By Maria-Nikka Sitchon
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
COLLEGE PARK – A smile stretched across 25-year-old Christian Tinio’s face as visitors to a University of Maryland cultural event bombarded him with questions about his clothing line “Live to Inspire.”
This is not just another Baltimore online-based clothing company. Tinio explained, “I’ve always wanted to make a difference.”
The mission is: “Together, we can make a difference in people’s lives simply by what we wear through our journey in life. This is inspiration in motion. This is Live to Inspire.”
The clothing company was founded three years ago and has a following on Instagram, where Tinio promotes his work through pictures of young adults wearing the clothes and hoping to send out a positive message to anyone who comes across the page.
“Make sure people are buying it for the message,” Tinio said he tells those who helps him sell, “not just because it looks cool.”
Tinio is currently a one-man operation, from designing to manufacturing. Occasionally he gets help with promoting and selling from his photographer, Kevin Brown, and some of the models.
“I’ve loved the brand since I first discovered it,” said model Camille Jarin. “Their products are aimed at sending a positive message to the public and to inspire them in positive ways.”
Tinio has created four lines already with this brand. Each has different messages. His first line was called, “All Glory Belongs to God.” The second line was called, “Always Love Always.” The third line was called, “King of My Legacy.” The most recent line is “Unity.”
“When it comes to clothes,” Tinio said, “we aim for quality over quantity. We try to find the best material for our clothing. For example, our T-shirts are 60 percent polyester and 40 percent cotton to get a very soft but durable feeling to them.”
Tinio was born and raised in the Philippines. His father is a maintenance worker at an apartment complex and his mother is a nurse. He has an older brother and a younger sister. In high school, Tinio played football but was injured. Coming to the University of Maryland Baltimore County, he majored in psychology and was involved in the Pre-Physical Therapy program. He graduated from UMBC in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
The football playing days, especially the injury, are what sparked Tinio’s interest in helping people recover from injuries. He described his own injury as “disappointing,” but said he used the opportunity to prove people wrong with his determination and going after what he wants.
Tinio’s second line – “Always Love Always” – is what made him more determined to pursue his clothing brand, he said. During the second line, created in 2016, Tinio volunteered at a physical therapy clinic that served children with severe disabilities. He said he grew fond of the children and was inspired by the staff working with the young people. That Christmas, he decided to donate proceeds from this line to them. His goal was to show the children that someone was always thinking of them.
“[Christian] really focuses on the charity aspect of his brand,” said Chris Moezaw, a friend. “He has a great vision for the future and is one of the most hard-working and most humble people I’ve ever met.”
Though Tinio said he did not think in the beginning that his passion would be expressed through a clothing line. But the clothes help spread positive messages as Tinio continues to build his footing with ‘Live to Inspire.’
Besides Instagram, Tinio also displays his clothing at university events sponsored by UMBC, UMD, Towson University and others.
“Live to Inspire” profits of about $5,000 are donated to non-profit organizations that focus on pediatric cancer or to homeless groups. However, he said he is moving away from such organizations because he has learned that most of these groups do not really use the funds to directly benefit the clients.
“Back then, I used to donate it to non-profit organizations,” Tinio said. “I’m starting to stray away from it […] and found something better in a way.”
A better investment idea came to Tinio when he traveled to the Philippines last November through December and found an elementary school to sponsor. All of the profits now are going to Santiago A. De Guzman Elementary School in Manila, Philippines, to help improve their living conditions. He said the money should supply the children and educators with the necessities they need.
One goal of Tinio is to spread the work of ‘Live to Inspire’ nationwide in five years. Already, he has supporters in California, Seattle, New York, New Jersey, and Colorado. Tinio said he is more interested in the mission statement that becoming just another brand that sells merchandise solely for money.
“It’s more so about choosing your own happiness and being passionate by what you do every day,” Tinio said. “Being in this business, I’ve learned about not being rich money wise, but more so about being rich in friends, being rich in life.”
When not busy on “Live to Inspire,” Tinio said he works a nine-hour or 12-hour shift as a server at Iron Age in Catonsville.