At the beginning of the month we launched OPUMO Entrepreneurs– a dedicated interview series that explores the entrepreneurial secrets and inspirational stories behind some of the world’s most successful brands, designers and businesses. In this second edition we speak to CQP founder Adam Lewenhaupt about his life in sneakers, the superstitions he lives by and how he’s managed to infiltrate the rapidly expanding, and fiercely competitive, sneaker world.

Who Was Your Hero As A Child?

I wanted to become a racing driver. So when I was younger I naturally looked up to racing drivers and especially loved Ayrton Senna. There you have it, there's no synergy to shoes there at all.

What Inspired You To Start CQP?

It’s very difficult to name one particular thing, rather it’s the sum of many different things over time. I wanted to pursue an entrepreneurial project that was also creative; I loved design and shoes in general, and I felt there was a gap in the market to create a sneaker that could be a perfect hybrid between elegant and casual. After much deliberation, I decided to take the plunge and pursue this passion project back in 2013.

Biggest Calamity Along The Way?

We’ve been pretty good at managing our risks but the biggest calamity was probably when, after less than a year in business, we were forced to change our name from Coloquy to CQP due to a legal dispute. It was a pain but we ultimately decided to pursue the low-risk alternative and change our name, rather than go to court.

Biggest Breakthrough In That Time?

For us it’s been about many small breakthroughs and the sum of hard work that has moved us forward, rather than single occurrences. Which I suppose, is why it has all come about so naturally.

When Did Things Really Click Into Gear For CQP?

I believe the media recognition in international outlets such as Monocle, Esquire, GQ, OPUMO etc. over the years has definitely helped us reach a wide international following. That was when the attention garnered around the product and everything else has grown accordingly since then.

Best Piece Of Advice You Have Ever Received?

That a defining factor of success is more than a great idea, service or product, it is as much about persistence, continuity and execution in general.

What Are The Three Most Important Things You’ve Learned Along The Way?

I have become better at evaluating which risks are worth taking, I have learnt never to get too comfortable nor satisfied and the importance of always trying to do more things right than wrong.

What Has Been The Single Biggest Influence On Your Work?

I have always looked up to great entrepreneurs, people who build great companies and who also manage to inspire their employees. I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go.

Which Project Or Period Of Your Career Have You Enjoyed Most Thus Far?

The first year when I started the CQP was definitely the most challenging, dynamic and exciting. It’s still fun, of course, but as things mature and grow, more of my time gets eaten up by administrative tasks.
Left Portrait CQP Opumo
Right Portrait CQP Opumo

What Do You Do To Keep Your Ideas Fresh?

I try to remind myself never to be satisfied and seek ways to improve what we do and I try to keep a very open mind to new ideas.

Do You Have Any Superstitions Beliefs Or Self Imposed Rules That You Live By?

At the end of each day, I hope to have taken more good than bad decisions and I constantly try to make sure as few things as possible linger on my desk, to never postpone things unless necessary.

What Do You Hope To Do This Year That You’ve Never Done Before?

I hope to travel to new places. In the last week alone I went to Pitti Uomo, Florence, for the first time and then to Barcelona, also for the first time for some odd reason. Trips like this always energise me and tend to help creativity. I always tell people to travel as much as they can.

What Is It That Motivates You?

At the end of the day I believe it is about leaving something behind, some sort of legacy. I can’t really claim that making sneakers is improving our world, but perhaps we can make a few people feel a little happier along the way.

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew When You Were 21?

I wish I would have taken more risks earlier, tried more things. For some odd reason I started taking risks too late, and spent 10 years working in Finance without ever really enjoying it...
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Want more entrepreneurial insight? Check out our interview with Max Samis – the creative mind behind the incredibly popular Mister Spoils. Be sure to check out our ultimate guide to men’s trainers.