Washington, DC-based sneaker and lifestyle brand Grand High (www.myspace.com/grandhigh), is not your average sneaker company. They don’t take pre-made sneakers and give them different colorways, much like NikeiD or Converse. But Q and John R. actually start from scratch–like your mother bakes macaroni and cheese–and have made the first of many fresh kicks to come. Pushing the envelope further, they’ve rocked-out with K-Swiss’s casual men’s line. The hustle is theirs to own, and now so is the shoe.
Q: How did the name come about?
Q: After going through other names that were stolen or just played out, I wanted something that was different and stood out from everything else. I looked up both words in the dictionary. and the meanings seemed to fit; “Grand” is of great proportions, and “High” is the level everyone wants to get to basically. It’s to do what you like that makes you want that next level.
Q: When did Grand High launch?
John R: I’ve known Q for awhile, we have mutual friends. He did a pair of custom sneakers for me back in 2004 (he charged me lol) and I was like, nobody in DC is doing anything like this. We could turn this into something. We did an event in Philly in August 2004, so I would say the “official” date is August 2004.
Q: Like John said in ‘04 but I started by myself in 2000. I was doing tees but it wasn’t easy doing everything alone, so I asked Johnny Boy if he would help me out with what he knows, and here we are now.
Q: What’s the story behind Grand High?
Q: There really isn’t a special story behind it. I went through other names and this one just stuck because we both worked hard to get the name out so people would have an idea of who we are. When you do what we’ve done to get where we are now all you want to do is keep moving up the ladder to bigger and better things.
Q: Tell us more about the men behind the brand?
Q: I’ve been doing art since the womb and haven’t really stopped. I also do the music production thing among other blue-collar work.
John R.: I have a background in PR, Marketing/Promotions and Artist Management, so I’m all over the place. I try to use the knowledge I’ve gained over the years in all those different fields and apply it to the day to day operations of Grand High. I concentrate on findings ways to get our name out there, finding new business opportunities and making sure we don’t get jerked.
Q: What makes Grand High different?
Q: It’s a challenge to be different because there is so much going on right now, everybody has something to do with urban fashion, so one thing we try to do is get a wide age bracket involved in what we do. Because sneakers and clothes are not just for any one crowd of people.
Q: What’s included in the Grand High line?
Q: Right now our focus is sneakers, light jackets and tees. Plans for other products are in the works.
Q: What celebs have had the privilege to rock Grand High? Do you have a following?
John R.: I wouldn’t say we have a “following” but we’ve done a couple things with some people you may know. Questlove and Kamal from The Roots, Big G a/k/a “Slim Charles” from The Wire, Bow Wow, Fat Joe, Lil Wayne, etc.,
Q: No following, dealing with the celebrities is cool, but if you need something we can get it done no matter who you are or where you’re from. That’s the best following to have.
Q: What’s in the future of Grand High?
Q: More collaborations, more big checks, new products, more shows, more big checks, more traveling, a big check and keep living.
John R.: (lol) What he said.
Q: Where can readers purchase Grand High?
John R.: Our most recent project with K-Swiss, The Grand High Ladner, is currently available at Atmos (NYC), Packers Shoes (NJ), Sports Zone (DC) and UBIQ (Philadelphia)