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The ‘sweet’ story of how a grandson honors his grandmother’s life through fashion

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Drew Honda, a former student here at UH Mānoa, started a clothing line in 2013 dedicated to his Grammie Rosie who passed away in October 2012.

“Her name was Rose Kaleiopu Ventula, and she was one of the biggest influences in my life,” Honda said. “I wanted to find a way to honor her, so I came up with the idea of sending a message of her name through something I loved, which was fashion.”

Honda explained how his sister was a big influence in sifting through brand names until they found one that told her story.

“The name ‘Sweet Enemy’ really clicked to me,” Honda said. “It is two opposing words; one being nice and one being bad. But it relates back to my grandma’s passing. It was a tough thing to endure, those three months that she spent in the ICU, but when she finally let go, it almost had a ‘sweet’ relief to it.”

Sweet Enemy has since flourished beyond expectations. The company that started out with just breast cancer shirts, which gave back to the community that Grammie Rosie was a part of, has created hats, stickers and more shirts that give meaning to her name.

“My grandma was a cancer survivor and breast cancer runs in my family,” Honda said. “So I came up with the idea to make a shirt for the American Cancer Society event. Thanks to my family and all of my friends, the company has become much more than I could have ever dreamed it would be.”

Not only is Sweet Enemy popularly known among our UH Mānoa athletes, but its message has reached athletes at the University of Oregon, the University of Southern California, the NBA,  the surf industry and even artists in the music industry.

“It pretty much started when Marcus Mariota was on the rise in college football,” Honda said. “He’d wear them in the media and after games, which got a lot of attention and blew up sales.”

Honda recalls sending orders to people such as Zeke Lau, Anthony Bennett and the well-known R&B artist, Jeremih. 

“I like Sweet Enemy,” said Micah Christenson, setter for the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball team and 2015 World Cup winner. “It represents something other than just being stylish. You can see the hard work being put in and the constant striving for something new and improved.”

The company also sponsors a local professional body boarder, Keoni Haina, who found Honda’s story to be endearing. 

“Although it was small and not exactly a body boarding company, I liked his story and felt that my followers and fans would appreciate it too,” Haina said. “There isn’t a lot of companies out there that have a sense of self – they’re all in it for the money. But you can see that Drew really loves what he does and who he is doing it for.”

Honda, who originally started by taking orders directly through Facebook and Instagram, now has an interactive website for Sweet Enemy. With continuous support, he hopes to open up a mobile shop in the near future.