There’s no telling how far a mother’s love can go. Even taking a risk that could possibly lead to you losing your own house just to see your child’s dream come true.
And that’s the story of how the mother of Daymond John came to her son’s rescue. On sensing potential, John and his mother mortgaged their house for $100,000 to generate start-up capital.
When John first had the idea for a clothing company for young men, his mother taught him how to sew. And she also supported him by allowing her house to be taken over to grow the business.
As they revealed, Wool ski hats with their tops tied off with fishing line were popular at the time, and John noticed them being sold for $20, which he considered overpriced.
John went home and sewed about 90 hats with his next-door neighbor. They sold their homemade hats for $10 each on the corner of Jamaica Avenue and made $800 in a single day in 1992. After the hats, they began selling screen-printed T-shirts. And to break into the market, they sold on consignment and at large events around the Northeast.
Daymond John started FUBU in his mother’s house in Hollis, Queens.
To make ends meet, John held a full-time job at Red Lobster, working on the FUBU business in between shifts.
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. They then loaned about 10 of the hockey jerseys out to rappers for their music videos for two years and got product placements in about 30 videos.
The business was perceived as a large clothing brand, despite being a relatively small company and stores started requesting their brand.
In 1993, John 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. Around 1992 to 1994, John received $300,000 in orders and also an offer for participating in Macy’s (M) at a Las Vegas fashion trade show, MAGIC.
They had to take out a second mortgage of his mother’s house in order to fulfill the orders. After being turned down by 27 banks for a loan. John’s mother used the last of their money to take out an advertisement in the New York Times. As a result of the ad, FUBU made a deal with Samsung Textiles, allowing them to complete their orders.
To date, FUBU has earned over $6 billion in global sales. FUBU is featured at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture.
John was born February 23, 1969 in Brooklyn, New York City. But would grow up in the Hollis neighborhood of Queens and attended Catholic school for seven years.
He began working at the age of 10, when his parents divorced; one early job entailed handing out flyers for $2 an hour. In high school, he participated in a 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 from high school, John started a commuter van service and waited tables at Red Lobster.
And when John was 16, his mother had a boyfriend, an attorney, who he considered a stepfather and mentor. In 2009, John received a call from Mark Burnett asking him to join the cast of ABC’s new reality business show Shark Tank, which gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their businesses to investors, or “Sharks” in the hopes of receiving an investment.
The show recently finished its 12th season. John has invested $8,567,000 of his own money in Shark Tank companies as of May 12, 2017.
His favorite investments on record by 2015 were Al “Bubba” Baker’s boneless ribs and Bombas socks.
In 2016, Shark Tank won an Emmy Award, and won Outstanding Reality Program from 2012-2014.
John invested in Bubba’s-Q Boneless Ribs on Season 5 of Shark Tank and has helped grow the company from $154,000 in sales to $16 million in 3 years.
In 2017, Bubba’s-Q Boneless Ribs partnered up with Carl’s Jr. to create the limited-edition Baby Back Rib Burger. On Season 5 of Shark Tank, John made a unique deal with 15-year-old Moziah “Mo” Bridges, who is the owner of Mo’s Bows. John decided not to invest in Mo’s Bows but instead to mentor the young entrepreneur.
Recently, Mo’s Bows agreed to a seven-figure licensing partnership with the NBA to create bow ties that use the teams’ logos. During an update on the show, Mo’s Bows were being sold at Neiman Marcus.
After investing in Bombas Socks on Season 6 of Shark Tank, total sales for the company increased from $450,000 in the first nine months to $12 million. For every pair of socks sold, Bombas donates a pair to someone in need. John also invested in Sun-Staches on Season 6 of Shark Tank. They have done over $4.2 million in sales.
Shark Tank has won 4 Emmy Awards and has been nominated 9 times
John is the CEO and founder of The Shark Group, a brand management and consulting firm.
John has gone on to become a public speaker. He is also a brand ambassador for the e-commerce company Shopify. In 2021, John signed a deal with Audible. Earlier in 2015, John co-founded Daymond John’s Success Formula, a program designed to teach business owners and entrepreneurs how to start and grow their business.
In September 2019, Daymond John’s Success Formula rebranded to Next Level Success. One of the organizations the program works with is the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. The program offers a $1,500 scholarship to two students a year. This scholarship is given in hopes to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs.
John is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author
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 New York Business 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).
In 2015, President Obama appointed John as an ambassador to promote underserved entrepreneurs. John has released four books: Display of Power, The Brand Within, The Power of Broke, and Rise and Grind.