By Léo Azambuja
Ainofea Clothing has been around since 2005, offering sports clothing with positive messages to local residents, while instilling on them a sense of pride. But it was only a year ago that owners Vance and Roxanne Pascua found a physical home for their brand at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e.
“I have a lot of active wear; leggings, T-shirts, hoodies, jackets, MMA shorts, MMA gloves and gym bags,” Vance said. “I don’t have gis (jiu-jitsu) yet, but I’m working on it, a lot of people are asking.”
Ainofea is a gem for sports-minded people or anyone who just wants high-quality clothing representing Kaua‘i. Paddlers, MMA fighters, yoga practitioners, SUP surfers, runners and others seek Ainofea for their Kaua‘i-branded apparel made for practicing sports. Kaua‘i kids attending college on the Mainland also love to buy clothes at Ainofea to bring them back and wear around their campuses, Vance said.
“You don’t really have to be in sports; you can just walk around and feel good about it. That’s I put ‘Kaua‘i Strong’ and ‘Kaua‘i Pride,’” Vance said. “I don’t want any negativity, kids get too much negativity these days.”
The store opened at Kukui Grove in February 2018. Originally, Ainofea’s inventory covered only a quarter of the store’s footprint. Today, the clothing covers the entire store, with sections for men, women and even for young children.
“People would come in and ask for clothes for toddlers, so I started making clothes for toddlers,” Vance said.
The clothes are designed by Vance himself, and then fine-tuned by a graphic designer. The store’s arrangement is done by his wife, Roxanne.
Ainofea started when Vance began promoting mixed martial arts events back in 2005. For many years, he would sell clothes only in events and appointments, and many of those were in parking lots. He jokes that people would think he was selling drugs. Since the store opened at Kukui Grove last year, it has been much easier to manage the brand. Ainofea is now also selling in outlets on Maui and Seattle, with a potential New Zealand location pretty soon.
The brand also sell some of its clothing trough its website, and will likely keep growing.
“I’ve been getting inquiries from all over the world to carry my clothing,” Vance said.
Despite Ainofea’s growth as a business, Vance continues to promote MMA events, and has even expanded to promoting bodybuilding events. He also produced an MMA documentary. His next MMA event will likely take place in the summer, he said.
Vance’s formula for success is a lot of hard work and believing in himself. He wants to promote positive values for the kids and inspire people to chase their dreams.
“Look at me, I started with nothing and built this,” he said. “Nobody trained me on business, nobody trained me on manufacturing and designing. I just followed my dreams. If I can do it, any of the kids on Kaua‘i can do it.”
Find Ainofea at Suite B7 at Kukui Grove Center. You can check out their website at www.ainofea.com or call them at 246-4606 for more information.