The Making of FUBU — An Interview with Daymond John

The following is an interview with Daymond John, CEO of the clothing brand FUBU, whom I’ve come to know and respect. If there were one mantra I’d associate with him, it’s “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Can’t afford billboards? No problem — just pay retail store owners in key areas to let you spraypaint “FUBU” on their overnight roll-down security walls. His drive and improvisation has led him from sewing cloth in his kitchen to #15 on Details magazine’s list of “50 Most Influential Men.”

It would seem he’s just getting started, but I’ll let him tell the story…

TIM: Many entrepreneurs launch their companies in addition to working a full-time job. How did you manage your time when launching FUBU to get the company going? When did you decide to quit the day job and make this a full-time operation?

DAYMOND: It was incredibly tough, but the passion for the project pushed me through. If your project doesn’t do that for you, well, maybe you need to sit down and revaluate. Even though I had placed our product in the hottest music videos out there, I was still working full-time at Red Lobster. To the public, FUBU was a huge company. Little did they know that I was still serving them shrimp and biscuits!

After a couple years of seeing FUBU as a hobby, I decided to get serious and stick to a standard daily schedule. I would wake up at about 7 or 8 in the morning, and I would sew the hats by myself, tag them, answer a couple of orders that came in overnight. Then I’d take the hats, package them, and begin to ship them out. I took care of all of that until about Noon or 1 PM. Then I’d hit up Red Lobster around 4, work there until midnight, come back home, make more hats, and tally up any orders until about 1 or 2 in the morning. I’d start the routine all over again the next day. I did this for about two years straight.

After my three friends joined the company, the business really started to take shape. With the extra hands, I was able to focus on growing the business at a much faster rate. At the point where I had enough money to quit (I didn’t really have enough to quit the job, because I had taken out this $100,000 loan), I decided that I had to give the business all of my attention and effort. So I quit Red Lobster around ’95-’96, and went completely full-time with FUBU.

In entrepreneurship, you decide to give up your day job at the point where either (A) the hobby/new business is at least making some form of ends meet, or (B) you feel that you need to dedicate yourself for a certain amount of time to it and give yourself the last hoorah.

What were your initial struggles with launching FUBU and how did you overcome them?

Like most entrepreneurs, the initial struggle was to go past the point of imagination and make it a point of conception, where I was actually putting together a product and producing it. Everyone has an idea, but it’s taking those first steps toward turning that idea into a reality that are always the toughest.

However, once you take those first steps you will be confronted with another obstacle, and I don’t think there’s just one tipping point for a company, but a string of them. For example, once I decided to put my idea on paper, I had to find a local screen printer. Then, I faced the challenge of increasing sales. Since I knew the stores wouldn’t buy it, I put my product in them on consignment. After I got to the level of making more goods on a consistent basis, I had to figure out how to create a sustainable structure for manufacturing the product, so I mortgaged my house, moved sewing machines into my home, and hired seamstresses.

It’s this string of obstacles that separate the people that truly want their company to succeed from everyone else, because so many questions hit you so fast. It’s just a matter of not letting these challenges keep you down and finding solutions no matter what. It can be overwhelming at times but just be prepared for it. The more forward-thinking you are and the better plan of attack you have to grow the company, the easier these questions will be to answer.

What were some of your first big marketing wins to promote FUBU?

The first big break was when we went down to Virginia and met up with Ralph McDaniels, who had a video show like MTV and VH1, and he fell in love with our product. At the time, Ralph was throwing a big weekend event for Teddy Riley, a producer and musician that really shaped Hip-Hop and R&B. He came back to New York and decided to put us on a local video channel for an interview about FUBU. We all knew the FUBU brand was closely associated with music, but this hit created some immediate buzz and showed us the way to market our product unlike any fashion company out there yet.

We then concentrated in getting our product into music videos. We would sit on video sets all day trying to get the artists to wear it. First it started with Brand Nubian in one of their videos, then Ol’ Dirty Bastard wore it in a Mariah Carey video, then Busta Rhymes wore it on one of his videos, and LL Cool J decided to wear FUBU on the “Hey Lover” video with Boyz II Men. Our product was front and center on the biggest and most influential personalities for our core consumers.

One of the most well-known hits we had with LL was during a Gap commercial. He was wearing a pair of Gap jeans and a Gap shirt, but he was somehow able to sport one of our hats during the commercial. Then during his thirty-second freestyle rap, he looks directly into the camera and says, “For Us, By Us, on the low.” No one at Gap nor any of their ad execs thought anything of it. It wasn’t until a month later that someone at the Gap found out, pulled the commercial, and fired a whole bunch of people after they had spent about $30 million running this campaign.

Historically, the Gap commercial is one of the biggest coups known to date in the advertising world. But in Gap’s defense, they were smart enough to realize a year later that, because FUBU had limited distribution, African-Americans, Latinos, and the hip kids of all colors thought that FUBU was actually available at the Gap. So they saw their numbers spike during the LL Cool J campaign. Gap repackaged the same commercial and committed two times the amount of money in advertising that commercial in the following year. If you look back at Gap’s numbers, that was around the time where they had some of their highest returns.

How did you take FUBU from a t-shirt and jeans company to a global brand?

This wasn’t easy, and the best way to say this is that I ended up finding a great strategic partner in Samsung America, who understood global distribution. It’s the basic lesson of starting a company: If you don’t know how to do something, find someone who does. I could not have done this alone, whether it was by having the knowledge or financing it myself. Samsung directed me, guided me, and assisted me in my global expansion. Also, with a huge international company like Samsung on our side, we instantly had an incredible amount of clout with all the retailers.

How important is social media for your various fashion brands? How do you best utilize it?

