Being a founder, entrepreneur, or a business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur“ we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristine Locker.
Kristine Locker is a creative entrepreneur and founder of Locker, a Chrome extension and social platform redefining how products are discovered and shared online.
Despite Kristine’s real estate investing experience with Goldman Sachs and commercial real estate brokerage experience as a Certified Commercial Investment Member in Los Angeles, Kristine’s true passion has always lied in helping other’s discover products that will enhance their lives.
Kristine is currently running Locker in Los Angeles, California.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Kristine Locker: Hi & thank you so much for including me!
On my back story… I’m from California. I grew up in a smaller town called La Canada, but I usually tell people I am from Pasadena because more people know where that is. I grew up in an extremely supportive household with parents who instilled values of work ethic, integrity and generosity towards others.
Growing up, my mom called me “Imelda” after Imelda Marcos. For anyone not familiar with Imelda Marcos, Imelda was the First Lady of the Philippines for over 20 years. In 1986, her husband, Ferdinand Marcos, was forced from office and he and Imelda fled the country. Protestors stormed their palace and in Imelda’s closet, they found over 2,700 pairs of shoes. The moral of that story is that I have always loved fashion. I have always been the go-to for fashion advice for my friends and family. I have styled many a friends for their birthday outfits, college formals, engagement photos and parties, and many other occasions.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Kristine Locker: In the summer of 2019, I had two newly engaged friends ask me to help them shop to find the perfect outfits for their numerous upcoming engagement events. At the time, I was working for the family business as a commercial real estate broker. I would come home from work and sit down with my laptop and shop online for hours. I would compile all of the product links for them in a Google spreadsheet and send them off an email. My friends would then have to open each link I provided in the Google spreadsheet and highlight the ones they liked to remember their favorites. I knew there had to be a better way to save and share products across the internet. So I set out to create it myself.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
Kristine Locker: I have always marched to the beat of my own drum but I never thought entrepreneurship would be a possibility for me. My dad is a real estate entrepreneur. He left a large brokerage firm to start his own brokerage and property management company back in the late 1990s.
I started my career at Goldman Sachs right out of college as a real estate analyst. After working at Goldman for two years I moved back to Los Angeles to be closer to my family and worked as a commercial real estate broker at my dad’s company. I assumed that taking over the family business would be my career.
During my time at Goldman I realized that Corporate America was not going to be a long term career for me but working at my dad’s brokerage company, I realized that real estate in general was not something I was passionate about.
This realization left me at a crossroads given the fact that I majored in Real Estate Finance at Southern Methodist University so I didn’t feel qualified to make a complete career change. Entrepreneurship in the lifestyle technology space seemed logical (haha).
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
Kristine Locker: 100% my mom & dad. My parents played two very different roles throughout my journey but both were really important in my decision to become an entrepreneur as well as shaping who I am as an entrepreneur today.
Growing up my dad would always warn me of the downsides to working for large corporations and he would preach the benefits of being your own boss. Now having experienced both, I could not agree more with my dad. In addition to the flexibility that comes with being your own boss, when you are working on your own project, work does not feel like work & that is the best feeling!
My mom has always been my biggest cheerleader. When I was preparing to leave the family business, I would talk to my mom every day to ask her questions about how she thought I should navigate the situation. Managing professional relationships is hard enough, but when it is your family it is even more important! If I hadn’t had my mom’s support throughout the entire process, I am not sure I would have felt confident enough to take the risk.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Kristine Locker: Locker is truly the first of its kind. Locker is the first product in this space that was created for the everyday shopper to be able to save, organize and share their favorites across hundreds of their favorite brand websites. With myself as the target user, I am constantly tailoring the product to try and meet the needs of the target audience. What I think makes Locker so interesting is that it is so much more than just a convenience tool. The Locker platform provides a space for those who want to share their favorite products with their friends, family and followers. Being a part of Locker provides brands a new place for brand and product discovery as well as place for consumers to build brand trust. With Locker helping consumers remember about products they like and want to buy, it adds a layer of stickiness for brands that has not existed before.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Kristine Locker: This is a tough question! I would say my top three are my resilience, decisiveness and my knack for caring for others.
