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Student named a Newsmaker of the Year by business journal

  • Katarina Samardzija, on right, is pictured at the 2017 Dolphin Tank competition. She was named a Newsmaker of the Year by the Grand Rapids Business Journal on Feb. 1, 2019.

Posted on February 01, 2019

Katarina Samardzija, a senior majoring in marketing and entrepreneurship, was named one of the Newsmakers of the Year by the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

GRBJ held its annual Newsmakers of Year event February 1 at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids.

Samardzija won the "Startups" category for her business called Locker Lifestyle, which she started about three years ago. The company produces wearable products made to securely hold small items (keys, money and credit cards) for people who enjoy an active lifestyle. 

Samardzija won $10,000 at the 2017 Dolphin Tank — Entrepreneur You Business Plan and Pitch Competition held at the L. William Seidman Center. She also won the "Best in Tank" award of $1,000. Find out more about her products at

Alumnus Jon O'Connor, '04, First Ward City Commissioner in Grand Rapids, and his business partner, Kyle Van Strien, won Newsmaker of the Year in the "Beverage" category for their company, Long Road Distillers. The company is three years old. O'Connor and Van Strien partnered with Imperial Beverage in 2018 and opened a second tasting location in Boyne City.