CEO of Black-owned footwear company, ROCKDEEP INC, on balancing entrepreneurship, community, and family
What is an entrepreneur? Everyone I know these days call themselves an entrepreneur or have someone in their immediate circle who is an entrepreneur. However, the statistics for successful entrepreneurial endeavors are abysmal. Forbes magazine reports that 90% of start-ups fail, that’s nine out of 10 new businesses, and the numbers are worse for minority-owned businesses if you can believe it. That is all the more reason to pay attention to the way Rocky Parrish, the visionary, founder, and backbone of not one but at least three successful enterprises handles his business.
Rocky, will tell you he is “a father first, a husband second, and a businessman third”, and that is where the key to his success lies. Rocky never loses sight of what is most important in life and doesn’t allow one area or another to overtake the things that matter most. Rocky also describes himself as a “hustler and serial entrepreneur,” as in he always has an idea, always has a vision, and always comes up with a plan to achieve and execute his vision. He considers himself a hustler because he has always been playing the angles, finding ways to make money, and started his first “business,” as young as elementary school when he was “flipping now and laters” to his classmates.
Today, Rocky has founded three thriving businesses; the first is: RIP Solutions Management Consulting & Marketing – RIP Solutions is a marketing consultancy that markets people, products, services, and ideas. RIP Solutions caters to almost every industry and specializes in restaurants, IT, government contracts, non-profits, and single-entrepreneur businesses. The second business is: RDevine Designs – RDevine Fashion (Wedding & Bridal) is an online luxury bridal and everyday fashion brand, where you get quality, top-line apparel, without breaking the bank and even saving a penny or two. RDevine allows you to choose one of their designs which they will then customize for you. The third business is ROCKDEEP INC. (RDI) – RDI is a footwear and apparel business that is also dedicated to providing the best customer service experience possible. RDI’s main goal is to provide quality products with style and comfort at a highly competitive price.
“If there is a dollar that can be made, try to get it, but only if you have a passion for it.”
As a private consultant, marketer, and lifetime shoe fanatic, Rocky would often attend marketing conventions/symposiums especially those hosted by sports apparel and sneaker companies like Nike or Adidas, etc. At one symposium hosted by Nike Air Jordan, there was a session where they were taking questions. Normally people ask basic questions if they even speak at all, Rocky decided to ask a serious marketing question, and the interaction changed the course of Rocky’s business and entrepreneurial endeavors always.
As a result of the exchange he had with company reps, Rocky was offered an opportunity to do product-line consulting (a form of marketing and market research) for Nike, which brought him out to Oregon on the west coast. After some time with Nike, Rocky decided it was time to make a change, and he returned to the DC Metro area and got into radio and television as a personality. He also began making moves to establish ROCKDEEP INC. as a known brand by transitioning into the athletic apparel and footwear game.
Rocky in addition to being a father, husband, and businessman is also a civic-minded individual who gives much back to his community through philanthropic endeavors and mentoring. Originally from Oxon Hills, Maryland and an alum of the Oxon Hill High School (who he credits as playing a large part in influencing the person he is today), Rocky observed many absences in his school’s curriculum and after school options that unfortunately still exist today. There were no marketing classes, nothing that promoted entrepreneurship, and only a basic business class. To counter this absence, Rocky mentors inner city youth who have an interest or a passion that could be turned into a business.
Rocky is motivated to help people who want to help themselves. In the future Rocky hopes to open technology centers for the homeless to help them transition back into the workforce through programs that reach back and pull forward at the same. Through RDI, they create samples of their products which they “wear test” and conduct market research with. Often these samples pile up over time, and when they do, RDI donates the clothing and apparel items to charity organization specifically targeting job seekers.
Rocky’s parting advice for aspiring entrepreneurs (and all of us) is:
- “Get rich quick schemes don’t work, you have to find your passion and work on that.”
- “You can’t be anything you want to be; you can be EVERYTHING you want to be.”
- “If you can’t put in eight hours a day for work then you won’t be able to run your own business because you put way more hours into your endeavors.”
- “If there is a dollar that can be made, try to get it, but only if you have a passion for it.”