Extremely important. Even if you aren’t putting out a message, the first thing that you can do with social media is find out and understand why people like or dislike your brand. This is like having a focus group—a focus group that’s not sitting in your office, getting paid by you while you’re looking in their face for them to give you an answer. You actually get to see the reality of what people think about you. And at that point, you have enough knowledge to make the proper adjustments. It’s very hard to cure something if you don’t know the ailment. Social media is a great acid test.

When I first started my brand before all this technology was available, it was just putting it out in people’s faces and talking to them. But the good thing is, before you go and mortgage a house like I did, or sell the farm, you can push your brand out in the market and see how many orders you get on your website, how many people follow you on Twitter or friend you on Facebook, and request your product. This info will let you know if you have a winner or if you should go back to the drawing board and reconsider.

How have the fashion and soft goods business worlds changed since you started FUBU?

When I started FUBU, practically no one was directly addressing the young hip music/African-American, Latino market. Now there are many people addressing them. It’s similar to how TV, at first, only had a couple of channels. Now there’s a station for every topic, catering to every niche.

The fashion world has changed in that there’s nothing new to target for a certain segment. Or at least, there isn’t one on my radar. Maybe just how people didn’t see FUBU’s segment as an opportunity, it just isn’t as apparent right now.

The most recent challenge is the increased price of cotton, which has dramatically increased the price to make goods. So you’re going to start seeing one of two things. You’re either going to see very clean, inexpensive goods where the products are basically white t-shirts, jeans, or things along those lines. Or you’ll see it go in the complete opposite direction, where the luxury brands go overboard and bring in bigger numbers because they have the free retail stores. When you have retail stores, you can set up the goods the way you’d like them to be seen. The benefit of having a retail store is that there’s no competition with other brands to slash prices, and you become ‘one of very few,’ instead of getting lost in the mix of other clothing lines that compete for space in the Macy’s, the Burlington’s, and all other department stores. So, it’s a very challenging time for clothing companies right now.

Did you know much about manufacturing when launching FUBU? If not, how did you learn about it so quickly and effectively?

I did not know much about manufacturing—I did know how to sew, but that’s different than manufacturing. Sewing is an ability; manufacturing is a knowledge. Manufacturing is about how much per square yard you are using and how to do technical packages. For example, you need the knowledge of how to interpret your designs for overseas, how to be cost effective, how much embroidery machines may cost per hour to run, how much it costs to ship the product back to the States, etc.

Luckily, one of my partners went to FIT [Fashion Institute of Technology] and he knew that side of the business. Also, working with Samsung, they were able to pass on that knowledge to me. It worked out well having that part of the company focus on that aspect, because it allowed me to focus on our marketing initiatives and how to keep the brand fresh.

If you don’t have the partnerships available or you can’t find a team member with that knowledge, try to intern or shadow for someone who does. It gives you a lot of hands-on experience and it’s less expensive than paying for that education. Although you don’t get compensated for it, at least you don’t have to pay for it. If I had that internship experience before starting FUBU, it would have accelerated even quicker than it did. It probably would have cut the time I spent learning it on the fly in half. Education and knowledge is key. And I always say, the only thing more expensive than education is ignorance.

On your show Shark Tank, you must look at hundreds of companies. What’s the first thing you look for when deciding whether or not to invest in a company? Do the other Sharks and investors you work with share the same approach?

After the first season, I realized that the first thing all investors look at is the person. When we’re being pitched live, we always look at the person who is pitching and cast our judgment based on whether or not we would want to do business with them. After that, our ears are tuned to the things that will confirm whether our assessment is accurate—that they are a good or a bad person to be in business with.

This actually inspired me to write my book The Brand Within where I mention how we build upon our brand from the moment we were born; we also, inevitably, tend to make immediate judgment about others. And it’s because of this, that we should always be conscious of our self-image, our brand, in order to maintain a desired reputation. It’s something most entrepreneurs seem to forget when pitching me.

After measuring the person, you have to look at it from a totally business standpoint. I look at the product and ask a couple questions to myself. I focus on:

– What void in the marketplace does this product fill?

– Who are the core consumers? Has this company correctly marketed to them?

– What are the sales?

– What are the distribution channels?

– How much does this entrepreneur know about his own industry? (Note: HUGE pet peeve if he doesn’t)

– Is the business on an upswing? Or has it peaked?

– Is there room for profit and growth?

– What is that plan for growth? Is it laid out or simply another idea in the entrepreneur’s head?

– Is the evaluation of the company fair?

– How can I best help this company?

The answers to these questions are key and the entrepreneur should always be ready for these. If you don’t have rapid-fire answers to these questions, there’s a problem.

My favorite thing to look for is whether or not the product is proprietary or patented, and whether he/she can prove it. Not only do you have a documented competitive advantage, but it also means that in the event he or she is a bad business partner, you can potentially buy him or her out totally. However, at this point in the game, the evaluation of the company could be a little obstructed because of the potential inherited value that the patent holds.

Do you think Shark Tank can educate entrepreneurs looking to take his or her company to the next stage of personal or financial growth?

I believe the educational aspect of the show is one of the best things for all entrepreneurs. I know undergraduate and MBA professors use the show as a tutorial for their entrepreneurship classes. It gives them something beyond text to show their students.

Members of the VC community love the show because it gives entrepreneurs a checklist of things they need to have in order to be taken seriously, such as sales numbers, how many stores they’re currently in, patent info, can they pitch the product efficiently, etc.

When I started my business, I had no understanding of what investors were looking for and why they would want it. A lot of entrepreneurs just do not understand how to evaluate their product and make it attractive for others.

