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Meet Aaron Sharp of Mandeaux

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aaron Sharp.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in Inglewood within earshot of the Forum. After graduating from Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance, I went to New York for college. While in New York, I became an intern at Russell Simmons’ company, Rush Communications, and got the chance to learn marketing from some great people. Unfortunately, I got a phone call from home notifying me that doctors estimated my grandmother only had a few more months to live. After hearing the news, I came back to spend as much time with her as I could. My grandmother passed a few months after I arrived back in Los Angeles, and I knew I needed to make a living for myself somehow. I started studying for my real estate license, and that same year I got signed to a modeling agency (Brand Model and Talent) in Orange County.

I had the amazing opportunity to work as talent for several Fortune 500 companies. Additionally, I became a Realtor at 19 years old. I was proud of myself for closing multi-million dollar deals within my first year. Fast forward 13 years and I’m bringing that same drive to my new project, Mandeaux (man-doh). It’s an online luxury boutique that specializes in men’s dress shoes and boots. It was important for me to make the experience of shopping for luxury shoes more personal, while giving rewards back to customers and donating a portion of our proceeds to a worthy cause.

Hence, Mandeaux was born.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I don’t know any business owners that have had a smooth road! I know a couple that have been handed a turnkey opportunity, but I’m not one of those people. I’ve had to create Mandeaux from scratch and without a blueprint. I think if it were easy, not only would everyone be doing it, but I wouldn’t be so in love with being an entrepreneur.

I embrace every aspect of running Mandeaux. It forced me to stretch, grow, and get uncomfortable. Since starting Mandeaux, I’ve had to teach myself things like photography, photo editing, search engine optimization, and dozens of other skills that I use daily. It has been extremely time consuming and at times frustrating. Sure, I could have outsourced a lot of the work, but I think I would have lost out on opportunities to learn.

As a new business, the hardest part is simply raising awareness for your brand. You can have the most amazing product or service, but if no one knows about it, then what good is it? Understanding how important awareness is, we actively seek to collaborate with other organizations, individuals, and influencers that share the same customer-centric philosophy that we do.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Mandeaux – what should we know?
Mandeaux is a family-owned online luxury boutique specializing in men’s dress shoes and boots. We have pledged a minimum of 1% of shoe sales to charity. We partnered with Los Angeles based 501(c)(3) Living Through Giving Foundation that runs #HashtagLunchbag. #HashtagLunchbag is a humanity service movement that creates and distributes bagged lunches that have love messages on them, to those that need them.

Our mission is to continue making luxury more affordable while giving back to those in need. Mandeaux is so much more than just shoes. We truly want our clients to look and feel their best so they can continue being the positive light that our world so desperately needs. We also have a rewards program that allows clients to earn discounts by completing simple tasks and/or making purchases.

Our shoes are handcrafted in Spain. Our dress shoes and boots go up to US size 17, and we carry wide sizes as well. Mandeaux VIP status is by invite only and extended to select individuals that are seen making a positive impact on their community. The status can also be awarded to those customers that have demonstrated brand loyalty. The ability to customize already released styles is most certainly the best benefit of achieving Mandeaux VIP Status. Wearing an unreleased shoe with the Mandeaux crest is an automatic sign that you’re truly doing something extraordinary, besides looking amazing!

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I definitely have to credit my sphere of influence for sticking with me and helping to keep me motivated. My mother was my first customer, and despite what was going on, she’s always supported me. My partner Ariane is a constant ray of positivity and pushes me to be better in all aspects of my life.

A lot of people have asked how I came up with the names of my shoes, and I tell them that it’s a tribute to those men that played large positive roles in my life. Some are family members and others are friends. I could be here all day talking about each one and how they’ve helped mold me into who I am today. They know who they are and what they mean to me.

Lastly, I absolutely have to thank the people that routinely doubt me. They are such a huge motivation. Many people think of what’s possible in terms of what they themselves are capable of. When they can’t fathom personally accomplishing a thing, they think the next person couldn’t possibly do it either. While I certainly enjoy proving those people wrong, more importantly I enjoy being proof for the people that are simply looking for an example.

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