Ex-con thrives as entrepreneur: ‘Never Give Up’

 

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Lucky Barker: His enterprising foray into business appears to be flourishing. (Wrangler News photo by Alex J. Walker)
Lucky Barker: His enterprising foray into business appears to be flourishing. (Wrangler News photo by Alex J. Walker)

By Daniel Ochoa

Lucky Barker, owner of Lockdown Clothing in Tempe, has lived by one simple creed throughout his life: never give up.

This creed has allowed him to meet adversity head on and pursue his dreams of opening his own apparel company called Lockdown Clothing.

Getting the business up and running was no simple task. It took years for Barker to know exactly what business venture he wanted to pursue.

During his early 20s, Barker was charged with aggravated assault.

He was released from prison when he was 30 years old after serving an eight-year sentence.

“Being in prison for so long really gave me the drive to turn my life around and I didn’t want to be the same person I was,” he said.

During his eight-year stretch, Barker reflected on what he wanted to pursue in order to not only be another blip in the prison system, but to assist his family.

Barker began searching for work once he was released from prison, but found no luck because of his felony charge.

After going on 22 job interviews, Barker landed work with a local construction company. “I’m extremely grateful that they gave me an opportunity to work because at the time there weren’t any companies hiring me because of my record,” he said.

Barker worked in construction for three years and then decided to open his own business. That’s when Lockdown Clothing was born.

“Lockdown Clothing represents where I’ve come from and the roots of my company,” Barker said.

The company has a grassroots beginning, with Barker opening up shop in his backyard with $50 to his name.

“Part of our business is twofold: We have Lockdown Clothing, which started it all, and we also have Fierce Printing that serves the community,” he said. “With Fierce Printing, we do a lot of business with construction companies and safety products. We want to provide a company with multiple services in order to suit their needs.”

When Barker launched Lockdown Clothing he wanted to employ ex-felons who were in need of a job and wanted to change their lives around.

“We try to bring people in here to help pick them up,” he said. “They have to be doing the right thing with their probation, parole and they have to be law-abiding citizens and stand-up people.”

Douglas, who’s worked with Lockdown Clothing since August 2015, said working with the company has helped with turning his life around.

“Working with Lucky is probably one of the greatest things that I have going for me right now,” he said. “I’ve been trying to do my own thing as an artist and he’s been really supportive about that … he’s always there to give me the best advice.”

In addition to assisting ex-felons turn their lives around, Lockdown Clothing also sponsors local Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, fighters.

“This year we have sponsored 36 fighters, and right now we are working directly with six of them,” Barker said.

Throughout the years, Lockdown Clothing has experienced adversity: its original location was destroyed in a fire and its second location was shut down.

Barker takes the hard times in stride and continues to look forward, believing the company can withstand anything.

Moving ahead with the business, Barker plans pursue projects such as Save Arizona Schools and Save Arizona Animals to better assist the community.

“We want to focus more on community projects,” he said.

Information: lockdownclothing.com.

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