Calaum Jahraldo-Martin Never Stops Dreaming. Neither Should You.

The London-based entrepreneur/former professional football player shares some of his secrets to success.

A man in a casual outfit consisting of a white shirt, black jacket, black pants, and white sneakers is seated in a cozy library setting with bookshelves and armchairs
Image via Publicist
A man in a casual outfit consisting of a white shirt, black jacket, black pants, and white sneakers is seated in a cozy library setting with bookshelves and armchairs

Dreams and determination.

These two words come with a deeper meaning than most for Calaum Jahraldo-Martin.

From a young football enthusiast overcoming the challenges of dyslexia to a seasoned pro facing the harsh realities of the sport, Calaum’s story is a shining example of resilience and adaptability, one that showcases his unwavering passion and perseverance. “Playing and watching football was something I truly loved,” he recalls during our Zoom call, highlighting how the sport became a haven where his agility and skilled left-foot set him apart. His rise through grassroots and non-league football embodies the unwavering pursuit of a dream, overcoming obstacles and seizing crucial opportunities.

A short stint in South London reignited Calaum’s ambitions, leading to a contract with Hull City in the Championship. “You come to understand the business aspect,” he says, acknowledging the contrast between passion and profession. But his entrepreneurial spirit extends far beyond the pitch. As the co-founder of FirstLuxe, a UK-based membership-only lifestyle management company, he effortlessly transitions from footballer to luxury lifestyle mogul, with his time spent living in two Caribbean countries helping position him to be great. Steeped in cultural heritage and some truly profound experiences, his journey encompasses a broader landscape of ambition and adaptability—a compelling tale of pursuing dreams and fearlessly embracing new horizons.

We caught up with Calaum Jahraldo-Martin to talk football, entrepreneurship, and all the pros and cons that come with them.

“Growing up in Antigua and Jamaica, they’re supposedly third-world countries, right? But people are always smiling and happy, and the little things matter in life. It’s not always about financial means, and I think that’s given me a different perspective on life in general.”

COMPLEX: Your journey from grassroots football to a professional career is inspiring. Can you share a pivotal moment when you realised football was more than just a hobby but a potential career path?
Calaum Jahraldo-Martin:
When I was 7 years old, I realised that this could be a real professional opportunity, and that it wasn’t just a hobby or a dream. I realised at a very, very young age how talented I was. I was playing games at the Sunday League, and I was dominating, even though I was small. However, my determination and willpower showed me that I was stronger than a lot of other players, just my natural abilities and form. Then I told myself, “Okay, I feel like I can make it.” I look back now and it’s wild to see that determination, where it stems from and where it started.

Navigating the transition from non-league football to signing with Hull City must have been challenging. What kept you motivated during those uncertain times?
The belief, my family, the good people around me and my willpower and determination were significantly important. There are so many odds stacked up against you and so many setbacks, but it was just my inner belief, my inner strength to say: I can do it and make it. 

You mentioned the dichotomy between the love for football and its business aspects. How do you balance your passion for the game with the pragmatic demands of professionalism?
Being a professional has its nature of naturally competing. In the business world, I think that helps me because I come from such a competitive background and always trying to do my best and train every day. For about 15 to 17 years of my whole life, it’s just been competing, and I think now I’m in the business world, I’ve brought an element of that into what I do on a day-to-day basis. I think that’s what’s driven me to get to where I am today.

Your insights about the scrutiny players face off the pitch are intriguing. How do you think personal choices, like attire and possessions, can impact perception within the footballing world?
I remember making my professional debut and always dreamt of getting that Mercedes Benz. It’s a shame that when you buy something you’ve always wanted to from your hard work, you bring that to the training ground of how people perceive you as being arrogant or showing off, with people trying to humble you. You’ve worked so hard to try and achieve something that’s not easy to get, and they look down on you for that. They want you to come in less striking when you’ve earned the right to afford to have that. It plays a massive role in the sporting world; we're all human.

