A standing room only audience of more than 1,200 gave Daymond John an enthusiastic welcome as he took the stage at the Fayetteville Town Center Thursday (Feb. 18) to outline his success as a fashion entrepreneur, a master of branding and a member of a panel of investors on the reality show, “Shark Tank.”
John shared his “Five S.H.A.R.K Points — The Fundamental Keys to Success” as part of his nearly 90-minute presentation tracing his roots as a young child in Queens, New York, and how, through the emergence of hip-hop music, developed his passion for fashion to appeal to fans of the music genre. His talk, sponsored by the student-sponsored Distinguished Lecture Series at the University of Arkansas, was mixed with comedy and music-filled video of photos of hip-hop stars and the other panelists with whom he shares the stage on Shark Tank.
The talk was centered on the S.H.A.R.K Points:
• Set a goal to help you hit a target or visualize where you want to get.
• Do homework; do your analytics.
• Amor, or love what you do.
• Remember, you are the brand and be able to describe yourself in two to five words, which in turn helps you develop the pitch.
• Keep swimming.
John began his presentation by asking the audience to show him the hog call which he filmed using his cell phone.
Casually dressed in jeans, a dark brown T-shirt and sport coat, John opened his talk, saying, “Times are changing. Business is being done in a whole new way” with the introduction of technology and social media while the fundamentals of business are still the same.
“Business is being done on a new level and millennials understand it best,” he said. “I’m here to tell you my story and inspire you. … Being an entrepreneur is a mentality. You don’t need money to make money,” he said, noting self-made millionaires means they were broke at one time or another.
A key to his success has been his pioneering combination of fashion, culture, music and branding.
For years, he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life, he said, until he found his passion in fashion. His first venture into the fashion business was selling handmade hats in front of shopping mall in Queens on a day when the temperature was 37 degrees. He made $800 that day after spending only $40 to buy the fabric to make the hats. The hats were inspired by one he purchased for $6 that would appeal to the young hip hop fans. He learned how to make the hats from his mother.
From that early venture, John and several friends began the FUBU clothing brand, which had humble beginnings in his mother’s home that was converted to a factory. They stalked singer-actor LL Cool J, talking him into posing for a picture wearing a FUBU T-shirt and hat.
John said he printed 300 copies of the photo which led to a trip to Las Vegas and sneaking into a renowned trade show for men’s clothing. They sold $300,000 worth of clothing at that show, only to return to Queens where 27 banks turned him down for loans to make the clothes. He raised $2,000 by working at a Red Lobster restaurant for a month to spend on a newspaper ad to find a strategic partner — his mother’s idea.
“Remember, a strategic partner begins at home,” he said.
That ad brought Samsung to his doorstep which offered him a three-year deal as his strategic partner. He exceeded the requirements of the deal in the first three months.
All the struggles in the humble beginnings have grown into what is now a $5 billion global fashion powerhouse that includes 10 brands. John is recognized as a branding expert, author and motivational speaker, in addition to running his fashion empire. His third book, “The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage,” was released in January. He has received numerous awards and was named a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship by President Obama.
Bobby Manzo of Bentonville connected with what John was saying.
“I can relate to the struggles,” he said.
The 38-year-old entrepreneur is developing a business, Happy State Co., which produces apparel and accessories, showing state pride and positive themes. He can produce the outline of any state on his products. He is trying to manage his business and his family that includes four children. He was laid off from a full time job in the vendor community last month and is also trying to find a job.
Before John’s appearance, Manzo said he hoped to learn how to take the business to the next level. Afterward, he said he planned to apply the Shark Points to his business, making sure he is following the five points. If not, he will restructure the business to incorporate the five points, he said.