Daymond John, ‘Shark Tank’ Star, Talks New Season, FUBU And Technology’s Impact On Fashion
by Brennan Williams
February 2, 2012 | 4:01 pm ET
How was it transitioning from a multibillion dollar company like FUBU to a reality television series?
It’s fairly easy. FUBU — the beauty of it is that it was always based off of an entertainment type of structure, whether it was LL [Cool J] being the face of it, or all of our product integration into reality shows. That’s what we do often. The first couple years of the Kardashians being on the air, I managed to put Coogi and some of my other brands in there. So we always dealt in that space, which made for a pretty easy transition.
Do you still have a stake in FUBU, or have you branched off into your other brands such as Drunken Monkey and Coogi?
We all [I and my FUBU partners] have a stake in all of our brands, because we licensed the brands in other territories. FUBU is pretty well licensed out in China and Asia. In America it’s a little more of a challenge, obviously, because it’s a branded sport. Now we’re doing a great job in Walmart with footwear. But I’m still in charge of licensing, and it’s the same format as “Shark Tank.” Basically, I’m cutting deals with Asia and other countries to distribute the product at a certain cost. And that’s basically the hustle.
How do you set yourself apart from other fashion moguls in your space who are also trying to broker deals in domestic and foreign markets?
Being in this space going on 25 years, as something I really know well, any line that I decide to put out, it has a great chance of being successful. I’ve made a million mistakes; I know what not to do. But even if you look at the vice president of Sean John [Jeffrey Tweedy], who’s a very good friend of mine, I suggested him for the job. I used to distribute Russell Simmons’ Phat Farm in Europe, so we’re close knit. And actually what I’ve been doing now is, I’ve been setting up a lot of artists and stars with their own brands. They come to me to develop it. So I’m working right now with Vanessa Simmons, Selita Ebanks. I have about four artists a month that I’m usually advising and putting together their brands and products so they can take it out to the world.
What do you consider to be the most challenging aspect of prospering in business?
It’s always going to be staying relevant. How do you make your product new and sexy enough to where you can have somebody buy it? But secondly, at a price where it can make you some money? That was always the challenge, ‘How do you stay cool?’ And that’s what I kind of do now with all the products, brands and companies that I work with. I try to make them cool and stay cool enough to be hip. And that’s a big challenge.