Daymond John is a Shark Tank investor and is also widely known for his pioneering apparel and footwear brand FUBU. The serial entrepreneur grew up with his single mother in Queens, New York. Before joining Shark Tank as an investor, John had made a fortune as the founder of FUBU, which was synonymous with T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, hats, denim and footwear.
FUBU, which stands for “For Us By Us,” was created targeting the African-American community. John and his three friends created the brand after popular brands refused to market their brands to ethnic minorities.
John and his childhood friends, Keith Perrin, J. Alexander Martin, and Carl Brown, started FUBU from his mother’s home. He later mortgaged his mother’s three-level Queens, N.Y. home for $100,000 to invest in FUBU.
With just $40, John and his team pitched camp at expos and tradeshows across the northeast. Soon, demand exceeded supply and John had to raise capital to expand production. Unfortunately, not many investors were willing to bet on him. Eventually, Samsung became a major partner in FUBU.
The brand became so popular that celebrities like Mary J. Blige, TLC, P. Diddy, LL Cool, and Beyonce all wore FUBU to multiple shows, award events, and print and television ads. FUBU reportedly made $350 million in sales through various retail outlets and eventually grossed $6 billion globally.
“I’ve been really fortunate to have been part of something that’s a globally recognized brand,” John told NBC News. “It’s close to me. I don’t know necessarily the effect or impact that I’ve had, but whatever it is, I’m grateful.”
According to NBC News, John’s FUBU template was borrowed by hip hop moguls like P. Diddy, Nelly, and Jay-Z to start their own clothing line.
“When you’re in the middle of doing something, you don’t realize the effect it may have with people,” shared John. “I had much bigger hope for FUBU. Ralph Lauren probably does about $3 to $4 billion a year still. I did $6 billion over 20 years. When anybody touches any extension of anything that you do, you should be extremely grateful.”
Besides making FUBU, John also established himself as a branding guru, working with A-list artists such as the Kardashians, rappers LL Cool J and Pit Bull, and boxer Lennox Lewis. In 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama appointed him as one of nine Presidential Ambassadors of Global Entrepreneurship.