In 2011, Chantel Calloway was arrested and had, according to her, “hit rock bottom”. It was only the second day, but within those jail cell walls, an epiphany had formed loudly and clearly for Chantel.
“I want to achieve greatness. I don’t want to go this route. What can I do to change my life? The game is what came to mind.”
The game is Rhyme Antics, a hip hop and literacy-centered competition inspired by Chantel’s own family game nights and the boredom they felt while playing Scategories and Taboo for the umpteenth time.
“Those games are fun but they’ve been around for decades,” Chantel explained, “and we just wanted something new.” The “something new” became a call and response rap game invented by her father, which the entire family immediately took to, especially Chantel. These memories had resonated with and inspired Chantel, and years later, the very same day she left jail, she went straight to work.
“I left a comfortable situation to move to New York,” Chantel explained, “and I went there with nothing. I went with my prototype and I stayed in a shelter and I just hustled my way.” She enrolled in a program at Defy Ventures, a non-profit organization that supports the formerly incarcerated through entrepreneurship training. There Chantel received guidance on how to improve her game and develop a business plan.
With her newfound confidence and plan for the business, Chantel began selling Rhyme Antics in the streets of New York. She was making meager profits, but gaining some exposure. To grow her income, she knew she needed to bring her game to the online market, but this required her to invest in more inventory. She didn’t have the cash to produce more games. It was then that Chantel was introduced to Accion by Defy Ventures. Chantel received the $5,000 microloan from Accion that she needed to expand her inventory and begin selling her game online.
Spreading the Word(s)
“I created the game because I love education, I’m big on literacy, and I’m an avid reader.” For Chantel, social impact, particularly the opportunity to share her passion with others, is at the heart of her business plan.
“It is really important to me to continue to improve literacy rates and ensure that we, as a society, do not lose sight of the value of reading,” says Chantel. As Chantel continues to grow Rhyme Antics online, she also continues to share it with children at the Boys and Girls Clubs of New York City. “I love to play Rhyme Antics with the kids, I love watching them think and use their brain,” reflects Chantel. Chantel’s goal is to share the fun and learning of Rhyme Antics with children at each of New York City’s Boys and Girls Clubs.
Today, Rhyme Antics is finally gaining traction and is providing Chantel with a steady income. She reflects on her entrepreneurial journey with both a sense of gratitude and wonderment: “I had never created a game, I didn’t know what to do, I was just doing it. And here we are 6 years later and I’ve sold 500 copies and I’m doing it.” One day, she hopes that it will reach children and adults all over the United States, building their vocabularies and sparking their own love of reading and rapping.