My brother Jonathan and I are passionate about fashion design, handpicking freakishly-soft fabrics, finding clothworkers with outstanding craftsmanship, and doing all of that to empower kids. For us, it all started with a kid’s drawing. Despite not having much fashion experience (zero to be exact), we set out to create fashion with a purpose.
There is one simple idea at the core of our brand, in its DNA: every kid deserves a chance. It’s not about geography, color, or creed. We want to help kids help themselves succeed. We’re not here to give handouts. Our parents are teachers and they rooted in us a strong belief that basic education—reading, writing, and counting—has the power to make the world a better place. But don’t take our word for it, according to UNESCO, if all students in low-income countries learned those basic skills 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty.
This belief led us to our big moment. We founded umano (Italian for “mankind”) in 2011 in Athens, GA to empower kids in impoverished communities with basic education. Our dream has always been to “do different.” We based our brand in the eclectic town of Athens, GA. A place that’s inspiring and refreshing in ways that the fashion epicenters can’t be. We gambled on a unique style of elevated basics that mesh fashion and philanthropy. It wasn’t an afterthought. We set our sales goals in number of kids we could help, not units.
The good news for social entrepreneurs like us is that it’s actually easier when you “start something that matters” because you have passion and purpose on your side. Jonathan and I are maniacally determined to succeed for right reasons. In fact, the best part of our job is when we get to meet the kids at umano Partner Schools. They are the driving force that inspires us. We have visited dozens of Partner Schools in impoverished communities on Giving Trips in the US and abroad. We give the kids backpacks full of school supplies and collect drawings that we showcase as PocketArt. umano uses “PocketArt” to give kids a voice to share their inspiring stories. Kids draw the PocketArt and with every pocket you purchase, umano will give a backpack full of school supplies to empower a kid.
Every Giving Trip we meet more and more ambitious kids with awesome dreams. The kids want to be doctors, teachers, and veterinarians. They want to go to college. They want a chance and they certainly deserve it. That is our passion and purpose. Rock a pocket. Empower a kid.