A story about my resilience… I feel like I have so many since starting my own company! I think when you are doing anything that is different than the pack, you open yourself up to the opinions and insecurities of others being projected onto you. Have you seen some of the TikToks small business owners have been doing? They show themselves on the screen with the prompt “Your friend’s support when you start a business.” Then the screen flashes and the chair is empty. I can really relate to those videos. I have experienced a lot of change and challenges in both my personal and professional life since starting a business but I continue to bounce back and press forward.
I am also very decisive. Being a solo founder while also self-funding the company, it has been extremely important for me to be able to make executive decisions and quickly. In an effort to bring the product to market as quickly as possible I put my decisiveness over my perfectionism.
Lastly, I have a knack for taking care of people. About two years ago I was at a dinner with a few friends and we decided to go around the table and tell the person next to us what we believe is their superpower. My best friend Julia was sitting to the left of me and she was the one who would tell me what she thought was my superpower. When it was Julia’s turn, she turned to me and said, “Your superpower is the ability to know what people need before they even know what they need.” Since that dinner, this has stuck with me because it is true. This quality allows me to keep the needs of others top of mind whether they are my family and friends, employees or Locker users.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Kristine Locker: I think the worst advice / requirement I ever followed was having to declare my major at eighteen years old. I am now 28 years old and thinking back ten years I know I was not ready to decide on a career path! Around the age of 18, students have not yet been exposed to the majority of career options out in the world and are expected to make a lifetime commitment. That is a lot of pressure!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
Kristine Locker: Piggybacking off of what I said above about taking care of the needs of others, I think the most important thing to remember is that those who do work for you are humans too. None of us are perfect and we all make mistakes, have bad days or go through a rough patch. Having grace for those times creates a work environment where people feel comfortable sharing their needs and it avoids “burn out”. I am also a huge advocate for daily movement, healthy sleep habits and promoting autonomy in the workplace.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Kristine Locker: I am not sure I have even built credibility in my industry yet but one thing I think leaders have just scratched the surface of is vulnerability.
I practice vulnerability and authenticity on a daily basis with anyone I come into contact with. I do this as a way to show others that we are all in this together.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
Kristine Locker: With the rise in social media and the ability to portray our lives through this lens of perfection I think more than ever people are craving authenticity and vulnerability. Through being authentic and vulnerable, we as leaders are able to connect deeper with our audiences while showing them that it is okay to be exactly who they are and that who they are is enough.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Kristine Locker: At the very beginning of building Locker someone told me that “perfection is the enemy of progress”. Those words are so true. I think entrepreneurs take a bigger risk attempting to perfect their product than they do if they just launch an MVP that they might be a little embarrassed of but then have time to iterate based on user feedback.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
Kristine Locker: I did not ever have trouble sleeping a wink until I became an entrepreneur. There is something so different (less relaxing) about laying your head on the pillow at night. When I am not working and especially when I go to sleep at night, my mind likes to start to run through all of the things I should be doing. Being a one woman show, the weight of the company’s success falls solely on my shoulders. On the flip side, waking up everyday for work as an entrepreneur feels like a dream. For me, having the opportunity to build a product that aligns with my passions, makes all of the entrepreneurial stressors worth it.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Kristine Locker: I get feelings of euphoria every time a random user reaches out and tells me how much they love the product and that they told all of their friends about it. This is exactly why I do what I do – because I wanted to create a product that would make people’s lives easier and better so hearing that exact feedback makes me feel like I am on cloud nine. For example, today I was presenting via Zoom to the current students at my high school for their Career Day. After I gave my introduction and a little spiel about Locker one of the students immediately raised her hand just to say that this was the product she has always dreamed of and she keeps track of products she wants to buy using a Google spreadsheet that she populates with links. She then went on to spend the entire rest of the Career Day presentation populating her Locker.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Kristine Locker: I often experience the troughs of entrepreneurship. Being a solo founder can feel extremely lonely but the hardest part about starting my own company and the times I feel the lowest are around the financial stressors. I am self-funding Locker with my savings account and I do not currently have a salary or revenue generating job which means I am dipping into the money I had saved and set aside for bigger life purchases. Given this stress, I have moments where I breakdown thinking about the risk that I am taking and wondering if I am making a mistake.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
