IU sophomore Ryan Smith lit up when discussing the clothing line he started in 2013.
“Everyone is so greedy. There’s nothing more valuable than a smile on someone’s face,” Smith said. His brand, M.A.R.S., is a clothing line with the purpose of helping people and has expanded greatly since its beginning.
Proceeds from the sale of items from his clothing line helps those who are less fortunate by donating half of its profits for each line to a specific charity. The brand launches a new line with a new cause every season.
Smith began his brand with his friend, Matt Albin, in the summer of 2013. Within six months of launching the website, they had sales all over the United States and Canada.
“He presented the idea about doing this together and we kind of just ended up mutually agreeing we should do this, and then it ?happened,” Albin said.
The work the pair put into the beginnings of this project helped to shape the brand to what it is today.
“Designing was mostly done in Ryan’s crawlspace where we would always hang out,” Albin said. “We’d just hang out, listen to music and create some designs on Photoshop.”
Albin and Smith are now pursuing different careers, but Smith said he is still grateful for his friend’s help.
“I cannot thank him enough for helping me throughout my journey in pursuing my dream in the world of fashion, as I would not be where I am today without him,” Smith said in a post on the company’s ?website.
In January, proceeds from Smith’s line supported Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, which he called “Every Life Matters.”
This foundation helps family members of police officers who have died or have been seriously injured in the line of duty. Smith is from the Chicago area and said he has noticed the city’s high crime rate.
Smith said people “don’t give cops enough credit,” and he feels that by supporting this nonprofit organization he can not only get the word out that “every life matters,” but also give credit where credit is needed.
With extra money Smith has made from his line, he plans to go to Chicago over spring break and give out hats and gloves to the homeless.
“I’d rather be happy than make money, as well as make other people happy,” he said.
His next line will launch in the spring and will contain shirts made by women from and affected by areas of high human trafficking, with money going back to helping them and giving these women the support they need.
Smith said as the brand grows, he wants to keep the quality high and not repeat designs, unlike some popular streetwear brands. He also plans to maintain complete control of what charities the brand supports.
“What I support will be what I feel needs to be ?supported,” Smith said.
As for the brand’s future, Smith has big goals. He said he hopes to raise $1,000 for charities in 2015 through his brand and is confident he can reach that goal.
He said people from his hometown have also noticed all of his hard work as and are impressed.
“People respect my ?opinion now,” Smith said.
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