If people study the pitches to see what caught our attention and what completely lost us, you’ll definitely be a lot more prepared. On my own site, I’m going to do commentaries with top professors, marketing strategists, and business executives to show viewers the real business lessons you can easily learn from the show.

In your opinion, should the entrepreneur focus primarily on promoting his company or promoting himself or herself?

Generally, I’d say that every penny and ounce of hardwork should be focused on the latter. I believe that in any business (or in anything in life), if you do not have a strong foundation, the rest will crumble. If you aren’t 100% completely focused on your company, you can easily lose motivation or focus.

With all that said, I recognized when launching FUBU that “For us, by us” was such a powerful statement, and I knew that the world needed to see we actually meant it. That’s why my three business partners and I were at the front of a lot of our advertising and media. It communicated to our community that we were authentic and so was our brand. You always need to keep in mind that people are constantly looking at you and your legitimacy to see if the company itself is legitimate.

What books, people, or media inspire your inner entrepreneur or teach you new lessons about business?

I love Think and Grow Rich. I think that it inspired more people because of its methods for setting goals to become a person of wealth. I also love Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad because of its focus on financial intelligence.

Those who inspire me are the people all around me. I’m inspired by the people on Shark Tank—not just by my fellow sharks, but the people that pitch on the show, too. When I see the challenges they’ve had to overcome in life, and the crazy and ingenious things that they’ve developed, I’m humbled and amazed.

On the flip side, people who have failed and people who are currently failing also inspire me. I will always understand that I, too, could be one of those people if I don’t take heat and learn lessons everyday.

What’s next for you?

There’s a lot coming up that I’m extremely excited about. Obviously, I’m still very involved in the fashion world. I’m working on some Shark Tank products that I’ve acquired during this new season. There are two companies in particular that I think are going to be huge. And I mean HUGE, so you’ll have to check out the show this season to see what I’m talking about.

I’ve been doing a lot of keynote speaking at conferences, schools, and company functions. I used to do it sporadically, but now it’s a major focus of mine. Whether I’m speaking about motivation, entrepreneurship, business negotiations, or marketing, it’s extremely rewarding to speak to thousands of people at a time and share simple lessons I’ve learned that will make their own careers a bit easier or help them see life in a different way.

Daymond John Speaking

Another big project is a company I’m starting that shows a new marketing approach for what I see as the new age of media.

I believe there is a shift happening as to who actually controls the media (and will continue to hold it) that is very different from what everyone else is saying. I see the top-level celebrities out there as the new media vehicle. Consumers watch their every move in reality shows, social media, music videos, magazines, etc. They’re the masters of both old and new media, and if brands want to stick out from their competitors, they need to align themselves with these celebrities. So I’m acting as a facilitator between brands and celebrities, and showing companies how their brand cannot only just be part of pop culture, but rather engrained throughout pop culture. The way I did that with FUBU was not just a random occurrence, and I know how to emulate that for any type of company.

For this project, I’m in the process of teaming up with the best possible strategic partners. As I said before, this is always key. On the celebrity side, I can’t say exactly who I’m working with yet, but they’re all A-list, household names. They’re all looking forward to working with brands in ways that celebrities haven’t been utilized before. One person I can say is on our roster is the music superstar Pitbull. Not only is he a huge international star, but the guy is incredibly sharp and savvy. He crosses so many genres and resonates with so many people, it’s amazing.

On the business side, I’m already working with Jeff Hayzlett on a project for the Miss Universe Organization, which is very exciting because of the brand’s huge global presence and I love working with incredibly intelligent people like Jeff. I’d love to team up with an advertising agency to give them access to our celebrity roster and our marketing insights.

I just need to find the right one that sees the true value in this direction.



To download a free e-book copy of Daymond’s book, Display of Power, follow the directions below:

1. Click this link:

2. Fill out your name then use the following info to download:

– Referrer: Daymond John

– Password: theshark


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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119 Replies to “The Making of FUBU — An Interview with Daymond John”

  1. Inspiring interview. Nothing better than hands on learning and that is exactly what Daymond did to grow his business, he got in there and got his hands dirty. That and bringing in people who understood the concepts he didn’t. Brilliant guy.

    1. It’s always nice when the “hands on learning” leads to success instead of “learning a lesson”

      1. “Bees and honey are mentioned widely in the Bible and clearly have significance in Judaism and Christianity. … In Christianity, the bee has historically been seen as a symbol of Jesus Christ’s attributes. The honey reflecting his sweet and gentle character, whilst the sting pertaining to justice and the cross.”Apr 25, 2013

  2. Daymond kills it on Shark Tank,

    Awesome to hear his opinions on pitching VC’s

    Great work as always Tim

  3. VERY VERY insightful! Read the whole interview from top to bottom. The advice about media control is spot on, and a lot of new entrepreneurs dont seem to understand the importance of celebrity in modern culture. THANKS!

  4. REALLY enjoyed this article. There’s a wealth of tactics and advice in this article.

    Timely as there was a comment just tonight on Twitter about African-Americans and “bootstrapping” ideology. My point was that, conceptually, it’s a great idea. The question is HOW to do it…then came Tim’s tweet about this…funny how if you ask the question out loud, someone invariably comes along to answer it.

    Well done, FUBU.

    Would love to see Daymond team up with Les McKeown of Predictable Success to give a sane start-up course for the non-VC crowd. That’s a totally free commendation, Les knows nothing about it, it just occcurred to me reading this blog: Daymond can inspire people to Try, and Les teaches people how to Keep Going. Thanks Tim!

  5. Very cool quote “On the flip side, people who have failed and people who are currently failing also inspire me. I will always understand that I, too, could be one of those people if I don’t take heat and learn lessons everyday.”

