WHEN SEGUN Akinwoleola, 31, shared with his ARC church family in east London a journey he’s had to undertake to achieve his dream of seeing a healthy ready meal brand launched in a supermarket, he received a standing ovation.
Segun’s journey to launching The Gym Kitchen brand – a range of meals people can prepare themselves – started in 2017 when he had the idea of developing a healthy meal prep range.
He had grown tired of prepping meals on a Sunday for the week ahead or having to order from meal prep companies and then not wanting to eat it on the Wednesday.
After getting the idea, for the past 18 months Segun has been focused on developing the food range with a state-of-the-art manufacturer that delivered on taste, nutritional content and price.
It was Segun’s faith in God that kept him going when things got difficult.
“People seeing a young black man launch a brand into a supermarket has resonated”
He recalled: “There were times I had to question why I was still trying hard working on this, but because it was ordained by Him, he opened the doors to get the biggest manufacturer on board, so I had to keep on going.
“The whole of last year I’ve been listening to Never Lost A Battle before every meeting and meditating on Ecclesiastes 3.”
Though he encountered numerous obstacles and difficulties in bringing the product to market last month, The Gym Kitchen food range – comprised of four different meals – was launched in 120 Asda stores across the UK.
All the hard work had definitely been worth it.
When Segun announced that The Gym Kitchen range had hit Asda stores on social media, it went crazy.
To date, he has received 2,900 Facebook likes and 1,300 shares, 9,200 likes on Twitter and 1,000-plus likes on Instagram, plus lots of personal messages.
Segun has been pleasantly surprised by the response.
He said: “It’s been so crazy. I think people seeing a young black man launch a brand into a supermarket that looks like them has resonated. I thought I was just launching healthy meals, but turns out I was inspiring a nation of people.”
Segun, born to Nigerian parents, is the eldest of three children and grew up in Forest Gate, east London.
He became a Christian at 19.
Whilst most of the role models he was surrounded by growing up were rappers, footballers and actors, Segun aspired to run a business.
“I thought I was launching meals. Turns out I was inspiring a nation”
A university graduate – he has a first-class degree in business management – Segun spent many years working for corporate companies such as Revlon, Coty (Rimmel London) and Kao Brands (John Frieda).
Then, in 2017, he felt it was time to follow his entrepreneurial drive. The Gym Kitchen is the result.
As far as Segun is concerned, this debut range is just the start. He said: “I want to continue to build The Gym Kitchen to what I believe it can be.
“I aim to develop new and exciting brands that play on the new trends, such as veganism, and help young people to get into some of the big companies before going off to run their own companies.”
For more information, visit thegymkitchen.com.
This article appears in the February edition of The Voice newspaper – out now. Download your copy of the issue here.