The beauty of the entertainment industry is not always the job itself. I found that it's the people you meet who transcend the cliche business relationship. That pretty much sums up my first encounter with Stephanie Nash the CEO and Host of Supreme Ultra Radio and the CEO and Founder of Stitch N Rhyme. It started with her appreciation and support for "quality Hip Hop music from talented artists and producers worldwide keeping true to the elements of Hip Hop."
I met Steph Nash in the Winter of 2015 in the heart of New York City. Steph, the Toronto native was reserved, yet powerful. I knew she had a story worth telling. While Lebron James was the at the forefront of the majority conversation, Steph and I discussed summer work-out regiments and the early stages of her new clothing line, "Stitch N Ryhme." After wine, we transitioned from the typical business conversation and delved into the personal. Laughing and finding salice in our random, blissful conversation, it was in this exploration that I discovered her inner superwoman. A mother, entrepreneur, hip hop radio host, and founder of a children's clothing line, Steph culls whatever energy is left to work a full-time job, train for a marathon and still squeeze in time to travel and have dinner with random people like me. She puts the "B" in boss.
A few months ago, Steph informed me that she was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, a rare form of brain cancer. She had undergone surgery and is currently fighting despite the unreliable research out there. It's her fight that makes this interview so special. Most commoners would sulk and allow a diagnosis to alter their functionality, but not Mrs. Nash. Step Nash is superwoman. Steph Nash is my hero. Steph Nash is the sh*t.
From her advocacy for authentic Hip-Hop, to founding her own company, Steph Nash's continual story is a lesson in work ethic and entrepreneurialism. Hypefresh was able to sit down and delve further into Hip Hop, the early stages of her clothing line, her top 5 emcees, and her keys to success. Read our full interview below:
Top 5 Emcees of all time? Go!
Wow! That is so difficult to narrow to 5. There are so many great emcees. There are more than 5 for me, some include Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, O.C., Slick Rick, Grand Puba, AZ, Emcee Lyte, Lauren Hill, Bahamdia and many more. To me, all of the top have similarities with their craft. Their skills and gift of narrating stories using raw, complex lyrics that correlate to real life experiences and clever rhythmic play on words is the reason those names were mentioned. They all have enhanced, strong vocal presence and there are so many that I am unable to give you only 5.
Understandable...what is your connection to Hip Hop?
Hip Hop is everything. It allows me to think about how it relates to life. It's a universal and emotional language that allows you to feel the depths of ones' soul. The clear visuals artist paint are real and significant. Hip Hop brings millions of people worldwide closer together. It creates an avenue for empathy and understanding of struggle, perseverance and worldly issues. It's a way to express yourself. It's one of the purest forms of history and I love everything about it... the art, the culture, the music and the memories.
Growing up, Hip Hop played a huge role in shaping who I am. That is most often the response I give when asked, but it's truly more than that. I'm going to share something personal with you. I fell in love with hip hop when I was 10. See this photo?
My dad was killed in a car accident when I was 2. That's my name above... what's left of the headlight. After his passing, we lost everything. We eventually moved into the projects. It was this very community who embraced me... sharing an amazing culture. It was here where I manifested and cultivated a relationship with Hip Hop. Seeing so many young black youth not having much and being subjected to a lot of negativity, yet they were always aspiring to be something great, telling their stories via hip hop. It was all about the idea of translation through vivid story-telling. Digesting these lyrics and creative word play was and continues to be fascinating to me. The music and culture forever pierced my soul and impacted the way I looked at the world and situations. Hip Hop brought people in my community together. I will always have a respectful connection with the greatest music ever.
What is a normal day in the life of Steph Nash?
(Laughing). My life is far from normal Mike. Besides having an amazing family, I have a full-time job. I own and run an entertainment site which includes conducting video interviews with my incredibly talented producer Big Sproxx. In addition I build, create and host a underground hip hop show on MaximumFM with Mic Boogie on Wednesday nights. I've also been working on my own business, a year and a half in the making. And in-between all of that I try to run 15-20 km's a week when I'm not training for a marathon.
So, what drives you?
Simple. My passion. Life is nothing without it. It's the main ingredient that allows me to grow and improve.
You have a hand in a lot of ventures. How do you find balance?