  6. Very well said. I love him on shark tank also hearing his story on Bloomberg Venture was informative.

    Looking forward to reading the book

  7. Inspirational. And good to hear it from someone who has actually DONE IT, not just typical business consultants or authors who give armchair advice on what they “think” works but have never applied themselves…

  8. I have been trying to get onto Shark Tank for awhile now in hopes to get 5 minutes of Daymond’s time. It’s great to see this interview but it only makes me want to talk to him even more now.

    good post Tim 🙂

  9. Daymond is a MASTER on Shark Tank. My wife and I love the show and learn something every time. And the free e-book? Incredible.

    Tim is a MASTER at providing quality content. It’s no wonder this blog is so highly rated. You have a fan for life.

    Thank you both for encouraging and educating us entrepreneurs!

  10. Awesome story and super inspirational. It’s amazing to see someone create their own clothing (especially clothing of all industries) in their own house and then go work a job they must hate. A true entrepreneur, that’s forsure.

    Thanks for the great link to the ebook at the bottom to. That’s gonna be a great read!

    Will be interesting to see the new marketing agency!

  11. This is soooo helpful for me! I’m trying to make the transition from model to personal trainer to writer and its been hard figuring out my brand. I like the idea of using social media as a focus group. And any new books to read is a great help…now if only i could speed read too!

    1. What are some of the books you like to read? I have read a ton of books maybe I can give you some recommendations.

  12. I’m so glad u published this! I’m a 4 hour work week veteran ( since book 1) so I know the rules! This interview was truly inspiring so seeing this really made my day! Especially the detailed points, because although Daymond speaks at conferences this interview was straight to the point and answered a few questions I had in mind ! Great interview Tim. Kind Regards Elsweet

  13. I think being brave, seizing any opportunties and improvisation is what really made him great. Some people are just made for this type of thing.

  14. Awesome interview! Love to learning about the roots of succesful businesses. Shows once again that you just have to go for it and keep going for it, Inspiring too!

  15. Great interview. And good to see the USA finally has their own Dragons’ Den show. I’ve been waiting…

  16. I have to say one thing regarding the 4 hour week. It’s not that we work only 4 hours per week. It’s that we allow those 4 hours to pay for our life and the other time to work for ourselves. All the examples still show that we work 24/7, but the difference is that we work on what we want to work. Edward

  17. Daymond is the quintessential American Entrepreneur, and that is what this great country was built upon….Very informative post with more useful information than many 300 page books.

  18. Excellent interview–as a “just starting out” entrepreneur myself, I watch Shark Tank religiously, and find Damon’s insights extremely helpful. Thanks for continuing to bring such great, relevant content, Tim!

  19. Hi. I am looking for a good company in England that does the same testing as Spectracell. Hormones, vitamins etc. Any ideas please.


    1. Ayyy…that wasn’t very Fonzie-like.

      Thanks for the post Tim! It’s always inspiring to hear the backstory of successful entrepreneurs/ brands. Great interview!

  20. Nice to finally hear how FUBU started after consistently seeing them popup in various formats while growing up. Thinking back I’m almost positive not a one of those times was it a direct commercial but rather the brand getting their product in the right hands.

    By the way Tim, I just heard the Nerdist interview where you mentioned your headed to the Middle East. I was just left Cairo Tuesday after spending about almost 7 weeks in the region, and about two of those weeks in Jordan. If you’d like any advice, or merely my thoughts let me know.

    I’ve moved on to Athens at this point wondering how I’m spending for lunch what I’ve spent in the last few months of travel on a hotel.

    Anyways, just to let you know some incredible on the spot hummus awaits.

  21. Interesting interview. However, I wonder about Daymond’s judgment. He cites Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad as an influential book, but a) I’ve read it and it’s full of the most generic platitudes, the complete opposite in usefulness of 4HWW, and b) quite a number of people think Kiyosaki is a huckster and/or a liar:

    The WSJ:


    And most damningly, real estate agent John Reed looked into Kiyosaki’s background and found many, many discrepancies:

    Mr. Davidson

    1. I’ll like to briefly comment on Matthews post. Robert kiyoski cites financial intelligence which is what is needed in starting any business. 4HWW cites living a certain lifestyle without having necessarily having to be a millionaire. ( the new rich ) 4hww also clearly points out how this lifestyle can be achieved as does Rich Dad Poor Dad. Both books written by two different authors still leads u down the same

      Road (dreams conquered and financial security.) if u notice both authors realized their dreams its just of course everyone is going to have different experiences. Although I respect your opinion i dont believe Tims story is the total opposite of Roberts in fact here r a few similarities: All 3 authors ( Tim, Robert, Daymond) had humble beginnings as per many successful  self made millionaires. Daymond pointed out most of his success was acquired due to “necessity” Robert Kiosaki as well also grew wealth under pressure ” it was a must” Tim although very young realized many dreams through trial and error and kinda being a nomad but yet discovering things the average could not see was possible but only the wealthy… I was glad when this question was asked because in conferences & the like this q’s r usually not touched upon.  All three books r very influential and I recommend reading them all including ” the millionaire within” Brian Tracy “Goals” as well as Robert Kiosaki new read ” Unfair Advantage”

    2. RE: Matthew’s comment on Kiyosaki

      I think there is a part to his Rich Dad, Poor Dad book that is really good and that is his treatment of the different belief-systems of ‘poor’ versus ‘rich’ people.

      HOWEVER, I also think that the investment advice he gives in his book is absolutely terrible. As long as you just ignore those parts, the book is okay.

      I also remember reading what John Reed wrote about this guy and it is unfortunately very, very convincing.

