Belinda Manos and Zachary Manos are a dynamic duo. Between her passion for the LGBT community and his entrepreneurial spirit, this mother-and-son pair have a lot to offer Kansas City.
Belinda Manos is a dedicated employee at Morgan Miller Plumbing, which began in 1997 and serves the Kansas City metro area. The company enjoys a loyal following, and it even won KCSourceLink’s Battle of the Brands in 2013, beating out rivals Boulevard Brewing Co. and the Roasterie.
As a dispatcher at Morgan Miller, she says, “I take the problems that people have and get them taken care of. … It’s nice! I get to talk with people every day and help them.”
When she was asked to do networking for Morgan Miller, her first thought was to try something that was LGBT-focused.
Zachary Manos had come out to his parents at a young age, and she says, “I wanted to go someplace that meant something to me. … It’s a neat growing experience for our company.”
Her search led her to the Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in 2012, when the Chamber was just getting under way. She was recently appointed as an ambassador for the Chamber and is a lively, friendly fixture at the monthly business-to-business networking events.
“There are great people in the Chamber, in diverse businesses, with so much knowledge about different things. … They truly care about building each other up,” she says.
Belinda Manos says determinedly that she has “big plans to make a difference” in the LGBT community when she retires by volunteering for causes that she cares about, such as the Kansas City AIDS Walk.
Zachary Manos has a lot of enthusiasm, too — he focuses his energy on his raw, organic, vegan chocolate company, Manifest Chocolates. He does his best to source everything locally, from the ingredients to the labels, and he says it is important to him to “create good, tasty vegan products that are still affordable.”
His company has had a good deal of success, especially with its Helio Cups. The cups are, according to manifestchocolates.com, “everyone’s favorite … a peanut-free peanut butter cup that you wouldn’t believe!”
Customers seem to agree. Zachary Manos says they sell out frequently, and he has a difficult time keeping them in stock in the stores.
Manifest Chocolates also offers several varieties, ranging from white chocolate to dark chocolate to flavors like black salt and mint. Check out manifestchocolates.com for more information on the products and where to find them in stores.
Belinda Manos says Zachary’s entrepreneurial drive began early on. He received an award in high school for his business expertise and was awarded a scholarship from the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UMKC’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management, which he says is a “really good program.” He’s complimentary of Kansas City’s other resources for young entrepreneurs, too, such as the MAGLCC.
“It’s a great resource for a gay person professionally,” he says.
When asked what inspires him, he pulls up his favorite RuPaul quote on his phone. “When you become the image of your own imagination, it’s the most powerful thing you could ever do,” he reads, looking up with a big smile.
It’s hard to believe that this accomplished entrepreneur just recently turned 22.
Both Zachary Manos and Belinda Manos have a charismatic, hard-working energy that seems destined to take them places. It’s sure to be interesting to see where they go next!
Photographer: Landon VonderschmidtThe Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MAGLCC) is an organization that advocates, promotes and facilitates the success of the LGBT business community and its allies. Learn more at MAGLCC.org.