Locker Lifestyle: Innovation by Necessity
Student Turns Common Problem Into a Thriving Business
Specialized wristbands and headbands for athletes on the go
2018 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest Bronze Prize Winner
Kat Samardzija started college with a plan. She would play collegiate tennis and start on the fast track to medical school, but that all changed one day after tennis practice.
Kat and her teammates went to the gym, and they left their wallets, cash and other belongings in unsecure cubbies and lockers that didn’t lock. They returned to find their things stolen.
That’s when Kat said she began searching for a better solution for storing essentials at the gym.
“I quickly realized that the only options were bulky, restrictive and unfashionable,” she said.
Kat knew she could develop a better solution. She scheduled a meeting with a talented seamstress at her mother’s bridal store. Kat mapped out a simple design, and within a few hours the first Wrist Locker was born.
Wrist Locker is a patent-pending wristband that’s specific to the length of an ID that can be used to store cash, keys and credit cards. The new largest size can now fit a smartphone.
Kat started out selling the product on Etsy, and sales quickly took off. Kat developed a passion for her business, which she called Locker Lifestyle. In fact, she was so enthusiastic about her new venture, it changed the direction of her collegiate career. She abandoned her medical school plans and declared a double major in entrepreneurship and marketing.
But soon after starting her business, she hit a major setback. In January of 2017, her mother’s store of 26 years was burned in a devastating fire. Also lost in the fire were Kat’s Wrist Locker materials, patterns and prototypes. “I had to start from zero,” she said. “Some people told me it wasn’t meant to be, but I remained determined to recreate a bigger, better and stronger Locker Lifestyle.”
And she did. Shortly after the fire, Kat brought on her mom as “mom-ager” and they worked together to get the business back off the ground.
In April of that year, Kat entered her first entrepreneurship competition and pitched Wrist Locker. She took first place. “That win was validating,” she said. “I realized that my product had value that others recognized.” Shortly after, she launched the company website, LockerLifestyle.com, and two additional patent-pending products.
She has been all “go” since then. Kat schedules her days in 30-minute increments to stay organized. “The day begins at 6 a.m., and I don’t stop until I fall asleep,” she said. “The best part is that I wake up and want to do it again. I’m obsessed with making this business better.”
Kat currently produces all Wrist Lockers herself with the help of family and friends. She said winning a FedEx Small Business Grant will allow her to focus on contracting a manufacturer to scale production. Any remaining money will go toward package development and marketing.
“I hope that I can inspire others,” said Kat. “The failure rate of startups is concerning, but the problem is simple – lack of resources and knowledge. I started Locker Lifestyle with no idea of what I was doing and I wake up each day knowing that there’s someone out there with questions. I want to help.”
Find out more about our yearly contest and our past winners here.