Black History Month: Daymond John

Daymond John (born February 23, 1969) is an American entrepreneur, investor, television personality, author and motivational speaker. He is best known as the founder, president and CEO of FUBU, and appears as an investor on the ABC reality television series Shark Tank.

John was born in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, but spent his childhood in the Queens neighborhood of Hollis. He was raised an only child by his mother and attended Bayside High School. In high school, he participated in a co-op program that allowed him to work a full-time job and attend school on an alternating weekly basis, which he credits with instilling an entrepreneurial spirit. After graduating high school, he started a commuter van service.

FUBU‘s origins date to 1992. At the time, wool hats with cut-off tops were popular, and John noticed them being sold for $20, which he considered overpriced. He went home and sewed around 80 hats with his next-door neighbor, Carl Brown. They sold their homemade hats for $10 each in front of the New York Coliseum, and made $800 in a single day.

Sensing potential, Daymond and his mother mortgaged their house for $100,000 to generate start-up capital. In addition to Brown, he recruited longtime friends J. Alexander Martin and Keith Perrin into the business, and began sewing the FUBU logo onto hockey jerseys, sweatshirts, and t-shirts.[3] To make ends meet, John held a full-time job at Red Lobster, working on the FUBU business in between shifts. In 1993, he convinced LL Cool J, an old neighborhood friend, to wear a FUBU t-shirt for a promotional campaign. Later, while filming a 30-second advertising spot for The Gap, LL Cool J wore a FUBU hat in the commercial and incorporated the line “for us, by us” in his rapping.

FUBU gained nationwide exposure when John and his partners traveled to Magic, a trade show in Las Vegas in 1994. Despite not being able to afford a booth, FUBU received over $300,000 worth of orders. FUBU continued growing, signing contracts with Macy’s, J.C. Penney, and the National Basketball Association and a distribution deal with Samsung Electronics. By 1998, FUBU returned $350 million in revenues. Currently, FUBU has amassed over six billion dollars in global sales.

Through his reputation as FUBU’s CEO, John has become a public speaker. He works with brands and celebrities to create additional revenue streams and brand extensions; some of his clients include Pitbull and the Miss Universe Organization. John is also a brand ambassador for the e-commerce company Shopify.

As a motivational and business speaker, John speaks about marketing, negotiations, and entrepreneurship. Some of his recent speaking engagements include California First Lady Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference, AT&T’s History Makers Tour, and Babson College School of Entrepreneurship.

John has received numerous awards, including Brandweek Marketer of the Year, the NAACP Entrepreneurs of the Year Award (which he won twice), the Advertising Age Marketing 1000 Award for Outstanding Ad Campaign, the Essence Award, Crain’s Business of New York Forty Under Forty Award, Ernst & Young’s New York Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the Brandeis University International Business School’s Asper Award for Excellence in Global Entrepreneurship, Details 50 Most Influential Men, and the Congressional Achievement Award for Entrepreneurship (which he won twice).

FUBU has received attention from the sports and entertainment industry, and has been worn or endorsed by LL Cool J, Janet Jackson, Will Smith, Mary J. Blige, Busta Rhymes, Magic Johnson, Lennox Lewis, and Whitney Houston.

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