FUBU founder, Daymond John went from taking shrimp orders at Red Lobster to serving investment deals on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” The big fish is a multimillionaire now, but he got his start in the small pond of Huntington, he told a group of young entrepreneurs last week in Melville.
For Us By Us (FUBU), became one of the fashion industry's biggest names when John was just 22 years old. Today, the company has amassed $4 billion in global product sales. To pay it forward, he acts as a mentor to budding business leaders, a role he stepped into Thursday afternoon as the keynote speaker during the at .
The Queens native was taking time off from college and working as a waiter when he decided to follow his creative passion. Starting with just 10 T-shirts in his mother’s basement, John created FUBU, which quickly became the hottest urban style clothing line in the hip-hop circuit.
"When I started, I searched all over for a great embroiderer and manufacturer. The first person I found that helped me bring my concepts to life the way I wanted was Andrea from Digicarr in Huntington. I still work with her till this day,” he said.
John said he would travel from his home in Queens to Huntington every day in order to work with Digicarr owner, Andrea Carr, on his ideas. He also traveled to Ronkonkoma to work with American Quality Embroidery for domestic production.
The self-made millionaire continued to serve up crab legs and cheddar biscuits to pay the bills, while FUBU was still in its early stages. The brand took off when LL Cool J wore John's clothing during a promotional campaign. From there, his days as a waiter were over.
After making his millions, he immediately started to give back by providing mentorship to young business minds. It was the guidance of others that helped lead to his success, he said.
“Entrepreneurship is what is going to save our country,” he said. “Growing up, we were told to go to school, get a job, find a good mate and when you retire, you’ll have a great pension. That doesn’t happen anymore, which is why entrepreneurs are our future.”
John honored the two finalists, St. Anthony's alumnus Rich Dallojacono, 22, and Port Jefferson alumnus Alex Tsunis, 18, during the event as Capital One Bank awarded them each $10,000 to start their own businesses.