Aaron & Maria

The duo and couple behind Made4Mankind Clothing where family and positivity are very important.

Describe who you two were as a kids. 

Maria: As a kid I was very energetic, rambunctious, and always had a thirst for the arts. I enjoyed drawing, painting, sports, but most of all fashion.  I remember changing up the clothes my parents would give me by cutting them up, adding accessories to them, dyeing them, sewing them, you name it, I tried it.  I was outgoing and loved the city life. I was attracted to breakdancing, graffiti, and hip hop music. There was something about that culture that fulfilled my thirst for creativity and expression.

Aaron: Childhood days were one of the best days of my life because you don't worry too much on what's going around the world. All I did was laugh, play with my friends,  do homework’s  and eat good food. I am very competitive and creative. I love attending art classes and I love joining art competition. I grew up with both my parents running their own business so I adapted their attitude of being a business minded person. I remember selling cookies to our neighbors, selling lunch food to my classmates, selling some Filipino desserts on our street. We made a little amount of money but I had so much fun. Since then all I wanted is to start my own business someday. I'm glad that my  parents thought me what hard work and the worth of a dollar is at a young age.

"There was something about that culture that fulfilled my thirst for creativity and expression."

Walk us through your journey to starting your own thing.

Aaron and I went to the Philippines in 2013 and met a young man that survived the typhoon disaster. He told us his story of survival and said something to us that really stuck to our hearts. He said, “There is no one else in this world that can help us but each other”. After getting back to the states we both kept thinking about that specific sentence and thought, he was absolutely right. But what could we do? What or how could we continue to help others?

After about 6 months of thinking, deliberating, and of course debating, we decided to share our passion for clothing but with a mission to Give, Help, Motivate. We wanted to share to the world what we loved about fashion but at the same time give to those without, help those in need, and motivate those that dream.  And so the name Made4Mankind Clothing was born. This was a scary process for us but we were motivated by the will and determination we saw in that special gentleman who lost everything but had everything to live for. We launched our online store January 1st of 2015 and it has been an amazing journey since.

Along the way, who and what helped you to keep pushing forward?

We all know how unpredictable life can be. In the midst of us doing plenty of marketing our first year of business, we were blessed with amazing news. I was became pregnant with our first child. He was born in 2015 and immediately “HE” became our main motivation that helps us stay focused in following through with our mission to give, help, motivate.  We want to create something for him to be proud of. Something for him to learn from and not just a business that sells clothing but a business that has a true meaning to help mankind.

"A business without meaning or purpose is a business with an empty heart."

Someone is starting a project for the first time, what would you want to say to them?

I would say the most important thing is to make sure that what you start isn't just something for your inner want, but something that can help shape humanity for the greater good of mankind. A business without meaning or purpose is a business with an empty heart. Making sure what you do everyday is not just about loving what you do, it is also about what impact you are making in someone else’s life.

Talk to us about one of your good days this past week.

I look forward to Sunday’s. This is my favorite day of the week because it is our family day. We go to church, out to eat, and spend quality time with our little boy. We make sure we don't do any business or talk about business on Sunday’s. Our main focus is our family and this is something we will not sacrifice. So, I would have to say that Sunday's are always our good days.  

And one of your not so good days.

As for a bad day, what do we consider a bad day?

This one is hard to answer because we are very thankful for each day that is given to us.  We try to live a positive life and are always looking for the brighter side of things.  We understand that everything that happens in this world can't always be in our control therefore we do our best to stay positive and keep moving forward. So as for a bad day this week, I don't consider them bad days, I just call them long days.

"I just call them long days."

What's keeping you busy?

Where do we start, Aaron runs the day to day business operations. I work full time at a Health Care Agency and when I get home I become switch to mommy mode.  Aaron is on Daddy duties all day so when I get home we switch roles and he focuses on Made4Mankind.  He also works part-time about 3 days a week.  We begin our day about 6am and ends our night at about midnight. We have our business meetings at night after 9pm, when our baby boy goes to bed. We make sure we talk about upcoming projects, charity work, and upcoming designs.

If you were given any spare time this coming weekend what would you want to do and why?

Any spare time we have we want to spend with family and close friends. We feel that family is important and spending time with them is what we would want. Time is something we can't take back and creating memories with our families are what makes us rich in life.

Someone just moved to the area. Where do they need to visit first?

We would have to say Downtown Des Moines.

It is so underrated and people have a big stereotype of what Des Moines is like. Downtown has so many different restaurants that are infused by many diverse cultures.  From home cooked American Food to very delicious Asian cuisine, to delicious cupcakes, fresh brewed coffee’s and tea’s, as well as local breweries.  Downtown is overlooked but have many things to offer. Not just food but places to go and site see.

For example; the Sculpture Park, The Des Moines Social Club, The Art Museum, and The Chinese Garden are just some of the many local attractions. The East Village is beautiful, with all the new stores and architectural living, it is definitely a place to take picture.  Learning more about the history of Iowa, we have The Capitol as well as the Historical Building, it too has a gorgeous roof top with great views. I could go on and on, but Downtown Des Moines is absolutely a place to go.

"Everything she has done is for her family."

Who is someone you look up to and why?

Maria: I would have to say I look up to my parents. I admire their will and determination to give their family the best opportunities in life.  It takes a lot of courage to uproot your family of 5 and move them into a different country.  Having to learn a new language and adapting to a whole new culture.  I am the way I am today because of my parents and I hope I can give my son the same motivation to succeed and the lessons of helping others.

Aaron: I look up to my mom. Since my first memory of her she was always working. Everything she has ever earned she has given to us, her children. Everything she has done is for her family. Her dedication to our family is undeniable and that's we're I've learned the importance of family.

What are you most proud of and why?

We would have to say that we are most proud of becoming parents. It was a scary thing but we would not trade it for the world. Our little boy has taught us so much about life and has fueled us even more to continue to move forward with our mission. He has given us meaning and purpose. He has made us better people and have truly opened our hearts to mankind.

Why Des Moines?

Des Moines is such a great city but overlooked by the stigma of cornfields and endless open lands. People fail to see the growing diversity and astonishing artistic life that is rising today.  There is so much talent here in Des Moines and it is absolutely undermined by the west coast and east coast.  Des Moines has such a thriving urban culture yet it is thirsty for recognition and notice.  

We want to put Des Moines on the map not just in the fashion world but also give it the recognition it deserves.  There is a thriving positive urban culture here and it is here to grow and become a force.  Made4Mankind is a clothing line with a purpose. We want that purpose to be in Des Moines because this city along with the people deserve that chance to be known for something else other than corn. It’s that time to show what many things Des Moines has to offer and what we can bring to the table.

"A place where the encouragement of a positive urban culture is practiced."

If you could grant the Des Moines area one wish what would it be?

If I had one wish for Des Moines it would be a place for children where self expression is encouraged. A place we're kids can learn about different cultures and encouraged to get to know one another. A place where diversity is on a grand level. A place where the encouragement of a positive urban culture is practiced.  Showing children to be kind to each other.

My wish is attainable, and one day will be a goal for Made4Mankind Clothing. A headquarters that promote our mission.

In three months what do you hope to accomplish?

In 3 months I hope to hit our goal for our charity work that we are working on with an inner city school.  I hope to have a creative video out for another look book.  I would absolutely love to have at least 4 designs completed and approved. In 3 months I hope to have created more memories with my family that I can cherish forever.

Derek Jensen