Shark Tank

DaymondJohn the Hustling Shark

DaymondJohn is one of the entrepreneurs that I admire. I admire Daymond because we both have so much in common. Daymond John is currently one of the stars of the popular reality show Shark Tank.  On this show entrepreneurs are given an opportunity to pitch their idea to investors.  The investors are fashion icon Daymond John, real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, technology innovator Robert Herjavec, financial expert Kevin O’Leary, and infomercial pioneer Kevin Harrington.  So how did Daymond John a kid from Queens, New York, with no college education come to be considered a fashion icon and a member of this cast?

The Brand Within: The Power of Branding from Birth to the Boardroom (Display of Power)

Daymond John grew up in Hollis, Queens, in New York. As a teen growing up during the early 1990’s Daymond had dreams of becoming a millionaire.  In his book The Brand Within Daymond says “I was as stupid as every other kid on the street with big dreams.  I was like Ralph Kramden from the honeymooners, reaching for any hair-brained scheme I could find…” (John).

One of the challenges Daymond faced as a young entrepreneur was inexperience, but what he lacked in experience he made up for with perseverance.  During a time in his life when most of his friends where selling drugs and stealing cars Daymond decided to be successful legally.  Watching his friends go back and forth to jail was a fact of life growing up in Hollis Queens.  Daymond decided to hustle but not drugs he decided to hustle clothes.  Daymond worked two sometimes three jobs and had what he called a “hustle” on the  side.  An example of this was buying coats, hats, t-shirts, and whatever he deemed sellable at a wholesale market in New York on Delancy Street.  Being from New York I am familiar with this part of town and it is a bargain hunters dream.  The little shops are owned by shop keepers who are offended if you don’t haggle and negotiate.  Daymond would load his van up with these wares and sell them at music concerts in neighboring states like Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Baltimore.  These trips usually doubled his money.  Daymond learned to sew from his mother and he always had a flair for style.  He took what he knew and started making hats in his mother’s basement on an old sewing machine.  Daymond continued to work during the day and sell hats and t-shirts when he wasn’t working.

There were a few keys to success for Daymond one was he recognized business opportunities when others didn’t.  During the 1990’s there was a riot in Los Angeles after a jury found some police officers not-guilty in the beating of Rodney King. Rodney King a black man was very brutally beaten by white police officers. Daymond silk screened thousands of t-shirts that said “Free Rodney King” and sold them for $10 at a march that was held during the time.  He did so well he wished he had made more t-shirts.  Growing up on the streets of New York was giving him the business training he would later need.

Another key to his success was the fact that Daymond was practical; he began making tie-top hats and silk screen t-shirts in his basement.  Each one took about ten minutes to cut and sew and cost less than $1 in materials to make. Daymond teamed up with some likeminded friends and started a clothing company. In the early 1990’s when an executive from Timberland Boots commented in public that his clothes weren’t meant for the “Urban Market” Daymond saw an opportunity, and he started FUBU an acronym that stands for For Us By Us.  In his book Daymond says “we thought, we could speak to all those kids who felt cut off by the Timberland executives, as well as everybody else (1735).

Daymond and his partners got their big contract the best way they knew how they hustled.  Daymond and his partners knew a lot of people in the entertainment industry because some of them grew up only a few blocks from Daymond and his friends.

Many of the rappers they knew endorsed their clothes.  The connection they had with music video director Hype Williams helped them get more celebrity endorsements, and their clothes began to get the exposure on MTV, and the BET cable stations.  . One of the celebrities who endorsed FUBU was LL Cool J. a very popular rapper who wore a FUBU shirt on the cover of a popular urban magazine called Right On.  Daymond and his partners made hundreds of copies of the picture of the rap star wearing their shirt and flew to Las Vegas to attend a convention put on by the Men’s Apparel Guild in California.  Armed with their pictures Daymond and his partners crashed the convention, showed off the picture of LL Cool J, and lured curious buyers back to their hotel room. Their room at the Mirage was full of clothing samples and clothes racks.  Daymond and his partners left the Las Vegas MAGIC convention with $300,000 worth of orders.

Daymond was still working from his mom’s basement when he met with brothers Norman and Bruce Weisfeld from Samsung’s textile division. Samsung would go on to buy FUBU from Daymond for an undisclosed amount.

After reading about Daymond I would say his philosophy is Brand yourself.  According to Daymond  “a branded product is a known commodity, and whenever you wear it or drink it or drive it or plug it in, it says something about the kind of person you are—or the person you want to be.  Daymond John Built the FUBU collection from a hand—sewn inventory of tie-top hats and high-end t-shirts to a global lifestyle brand” (623).  Today Daymond John is a shark on the show Shark Tank and he certainly is a very savvy business man that many have learned from.


John, Daymond.The Brand Within:The Power of Branding From Birth to the Boardroom. NewYork: Display of Power Publishing, 2010.Print

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