In 2003, he launched a line of denim after graduating from Florida State University, where he studied apparel design and turned his college buddies into business partners. Two years later, he found himself giving out hundreds of jeans to those impacted by Hurricane Katrina. In March, when stay-at-home orders in the District forced schools to close, Cardi used his platform to address food insecurity by starting the H Street Food Drive.
“It was only something we were going to do for like a month just to help the city out,” he says. “It just kept growing and growing. Four weeks turned into eight weeks. We were averaging 600 to 700 meals a week.” The operation took place at Maketto and was sustained by a bevy of volunteers, donations from individuals and restaurants.
While the H Street Food Drive ended in June, Cardi, 41, continues to use his time during quarantine to strategize charitable initiatives and a new line of merchandise slated to release next year. Given his community-based track record, it’s no surprise that his perfect day in the District is spent on one of his bikes while keeping things “hyperlocal,” as he likes to call it.
I’d start the day by getting up early. I’d take a short walk over to Tony’s Place on H Street NE for breakfast. I’ve been going there almost once a week over the last several years. My recommendation is to call ahead to order, as they are pretty busy during the morning rush. My go-to is the Hungryman’s Platter, but sub the home fries for grits with butter, and the pancakes for French toast. After breakfast, I’d make my way down the block to Maketto for a coffee, check my email and pick up a pastry from their bake sale for later.
I would then go down to the Navy Yard area where Somewhere is located and do a Sunday run with them. No matter what your level of running is, it’s inclusive of everyone. They take folks on about a three-mile jaunt around the Capitol. Then afterward, I would hang out at Somewhere — it’s a great place to take in fashion and sneaker culture. Dom Adams and the team have done an incredible job curating the selection and it has quickly become a magnet for streetwear mavens.
After the run club, it’s time for a shower and a short nap before taking the bike out to explore more of the city. The first stop is the Village Cafe over by Union Market for a midday coffee. While sipping my coffee I’d take a spin through Union Market to grab lunch. There’s so much to choose from, but my favorite is Puddin’. I love ordering the red beans and rice. Pro tip: Add some steamed shrimp. It’s the perfect lunch to have ahead of a day of biking around the town.
Right now one of my favorite things to do is bike around seeking out all of the murals that call attention to the push for D.C. statehood (#MuralsDC51). There’s an alleyway tucked between 13th and H streets NE with a nice collection of them. There’s also a group of them by the tennis courts on G Street NE between Ninth and 10th streets.
After riding around and taking in all the murals while exploring the city, it’s time to relax. My girlfriend and I might lay out at one of the parks on Capitol Hill — Folger and Garfield Park are two of our favorites. If we are catching up with friends, we might have them meet us at Cotton and Reed, which is clutch on hotter days with the covered outdoor seating and rum slushies.
Art, especially art created by D.C.-based artists, has always been an influence on my life and my appreciation for the culture of the city. Taking in an art exhibit at Mehari Sequar Gallery by Chris Pyrate or Jamilla Okubo, or dropping by the Holy Bones studio to see what Kelly Towles has been creating, or taking in a light installation by District Dodger, and other artists at the latest No Kings Collective exhibit is a fantastic way to enjoy an early evening in D.C.
After art and socializing, my girlfriend and I would make our way over to ABC Pony, order up some takeout, then enjoy it picnic-style at Yards Park for their summer concert series and enjoy the sunset. That location has become a great place to enjoy D.C. JazzFest and live music on the weekends.
If we are feeling like night owls we will drop by Hill Prince on H Street NE for a couple of drinks with my guy Tony Lawson and hopefully catch DJ Geena Marie spinning. They always have a great lineup of DJs Friday and Saturday nights. I would end my day dancing and with lots of laughter among friends.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Cardi graduated from the University of Florida. This version has been updated.