoming and author/illustrator seemed impossible. But I still had a story to tell and figured I’d give it a shot. When first started writing Terple, I had no plans of making it so personal, but did want it to rhyme, which it does. Then, as I was writing Terple, every piece of my heart just started to pour out. I would think of a great line and I’d pull over on the side of the road to write it down. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and write something on a notepad on my nightstand. And after the story started to develop, it was clear that Terple was much more than just a typical “children’s book” – it was the story of my life.
Terple is about a courageous turtle that dreams of a life outside of the pond, and wants to see the world but everyone around him keeps telling him that he’s just a turtle and that’s not what turtles do. But, Terple is beyond optimistic, keeps focus on his dreams and decides to ignore everyone and go out on his own. And that is me. Everything I’ve ever done, I’ve been told was impossible and had to do on my own. I wanted to be and artist – and that was considered crazy. I wanted to be a writer – and that was unachievable. I wanted to be a professional wrestler – and that was insane! I have this cool idea for an invention – and everyone said, “What? Really?”
And it bothered me. I was always shocked that people viewed what I wanted to do – without their help mind you – as unattainable. It took some time but I realized despite the fact people thought my dreams were crazy, that there are much crazier things that have happened, than one of my dreams coming true. And once I became confident with my drive and motivation I stopped looking back. I realized that I could be one of those that could make it. And like Terple says, “The sky is not the limit, the sky is just the start! To the moon!
The concept of donating 100% of my proceeds to charity developed last year and I plan to do it for the next book too. I just feel that if you are going to call yourself a children’s book author/illustrator, you are putting yourself in the position of a role model. It’s not like fiction where the author can be some renegade and they will sell 10,000 more books because of that. As a parent, I want to know that the books I buy my daughter have real passion behind them, and are not just pretty pictures on paper. I totally understand and grasp the concept of needing to make money, and I need to, to be a working writer, but once you write a check to a charity – even for a small amount – you see that every little bit helps. You’re doing something that really makes people smile and that to me, is what being a children’s book writer/illustrator is all about.
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