From The Locker Room To The Board Room
Meet Malcolm Lemmons, Founder of Klarity Watches Adapting to the unexpected and playing to win.
In a time where we have had to pivot and rethink our way forward, Malcolm Lemmons, former pro athlete, is forging ahead and making waves. Malcolm shared exclusively with VIP Global Magazine about his new company, Klarity Watches. “We deliver simplistic, well-crafted timepieces that make a positive impact on our culture,” Lemmons says. “Our determination to craft exceptional timepieces along with a passion to bring more empathy and purpose to the world is the foundation of what guides our company today.”
The Dynamic Entrepreneur
Malcolm hails from Washington, DC. He grew up with his single mom and brother. He was taught at an early age how to be resilient, persistent, and chase what he loves in life. Growing up, Malcolm always had an entrepreneurial spirit. From a young age, he sold candy bars and water bottles in middle school, and then shirts and shoes in high school. At 21 years old, Malcolm established his first official business. Although that business failed, he was not deterred. He learned from his mistakes and readily took on the challenge of an even bigger business venture, Klarity Watches. “Entrepreneurship is about taking a huge risk on your future for a vision only you can see,” Lemmons states.
He is grateful for the support and the opportunities that have been opened to him since he established Klarity Watches. Malcolm is confident that his days of being a professional athlete prepared him to execute the business of Klarity Watches. “It takes a special type of person to become a successful entrepreneur, and athletes have these intangibles embedded in.”
“Klarity Watches started because I wanted to combine my passion for watches with a greater mission to give back to my culture and provide a quality product at an affordable price. Our primary target market is black millennials, male and female, but we think our price point is great for any demographic. Even though we feel like we’re tapping into a niche within a niche, we still feel that watches are great gifts and can appeal to all people.”
We learned the unique story behind the company’s name. “Clarity is something that I think many people search for in life and something I wanted for a long time since I’ve retired from basketball,” Lemmons explains. “I think in a time where there is a lot of unrest and hostility in our country – clarity is needed now more than ever. Using ‘K’ instead of ‘C’ added a unique spin on the word.”
Today, Klarity offers the Unity Rose Black Strap and Brown Strap watches for men. The Unity Rose is the company’s flagship watch which was designed for business professionals. However, Klarity is pleased to announce that it is also in the process of designing watches for women. Look out for the Mozelle watch for women on the go.
Basketball has always been Malcolm’s first love, an escape from the pressure of what was happening in his personal life. Since the third grade, he had made up his mind to be a professional athlete. His love for basketball ran deep but Malcolm also saw going pro as a way of fulfilling his dreams. Still, it was not easy for him as there were many challenges to overcome. He was cut from the varsity team in high school and had multiple injuries along the way. However, after graduating from Niagara University with a degree in business management, Malcolm went on to pursue a professional basketball career in Japan.
“Japan is an amazing country. I learned a lot being there for two years and really fell in love with the culture, people, and food. Basketball-wise, it definitely had its tough days and at times, I struggled with being away from home. But it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. The biggest lesson I learned was how to survive. Playing overseas and being there for several months can be extremely hard for a lot of players, and no one is there to hold your hand. You have to fend for yourself and realize that it’s still a job at the end of the day. Either survive or you don’t get paid.”
Lessons from the Game
Transitioning out of the game of basketball was a struggle for Malcolm. Like most athletes, “sports truly defined who I was. It was all I knew.” Malcolm recalled lacking a mentor to offer guidance during his tenure as a professional athlete. Consequently, he had to navigate through his issues and find solutions. After leaving the game, he was determined to find a new purpose. It was during that season that he discovered the art of writing and the gift of storytelling.
In 2017, he published his first book, Lessons from the Game, which detailed his life as an athlete and the important life lessons he learned playing basketball from elementary school to becoming a professional athlete. According to Malcolm, writing this book was an eye-opener for him as he then saw himself as more than an athlete. Above all, his writing journey gave him a renewed sense of hope and placed him on a new trajectory to pursue other opportunities and, eventually, to walk away from the game.
Malcolm believes that everyone has a story that can be of value to others. He wrote his story to help others work through their challenges and to remind them that they must keep going to realize their dreams. With more writing experience under his belt, in July 2020 Malcolm released his second book, Impact Beyond the Game: How Athletes Can Build Influence, Monetize Their Brand, and Create a Legacy.
“Patience is the biggest thing I tell athletes they must have when they transition from the game. You don’t become a great athlete overnight. That took years of your life. Whatever it is you want to do next - you have to approach it in the same way. It’s a long-term game and you have to stay patient throughout the journey.”
Mentoring and Making a Difference
From his experience leaving the game, this creative entrepreneur knew he wanted to make a difference in the lives of other athletes. “I deeply believe that every athlete deserves a team who performs just as hard for them off the playing field, as they perform on the playing field.”
Along with managing Klarity Watches, Malcolm is all about assisting athletes to build their personal brands and prepare for life after sports. He helps to provide the advice and tools necessary for these athletes to achieve financial security. Through careful planning and follow-through, Malcolm encourages athletes to pursue other interests outside of their sports.
“It’s important to reach back and touch the community in some capacity. It’s cliche but kids are the future, and they need to see people who are successful that look like them. Representation matters and to be able to go out and interact with them allows them to really see what’s possible and expand their horizon.”
Frustrated with the number of social injustices that had taken place this year, Malcolm wanted his next business to give back to the Black community while hoping to make black men feel more valued. Considering this, Klarity Watches was founded on the desire to create beautiful watches, but Malcolm was also driven to create an affordable product that reflected the intrinsic values of the Black community. “That’s why we have partnered with Color of Change to donate a portion of every watch purchased. Our donation can help combat social injustice in our country.”
Malcolm’s greatest hope and mission is “to inspire and elevate under-represented communities. I consider myself lucky and blessed to have experienced everything I have in life and have the opportunities that I have been able to have. It’s my job to pay it forward.”
Learn more about Malcolm Lemmons at malcolmlemmons.com and follow him on Instagram and Twitter @malcolmlemmons.