The History of MKimonos
I am Luciana Machado Simon, the owner of MKimonos. I would like to take some time to share the history of my family and my kimono company.
I have been involved with Jiu-Jitsu since I was six years old. It started when my five year old brother, Marcelo Machado, began studying with Francisco Mansur, a red belt under Helio Gracie. After a few years of training with Mansur, Marcelo began training under Royler Gracie. In 1995, after nearly eighteen years of training, Royler awarded Marcelo his black belt.
It was at this time that Marcelo approached me with the idea of starting a very small gi production company for his students at his Academy, Gracie Tijuca, where he was partners with Royler Gracie. The two of us opened a small factory in Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro. The site was very close to Marcelo's academy. Marcelo and I, with no previous experience manufacturing gi's, began selling to his Gracie Tijuca students. With the experience we gained, combined with the feedback of the athletes, our factory began producing top quality Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu uniforms. Our brand logo is an "M" in the shape of a double bladed axe, because Machado means axe in Portuguese.
One of our first gi designs was the Summer Weave. This kimono was made of a non-twisted fabric similar in feel to gi pants. This gi became quite popular in Brazil during the summer months where the temperatures in Rio can reach over 100F (38C). While remaining light and breathable the Summer Weave provided substantial strength. This weave was so popular that 8-Time World Jiu-Jitsu Champion Saulo Ribeiro competed wearing our Summer Weave.
In 1996, our Uncle Aristides retired from working a an engineer at a an Airline called VASP. He expressed interest in our company, and so, he came on as our third partner. The factory was then moved to Ilha do Governador, Rio de Janeiro, in order to be closer to Uncle Aristides' home.
Marcelo, at that time, had other interests, so my uncle and I split up the work. We worked intensely on improving the quality of our gi's. My uncle Aristides was in charge of supervising production and I took care of sales and marketing. Back in 1996, our clients were primarily Gracie Tijuca's students. I, together my uncle, expanded our area of influence and made all jiu-jitsu fighters our clients. Our gi's began appearing in large numbers on the mats of Nova Uniao, Carlson Gracie Team and Dojo Academy. In no time, the greatest fighters in the world were wearing our distinctive "M" on their sleeves. In the following months, we began producing a wide range of apparel and accessories, including: Vale Tudo shorts, T-shirts, belts, and bags.
We continued to be a pioneer in the very competitive gi market. We went on to diligently experiment with different colors, cuts, weaves, and stitching. The end product of this relentless development effort can be seen with MKimonos continuing strong influence in the market today.
Royler Gracie, 7-Time World Champion, was so happy with the quality of our brand, that he requested that a special, custom made, limited run gi was made. This was the start of the very successful Gracie Brothers product line. Also at this time, after a very competitive bidding process, we were awarded a contract to be one of the manufacturers of the Bad Boy line of gi's. Bad Boy was at the time and continues to be one of the largest sporting goods companies in Brazil.
Soon after, fighters from the new Brazilian Top Team, Gracie Barra and Alliance began coming to the factory to buy the latest gi's. World Champion Leka Vieira came to us to design a female-cut gi. These gi's, made especially for the female body, became quite popular with the women of Alliance.
In late 2000, Uncle Aristides sold his share to a Brazilian entrepreneur. With our new partner, we continued to aggressively improve our products. The old factory was shut down and the whole company moved to a new, larger space in Sao Cristovao, Rio de Janeiro. I, as always, took care of the public relations, customer service and spreading the gi's throughout Brazil and the world. When I came to the US in the beginning of 2001, I took over sole ownership of the brand globally.
Just before I left for the Unites States, we came up with a superior quality weave. This revolutionary material, Hybrid weave, fell in between traditional single and double weaves, while only weighing as much as a Gold Weave gi. This weave has become extremely popular throughout the world with students who want the strength and durability of the double weave, without the additional weight and bulkiness.
Soon after I arrived in the US, I started an additional brand to acknowledge the Americansí influence on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This brand, known as Lutador Americano (American Fighter in Portuguese), was available for several years, but I am now focusing on MKimonos exclusively.
In the fall of 2001, I began working on a custom gi for the University of Gama Filho Judo Team. The Gama Filho team consistently proves itself to be one of the best Judo teams in the world. The Judokas wanted to create a high quality gi, legal for International Judo Competition. At that time, over 600 Gama Filho Team Members wore my gi's.
From 2001 to 2012, I ran the company globally from my home in the US. I maintained my factory in Brazil and continued to expand my product line and customer base. My most significant innovation during this time was the creation of the Palladium weave in 2011. It is a return to traditional Jiu-Jitsu's roots and is an extremely strong, heavy and traditional design. It is catching on with fighters around the world.
In mid 2012, I began a new chapter in my life. My family has moved to Switzerland. I am in the process now of setting up the website and preparing for distribution. The website will be available in a few weeks and MKimonos products will continue to be sold.
Luciana Machado Simon