GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) – Her suit fits just right, she knows everyone in the room, and you can just tell she’s got it going on! You wish you could be her, or simply wish you knew her secret to success.
WOTV 4 Women wants to give you a deeper look at the many power women who are helping make West Michigan a thriving place for women at work. We’re having these women dish the details on work life, home life, and everything in between. What has really led to their success?
25 Questions with Katarina Samardzija
Meet Kat Samardzija: Kat is a current student at Grand Valley State University, where she plays tennis on scholarship. Kat, being an active student athlete, was sick of bringing her entire wallet to the gym when all she needed was her student ID to get in/out, which inspired the idea of “wearable lockers.” She successfully turned her idea into a business, and now serves as the owner and founder of Locker Lifestyle LLC, a company producing “wearable lockers” for worry-free activity!
Question 1: Describe your job and why you love it.
I am on a mission to help active individuals, like myself, enjoy a worry-free, active lifestyle. I envisioned the perfect product but realized that it didn’t exist, so I had to create it. I love waking up and looking forward to growing Locker Lifestyle. Each day brings a new adventure, challenges, and continually connects me to innovative people. When I meet people who are as excited about my product as I am, it makes all the long nights of working worth it.
Question 2: Dig through your purse and tell us three must-have items you found and 1 item you were surprised to find.
Ironic because I created Locker Lifestyle products, so I do not have to carry my purse around. I take only the essentials! So in my Wrist Locker, I have my ID, credit card, and lip balm…always.
Question 3: When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was little, I had every intention of wanting to become a doctor. Half of my family is in the medical field, so I shadowed them and did extensive research on different schools to attend based on various medical degrees that interested me. I never dreamed I would start my own business. Sophomore year of college changed everything for me when I had the idea for my first product, the Wrist Locker. I am now majoring in entrepreneurship and marketing.
Question 4: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
The best piece of career advice I’ve ever received was when a mentor told me, “everything is negotiable”.
Question 5: What’s the job you’ve had (in your lifetime) that still gives you nightmares?
I am fortunate enough to have had only jobs I have loved. I am only 20, so I haven’t been around long enough to have had many odd jobs.
Question 6: What’s the best thing you’ve done to advance your career?
Deciding to attend my first entrepreneurship competition was the best thing I could have ever done. It drastically pushed me outside of my comfort zone and became a turning point very early in my business. Since then, I have learned to love public speaking, I began to refine my pitch, and have been asked to attend other competitions. The pitch competitions I have attended are what allowed me to advance and fund my business while still attending college and playing D2 tennis.
Question 7: Flats or heels?
Flats for networking. Heels for pitch competitions.
Question 8: Crying at work? Okay or not okay?
I have a fear of crying in front of others, so doing so in public or in front of my team members will never happen.
Question 9: Work/life balance? How do you make it work? What time do you “clock out”?
I don’t work “normal business hours.” I never have a set time to “clock out.” I usually work until I physically can’t work anymore, and I enjoy it. Sometimes my days are planned in 30-minute increments so I can fit everything in a day. I play tennis, I am a full-time student, and I am managing Locker Lifestyle full-time.
Question 10: Eating lunch at your desk? A do or a don’t?
I eat lunch in my car or at my desk 97% of the time. I don’t like being interrupted when I am on a roll working!
Question 11: What makes you grateful?
I am so grateful for the incredible amount of support from my family. Without the help of my “Momager,” none of this would have been possible.
Question 12: What was your biggest blunder in a job interview? What did it teach you?
I have never had a major job interview, but before any networking event, I have possible questions prepared for influencers or investors I might meet.
Question 13: Describe your morning routine.
At 6:30am I am up and ready for tennis practice. 7-9am, Ipractice. 10-11:30am, I get ready for class and prep lunch. 12-1pm is my first class of the day. 1-2:30pm, I eat lunch and fulfill orders. 3-5pm, I have class. 5:30pm, I eat dinner and work. 6-9pm, I have class. 9:30pm, I study and finish work!
Question 14: Proudest career moment to date.
I was the youngest to place 1st for the Dolphin Tank Entrepreneurship Competition, and I won the “Best in the Tank Award.” The business plan to prep for the competition took months and was over 20 pages long. It was a collective effort by my mentors and family to review and prepare me for such a big moment. I still think back to them calling “Locker Lifestyle” to the stage. I will NEVER forget it.
Question 15: What’s the most important thing in your life right now?
The most important thing in my life right now is scaling Locker Lifestyle. This business is like my baby- still young but has immense potential. I aim to do something every day that will help take it to the next level. Currently, managing this business with school and tennis can get overwhelming, but I am thrilled to be building a team of mentors, photographers, marketers and more to grow.
Question 16: What time did you wake up today?
I woke up at 8 am…which is sleeping in for me. My body never lets me sleep any longer. I like to start my day early with a healthy breakfast and efficient workout. Working out in the morning is the kickstart to energize my day!
Question 17: What’s the first thing you notice when you meet someone?
When first meeting someone, I am drawn to their eyes. I think the way someone holds and makes eye contact with you says a lot about them in regards to confidence and their interest in the conversation.
Question 18: What are you reading right now?
I am reading “Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappo’s. The book is centered on company culture and listening to the customer. The way he builds his team and engages the office community is the opposite of corporate. For such a large company, he is continually connecting his people and finding ways to listen to their input on growing Zappo’s. The company was almost dissolved on multiple occasions and reading about the craziness he endured to keep it afloat was humbling.
Question 19: In a typical day how many emails do you answer?
I typically answer 100 emails a day.
Question 20: What’s your favorite TV show?
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but my favorite show is Grey’s Anatomy.
Question 21: What’s your favorite spot for a meeting in West Michigan?
My favorite spot for a meeting in West Michigan is Start Garden, which is a shared workspace. The building is very modern, bright, and open. The open floor plan and entrepreneurial energy make me never want to leave! I hold the majority of all my meetings there.
Question 22: What’s your favorite app?
My favorite app is Yelp. I am a total foodie, and Yelp has yet to steer me wrong with its many pictures, reviews, and more all incorporated into the app.
Question 23: What experience in life made you the most nervous?
My first entrepreneurship competition was the most nervous I have ever been. I had no idea what to expect, and I felt like a complete oddball. I walked in and wanted to walk right out, but thank goodness I didn’t because I ended up placing 1st.
Question 24: What’s one question you always ask in an interview?
I have not had many job interviews in my day, but I would want to ask what the company’s goals are for the next 3-5 years. The future and vision of growth for a company are essential to have anywhere I have an intention of working.
Question 25: What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is that I make my own hours. Building Locker Lifestyle has unpredictability, but it is up to my team and me to take advantage of the opportunities coming our way.
Learn more about Locker Lifestyle LLC: GVSU tennis player starts her own business, “Locker Lifestyle”
Do you know a West Michigan Power woman who deserves to be featured in our series? Email us her name/business and contact info!