Austin is one of those guys you really want to be around. He is a good ol boy with the right sense of humor. He is humble, yet so talented. You sit down with him and you feel like you have known him since you were kids. The other thing about him is he is hungry. He works harder than anyone I know. He is driven and him designing the All or Nothing flag for us couldn't have been more fitting. He really is about the All or Nothing. Maybe thats why the flag hung so perfectly in his studio. We think you'll love hearing his dream and the story of how it all unfolded.
PARATIVE: What is your dream?
AUSTIN: It sounds silly, but I always dreamed about owning a design studio ever since I realized that's what I wanted to do when I was 17. Before that, I wanted to be an NBA player, play in a big touring band. Normal growing up boy stuff.
PARATIVE: Surprised that NBA thing didn't work out for either of us. That's really cool about the design studio. You really can say you are living the dream. What action steps had you taken to make your dream happen?
AUSTIN: Trusted in myself. That sounds self-fulfilling but it's the opposite. If you don't believe in you and dreams who else will? You need to invest in your interests as much as possible and then talent starts to buff out of the cloudy parts. Also, listening to others who had more faith in me and could see things I couldn't. That's a big one. Having a support system that trusts and empowers you is huge. It gives you higher blocks to stand on when you're thinking about throwing the towel down.
PARATIVE: That seems like great advice for those figuring out their dreams. What does your dream look like in 5/10 years?
AUSTIN: That's the hardest question that I constantly wrestle with. I'll be 35/40...geeze. I'm in the studio working day in and night out and it's sometimes hard to look up and think that far away. In 5/10 years, I hope the studio is not where it is now as a business and the same goes for me as a person. I want to grow Durham Brand & Co. into a place that invests into people, not just clients/work, that love to work and hone their craft at the studio. And by investing in others, it naturally exposes and reinvest new interests, ideas and dreams in yourself. That's kinda how it works right?!
PARATIVE: You also have the Durham Dept. (you're storefront in Covington), Are there any projects stewing in your head, that would also fit under the Durham Brand & Co. umbrella?
AUSTIN: There's always a lot of ideas I have for The Dept., it really always comes down to time for me. With it being a separate business and extension of the studio, I find myself designing for myself when client work isn't as slammed. That said, this spring and summer we released a new line along with a bunch of other goods that the studio has crafted with clients of the studio and people I'm generally a fan of. I want to move The Dept. more into a place of inspiration of urban living rather than a self-designed and prescribed extension of the studio. Less me, more we kind of stuff...if that makes any sense.
PARATIVE: Is there a certain piece of encouragement that has really stuck out to you over the years that you keep coming back to?
AUSTIN: Man, that's a good question. I love words of advice and the timing when it's received. Advice doesn't mean trash if it's not timely and impactful. Throughout my time exploring the idea to open a design studio 4-5 years ago, there was tons of truth I received but didn't believe from a couple of close friends and family members. One that's always apparent is, 'Faith is spelled R I S K'. I was given the opportunity to talk on risk last year and this was the theme. If you want anything in life, there's a risk involved – cliché as it is, it only touches the surface. The payoff of risk is reward, but the partner of risk is fear. Getting over that 2nd part is where the faith part lives. Faith in yourself, in your abilities, in your clients (for my career), faith in knowing that the future is unknown but being a good steward of the present will shine a short beam of light in front of you. Cause all you need is that next step to move forward.
PARATIVE: Ok Austin, last question, Covington gets a new NBA expansion team. You're in charge of the branding. What's the mascot?
AUSTIN: Already designed and named. It's called Covington City Cats. It's on a shirt from our first launch at The Dept.. They are the top recruiter of most Kentucky one-and-dones and they win about every damn game they've played.