For some, the midterm season is running on high and exams are inching ever closer which means only one thing: studying. For Concordia student David Lavigne-Masse and his business partner Daniel Cuzmanoz, studying is intertwined with the running of C12 Boutique, a burgeoning clothing store in the heart of downtown Montreal.
At 22 years old both Lavigne-Masse and Cuzmanoz spend their days juggling shifts between their Crescent Street boutique and rushing to classes. The former is working his way through a Bachelor of Commerce at the John Molson School of Business while Cuzmanoz is majoring in political science and anthropology at UQAM. The young duo tries hard to not let their studies affect the time put into their boutique and are continuously working hard to make their newly minted store the go-to destination for young menswear in Montreal.
“[We] share a love for fashion, and believe that the way we look translates into an outside image of ourselves,” said Cuzmanoz. “We wanted to share that with young men in Montreal.”
The store, which is only five months old, is named for the atomic mass of the element carbon. Carbon is an essential component to life and the pair took from this the approach that clothing is also a component of mankind’s day-to-day.
C12 Boutique features a minimalistic design with black and white fixtures, making the clothing the boutique’s focal point. Currently carrying four brands, Original Penguin, Marshall Antics, Qhuit and Wemoto, with four more planned, each item is carefully thought out by the owners.
“We’ve loved the American brand Original Penguin since our time in high school together,” said Cuzmanoz. “It’s one of the reasons we wanted to start the boutique originally, to make [Original Penguin] and brands with a sense of peculiarity about them more available to young men.”
While interested in the clothing’s uniqueness and the materials, Cuzmanoz was quick to mention that materialism was not something he advocated. Rather, an attraction to well-made, quality and individual pieces is what he says is important. With their current selection hailing from England, France and Germany, the pair is already doing just that.
They are currently busy working to secure a loyal clientele base in the hopes that their clients will grow with them as they mature. Though they have no plans to expand into women’s wear, Cuzmanoz and Lavigne-Masse explained that if the right person came along, they might consider it.
Their hope is to carve out a small niche with C12 Boutique. Though clothing is a main focus, Lavigne-Masse and Cuzmanoz also envision bringing a sense of community to the store. Currently on display are abstract paintings from local Montreal artist Alexander Slim. They are also working with Slim on a line of t-shirts which will involve a twist on cult movies, with the collaboration set to come out in the next month.
A Slim t-shirt line is not the only one way the duo hopes to become involved locally. “The store could be a gateway for our peers. Start something here and we will give you the tools necessary,” said Cuzmanoz who explained that both him and Lavigne-Masse are very open to community participation. Cuzmanoz explained that they want students and people within the community to feel that they are able to try new, innovative and risky things.
From this ongoing experience they explained that they have learnt about themselves and gained skills that they didn’t even know they possessed.
“It was scary at first, as was expected, and there was definitely a learning curve,” said Cuzmanoz. “Most people we were dealing with were older, and we learned a lot on the job.”
Neither Cuzmanoz or Lavigne-Masse are formally trained in fashion, but neither see this as hindering them. What helped, explained Cuzmanoz, is that they shared this passion.
“[We] share a chemistry, we give each other confidence to do more,” said Cuzmanoz. He explained that through the boutique he has learnt to work with a partner and this experience has given him skills that can be applicable to any future job. Both always knew that a university degree in hand and a nine to five job would never satisfy them.
Risking everything now, it seems, can and will enable them to grow into more secure and well-rounded individuals. “Opening the boutique is not only a good life experience, but it’s easy to risk things when [you’re] young,” said Cuzmanoz.
C12 Boutique is located at 2165 Crescent St. Store hours: all week, 10 a.m.-5p.m., Thursday and Friday open until 9 p.m., and Sunday noon until 5 p.m. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.