  22. Daymond worked like 16 hours a day for 2 years straight — Very Impressive. I always keep an open eye for inspiring role models like this.

    I have a question directed @ Daymond (or Tim if you can answer for him)

    How on earth did he deal with the stress of working so much?

    Did you ever doubt yourself and how did you deal with that?

    1. As corny as it may sound, the 16 hours a day doing something I loved weren’t “work” at all. In fact, sometimes I was mad that I HAD to take a break.

      As for the stress, I’ve learned to cope with it after 20 years, but I can’t say that my body hasn’t suffered from it sometimes, with acid reflux and the like. Luckily I haven’t reached a point of ulcers and more detrimental stress-related illnesses. Exercise and nutrition are important. When you’re stressing your mind, you have to have a release through your body. A healthy balance is key.

      I think everybody doubts themselves constantly. But my religious dedication to goal-setting ALWAYS keeps me on track. I’ll notice at times that I’m feeling out of sorts, and it’s universally due to my goals not being reviewed/updated.

      1. Thanks for your insight.

        I’m also very rigorous with goal setting and such, and I’ve read Think And Grow several times — try to read it annually now.

        I identified with your recount of your early years working at red lobster while starting your business — I work as a freelance internet marketer to pay the bills and learn the business, while I grow my business on the side

        But the stress has been crazy,

        And while I’ve never considered quitting an option, the self-doubt really ate me alive for a while.

        With that said, it’s great to see what can be possible for us all through your excellent example.

      2. This is great to hear, Daymond.

        I think the one thing I have found hardest in pursuing business ventures is being unable to find others who share the same level of tireless enthusiasm as myself.

        It’s so hard to convince others that a 24 hour day just isn’t long enough!

  23. It’s nice to see Daymond describe some of the challenges and steps he took on his journey to success. Not only does it add inspiration to us, but it also gives us an idea of what to expect and possibly how we should deal with it.

    Sometimes people avoid talking about all the hardships during the process where they turn their profitable idea into a money making machine, instead omitting it with “and the rest was history…” In my opinion substituting the most important (and often most interesting) part of the story with 4 words is an unforgivable crime!

  24. Hi Tim,

    Very inspiring interview with Daymond.

    I actually got to work with his 3 partners a few years back when I was doing business in the entertainment niche and I really respect what they were able to do with FUBU.

    As usual, very good content!

    Keep up the good work!

  25. Tim: I love the interviews on this blog, it’s great to see you getting back to basics and the roots of this blog: great material with good people in an experimental way. The simplicity and specificity of the questions are still there.

    Daymond: Love the fact you mortgaged your house and turned it into a workshop because you knew it was going to work. Nicely improvised.

    1. Thank you. I wouldn’t suggest anybody do that blindly, knowing what I know now. If I hadn’t acquired my distribution deal soon after, I would have been on the road to bankruptcy and would have likely lost the house! At the time, I did what I had to do, and I was lucky enough to land on my feet. But don’t give me too many kudos; I did that out of desperation!

      1. Hi Daymond, I love Shark Tank. I watch it every week. I’m at that beginning stage and I would love to hear you speak. Is this possible? I have ideas, but need someone whom I can trust to show me how to get started. I will read your book.



  26. I always love hearing the stories of determined people. It’s very inspiring to find out that such a big company grew organically. The go getter attitude is very inspiring.

    1. I agree it is awesome to see a big company grow organically. You always think that big companies were always big companies but they always started somewhere. So motivating.

  27. READ THE BOOK! It’s a fun read and great inspiration. I didn’t realize he had written another book (The Brand Within) but I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

  28. Thanks to all of you for supporting me and Shark Tank. I myself learn from the other Sharks & guest panelists; they’re all brilliant in their own ways. I’m always happy to inspire other entrepreneurs to follow their dreams. I’m a student of life; I’ll never stop learning, and any time I can share my experiences with others, I feel my purpose is served.

    Thanks Tim, for the great interview! You thought outside the box and allowed me to share some new information.

    1. Daymond,

      I’ve been trying to reach you for a few years now. I’ll keep trying. Want to take 10 minutes of your time to talk to you about my business in the College Market. I sent you a letter (handwritten) on the plane to China. Met with your partner Christopher at Magic years back. You guys introduced me to your Sony factory manager and I was smooth sailing after that…

  29. At the end of the day, a dream is fueled by the determination of the dreamer. I think having efficiencies, hacks for life and business knowledge help you stretch that determination further. Great story, great interview.

  30. “What books, people, or media inspire your inner entrepreneur or teach you new lessons about business?”

    I absolutely love when this question is asked, and those are two great books. Tim, have you read them? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on them.

  31. Tim,

    Excellent, poignant questions abound. Kudos on the interview, congrats on the success of your latest book, and thanks for making me aware of Neil Strauss’ latest literary endeavor. Keep up the good work.


    Your points for entrepreneurs are spot on. Being able to hone in on the key questions an investor or outside consultant might ask, and then frame the business and its strategy as a response to those hypotheticals makes the venture more robust and helps set it up for market success. The sort of due diligence you encourage is critical in taking things to the next level.


  32. great interview all of your tips are useful and challenge the status quo which is incredibly valuable. Starting a company is not easy as I am in my second year in the personal training industry and we have grown at a good rate but definitely I have made mistakes but learn from them. I would love to one day interview you tim or daymond even if it is for five minutes. Thanks

  33. Love Shark Tank! One of the best shows on T.V. It’s not “reality T.V.”. It’s one of the few shows that’s 100% business realities on T.V.

  34. Mr John, You have style and grace.

    Went thru the book in one sitting. HIGH ENERGY read!

