Mana Collection: Three friends, one mission
Pompey local, Matt Parkin, is co-founder of Mana
“May 2019, the Birmingham NEC…crunch time. A year of long nights, early starts and dangerously high amounts of caffeine, has all lead to this single moment; The BodyPower exhibition.
Through the midst of the usual insult-based banter being thrown around on PS4 headsets during a game of Fortnite, a single idea was formed. To build a brand that unified gym training accessories and combined good looks with exceptional performance. A brand that is deeply personal and individual, and empowering.
Mana, pronounced Mah-nah, transcends many cultures and has a deep spiritual meaning; predominantly in the Maori culture. Mana defines who you are. It is your courage, your power, your status, your authority, your dignity. Simply put, Mana is your very own superpower.
With a combined training experience of almost 30 years, we felt confident that we could design and produce a range of gym accessories that would be suitable for all. From crossfitters to power-lifters, from fitness first-timers to advanced athletes, our mission is to help people achieve their fitness goals.
To make a commitment to each other and to the Mana brand, we knew that everything would have to be ready by May 10th. Why? We had decided that we would take our newly founded south-coast brand to the not-so-sunny midlands. With over 100,000 visitors, BodyPower is the UK’s largest fitness exhibition, and with this many people attending, we would have nowhere to hide. We could not afford to cut corners.
So with the sum of zero business experience, we set to work. Like little headless chickens we raced around, whilst not knowing our glutes from our elbows. We wanted to bring the brand to life with powerful geometry and a consistently clean and contemporary feel. Using a fantastically talented locally-based designer, we produced the Mana logo. The pyramid is formed of four smaller triangles, these are the four elemental symbols; fire, earth, water and air. Whilst the three points of the pyramid represent the three founders.
A great looking brand is all well and good, but it’s not much use without any products to apply it to. The design and manufacturing process of our range of fitness accessories was long and arduous. We did not want to be another average quality brand, and be the same as everyone else. Same is lame.
Unwilling to sacrifice on quality, we spent countless hours designing and reviewing sample products, constantly making tweaks to get them where they needed to be. If it wasn’t perfect, we did not want it. In the words of the immortal Duncan Bannatyne, if it didn’t meet our expectations, we were out.
The irony of these unfaltering standards, is that we made our own lives extremely difficult. We ran into a huge number of problems. I’m talking running full pelt into a patio door that you haven’t realised is closed, kinda problems. If you could have mapped out a flowchart of every single thing that could have gone wrong in the process, I can almost guarantee that we encountered it. In fact, our running joke soon became “well if this is the worst thing that happens to us then I think we’re gonna be just fine chaps”.
And do you know what? I’m glad that we ran into these problems. I mean, our rapidly receding and greying hairlines weren’t quite so thankful, but we have learnt so much already in the early stage of this amazing journey.
The big date soon rolled around, and we working right up until the very last minute. Well two of us were. One of us was swanning around on holiday drinking pina colada’s…you just can’t get the staff these days… We had kept the brand completely under wraps right until the event. We used the show as our ‘launch weekend’, revealing ourselves to the world. A pretty gutsy move that we knew would make or break us.
The whole weekend was an incredibly rewarding and truly humbling experience. The response was phenomenal. People loved what we had built. Our mission, our brand, our products. The support from the fitness community was over-whelming and we felt honoured to have met so many amazing people throughout the event.
There were moments when we thought we weren’t going to make it in time, but they raise them pretty tough in Pompey, and we’ve built a brand that we’re proud of that embodies this fighting spirit, this resilience, this Mana.”