Growing up with dual cultural identities between the UK, Antigua and Jamaica must have been enriching. How have these diverse experiences shaped your perspective on life and success?
Like a chameleon, I can mix with most demographics and I think that’s what’s shaped me to be the man I am today because I’ve grown up in different cultures, schooling environments. Places where when the electricity goes, nothing will turn it back on—you have to wait so you get the candles out. The water’s not on so you’ve got to bathe in the river. There’s no oven, so you have to cook outside. I’ve gone through all of these different experiences in life that are embedded in me and it’s all helped me in one way or another. 

Your childhood adventures in Jamaica and Antigua offer a glimpse into a different way of life. How have these experiences influenced your approach to entrepreneurship and lifestyle management?
Growing up in both Caribbean countries, Antigua and Jamaica, they’re supposedly third-world countries, right? But people are always smiling and happy, and the little things matter in life. It’s not always about financial means, and I think that’s given me a different perspective on life in general and a hunger to succeed because I’ve seen some things where it’s like, it doesn’t always come so easy. You have to go out there and get it for yourself! We have a specific DNA in us, just as Caribbean people—a certain confidence that tells us we will succeed. I don’t know if that’s a small island thing or what it is, but it’s something that's embedded in all of us. As you can see within music, sports, culture and food, we play a pivotal role in the world itself.

Can you share a moment or realisation that prompted you to think beyond football and consider alternative career paths, such as entrepreneurship?
I think it was when my career wasn’t going as planned. I started falling down the leagues. I started asking myself how I could do something that has longevity, that’s going to be long progress, that’s going to be something still within the game, and that’s when me and my best friend and business partner, Steven, came up with the concept of FirstLuxe. That’s when I was like, “Okay. I need to start the transition from being a footballer to now being a businessman and entrepreneur.”

Establishing a membership-only model for FirstLuxe demonstrates a commitment to professionalism and exclusivity. How do you ensure your clients feel valued and part of a close-knit community?
When our clients become members, we ask them about the things they like doing, the places they like to go. Are there certain hotels that they prefer? Do they have any allergies? What are their kids’ birthdays? When are their anniversaries? We want to know the most minor little things. We’d then send them a little gift when it’s their birthday. When it’s their anniversary, we send a gift to them. I think those are the small touches we do with our clients to ensure they see that we care about them. What I like to call it is The FirstLuxe Family, so when you sign up, it’s like a commitment to the family.

As FirstLuxe expands its services, what principles guide your approach to maintaining the brand’s credibility and excellence in the luxury lifestyle management industry?
It’s about not growing too big, too quickly, because then you jump from having 50 members to, I dunno, 150 members, that’s a big jump. Managing clients’ expectations is one of the biggest things for me and the company. Of course, nothing in this life is guaranteed but we really try to make our clients aware of  what we can bring to the table—it’s a level of service that we provide, you know, just being honest with them. I think honesty plays a significant role in what we do.

Your journey showcases resilience and adaptability. How do you view setbacks and challenges, and what advice would you give to others facing similar career obstacles?
I’ve had setbacks throughout my career. I used to look up to the sky and be like, “Why me? Why is this happening to me?” But it all happens for a bigger purpose and a more significant reason. The man I am today would ever think I would have done half the deals that I’ve done or bought in half the business I’ve brought in or met half the people I’ve met.

Looking ahead, you mentioned potential ventures into real estate and even politics. What drives your ambition, and how do you envision your future impact on these diverse fields?
Now, it’s got to a point where it’s about giving back—I think that’s the greatest gift you can give. I’m currently aiming to try and boost Antigua’s economy and help the locals who live there by trying to get them opportunities. Let’s just say there’s a lot of things in the works.

What advice would you give to young athletes or aspiring entrepreneurs embarking on their journeys of self-discovery and professional growth?
I’d say for all the athletes that are out there, as you know, there’s much more to life than just being an athlete or even an artist. Try and focus on other avenues as well because you have enough time in the day. People think that they don’t have enough time in the day—whether they’re in the studio for hours or training—but you can always make time to do more.

Latest in Life