published Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

'Shark Tank' star, FUBU founder Daymond John shares business wisdom

Keynote speaker Daymond John delivers the keynote address at the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga's Entrepreneur Power Luncheon in The Chattanoogan ballroom.
Keynote speaker Daymond John delivers the keynote address at the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga's Entrepreneur Power Luncheon in The Chattanoogan ballroom.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

JOHN'S SHARK TIPS

S - Set your goal

H - Homework - do your research

A - Amor - love what you do

R - Remember, you're the brand

K - Keep swimming

Source: Daymond John

FIND OUT MORE

For more information on the Urban League's Entrepreneur Center, call 423-756-1762 or visit ulchatt.net.

Daymond John's earrings sparkled when he sauntered on stage at the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga's first annual Entrepreneur Power Luncheon on Tuesday.

Many of the 550 people in the audience lifted glowing cellphones to snap photos of John, the star of ABC's "Shark Tank" and the founder of FUBU, a fashion brand that has more than $6 billion in product sales.

He peppered his hourlong presentation with song snippets, childhood photos, shouts and laughter.

"I'm here today for two reasons," he joked. "Number one is to pack my suitcase with Little Debbies and Jack Daniel's and go home with that."

He delivered a well-polished, well-practiced, well-timed explanation of how he started as a server at a Red Lobster in New York City, sold hats on the street and, eventually, built a hip-hop fashion empire. Along the way he was refused financing at 27 banks, put an ad in the newspaper to find capital when he faced bankruptcy -- which resulted in 33 calls, one from Samsung's textile division -- and turned his mother's house into a clothing factory.

He commanded the room for an hour and received a standing ovation as he left the stage.

"He represents someone who's been through the mill," said Warren Logan, Chattanooga's Urban League president and CEO. "He wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He's had some failures, but he picked himself back up. And I think that resonates with entrepreneurs and especially with this community."

The sold-out event raised about $25,000 for the Urban League's Entrepreneur Center, Logan estimated. The money will be pumped into the Entrepreneur Center's programs, which aim to help small businesses to add livable-wage jobs to Chattanooga's economy.

Michele Stepney owns Tirzahs Body Scents, a 3-year-old company that offers natural skin care products. She said the five tips for business owners John outlined during his presentation were very helpful.

"It was inspiring, and it changed my focus as an entrepreneur," she said. "I look at my business from a different perspective now."

She said his last point -- keep swimming -- and his drive to push through difficulties was the most impactful part of his speech.

Logan said he was happy with the fundraiser's inaugural event.

"It really exceeded my expectations, both in turnout and in [John's] remarks," he said. "It was just a quality conversation."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at sbradbury@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6525.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...

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