Zack Miller: When you hear No in business what do you do?
Daymond John: First of all, a No is always an absolute maybe to me. When people all agree and you pick the lowest common denomination often No is because the person cannot foresee or they do not have the vision. I’ve often said if they all said yes there wouldn’t be a reason for you to exist because everyone would have thought of the things that you were going to, to go onto and accomplish. I just don’t take No as an answer. It doesn’t exist to me.
Zack Miller: I love that, a No is an absolute maybe. Trying to figure out and change a couple of words.
Daymond John: Yea, that is another way to approach it, but the answer is always going to be No unless you ask.
Watch this segment and all episodes of Hampton Roads Business Weekly.
Cheryl Tan: Entrepreneur, author, speaker, shark; Daymond John has worn many hats throughout his career but nowadays he’s probably best known as one of the investors on ABC’s Shark Tank.
Zack Miller: Recently he spoke to a packed crowd at Regent University and I was able to speak with him one on one. We talked about how he started his company FUBU and the role Hampton Roads played in getting it off the ground.
All right Daymond, I love your story. I love that you saw a problem when you started FUBU, going down the streets of Queens and saw the hats were overpriced and you decided that you could make them and make more money that day. How did you know that you could actually execute and do that at that time?
Daymond: I actually didn’t know if I could do that. I knew that my mother taught me how to sew those hats and I knew that I could then sell them to make a couple of dollars. It wasn’t until probably later on, maybe about 2, 3 years after that that I realized that there was something there. I’m not certain of the year but believe or not it was here, Virginia Beach. I came down here for that time, Teddy Riley used to throw a big event. I was down here and the music artist, Da Brat, had a song out. I went up to her. It was on stage. I happened to have some friends there. I asked her could she wear the product. She said, “Oh, I’ve been looking for this forever. I’ll wear it.” I’d already placed in a couple of videos, but that was the first time that I’d ever been able to actually interact with an artist and then after that it just kept happening, kept happening, kept happening.
Zack Miller: You talk about that one of the greatest strategies for FUBU was you’re able to get your clothing line in music videos and have other people do that. How are you able to get that in front of them and what did you do specifically to convince them to take on a nobody basically?
Daymond: At that time rap was very young and pure and you could easily get around to the artist and their surrounding friends. The reason why I said for making the hats to 2, 3 years later was I focus on the local celebrities, meaning the person that everybody looked up to in the community. That person could have been a high school football player. That person could have been somebody that owned a really great cool clothing store, and they were selling everybody else’s clothes. What we would call today, influencers, the people that today may not have a public stage like ABC or E networks, but 5,000,000 people follow them on Instagram, because they just may be a Mommy Blogger, a Mompreneur, a great chef, a foodie who talks about things, a blogger. We always started with the local entrepreneurs and/or influential people. Then the artist, when they come back to their neighborhoods go, “What’s all that stuff you’re wearing?” “Oh, you didn’t know, you were so busy on tour Mr. Big shot. You should probably want to try to wear something like that.” That’s how it worked.
Zack Miller: I’ve heard you in an interview before say that, “Counterfeit clothing really helped you do that.” When did you first see that counterfeit clothing was something … That you could find that people weren’t wearing genuine FUBU stuff and how did that influence the growth?
Daymond: Counterfeit clothing you had to look at it a couple of different ways. There are people that are going to make your product out there and they’re not going pay you for it, and then there are people out there who whether they couldn’t afford your product or couldn’t find it, they would have never been a customer anyway, that if the counterfeit they buy that, then what happens is it’s a form of a billboard, it’s advertising, but also it’s not taking a customer out of your market that you were going to obtain anyway. This reality of it is it’s kind of if you can’t beat them join them, because if you look at the counterfeit market, they do so much. You can spend all your money and all your profits trying to fight it, and you wouldn’t put a dent in it. Find a way to use it to your advantage.
Zack Miller: A lot of people hear ‘no’ and they quit. How would you take a ‘no’ and turn it into a ‘yes’ in business?