    Am currently launching a healthcare product so sure know about LONG days!

    Always sweat the small stuff and always know that you are a damned sight better then you think you are!

    Thanks Tim

  35. Great interview! I particularly liked the part about going from imagination to conception. Unfortunately, most aspiring entrepreneurs stay stuck at the “idea” level and never do the most critical thing which is take action. Another important point is that you don’t have to have everything figured out initially which is also where some also go wrong. I recently made the jump from idea to conception. Just do it… It’s not that scary! Thanks for the inspiration!

  36. very nice individual success story which is to be applauded However, FUBU supposed means For Us By Us and is intended to target the black male population. Isn’t that reverse racism

    1. No. Is it “reverse sexism” if somebody designs clothes aimed at women, because they’re not intended to also target men?

      Also, there’s no such thing as reverse racism.

  37. I always love hearing about how businesses like this “grew up”. It’s inspiring to know that these guys came from humble beginnings like most of us. It definitely shows that with the right mindset you can achieve what you really want in life.

  38. It’s all about passion, connection, and inspiration. I wholeheartedly agree with many of these principles, but the one I resonate with most is going from imagination to conception, than taking more steps and overcoming more hurdles. It’s not easy.

  39. Tim

    Once again you give timely advise in short pocket size information bytes. Each byte has the explosive factor to make a reader think big in one small step at a time. Daymond thanks for being so real and honest about your struggles. It’s here in these stories like you and tim I find the inspiration to get out of my way and make my dreams come true.

    Thanks again guys for this inspiring piece.


  40. Hi Daymond,

    On Friday’s Shark Tank I was wondering why you didn’t jump on the HillBilly Brand opportunity, I would have thought this would have been right up your alley, with you being the master marketer and branding for apparel lines, I thought for sure you would have wanted a piece of that action, personally, I think it is a great brand name with alot of promise and with the correct branding, marketing and licensing I think this brand will definately take off, is it because your background is more geared to the Hip Hop crowd or were there other reasons for you passing on HillBilly Brand?


  41. Very insightful interview. Thanks for posting, Tim.

    For everyone’s viewing pleasure, here are a few flip-cam videos of Daymond John discussing funding and consumer loyalty at GuyRilla Marketing Group’s last networking event:

    In addition to Daymond, GuyRilla’s speakers and panelists represent companies like Maxim Magazine, Accenture, Nike, J. Crew, Microsoft, Major League Lacrosse and many more. In fact, 4-hour guest blogger Ramit Sethi spoke at our annual conference.

    Tim, I’d love to promote you in some capacity to our network as well. There are several opportunities in addition to speaking, including our monthly newsletter and online social network. If this sounds of interest, please contact me at the email address below and I can offer you more details. Thanks in advance and I look forward to your reply!

    Best regards,

    Brian Bauer

  42. Even for a business man of Daymond John’s caliber – to recognize the importance of connecting with your consumer, understanding them, getting their feedback and their criticisms without the need to pitch anyone on anything. I wish more companies knew how to utilize the true power of social media, without just looking at it to improve their bottom line.

    Much Respect

  43. Daymond John’s story is such an inspiration to any eager entrepreneur. Sharktank is my favorite t.v. show and I decided to write a blog about it.

  44. Great stuff- I remember when FUBU first came out and was getting big, I was in middle-high school and a lot of guys started wearing it.

    Didn’t realize the founder was on Shark Tank. Then again, I just heard about Shark Tank about 2 weeks ago. Guess I need to catch up on my entrepreneur TV shows

    1. I’m with you, Justin. I remember the FUBU brand a lot from high school, but I haven’t really seen much of it since. Well, I no longer live in an urban area, so that could be part of the reason, but I just assumed the company died out. Interesting to see that the founder has had continued success.

      With Love and Gratitude,


  45. Love the show Shark Tank and enjoyed reading Daymond’s piece here. What is next, Tim? Good stuff as always.

  46. That interview was really inspiring. Beyond the success of the big companies nowadays are struggles and thinking how the business works. The key to that is dedication, love of the craft and never give up. If other business make it, so why don’t you? Believe in yourself.

  47. It should be “inherent” value, not “inherited” in this sentence: “However, at this point in the game, the evaluation of the company could be a little obstructed because of the potential inherited value that the patent holds.”

  48. Tim,

    Thank you so much for sharing this insightful interview with one of my entrepreneurial idols. I am a huge fan of Daymond John, especially after seeing him on the Shark Tank.

    He knows his stuff, and any entrepreneur who gets in front of him should take his advice!



  49. Great article but one quick comment/correction…He keeps using the term “evaluation” when actually it should be “valuation”….check it out and see what I mean. It’s a financial term.

  50. John,

    Obviously Daymond is very successful but your comment makes little sense…

    Next time you’re in front of investors or other business people in the know, try saying: “My company’s EVALUATION is $10 million” and see what kind of questions or looks you’ll get. I suspect the person that transcribed the interview to text maybe typed the extra “e” to make it incorrect. Watch & listen to Daymond on “Shark Tank” and you’ll see how he uses the correct word: valuation NOT evaluation.

    Either way, not taking anything away from Daymond and his stellar success story.

    Maybe Tim can weigh in on what an investor would think on the matter. No biggie really, I was just trying to be helpful.

    1. Ellen,

      It appears that my comment made perfect sense to you based on your response.

      In my opinion you were actually taking away something from him…you say that in you last post, but not in the previous one.

      I never said you were incorrect, I was just saying that he can call it what he wants……based on his success.

      If Tim weighs in, maybe Tim will weigh in specifically on what I said…”Daymond” can call it what he wants.

