Black History Month: Interview with James Walters

Black History Month: Interview with James Walters

Second interview in my BHM series! I hope you enjoyed my interview with Joshua Bright. If you haven’t read it yet, click here to check it out! I decided to interview an entrepreneur acquaintance of mine - a rather inspirational one at that. Enjoy!

Founder of Gainage, James Walters

Founder of Gainage, James Walters

JF: Who are you and what do you do?
Walters, James Walters. I am 25 years old, of Ghanaian heritage with a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Kent. Professionally, I am a software engineer specialising in Automation Testing. I would also describe myself as a creative and visionary.


JF: How did GAINAGE come about?
 As part of my Computer Science undergrad, I undertook a placement year. I began the year with the hopes of the year brining out more of my interests in industry, however, I found myself turned off by the repetitive cycle. This repetitive cycle caused me to think deeper about what I wanted for myself. I wanted more than the pre-destined 9-5 lifestyle that university arguably prepares you for. Whilst on my placement year, I began training a lot in the gym with my cousins. It just so happened that one day I was on Instagram and came across a guy that had started his own gym clothing brand. I thought to myself, why couldn’t I do this for myself? – combining my interests for health and fitness as well as my graphic design skills. I’m sure you know many guys in the gym are always harping on about the gains (I am one of them!). It just so happened that one evening in the gym with my cousins after bigging each other up about gains, that the name ‘GAINAGE’ came to mind. I ran with the name and utilised my graphic design skills to create the logo. As a devout Christian, I commit all that I do to God in prayer and the most fitting slogan dropped into my spirit – ‘GAINAGE: A Severe addiction to progress’. That is how GAINAGE came about and that day, I began sourcing my t-shirts, got a few printed for myself and my cousins to wear in the gym. People commented on how good we looked (the t-shirts of course!) and that was how the buzz for GAINAGE began!. 

Photo: Fitness influencers,  Kariilondon  and  OhMariaFiit  sporting GAINAGE

Photo: Fitness influencers, Kariilondon and OhMariaFiit sporting GAINAGE

JF: What has been the hardest part of your journey so far? In that same breath, what has also been a highlight for you in your journey thus far?
 The hardest part of my journey thus far has been realising that just because a product looks good doesn’t necessarily mean it will be purchased. There is a lot that goes into a product and it is the work you do on the product is what essentially makes the product a success. This entails primary and secondary research, marketing, analysis and many others. It is a lot to learn, a lot to take in and I definitely learnt this the hard way. A highlight of my journey has been actually the journey itself. The whole process you go through is beautiful. Wins and losses are highlights, the mistakes you make and learn from are also highlights.

JF: That is a beautiful way to think of things. What keeps you grounded?
Serving keeps me grounded. My commitment to the things of God and serving in church reminds me on a daily the basis, the importance of putting myself aside and contributing to the greater good, whatever that may be, in this sense, the body of Christ. This transcends into other areas of my life and has been a valuable trait that has contributed to my journey as an entrepreneur.

Fitness Enthusiast Daniel Gomez donning GAINAGE, the  black EST 2015 Vest  and  Navy Champ Tracksuit joggers

Fitness Enthusiast Daniel Gomez donning GAINAGE, the black EST 2015 Vest and Navy Champ Tracksuit joggers

JF: There has been a rise in entrepreneurship within the black community, notably over the past few years. Given your experience, what advice would you give to other young black entrepreneurs?
Do not be afraid to fail! A lot of us have ideas that we want to bring to life but we tend to be afraid of failure. We need to embrace failure in order to move forward. Failing forward is a saying we hear often and is actually something I have incorporated into my professional and entrepreneurial journey. Believe in yourself and have hope – hope is the fuel that will keep you going in the hardest of times!

JF: How do you balance GAINAGE with your other ventures and day job?
Fortunately for me, the nature of my software engineering job allows me to work from home a lot of the time. This allows me to manage my time without worrying about commuting. With that being said, time management is extremely important and this is the key to keeping a healthy balance between my different ventures.

JF: What does Black Excellence mean to you?
Black excellence means shining – shining and making it in a society where black people are continually looked down and oppressed through a number of societal mediums. It is increasingly important that we continually strive for excellence and strive to do everything to the best of our ability as we do not know who we are inspiring. For me, my idol and role model, especially when I was growing up was the now late Kofi Annan. As a young Ghanaian growing up in Ghana, to hear someone with the name “Kofi” being the head of the United Nations was something I was so proud of and held in such high-esteem firstly because he was Ghanaian and secondly because he was black. Black Excellence contributes to what the younger generation sees and what they want to aspire to become. It is our duty to keep striving for greatness and prove nay-sayers wrong!

The now late Kofi Annan - Source:  Face2Face Africa

The now late Kofi Annan - Source: Face2Face Africa

JF: How important do you think it is for entrepreneurs and young professionals to give back to the next generation? JW: I think it is very important to give back. If you are not giving back to the next generation, what are you doing? They are the generations and generations to come that will build on whatever legacy you have created. I know when some people think of giving back they immediately think it has to be monetary but it is quite the opposite. Giving back to the next generation could be in the form of mentoring, giving up some of your time to help younger people in the community, starting a platform that impact the younger generation, amongst other things!

JF: What is next for James Walters and GAINAGE?
: I will be working on GAINAGE harder than ever to make it into the brand and company I believe it should and will be. Currently, it is very far from my overall vision and each day we are taking steps to bring our vision to reality. This can only be done with hard work, ambition and genuine belief.

Fitness Enthusiast,  Daniel Gomez  sporting the new  GAINAGE Navy Champ Tracksuit

Fitness Enthusiast, Daniel Gomez sporting the new GAINAGE Navy Champ Tracksuit

Final Words:
James Walters is a true visionary. It is so refreshing to speak to a young black man having experienced life in Ghana and in the UK, with a burning desire to live life to the fullest. I am personally encouraged with what he said keeps him grounded. I think in an age where there is an increasing influx of information and so many of us pursuing great goals, it is easy to get carried away but having something that keeps you grounded is a major key. I predict great things for the GAINAGE brand and will encourage you all to patrionise if you are into well-fitting gym clothing. I have two pieces and always get compliments in the gym – with that being said, I am not sure if they are just talking about the clothing, ha! I hope you enjoyed this read and were somewhat encouraged to keep going in whatever it is that you are currently undertaking!

Instagram: Gainage_
Twitter: Team Gainage
YouTube: TeamGAINAGE
Founder, James Walters