IF THERE’S A MODEL FOR INDEPENDENT HUSTLE, IT’S THE CREATIVE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN LE$ AND JORGE “JORGEY” CASANOVA. The pair behind the lifestyle brand and brick-and-mortar store D.I.O.S. (Did It Ourselves) have been working relentlessly for years to get to where they are now.
LE$, a former member of Slim Thug’s Boss Hogg Outlawz crew and now an independent rapper, has cultivated an organic fan base that allows him to exist outside the trend-driven whims of mainstream hip-hop. Jorgey, a creative entrepreneur who’s done everything from direct music videos to publish photography books and launch clothing brands, has worked alongside LE$ for years as his videographer-turned-business partner. Together, the pair launched D.I.O.S. in 2020 with a series of online product releases, leading to the announcement of their Midtown storefront, which opened in November at 4114 Fannin St.
It’s not uncommon these days to see a line of customers wrapped around the side of the Fannin building where the D.I.O.S. store is located. The limited released drops draw a crowd. And we do mean limited. Both Jorgey and LE$ have learned a thing or two from their years of creative endeavors: less is often more.
D.I.O.S. is not your average hypebeast operation. They don’t run massive sales to move last season’s merch or print a thousand copies of each design to sell in perpetuity. After all, the brand was born out of the canvas prints and framed posters Jorgey once sold of his own original art—works for which value is directly tied to the scarcity of supply.
The same ethos is now applied to their hats, shirts and bags. “We want people to take this product home and cherish it,” says Jorgey. “It’s like an experience.”
The duo set out to launch their brand online, as most lifestyle and clothing brands do these days. Yet, an unexpected opportunity, coupled with the massive success of the brand’s first online product launch, pushed the partners into action—they opened a physical store within months of its initial launch. “It caught on a lot faster than we thought,” Jorgey says.
It’s that very willingness to take the plunge, to dive headfirst into each new project that’s made LE$ and Jorgey’s partnership a success. “When we work with new people,” says Jorgey, “they’re like ‘damn, you guys are fast.’ We’re all about quality and details, but at the same time we don’t like to waste time.” It’s unclear at this point when exactly the pair’s relationship went from one-off collaborations to a full-time business partnership. What’s certain is that they seem to thrive on each other’s energy. “We put everything we have into everything we do.”
The pair struggled for years to find consistent success—LE$ as a fully independent rapper and Jorgey is a mainstay of the city’s artistic community. “It’s kind of like everything me and LE$ have worked towards our whole careers,” says Jorgey of what D.I.O.S., in particular its name, means. “This is the culmination of all that.”
In more recent years, their dedication to independence has paid off. They've toured Japan twice (once alongside Houston rap legend Bun B), and they’ve collaborated both musically and artistically with the likes of Paul Wall, Slim Thug, and Grammy nominee Freddie Gibbs. “That’s the message we’re trying to push,” says Jorgey. “That anything can be accomplished. Anything is doable.”