Many things in life seem easier on the surface than they do once you venture a bit deeper. Starting a business for many doesn’t fall into that category as it already seems like quite a daunting task however, having started my own, I can truly say that there are even more layers than first realised. Just over a year ago, on the 12th December 2020, Lockr Space went live in the morning, catering to sportwear enthusiasts wanting to discover boutique brands with sustainability and ethical practices at its core. The journey to this milestone has been an incredible experience of elevated highs, depressing lows and constant change. I am so excited for what the next coming years have to offer but I know that I must be mentally prepared for the challenges it’s going to bring and to be stead fast as they come. Let me give you the lowdown, I’ve always wanted to start a business. I’ve always wanted to let my creative freedom spiral, build a team and make critical decisions. These are the exciting parts that people hear when they think about a successful business however, the two areas that I didn’t appreciate was having willpower and problem solving skills. The 2020 lockdown helped me strengthen in these two areas to help me become the person I am today.
Willpower is an interesting word. A quick search on related words gives me: drive, determination, iron will and my favourite, ‘strength of mind’. When my journey started in January 2020, after I registered the domain for Lockr Space and sorted some of the fun parts out (because that’s how we start projects right, do the fancy stuff first then leave the hard parts until later), I thought that my motivation would suddenly sprout. After all, I had a clear purpose for my business: helping everyday athletes like myself discover better and more eco-friendly sportswear. However, as more and more obstacles kept coming my way, it started to create that seed of doubt. Is this a worthwhile project? What if it doesn’t work out? Am I just wasting your time? Who even cares about what I’m doing? The endless questions swarming my mind created insecurity however, whilst being surrounded by an incredible support network during lockdown, I nurtured the willpower that I required. Lockdown enabled me to focus and commit many hours to creating a strong mind that wasn’t easily shaken or triggered. It built my confidence and that directly correlated with the growth of my business; building something with a team that was becoming exactly what I wanted.
My greatest role model is Barack Obama and his strongest assets I believe is his composed demeanour in pressurised environments, personal integrity (or at least what he portrays to the media) and his strong mindset. Every day, I look to improve my mindset as I believe that it’s the key to achieving my goals, and the rollercoaster of a ride whilst building this business during lockdown has only elevated this. Whether it be the all-nighters on the weekend before launch day, hearing criticism from close friends and family about aspects of the business or just seeing a marketing campaign that you’ve spent so much time and effort on not live up to expectations. Every day trapped in my apartment, I had the opportunity to reflect, dust myself off and come back fighting again. Failure comes fast and instant success is a movie-based concept. Humble brag posts on LinkedIn can make everything seem so easy but in the current COVID world we’re living in, we are all fighting our own individual battles – we have to rise to the occasion and tackle our problems head on.
This nicely leads me onto the biggest skill I developed during lockdown whilst building my business – problem solving. This still cracks me up today as it’s such an interesting one. When faced with a problem, if a solution isn’t found then the problem persists. To be clear – not every problem needs to be solved and most importantly, not every problem needs to be solved be you as an individual. However, to remove a problem or where a solution is more ideal, then hard work and graft needs to be put in. Building Lockr Space presented a crazy amount of unique problems, impacting different areas including my own personal life and every single time, it required immense concentration and persistence to sort out. Did I always succeed? No. However, and I hope this really comes across in this blog, but failure is a part of the process. Without the lockdown period, there would have been several moments where I would have given up. Plenty of excuses that could have easily fed my insecurities about my ability, the business concept and much more. However, I had no excuses but a million problems all staring me in the face. So, I rose to the challenge. The problems that needed to be solved were WILD! The financial accounting, VAT post Brexit with EU suppliers, organising photoshoot shoots, technical issues following a website hacking, juggling a social life and more. The output was hard; required a lot of work, time and patience. Just thinking about some of the hoops I had to jump through is crazy. I genuinely had NO IDEA what I was doing during many of these scenarios but when I look back, it’s with admiration that I’ve come this far. Not alone – some of the most incredibly talented people have been there, whether it be family, friends, Lockr Space brands & partners and many more.
Building a company from scratch during lockdown was such a unique experience. The journey has an uncanny similarity to running an ultra-marathon with no crowd to watch. You begin the race fresh, enthusiastic and raring to go. The first aches and pains begin as your body starts testing you, tempting you to give up. The negative part of your head already wanting you to quit – “there’s no one to impress”, it says. However, with lockdown as there hasn’t been a crowd, there was the opportunity to create something great. The support network that I’ve had, who have helped with all aspects of Lockr Space, have been on the front lines running alongside me like Eliud Kipchoge’s pacemakers. Although I’ve only ran the first mile in this ultra-marathon, I can already look back and think about the pain, aches and negative thoughts that spiralled in my head and think, “I’m still out here running and I feel stronger than when I had started”. I’m going to enjoy this race and all the challenges that come. A crowd is starting to form as my race progresses into a post-COVID world with new obstacles to face. My mind is ready, my trainers are laced, and I firmly believe in my mission – sport can drive change. Let’s keep running.
Akeem, Lockr Space Founder
In his own words, “Akeem Bundu-Kamara is founder of Lockr Space, a platform looking to transform sports commerce completely. He founded the company to help the everyday athlete discover new, better and sustainable sportswear across Europe. He is also an active 5-a-side football player, keen traveller, video game addict and passionate about learning about social/political issues affecting the world today”.
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Company – LockrSpace – Discover Independent Sustainable Sportswear
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