Daymond John of ABC’s hit show Shark Tank is known as the fashion guru. Creating his million-dollar clothing line FUBU in 1992, John became a major success with his hip-hop brand. Though he hit it big in his professional life, the business mogul’s personal life began a downward spiral.
Rising to the top
When John was just 20 years old, he blended his passion for hip hop and fashion and launched FUBU, which stands for ‘For Us By US.’ He started the business out of his Queens home making hats and T-shirts with the help of his mom and business partners, New York buddies J. Alexander Martin and Keith Perrin. His van became his mobile store.
“On the weekends I would take the seats out of that 15-passenger van, pack it full of FUBU and go down to a festival and sell FUBU, and then sleep at night in the van, to then go to another festival,” John told CNNMoney.
John was able to recruit rapper LL Cool J to wear the FUBU brand, and the company took off. “He took that one picture for us, and after we put that in a small magazine, we got calls from everywhere,” John said. “He would then go on to be our spokesperson and take us to a place that we never thought we could go.”
Success at a cost
While John’s clothing empire was skyrocketing, his personal life was unraveling. When John was building the clothing company to $6 billion, John’s wife and two daughters, Yasmeen and Destiny, felt abandoned. The FUBU founder told CNBC that his first wife “literally saw me on TV more than she saw me in person, because I was in commercials all the time and other than that I was hanging out… Now I was rich and I could afford all the fake friends I wanted.”
Between partying with rappers and having to travel to China for his manufacturing, John was an absentee husband and father. “I was so concentrated on work. Many of us who live with our families don’t see our families.” he said, according to CNBC.
His wife had finally had enough and wanted to end the marriage. “You are no longer the person I fell in love with,” John said his wife told him. He revealed that her walking out made him truly realize what was important. “She took everything from me,” he shared. “She took everything. And it wasn’t one red cent. She took her love and my two little girls away from me. I wouldn’t be there anymore on Christmas to watch my girls open up their presents.”
Paying it forward
John’s wife conceded not to take his daughters away completely if he promised to deal with his success in a positive way and pay it forward by giving to others. “This deal is non-negotiable,” John said his wife told him. The Shark Tank star made good on his promise and started helping under-served entrepreneurs and mentoring young men of color, through programs such as President Obama’s initiative, My Brother’s Keeper.
Now remarried to Heather Taras since 2018 and welcoming new daughter Minka, John views success in a very different light. “I am rich because I have my health, I have my faith, I have my little girls. I get to inspire people all the time,” says John. “I also found out who those fake friends were and I found out the value of things.”
Watch ABC’s Shark Tank on Sunday nights!