I think back to fall of 2011 when the concept of Au Courant was in its infancy. At the time I was working for RSVP Gallery and had no intention of creating a ‘brand’. My main focus was to complete my bachelors degree in Information & Decision Science (hard enough) and join a tech startup. Fast forward to December 1, 2011 the day our first sweatshirt, Le Loup, was released. I remember the exact date because it was the day of the watch the throne concert. That day was one of the greatest experiences that I have had. I remember giving sweatshirts to Don, Virgil, and Kanye the day of the concert and it being so surreal. Still, at the time I had no intentions of starting a brand. I made the sweatshirt because I loved the imagery and I wanted those who I looked up to share in the experience. Sort of a members only piece if you will. Two weeks later we were receiving emails from around the world asking where and when the sweatshirt would be available. At this point I began to see the potential that Au Courant had. I knew if I wanted to gain the respect of clients that I would have to improve the quality and design of what I wanted to create. I remember talking to Virgil one day about the design and him giving me a rough critique. At the time I took it hard because I had put so much work into that first pieces and he found all of the flaws. I know now that his intentions were to help me in perfecting what I had developed. After that conversation my aspirations were to become good enough to be sold amongst brands that I respected, Rick, Doma, Wang, etc. Piece by by piece we started to gain more followers and clients which was still surprising to me that someone valued what I was creating. Still, I was not satisfied with the quality of production I was achieving or the production process in general. Facilitating any of these processes in Chicago is extremely difficult. I was also funding the entire project on a college student’s budget. If you actually look at the position I was in it was close to a miracle that I was able to do any of it. As the year passed we had more and more clients and there was a point where I did not want to produce anymore because I felt that the quality of my production was not up to the standard I set for the brand and for my clients’ expectations. This was something I fought with for months. November 2012, I was now graduated and working for a Fortune 500 company and life was great. Because of my job I felt myself caring less about the brand that I had worked so hard to develop and more about my ‘real life’. Then, I started to receive email after email asking about new releases and a part of me felt a responsibility to all of those individuals. I flew to London later that month and was in opening ceremony with a friend of mine, Andy, and the associates recognized the sweatshirt Andy was wearing (our first piece) and they associated me with the sweatshirt. That feeling of traveling to another country and someone recognizing and appreciating your work was one that I will never forget. That was the start of me re-discovering my motivation and why I became passionate about this in the beginning. A few days later I took a last minute flight to Paris, thanks to Sarah, and the ambiance and creative emotion that the city invokes was overwhelming. I visited all of the brands that I mentioned earlier and being in these stores created a closer connection to that particular brand. Being that close put things into perspective. I now felt that these brands as a whole were tangible and not just something I would see in a luxury store. This was the catalyst that I needed to push me back into doing what I loved. I flew back to Chicago and all I could think about was creating and all of the new concepts and designs I wanted to apply. However, working at an office from 6am to 7pm was not a manageable task with everything I needed to do in order to take Au Courant to the next level. Coincidently, on the day my bosses presented me with my achievement awards I put in my resignation notice. I remember my mentor at the time and still good friend today told me if I ever have an opportunity to do something great to do it. He told me the story how he was offered a position at Facebook when they started which would have made him a millionaire, faster, but he turned it down and regretted it. 3 weeks later I moved the company to Paris. My family almost killed me but trusted my judgement and knew that I would ultimately make the right decision. Over the past 10 months, I have worked day and night, literally until the sun comes up, to ensure that all aspects of our brand surpass all expectations and comparisons. This is especially difficult with the rate of ‘new designers’ that are entering the industry. I was blessed enough to find a couture manufacturer “in Paris” who has not accepted a new designer in 13 years take me on. I have established relationships and gained the respect of top suppliers (for Balmain, YSL, LV, Hermes, Rick, etc.) throughout Europe and Asia. Last and most impactful for me, I have been able to show my collections during Paris Fashion Week. All of this was done with hard work and persistence in 10 months time. I did not have a phone, I do not speak French, I did not have an assistant, we had no financial backing still or celebrity endorsements. I say all of this to give you insight into what Au Courant truly represents and has accomplished in its short time. The past two years have gone by so quickly and I only remembered to was our birthday because Google reminded me. With a bigger team and more resources I look forward to the next 5 years to come.
Hopefully this will inspire others to follow and work towards their dreams and goals.