  51. I focus a lot on Mr. Johns commentaries, interviews, and his decisions on Shark Tank. I love his “down to earth” way of communicating his thoughts. Everyone that’s ever thought about starting a businss can learn a lot by studying Mr. John.

    He is a great inspiration to all races, but especially to the black community. I will definately be pitching my product to him in the near future.

  52. I think the biggest thing is to be able to just go out there and put yourself on the line. taking a risk is always scary and sometimes it is hard to convince yourself to just go out and do it because of the risk of failure but if you do you will learn way more than you ever could learn just reading about it.

  53. I’m reading this for the 100th time, lol, and it is even more inspiring. I shared it on twitter and it actually inspired someone else, Tai Goodwin, on her site ‘Launch While Working’ entitled, ” Guess Who Launched While Working: Shark and FUBU CEO Daymond John” !

    ~Aspire 2 Inspire~

  54. Damond John,

    My Fiancee & I have an invention that is now patented . We met each other in a Nursing Home / Rehab and that is where our invention came about ! Mary has a Brain Tumor and I am paralyzed from the chest down .

    One day I noticed Mary having problems with one of her undergarments ! In 10 seconds I had the solution , had her model a couple of different styles and drew them up freehand , added our Invention to it and the idea became an instant hit among the women in the facility ! From there we found an investor that had to do a little research of his own before he invested in our product !! He found very positive results and decided to invest ! The problem is at that time we were ignorant to how to move on with marketing our product and went to InventHelp and wasted almost $10,000 for next to nothing ! Since then We’ve done a lot of research of our own and found out that between the ages 13-30 there are 50,000,000 women in this country alone and 100,000,000 up to age 50 !

    Between Myself , My Fiancee , my Investor and my College aged daughter , we’ve polled nearly 500 women from ages 17-62 and got 98% + positive feedback that if these women saw these hanging on store racks , the would definitely buy 1 or more and they would need a replacement every couple of years !!

    The best part about this whole idea is that it can be added at the end of the assembly line as not to impede the normal manufacturing process . It would cost between 50-75 cents to add this on and to show my confidence , I would want $1 for each one sold leaving a lot of room for you and the manufacture to make a lot more than I would adding up to possibly 100s of millions for each of us in a year or less !! We do have prototypes made and this invention would make things a lot more safe for women to carry credit cards , Money , MP3 players and other valuables out of site!! That’s why we call our invention “Security Wear” for women !! You won’t be disappointed !!

    Sincerely , Brian Messman & Mary Bork

  55. I would love to go on sharktank and parter with Daymond, i know he would love my designs.I developed a special type of t-shirt that helps define the leanest of muscles on girls or boys. This shirt is made of special materials that promote the look of leaner definition of muscles,, Instructions: Just wear shirt for a couple of weeks “note is not constricting,and is very breathable,and does not make you hot” and then remove shirt in front of mirror, and if you dont think it worked with a major improvement then moneyback guarantee, this innovation does not replace the gym,you must have somewhat of a nice body to begain with…..

  56. I may be the oldest white guy who has driven 700 miles to listen to Daymond John speak as keynote speaker at 7Elven corporate headquarters a bit more than a week ago. Having attended my share of high profile events, with people like Donald Trump, Anthony Robbins, Raymond Aaron, let me tell you Daymond is in the highest standing in my book. As a 1970 Graduate of the United States Naval Academy, I have heard the finest military, civilian and religious speakers in my 65 years on planet Earth. I felt 5o years younger after listening to Daymon speak, and would have benefited more in my life from his entrepreneurial story of his life than all the books I have read, or by listening to anybody who spoke on the subject of motivation. Believe me, should you doubt the veracity of this great motivator, look/follow his tweets, and you will see a man who never sits for long, and his constant movement is proof from all he reaches, Daymond is the real thing. Thanks, and God bless and keep you doing great things.

  57. It is very exciting to be able to read such an inspiring story. I became intrigued to know more about Mr. John after I became a fan of Shark Tank. The show an the “Sharks” are all very interesting individuals but to have Mr. John rolling with the “Big Dogs” just made him stand out even more as one of the “sharks.” Of course, I had heard of FUBU (thanks to LL) and I had heard of Mr. John but after Shark Tank I am ready to do business with preferably him or someone he may recommend in the apparel market. I recently missed him when he did a presentation at one of our local colleges so I am reaching out to make a connection to him or someone who has connections to him.

    My question is: How can I “Pitch to him” other than on Shark Tank? I am 64, in a wheelchair, own my business, and my brain and determination still makes me a “contender”. I am looking forward to the challenge of hearing back from this request.

    Thank you.

    1. You should contact the following person:

      Ted Kingsbery

      350 Fifth Ave, Suite 6617

      New York, NY 10118

      (212) 273-3382

      There is a fee for their services .

      The following text is what I received in a letter from and the message is quoted from Ted Kingsbery

      “I work with Daymond John at his marketing consulting firm Shark Branding and was given your contact info via

      As you requested, I’ve attached a brochure that outlines the offered services for your meeting with Mr. John. Keep in mind that Mr. John created these special rates to help all businessmen and women looking to take their business to the next level. He allows entrepreneurs, like yourself, to pick his brain and ask any question you’d like about how to grow your business. Whether you have just a business idea, recently started a business, or are trying to take your brand to the next level, Mr. John will teach you business lessons that only someone who has created a multi-billion dollar brand from scratch could.

      The direction of the conversation is completely up to you, but below are some topics he’s discussed during previous entrepreneur consultations.

