Melanie Phillips is the owner of Ground Sharp Studios, a production studio located in the 24:1 Community on 7250 Natural Bridge in Normandy.  

Phillips started her business in 2017 in the backroom of her home. She then moved the studio to a small location in East Saint Louis, Illinois, but quickly learned the location was not the right fit for her business due to travel times and size. That is when in 2019 she found her current location in the 24:1 where her business has been thriving ever since. Phillips said her current studio is in a prime location that borders St. Louis City and St. Louis County, which helps gain a lot of attraction by foot and/or vehicle. She encourages everyone, from locals to celebrities, to come and visit Ground Sharp Studios and not only see what is happening in the studio but what is happening in the 24:1 too.  

Phillips decided to start a production studio because she wanted to create a space that was more comfortable for herself since she has her own projects going on, but for others like her too.

“I want people that look like me to feel comfortable and have different options when it comes to a place where you create your full project. Here it was important for me to have a space where you can record your music, shoot your video, and rehearse,” 

Melanie Phillips

Phillips is native to St. Louis, Missouri born and raised in Downtown St. Louis. She is a graduate of Central Visual Performing Arts High School and has a very extensive background in visual and performing arts. She has been a dancer and doing stage plays since she was 6-7 years old in the community where she lived, which ultimately made her go to an elementary school where she was able to pursue her talents and dreams. Melanie attended Ames Visual and Performing Arts Elementary School in the 5th grade, moving forward to Carr Lane Visual and Performing Arts Middle School, then finally graduating from Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in 2007.  

She started Ground Sharp Studios on her own and has built the business from the ground up. Phillips said “This is the Show-Me State, people have to see your vision in order for them to believe you. I wanted people to see me construct it and finish my dream that I created.” Phillips does not have a background in entrepreneurship, but she took a liking to the black socialites on reality TV shows like Real Housewives of Atlanta, Basketball Wives, and Love & Hip-Hop to name a few.  She saw how the ladies on those shows grew into leaders in their communities, which then propelled her to create her own production studio. In the future, Phillips hopes Ground Sharp Studios can be the force behind a couple of local St. Louis artists and that Ground Sharp Studios will be one of the top production companies in St. Louis for music videos and the go-to spot for podcasting and artist development.  

Now an entrepreneur herself Phillips has some advice for people trying to start their own production company. “If you have a business idea just get it done! Because trying to work on the project of starting your own business and then getting people to see your vision will be frustrating,” she said. “So, complete your project first and get everything established, then bring on your team. People will try and put themselves in a place where they might not need to be and that can cause confusion.” 

Phillips also has some advice for women of color trying to start their own businesses.

“If you feel like you are lost or need help, make it your business to seek a business coach or mentor. Take some classes that can keep you focused, because you can get so lost in the business, your daily life, and just because you are working hard doesn’t mean you are being productive.”

Phillips also has some special advice for single moms trying to start their own businesses. “You must have a strong trusting support system to help you, so you will be able to really focus on your business. If it wasn’t for my mother and support system, Ground Sharp Studios wouldn’t probably exist. My mother and team support me and they know that I have to be here working.” Phillips also says it is okay to take some time for yourself when you need it. She suggests that if you are overwhelmed and stressed out, take a mini vacation and then come back ready to roll. 

In the fall of 2022, Phillips won a $5,000 Back Black Business Foundation Grant for Ground Sharp Studios. Phillips founds out about the grant through Beyond Housing’s Small Business Network. She said she is not normally the type of person to go on the internet searching for grants because sometimes you can get caught in a scam, but since this source came from a trusted network she applied. Phillips was among over 100 winners from all over the country and the recipients were able to celebrate over zoom.

“It felt amazing because I was surrounded by a community of entrepreneurs that have the same interest, knowing they are experiencing some of the same issues I am is a great feeling. We are here to help each other out!” 

As for what to do with the grant, Phillips has a few ideas. She would like to tap into marketing and establish a Ground Sharp Studios website. She said, “We have recorded literally over 100 music artists, but that has been through word of mouth, so establishing a better system to market is the plan.” Phillips also talked about adding some more signage to help grab people’s attention and of course sprucing up the studio where needed.  

In addition to Ground Sharp Studios, Phillips also runs a non-profit that helps the community with parties for families called STL Surprise Parties, and she has a balloon company. Phillips said “I really wanted to give back to families here in St. Louis that could not afford birthday parties. What people do not know is that I never had a birthday party as a kid, so I wanted to make sure every child in St. Louis could have a chance.”