The honest answer is I don't (laughing). The word balance when referenced to work and family causes me tremendous stress. I feel the important factor that assists me is being organized. The most significant key to being centered is regular discussions with my family about their perceptions, opinions and even objections with my work. This allows me to be better aware of any issues I need to deal with because imbalance is unavoidable.
Periodically I'm reminded and strongly encouraged to take time out for my personal life. So I guess you can say my family balances me. They are incredible and very diligent in highlighting when I need to regroup because sometimes I become so focused on one task, that I neglect a balance.
Why the entertainment industry? You know, I don't even know. I guess it's the love and respect I have for the music. I want my sons to know what quality music is. I guess being in this industry allows me to assist in shaping and highlighting the importance of prolific emcees and the culture I have the most respect for.
As a child, did you always want to be involved in the entertainment industry?
No way. That wasn't even a thought. I actually wanted to be a police constable. I passed all the written and physical, but failed on the vision. I'm colored blind and didn't even know it until my late teens. I can't believe I just shared that!
So the big one... Fashion! How did this idea for your kids clothing line, Stitch N Rhyme come about?
Initially I had other ideas but unfortunately, I learned a valuable lesson about how quickly individuals will run with your ideas and make them their own. This is kind of a long reply Mike however, it's important I explain the necessary steps that formulated my idea and drive to make Stitch N Rhyme a reality, a kids hip hop clothing apparel.
My mentor, Patricia Mercurio created a kids fashion line called Signature Little Ones. It is one of the top Canadian embroidery children's apparel. Patricia's outstanding work is what sparked my new idea. I have been blessed to have her teach me the business side of fashion and grateful she allowed me to utilize all her experience and knowledge. It's crucial to have a great mentor and I surrounded myself with a solid support foundation consisting of like-minded people to create what I'm most passionate about: hip hop and family. It was about taking this idea and figuring out a way to build it where I could also bring recognition and compensation to the artists whose work has impacted me and still effectively run a business.
I have also been extremely fortunate to have additional support from the beginning by Divine, an incredibly passionate artist and entrepreneur with unbelievable perseverance. Divine has shared freely his invaluable experience including his business contacts, knowledge and direction. One of these contacts is now part of my graphic team, Jared Lashinsky, an amazing designer who is responsible for bringing the majority of my design ideas to life.
Then there is my good friend, Mustafa and his mom, Marcia Shabazz. They both gave up a lot of their evenings along with Michael Lawrence teaching me the necessary components to building a solid business plan, which was instrumental. And my friend, Shannon Daciuk who consistently surprised me at work weekly with trinkets of inspiration to follow my bliss even when at times pressures messed with my focus.
A humble sincere thank you to O.C. of D.I.T.C for allowing me to build with him. He offered valuable support and wisdom whenever I needed it. And many thanks to the resilient and gracious, Napoleon Da Legend who has been consistently pushing me to hold the vision and trust the process. A huge salute to Andy Katz, the amazing artist who is responsible for bringing my company logo and vision to life, spending countless hours on the design process.
Lastly, I want to say find a lending institution representative who believes in you and will go beyond all levels to assist you in obtaining a way to securing necessary startup costs. A special thank you Marilyn Wright of RBC. All of these individuals played a crucial role in the decision, implantation and fruition of my fashion idea and company.
What advice would you give a younger woman aspiring to be in the music industry?
Boundaries. Protect all things that are valuable. You're ethics... nobody can take away your ethics except you. It's difficult to be taken seriously in this industry particularly as a female. You need to find a mentor. That goes for any business you build and create. You need to stand your ground and keep professionally ensuring you demand the respect you give and deserve.
What does Steph Nash have planned for the near future?
Lots of great things Mike. Besides releasing Stitch N Rhyme, I will be dropping an album that I produced. Hopefully in September. I have been blessed to have one of the hardest working music producer mentors, Toronto's very own Big Sproxx. He has patiently loaned his valuable time, meticulous skills and studio to me to providing mentor-ship in crafting great music. I couldn't have asked for a better music mentor. His production catalog is very diverse and extensive. He recently produced a majority of tracks on Grand Puba's new album Black from the Future. I don't wish to give away too much but I will tell you a few of the features on my project include some of Hip Hop's most prolific emcees such as O.C., Masta Ace, Torae, Reks, Divine and Tragedy Khadafi. Stay tuned!