img_1373Alumna's Jewelry Accessory Leads to "Shark Tank" Appearance 

Lerin Lockwood, MS '10 is the proud owner Lion Latch, a tote accessory designed to protect jewelry

By Jorge Jones

From teaching high school art to coaching youth sports to making an appearance on season 13 of ABC’s award-winning show “Shark Tank,” it seems like Lerin Lockwood ‘10 can do it all.

 

But how exactly did she get there? 

 

On a spring afternoon while coaching a softball practice, Lockwood caught a fly ball just like any other day. Next thing she knew, the impact of the softball flattened and knocked out one of the diamonds on her engagement ring. She never found the stone.

 

Today, the 2010 Master of Science in Sports Management graduate from UIW is the proud founder and owner of Lion Latch - a tote accessory designed to keep jewelry safe.

“I learned the hard way,” she explained. “I needed a safe place to keep my ring while I was coaching or working out. I wanted something I could keep on my keys, but I couldn't find anything that didn't unscrew or unzip, so I made it myself.” 

Embarking on this project was a challenge from the get-go. While developing Lion Latch, Lockwood, a high school art teacher and coach of multiple youth sports, had to adjust to life as an entrepreneur. The change brought new challenges. 

“I was taking on a completely new field of work with entrepreneurship and injection molding,” she said. “I knew I wanted the Lion Latch to be made in the USA, but for the first few years, it was a constant struggle trying to find someone who could make both the part and the mold under the same roof.”

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As the project took off and she decided to mass-produce the accessory, Lockwood needed funding. She got creative and decided to rely on her community, something she genuinely valued at UIW. 

“I went around town speaking to local business owners and community members, pitching my idea as a stocking stuffer gift for Christmas,” she remembers.  

After a month of pitching the idea, Lion Latch was fully funded and backed by a kickstarter campaign, the town of Marble Falls and her Facebook friends. 

Throughout her entrepreneurial journey, Lockwood has kept a positive attitude, regardless of the adversity faced. As a graduate student and assistant volleyball coach at UIW, Lockwood was constantly surrounded with the same positive attitude from professors and coaches.

“Dr. Tim Henrich was my favorite professor, and I was lucky to have Mark Papich and Jennifer Sanchez as my coaching mentors,” she said. “In both the classroom and the gym, I was surrounded by positive coaches who taught me that it's not work if you love it! After graduating from UIW, I knew I wanted to have the same impact on my students’ and student-athletes’ lives by creating a place they could look forward to each day.”  

More than a decade after crossing the stage, Lockwood continues to live out the Mission of the University in a special way. The Marble Falls native created a National Art Honor Society program that raises money for homeless students. 

“My art students paint the windows for local businesses in exchange for donations to buy groceries for our homeless students to take over the holiday break,” she said. “This was an eye-opening experience for them and it also gave my students the opportunity to help their peers.”

Lockwood continues to inspire many with her story. Her success as a teacher, coach and entrepreneur is a result of hard work and determination. For students wanting to enter the world of entrepreneurship, she encourages them to get on the drawing board and start putting ideas on paper. 

“Entrepreneurship isn't easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it,” Lockwood stated. “Set goals that are measurable and surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed.”