Kristine Locker: Every time I experience one of these lows, I take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Being in the weeds always feels so necessary at the time but I find that it is so important for me to be able to remove myself from the day to day stress of building the company to remember my WHY. As soon as I am able to realign with my WHY I am able to calm the anxiety surrounding the financial stress.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
Adopt a morning routine – As an entrepreneur my days can be really unpredictable, especially in the early stages of starting Locker. I find it to be extremely grounding for me to have a practice that I follow every morning. Following a routine sets the tone for my entire day. My mornings typically look like this: I wake up around 6:10AM, wash my face and start my workout. My morning workout usually consists of a class at Bunda or Melissa Wood Health flow and a long walk while listening to a podcast. When I get home from my walk I immediately have my coffee and a bowl of fruit and start answering emails.
Set boundaries – In this newfound “work from home” environment, setting boundaries is so important for my mental health and creating that work life balance. I am a person who could work all day and night because I love what I do. However, when I do not provide boundaries for myself, I notice a decline in the quality of my work. When this happens, I make sure to give myself some space to rest and reset. Despite working from home, I set “work hours” for myself and try to follow them as much as possible. When my work hours are up for the evening, I unwind by cooking dinner.
Have thick skin – This one has been really tough for me to learn since I started my entrepreneurship journey. When you are creating a product or building a business, you feel rejection on two levels: professional and personal. At times, I still struggle to differentiate professional rejection with personal rejection but when I encounter these feelings, I remind myself that what we create is not going to be a fit for every person!
Find your community – Having the right people around you is the most important thing you can do as an entrepreneur. This is so important especially because of what I talked about in #3 above. During my entrepreneurship journey I have needed the right community around me in order to help me through the troughs. The right community will build you up and support your dreams.
Read books – Since graduating college, reading has been my main escape from the “real world”. It is the only activity I can do where I can actually turn my mind off and focus on the alternate world of the characters in the book. Being able to find time to turn my mind off allows me to come back to my work refreshed. I really love to read! My favorite books are from the WWII era.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
I define resilience as the ability to feel the lows that come with the territory of entrepreneurship but come back from the lows better than you were before.
I believe all resilient people have strong problem solving skills and are willing to ask for help.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
The experience that stands out the most to me is my recent struggle with an eating disorder. I developed an eating disorder shortly after graduating from college. While struggling with an eating disorder, I also struggled to maintain friendships and lost sight of my purpose. I began my recovery journey after three years of suffering and today I am close to a year and a half into my recovery journey. The recovery process has been the hardest journey of my life thus far. In the process I am required to push myself out of my comfort zone daily while also constantly needing to have grace for myself given the sheer difficulty.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
Kristine Locker: Yes and no. I am a feeler and with that comes the stress and anxiety during difficult times but I also do not stay in an anxious state for long. I tend to feel the feeling I need to feel and then bounce back quickly and keep moving forward working through the difficult situation. When I am feeling anxious about a situation I take a step back and look at the bigger picture while also physically taking a step back from my computer to move by body. Movement always helps me relieve stress and brings positive energy back into my body.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
Kristine Locker: Attitudes are contagious – it’s as simple as that! If the leader of the company brings negative sentiment into the workplace it creates a ripple effect.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
Kristine Locker: “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary” – Vince Lombardi
A friend told me this quote when I was in 6th grade on the playground. She told me she heard this quote fro her grandpa and since that day I have never forgotten those words. I really believe that you have to put in the work to reap the benefits and be successful!
How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with
this. We wish you continued success and good health!