Here at the Commoner News, we focus on the common people who work tirelessly to make our world a better place. My hometown has a reputation as one of the most destitute and dangerous cities in America. Throughout my series titled Baltimore’s Best & Brightest, I have highlighted the greatness in my city. The second installment of the series focuses on the life of Raymont Womack. Raymont is a reformed business owner. His life has inspired me because we had similar upbringings in impoverished communities, but he made “the switch” to build a truly remarkable life.
Dawaun: What’s up, bro? How are you doing today? I wanted to get started by you telling us a little bit about you and your family.
Raymont: First and foremost, my name Raymont Womack, and I’m a black business owner. One of my companies is Concrete 4Life LLC, and the other is a clothing line named CCF (Cheese Curl Factory) LLC. I am an extremely happy and proud father of a three-year-old boy. He is the center of my world. I have been with his mom for quite some time, and we live a regular life. We stay off the radar and focus on our work.
Dawaun: Tell us a little about growing up, what was your upbringing like?
Raymont: You know how we came up. I was a life full of drugs, murder, and drug dealers. It was nothing different from your average Black Baltimorian. Despite the hard conditions, I had a lot of positive experiences going to “shake and bake,” Druid Hill park pool, and the other places that brought out community together.
Dawaun: Would you say those things gave you a sense of community?
Raymont: Those things did that and more. Our Grayson St block parties transformed our community into a family. I loved every moment of it. Yet, that same sense of community also drew our attention to the guys on the corner. They were our brothers, cousins, and friends, but at the same time we were normal kids that wanted to go skating or swimming. The guys on the corner were the ones who gave us the money to experience those positive events. They gave us a start and their life supported us.
Dawaun: Who are the biggest influences in your life?
Raymont: Some people might think of celebrities and entertainers as heros or influences,but I was inspired by my granddad ( Rest In Power Mr. Tyrone Jacob) and my big brother (Rest In Power Andre Cox). My granddad was a great man. He had a career working for the city for a number of years. He was a go-getter, so when he retired he couldn’t sit around. He decided to purchase a pick-up truck and opened “Tyrone’s Moving and Hauling”, and he never looked back. My granddad put that entrepreneur spirit in me. My big brother taught me the value in being a good man. He encouraged me to always tell the truth, and he wanted me to stand up for my beliefs. He always said, “Dummy, you stand up for something or you fall for anything”. I can still hear him every day and I carry those lessons with me. Those two put a foundation down that I’m continuing to build for my friends and family.
Dawaun: How special and important was granddad to you and the family?
Raymont: I don’t have the words to say how special, but it says a lot about a man that he ensures his family’s wealth and safety when he passes away. He left his wife and family a home that they never had to pay a bill on. His legacy still lives through me and we can feel his spirit during our family game nights or Thanksgiving. During rough days, I would sit in the backyard with him and I did not need to say anything. He always knew what to say to me, so I loved sitting with him. I gained so much knowledge about life from him. He was important to me in the same way knowledge is to our young people.
Dawaun: When did you decide to make “the switch”?
Raymont: In a previous life I made some wrong choices, so I had to pay my debt. While paying my debt, one of the best thing in the world happened. My lady birthed my “switch” (god bless her) while I was “locked up.” I was sad that I could not be there every day, but I called her regularly throughout the experience. While I was still incarcerated, my pops brought “Money G” (my son Grayson Womack) to meet me for the first time, and I fell in love. At the end of the visit, I felt a Tap on the arm and heard someone say, “Womack it’s time.” Watching him leave and me having to go back to hell was one of the most devastating moments of my life. I thought “how can I be in here and not have his back out there? Screw this! I have to get out so i can always protect my little man.” That moment transformed my life forever.
Dawaun: Tell us about your business. What’s the “Cheese Curl Factory”?
Raymont: Well you know that the phrase “Cheese curl” we’ve been saying that forever in our community. I named my clothing line the Cheese Curl Factory” as an homage to our homies from childhood. I have always loved fashion, and I remember curring up my jeans to make them look different from everyone else. The OGs would call me “crazy feet” as a child because I wore different designed shoes.
Dawaun: Who and/or what inspired you to start your businesses?
Raymont: Me and the co-founder of “CCF” LLC planned this project when we were “paying our debts,” so the clothing line has been in the making for a long time. My other business venture relates to the concrete industry. My family has been in the concrete trade for a long time, and they are experts of the business. However, they always worked for someone, and I wanted to start our own family business. Now, I get to put my energy into productive experiences that involve my love for fashion and my family’s history in concrete trade.
Dawaun: Oh yeah, one last thing. Where did the idea for the “Fast and the Furious 3on3 basketball tournament” come from?
Raymont: My organization Concrete 4Life LLC thought that we needed to give back to our community. We decided to sponsor an event for youth from our old neighborhood. I developed a bracket, and we ensured the winners would receive an all expense paid trip to Six Flags. We did it because we love our community and our kids. It is the same love that inspired you to found The Commoner. Each team was named after our brothers that we lost to these streets. It was a way to honor our past by inspiring the future. The fact that we had a “Team Bling” (the older brother of the author of this piece) was crazy. It was incredible to have your mom there for the event and it felt like we were giving back to her and the other mothers too. It was fantastic to see the pride that families took in the event, and I was excited to see the smiles on the young peoples’ faces. It was our generation helping the next generation. I am happy that you got to support us too, Dawaun. I will continue to host events like that one for our young people in the future.
Dawaun Davis is an activist and political writer from Baltimore, MD. Davis is a proud Foundational Black American, and he hopes to use his growing platform to help young Black people with their struggles.