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“Normalise Being Different”: Achievement Award winner to Entrepreneur

“Normalise Being Different”: Achievement Award winner to Entrepreneur

We love hearing from former Achievement Award winners about  how being recognised has inspired and motivated them to take on new challenges, and find new ways to give back to others. None optimise that more than Takondwa Maosa, who was awarded the Jack Petchey Achievement Award back in 2012 from Southend United Football club, at just the age of 11.

 Takondwa has gone on to start his own inspiring clothing brand, Divided London, alongside his business partner and friend Daniel Fairhead. We spoke to Takondwa about his new exciting project and why it is important to him to inspire others.

“I won the Jack Petchey Award in 2012 for my work ethic and generally because my attitude towards everyday life stood out [to the club] in regards to helping others,” he told us.

The club noticed how Takondwa would go out of his way to learn new skills and always had a positive attitude to life and self-improvement. He said that his Achievement Award marked the beginning of a journey to focusing on being the best he could be.

“Winning the Jack Petchey Award really made me feel like my efforts were being appreciated and acknowledged by the people around me, which made me want to work hard and improve myself even more! It made me feel I was capable of achieving things bigger than I originally thought.”

Since then, Takondwa had been searching for a new challenge. “I wanted to achieve something big, I just wasn’t sure what that might be.”

It was during the national lockdown that he had a light-bulb moment of what he wanted to do: to create a clothing brand that young people like him could identify with, but that would also inspire them to celebrate what makes them unique. Takondwa wanted the brand to spread a positive message that you can create your own future if you’re willing to work towards it. With his friend Daniel, Divided London was born.

“Both my business partner and I have created a company goal and tagline, “Normalise Being Different”.” Takondwa explains, “This is our primary objective… people should have absolutely no shame or reason to suppress the things that make them different, whether it’s the way they look, dress, talk or behave; if they’re being themselves, they should celebrate these differences.”

Divided London has grown considerably since it launched, and has been worn by top sports professionals across the country including footballer Saikou Janneh, GB driver Tyler Humphreys and MMA fighter Costello Van Steenis among others.

At the age of just 20, Takondwa has achieved so much through self-motivation and hard work. We asked him what his top tips were for other young people hoping to start their own businesses.

“I personally feel that the number one piece of advice I could give to younger people, as cliché as it might sound, is you honestly get back what you put in. If you don’t give your time and energy to something, you can’t expect results. However, if you’re fully committed and are willing to put in your time and effort, the sky is the limit. I would also say being able to motivate yourself is incredibly important, especially if you have no one around you to push you.”

Takondwa also emphasises how important forward planning is, and how breaking down your goals can help you achieve – just like how Sir Jack likes to plan! “[Your project is] a journey that requires small, gradual steps and can’t be achieved overnight. Instead of thinking about how far away / how long the end goal may take, I feel it’s necessary to remember each day is a small step closer to being where I want to be.”

Takondwa finished by telling us, “This award really did give me the motivation and drive to start all of this, so thank you.”

Find out more about Divided London and Takondwa’s story on their website and Instagram.

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