The phrase Carpe Diem, in Latin, means “seize the day.” But as more than just a phrase, Carpe Diem is a reminder that we should strive daily. We should live every moment of every day determined to achieving our goals and purpose, through our passions. This is the vision of up-and-coming Detroit fashion designer Austin Lee, creator of The Carpe Diem Company.
Established in 2013, The Carpe Diem Company was birthed from the designer’s strong love of fashion. Lee always believed his ideas were good, but the line didn’t become a reality until he made a decision to do what he loved.
“When I started The Carpe Diem Company, I actually felt like I was seizing my opportunity,” Lee said. “I felt like I was taking my life into my own hands career-wise.”
The ability to take his career into his own hands and be an entrepreneur is one of the things that motivated the CDC creator to invent the brand, however, according to Lee, art is what drives him as a designer:
“I do a lot of art. I study a lot of art. The art that I study goes into each design that I do.”-Lee said. “If I have a vision in my mind, I make it my job to make sure that it gets to the people so that somebody else can share in my vision as well.”
The CDC brand was formed to connect to the younger culture. Lee combines art, culture and fashion, with the purpose of presenting his artistic visions to the public.
The pieces he has already presented to the public have garnered him much peer acknowledgement, positive feedback and growing sales.
One of those pieces is the “Rounch’e (raunchy) tee” (pictured below, to the left), which pays a “different” homage to the late actor, singer and model, Marilyn Monroe.
“A lot of people don’t know her deeper, kind of darker secrets of the past. And to me that Rounch’e tee is like another piece of art.” he said. “The Rounch’e [tee] just kind of goes back into the affair she had with the president, and things of that nature; how you can take a pop idol and not really know what goes on behind the scenes.”
Another of his more popular articles is the “Mandela tee”. This piece honors the memory of the late freedom fighter and humanitarian, Nelson Mandela, a man who exemplified the phrase “seize the day.”
“Mandela was a great man. He spent  years in prison for a just cause he felt he had to fight for. This is a man that, every chance he got, tried to make the world a better place by actually taking the day, by actually going out there and working hard,” the designer says. “I felt that when he passed away, that t-shirt was another way to pay homage to a great man that embodied carpe diem itself.”
The “Take What’s Not Given” tee (pictured above, to the right) is actually from an oil painting that he created, then produced by sublimation, which Lee said, “allows a high-quality detail to be [portrayed] in the prints.”
Lee was inspired to do this shirt after going to a Kanye West concert recently, where Kanye spoke about (among other things) taking what’s not given to you and “actually going out there and creating success from things we’re not actually given.”
“When I actually went to go do that t-shirt and put ‘take what’s not given’ on there, it was kind of a motivational piece. I want people to wear it. I want them to put it on and feel like they’re motivated to go out there and do something they wouldn’t do on a regular basis.”-Lee said.
The Rounch’e, Mandela and Take Whats Not Given tees can be ordered online, at cdcgallery.com. In addition to clothing, the CDC website also has a blog section where viewers can read about things that are going on in “the culture” on a mainstream scale. The website also features local, unsung artists, musicians, photographers and much more.
The logic behind the blog, as Lee Stated, was a desire for the Carpe Diem brand to be more than just a clothing line. He also credits LaTonya Berry, the main writer for the blog, as a great help in making the blog a major part of the site.
“I wanted somewhere that people want to come to, not just for clothing, but if they want to listen to music, if they want to catch up on what’s going on in the urban community.”-the CDC creator said. “I want that (the blog) to be like a central hub, in a sense, where people can come and learn more.”
On the CDC website, as well as some of Lee’s designs, you may see his designer name, Audy Boaz. This tag is not one that was just created on a whim. It has a special significance because Audy is the nickname he’s had since birth, while Boaz is a name from the bible, in the book of Ruth: “Boaz was a billionaire from the bible and I chose that name because I seek what’s called a ‘Boaz blessing.’”-he said.
As he seeks to get closer to that blessing in 2014, you can expect to see Austin Lee — or Audy Boaz (whichever you prefer) – much more because he has no plans of slowing down. In fact, Boaz proclaims that this year is all about growth, “growth, growth, growth.”
While he didn’t say exactly what he was up to, he did mention “more custom pieces”, “cut-and-sow”, and “hoodies, jackets, and things of that nature.”
Check out Audy Boaz and The Carpe Diem Company at cdcgallery.com.