This led him to live in Chicago, Iowa, Cape Breton and finally, Halifax, NS. Before leaving for Chicago, Moaku also tried his hand at football, skateboarding, theatre, improv and playing piano.
While studying at Acadia University, Moaku noticed the general mental health of his peers needed uplifting. Moaku says, “I started noticing the mental health of my classmates and teammates being impacted by social constructions, expectations, and social pressure.” He adds, “It was sad to see the lack of resources offered by the schools I attended. Even if students needed assistance, many wouldn't know where to start.”
This lack of assistance gave Moaku the idea of asking for help through his wardrobe. “I had the idea of wearing a shirt with the words Save Me on them to entice peers and professors to ask about my emotional well-being. The response I received from wearing my shirt was positive, and I decided to start a clothing brand that would specifically increase mental health awareness.”
Save Me Save We was also inspired by the lack of recognition and support specifically toward Men’s Mental Health. Moaku says, “As an athlete, very few discussions or services were available for preventative or recovery purposes,” which Moaku found alarming. So he decided to increase the conversation to bring forth mental health awareness.
When Moaku started, he did not have a business plan or any idea to grow the company. He says, “I simply wanted to make a few t-shirts with the words Save Me on them, hoping to increase the conversation around mental health. It wasn't until I saw the success and the response it had that I created a business plan.” Initially, Save Me Save We donated to local not-for-profits; eventually, they started using the profits to host community events and support other mental health initiatives.
The success of Save Me Save We led Moaku to spearhead a new scholarship award for Black and Indigenous Students. The School of Alumni at Acadia approached Moaku to create this award, which was “primarily advertised and supported through the Save Me Save We ‘Teach Through Peace’ t-shirts. The campaign raised $18,000 thanks to the purchase of the shirts, community support and other alumni.”
Moaku’s clothing brand has continued to receive positive feedback. Not only have Moaku’s designs generated conversation and revenue to give back to the community, but he has also engaged the community. Moaku says, “I started focusing on mental health education because I noticed that shining a light on mental health issues in institutions and organizations wasn't solving the issues. Mental health awareness doesn't generate preventive and proactive actions, as well as mental health literacy does. It empowers people and allows them to recognize, manage, and prevent mental health hazards.” Moaku felt that while people were willing to listen and discuss mental health issues, they had little knowledge on improving their own mental health or supporting a loved one through a trying situation. It was only a year after selling shirts that Moaku started offering evidence-based workshops to help improve emotional and mental wellness.
Moaku says that several organizations that Save Me, Save We have impacted through mental health education have given him great feedback. “I have been told by staff and managers that vulnerability has increased and the ‘Workplace Armour’ has been lowered. Organizations have increased their mental health resources and encouraged their employees to express their psychological health needs. In universities, I have heard directly from students how the workshops have inspired and empowered them in many ways.”
As a social enterprise, Save Me Save We integrates “community development principles” into its business model, including community dinners, school drives, hosting sports fundraisers and more. Moaku feels there is a “misconception that those dealing with mental health issues recover at home.” Instead, he feels recovery happens within the community through the help of peers, sports, and support groups which is why Save Me Save We dedicates “a good portion of time to hosting community events,” as they understand how crucial community is to individual growth.
Moaku hopes to make Save Me Save We the “most sought-after mental health literacy company in the country and the biggest mental health awareness clothing brand worldwide.” He adds, “Big dreams, but we promise that we shall continue to run the company until there are immediate and affordable mental health resources throughout the country.”
The soon-to-launched Winter Collection will release nine brand-new items, with Wild Flower as its theme—dedicated to everyone fighting a fight, publicly or privately. "We want to remind them,” says Moaku, “that all flowers blossom after rainy days and to stay strong and optimistic."