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Words by Alicia Pei Wen Kang
Only three simple rules keep this one-year-old fashion brand going: Give. Help. Motivate.
It drives Made4Mankind, an urban streetwear brand founded by husband-and-wife team Aaron Sarmiento and Maria Mendoza.
Born in the Philippines, and later migrating to America, they’ve worked hard to achieve their dreams of owning a business that also serves their community. “That’s where the motivation comes from. It’s not just from our company, but it’s in our household,” Mendoza says. And this determined couple believes they will make it big with its brand.
Made4Mankind promotes the street culture in Des Moines while giving back to the arts community. When people work together for a common good, great things can happen. That was the inspiration behind the logo and it soon became the company’s mission statement.
One of Made4Mankind’s most interesting projects is the creation of a scholarship that enables talented young dancers to take breakdancing lessons with local breakdancer Anthony San (A-San). Proceeds from clothing sales will fund the dance lessons for kids who otherwise could not afford them. “We love to give back because we feel like the community is what makes a person. It takes a community to raise a child. So we want to be able to go ahead and create something that we are giving back to not just a person but the whole entire society and community,” Mendoza says.
Growing up in the Des Moines suburbs, Sarmiento and Mendoza sometimes struggled with money. It prompted them to lead a more charitable life–helping young dreamers fulfill reach their goals while spreading a little joy.
They are keen on teaming up with A-San, seeing the difference his breakdancing lessons have made in students’ lives — both mentally and physically. A-San’s students are excited to attend his breakdancing lessons because of their positive vibes and life lessons. “It’s basically teamwork and being respectful to your teachers and being respectful to your peers,” Jett Vivanh, one of A-San’s students, says.
The best takeaways? More confidence, determination and passion. And not just about communicating with the people around them but about everything they do.
“Made4Mankind is self explanatory,” A-San says. “It supports all of mankind. They like to help and support local artists. I was one of the local artists that they reached out to and we have been working together ever since.”
A-San is not the only local artist working with Made4Mankind. The company often collaborates with local talents in the Midwest, including DJs like DM Wright and Pri Von Joni, songwriter and lyricist Brett Ferry (Kemyst), and rappers like MarKaus, Gadema and Carlon. “Their success is our success … We all know there is a lot of talent here in Des Moines, especially in the Midwest, so we wanted to be a platform to basically promote them and get their names out there. We collaborate with them so we can help each other out and promote each other, and we don’t compete with each other,” Sarmiento says .
Made4Mankind continues searching to find more local talents in the Midwest to promote the unique art community that this region has to offer. These young individuals have one thing in common–they bring the urban and street art culture to life.
Sarmiento and Mendoza say that they promise to stay true to their motto. As the company and brand gain more recognition, they won’t forget about their original home– the Philippines. They plan to spread the name of Made4Mankind globally in the following years.
As for advice, the couple keeps it kind and impassioned.
“Do what you love to do; follow your passion,” Sarmiento says, “and also give to those without, help those in need, and motivate those that dream.”