BEHIND THE CEO/DESIGNER
Devlin “Dee-Nyce Braswell started customizing sneakers his freshman year at Queensborough Community College in New York in 1977. He started out custom painting Air Jordans to stand out from the crowd, when people asked where he purchased them he would tell him Japan or Europe to throw them off. At the time Devlin didn’t want their business , he just wanted to be different. Then in 1999 Dee began to notice others began painting and customizing their Jordans also. Forever the competitor, Devlin sat back and thought of ways to up the ante and remain original. So he decided to research how to totally deconstruct a show and put them back together using luxury fabric that he would buy in bulk from New York’s famed Fabric District.
By the year 2000 Devlin was credited with the Gucci swoosh on Nike Air Force 1 craze that hit New York and quickly spread across the country. By this time Devlin was making a living by customizing shoes for others. Being that marketing on the internet had not become as proficient as it is today, growing his new business proved to be difficult, and after a while, began to die down. So in 2003 Devlin decided to join the U.S. Coast Guard. Now Stationed on the west coast in the San Francisco Bay Area, he continued to customize his own shoes experimenting with other high end fabrics which now extended to snake skin, alligator, ostrich, and stingray.
After a eight years in California, and becoming a father, Devlin received orders that he would be stationed back on the East Coast. By this time the sneaker culture had began to take off with numerous blogs and sneaker sites. Customizing started to become a recognized art for recording artist and actors who wanted to be original, customizing Air Jordan's and other shoes to be original. This seemed to be play right in to Devlin's talent. After doing a few customs to shake the rust off, and by 2012 was being recognized as one of the top up and coming custom shoe designers by the top sneaker blogs, (not knowing that he was one of the originators of the culture).
By 2013 Devlin made a decision as a father to push for a transfer back to the Bay Area to be back close to his daughters and to watch them grow. Devlin also made a business decision upon returning to the Bay to start the count down on his career with the Coast Guard. Prior to moving back Devlin reached out to his old business manager Morchez Frazier and began to devise a plan to extend his brand to fashion and become the first shoe customizer with his own brick and mortar store front.
Now Retired from the military, a graduate FIDM Fashion Institute (San Francisco), a reality show with Red Bull based on customizing, and a new store front (Carpe Diem Fashion House) in which he released his own signature shoe, the FBCC Valedictorian (VV1), which sold out in one day, it seems as if Devlin is just beginning his journey of reaching all of his goals.
BEHIND THE CEO/MANAGING PARTNER
Morchez Frazier picked up fashion at an early age. His mother was known as the fashionista in the family and passed down,looking the very best at all times down to her son. As early as elementary Morchez was keeping up with style and fashion from the numerous music videos he watched, admiring the styles of artist from hip hop and R&B. By the time he entered middle school he had already made a reputation for himself as best dressed kid on campus. While most kids were still into buying the latest toy or tennis shoes of that time, Morchez was saving his allowance to buy the latest Bally’s luxury Sneakers, priced at $200 to rock with his silk shirts and corduroy pants that he often admired from the music videos of Slick Rick and Big Daddy Kane.
By the time he had Graduated High School and began college Morchez had amassed a shoe collection that would make today’s sneakerhead blush. In fact so, that he turned down a job at an accounting firm to work at Champs Sports for almost $10 less an hour because he knew that most of his paycheck would be spent on shoes. After a year of working part time at Champs Morchez was offered the assistant manager position. Morchez accepted while still attempting to hold down college. Shortly after Morchez was offered the Manager position and had to make a choice. There was no way he could hold down his study’s and run a store, so he decided that he wanted to run the store. So at age 19 Morchez became the youngest manager in Champs Sports history. “The Fact was I could sell, I was mature enough to speak to parents and make them comfortable about the product due to my knowledge of it and I was close enough to most kids age that I knew what they wanted.” This knowledge and know how caused Morchez to single handily make changes to the marketing scheme of Champs that would go on to define how they would do business in urban areas. Although the company had a directive of what window displays were supposed to look like and also what music videos were to be played at every Champs Store across the nation to ensure the consumer had the same experience at every store, Morchez felt that old way of thinking had ran its course. His numbers had increased from the time that he took the store over but not as rapidly as they could have by just making certain changes in the marketing strategy.
Instead of following the directive for window displays Morchez decided to change up the displays on a weekly basis instead of seasonally. With his background in music He decided to pre-record and edit music videos making them more consumer friendly and played them instead of the Champ Approved videos. This increased the volume of customers that entered the store therefore increasing the number of chances his staff had to make a sell. He would find that because of his window displays, that most customers would come in and literally purchase everything that was on the mannequin. “I would just dress the mannequins how I would dress or how I would like to see women in”. Soon there after, and with his weekly numbers doubling, his District Manager decided to pop in on him to see what was responsible for the increase in sales, and after seeing the window out company directive and a non-Champs approved video being played, Morchez’s District Manager called him back to his office to have a talk. After Morchez explained that his numbers increased because of the changes he made, and also that he felt he had a better grasp on the pulse of the consumer in his district, Morchez’s District manager decided to give him a shot at proving it. “There’s no way anyone can tell me someone in Omaha Nebraska wears the same gear as someone in Oakland Ca, so why would I market them both the same way?”
One of Morchez’s first moves was bringing in predominately black designers such as Karl Kani and AACA (African American College Assosiation) who’s sweats became popular in music videos and and African American T.V. shows like Martin and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air respectively. These changes, along with the Recommended changes to Champs videos to include urban music prompted champs to label the stores in Richmond, Ca and San Leandro, Ca as its first (of many) “Black Market” stores which after increases from annual sales eclipsed the 10 million dollar mark. These stores extended to New York and Washington D.C. until every Champs Sports in the nation, (that was in 20 minutes of urban communities) followed suit.
In 2008 Morchez was introduced to Devlin Braswell, an up-coming rapper from Brooklyn, (whom also had a flair for fashion) by another one of Morchez’ artists. Morchez and Devlin hit it off and although nothing transpired from their music relationship, as soon as Devlin, now one of the premiere custom shoe designers in the game, decided it was time to take designing and his business to the next level, he reached out to Morchez to join F.B.C.C to help grow the business and the brand, and now with a new store (Carpe Diem Fashion House) and the release of their first signature shoe the F.B.C.C Valedictorian, the sky is now the limit and their mark on the fashion industry is imminent.