      •How to Take an Idea and Turn it into a Business

      •How to Create a Brand Identity

      •How to Optimize Your Marketing Plan

      •How to Communicate with Your Target Customer

      •How to Structure Your Social Media Planning

      •How to Maximize Your Public Relations Efforts

      •How to Enter the Retail World

      •How to Prepare Yourself for Funding

      •How to Craft Your Pitch for Investors

      Furthermore, portions of the proceeds benefit the organizations the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) and the Workshop in Business Opportunities (WIBO).

      After looking over the brochure, let us know if you’d like to move forward with scheduling your meeting. If there’s a particular date and time that you’re looking for, please provide the info as well. Thanks! ”

      Good Luck Verlee Fowler

      1. Verlee Fowler,

        I cannot believe that until re-visiting this site today that there was an oversight on my part, not realizing your comment to me, not remembering if I answered or not, but found the light underlined text, “Reply” below the message, clicked on it, and so her is my tardy response, not knowing if it goes to you or the author/keeper of the blog. Thank you if I have not thanked you prior to now. Second, I did acquire the information you posted, and have read the information provided, thank you very kindly. Have been quite engaged on numerous fronts, plus survivor now since 2006 (skin cancer) and am a bit more active now. Keep yourself healthy, and happy, and stay in touch, Very Respectfully, Willy

  58. Hi all, would you like to help us get a Tim Ferriss inspired company on “Shark Tank”? If so please help us out as we just submitted at the open casting call but need to get to the next round] so we can get some face time with Daymond John 🙂 Thanks!

    A call to action!


    Send a tweet like this ” @Minz15 I want to see Datsusara hemp gear on @SharkTankABC ” add anything else you feel would help, age, sex, if you have kids, etc.


    Post on the Shark Tank ABC page saying something like ” I want to see Datsusara hemp gear on Shark Tank ” add anything else you feel would help or customize completely.


    Email by clicking the link. Say something just like above ” I want to see Datsusara hemp gear on Shark Tank ” or come up with your own message.

  59. “Dispaly of Power” was definitely and inspiring book. Daymond John’s story into how he started his billion dollar company shows the struggle and motivation you must have to truly become successful. Starting a brand that fills a niche is only the beginning, next comes the ability to show others that it is possible and profitable to continue moving forth. I am the CEO of “Revive Backpacks” and I truly believe that we are on the come up and you will soon see us expand nationwide! 🙂

  60. mmmm i wonder if Daymond is still in the clothing bus? i have designed clothing that lights up in the dark for kids safety or rather i should say everyones safety this new type of clothing does not rely on the headlights of vehicles to be seen. does not take batteries due to no electricity is used in this design.

  61. ummmmm . . . Daymond’s free book offer doesn’t work anymore ?

    I’m I right or have other’s experienced the same?

    1. Let me tell you Joseph. I drove 700 miles to listen to Daymond John speak at the 2012 7-11 conference as he was keynote speaker. Having been to 75 countries, lived in 17 major US Cities, being over 65, white, having heard some of the best motivational speakers in the world, let me assure Daymond is in the top tier of speakers, beating Anthony Robbins, and Donald Trump. I read Daymond’s book cover to cover, more than three times now, paid full price at his appearance, and it is worth more money than most people make in a week of work, So buy it, you will learn to love reading it over and over

  62. Dear mr. Daymond john, my name is Benjamin L.moss and i have been drawing and designing clothing since i was 3 years old, when i became seven i would design my own tennis shoes, and i would design suits, ties, and dress shoes also, i got my skills from my mother Loretta moss she can draw and we both write poems i also have been writing before there was such a thing as hip hop music, my first name was Data m.c.because i was ahead of my time, then i changed it to sir DBL and then i changed it to THE ARCHITECH because my mom said i was an absolut genius, because everyday all day long i would draw and write, if we went to the store i would carry my bookbag and draw in the car e.t.c.i would even designs cars, buildings, houses, and rides for amusement parks, i also designed computers futuristically, phones e.t.c. but my love is designing clothes i never submitted none of my designs to anybody back then, i just did it for the love i was never interested in being rich, but i always wanted to buy my mom a big house custom designed by me. i love my mom she has always been there for me like an eagle, we always wanted to go into business together with a custom made greeting card company. we have the name and everything and the logo. i have everything ready just need the machines and supplies to start her business and my deep clothing line, i would call my suit line Benjamin moss apparel. every women i talk to says that’s a powerful name. it’s from the tribe of Benjamin from revelation 7and it means (son of the right hand) if i get a call from you or e-mail i will tell you my urban clothing wear name. and my tennis shoe design name. it powerful, i also do graphic designs i would like to work for fubu as a designer i’m a bad boy. not bad meaning bad but bad meaning good. daymond john do have anything to do with music because i an a deep poet my publishing company is called (poetry in motion publishing) and my name is THE ARCHITECH because i constantly build. [Moderator: Phone # removed]

  63. Aloha Mr. John,

    I am really impressed with your work and your rise to success. This reading has really been an inspiration to me. I think this new project of yours will succeed and you will find the right partners you need.

  64. I am looking up some information on Daymond John for an assignment, and I am not sure how FUBU had stayed competitive.

  65. This story is very inspiring and I loved it because that is what I’m doing now,I’m young and into bussiness.

  66. I really enjoyed reading about how he understood what it took to make his company grow and always having vision. And the understanding of the global market.

    Very insightful looking foward to looking at other sites from Daymond.

  67. This interview was extremely vital for me to come

    across; being that I to created an idea that I am

    personally still working to get to market. I invented

    an educational math board game called MathMindz; that is currently being used in 11 public schools throughout 3 states (GA, SC, NC). This interview has really inspired me that success when wanted to achieve is “inevitable”. The questions asked to Mr. John provided valuable information. Thank you and well done.