Daymond: First of all a ‘no’ is always an absolute maybe to me. When people all agree you get the lowest common denominator. Often ‘no’ is because the person just can’t foresee or they don’t have the vision. I’ve often said if they were all going to say ‘yes’ then there wouldn’t be a reason for you to exist because everybody would have thought of the things that you’re going to go and accomplish. I really just don’t take ‘no’ as an answer. It just doesn’t exist to be.
Zack Miller: I love that, an absolute maybe, I love that. Trying to figure to change and tweak a couple words or something like that.
Daymond: It’s definitely another way to approach it. You know what? The thing is that the answer is always going to be ‘no’ unless you ask.
Zack Miller: Sure.
Daymond: That’s just what it is.
Zack Miller: Stick around. I have more of Daymond John including his advice for new entrepreneurs.
That’s next on Hampton Roads Business Weekly.
We’re back for more Hampton Roads Business Weekly and we’re going to jump right into the conclusion, my exclusive interview with Daymond John. Take a look.
You’re here at Regent University. What are you expecting today, and why are you here?
Daymond: I’m here at Regent, and I’m here to thank everybody who has supported the Daymond John Center for Entrepreneurship. I’m here to also talk to the existing students and the new students about our courses and meet all the great professors, and give a speech that hopefully will inspire people to want to further their education in what I’m doing. I want to thank Regent for having this agenda to take the mindset of entrepreneurship and make it something for the masses.
Zack Miller: Entrepreneurship is a huge thing in America right now. A lot of people love it. Your show is one of the reasons why. Why is entrepreneurship so important, though, and how is it going to influence the way we do business for the next 10, 15 years?
Daymond: Everything that happens today because of social media is brought to the light. I don’t believe that entrepreneurship is something that is just hot today. That’s what this country is founded off of; be honest. I believe that it was the Kaufman Foundation that pointed out I think between the years of 1983 to something like 1999 or even 2001 that 95% of the employment of this country was done by companies 5 years or younger. That’s in 83 all the way up until that point. That doesn’t mean that entrepreneurship is old, it’s just another phrase to it. I think it’s very important. I think it’s the small businesses, the startups that feed America. I think it creates ingenuity and it’s why we are who we are as a country. We have that, what they call that “black box’ in this country where we are not questioned for challenging change. I just think entrepreneurs are on the forefront of challenging change.
Zack Miller: You talked about social media a lot. Do you post your own social media, or do you have a team that does it for you?
Daymond: I post all my social media. There is a team that does other posting for me, but it’s approved by me. We go over it at certain times when I’m busy. It’s an amazing holiday or a day that we need to acknowledge something; we’ve already created some kind of graphic or something like that goes up. They go and they post it, but I have to approve it. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of young, brilliant guys and girls that work on my team that we work back and forth and I learn from them on how to post it.
Zack Miller: For someone that might be on the fence about starting a business, what piece of advice would you give them?
Daymond: Don’t quit your day job. Go into the business as somewhat of a hobby at first and set yourself some goals. If you’re going to put 2 hours, 4 hours, 8 hours into it a week. Then turn around and say when am I going to make the decision in 6 months into the year. That time will start compounding, and they’ll start to see if they really want to be part of this new venture, or this new aspect or do they want to just keep their day job. Just stick your toe into it. Don’t go and leverage everything, and mortgage the home and quit your day job. You don’t even know if you’re passionate over this, if it’s going to be successful or anything else. You have to do your homework, and you have to put in the time.
Zack Miller: We live in an area here in Norfolk Virginia Beach, which is 3 large industries, the military, tourism, imports. Those are very old industries. What would you say to those industries to try and innovate and spur innovation and entrepreneurship for the breadth of this region?
Daymond: I always say that as much as there’s old if you operate the fundamentals of it and you utilize this new world of technology, and this new world of delivering a message to somebody you can actually transform that business into being something new. Whether you had said to us, “We’re a service based industry and we have limousines and then somebody comes out with UBER in the town, there’s always going to be a new form of delivery.” You just have to find out how to master what you guys and girls have already mastered out here because there’s an infinite amount of knowledge in running those industries and how do you put that together with a new form of delivery, a new technology and then you get to master that.
Zack Miller: Good. Appreciate it.
Daymond: Thank you.
Zack Miller: Thanks so much.