After graduationg from high school, John worked as a waiter at Red Lobster before starting his clothing industry. In 1992, John started making hats to sell at concerts and neighborhood festivals from his mother’s basement in Queens.
He was encouraged by his early success, so John recruited his childhood friends, Alexander Martin, Carl Brown, and Keith Perrin, to work with him; they began sewing tie-top hats. John set up shop at his mother’s house, taking out a $100,000 mortgage. This was the beginning of FUBU, an acronym for For Us, By Us. FUBU’s collection later expanded to include hockey jerseys, t-shirts, and baseball caps, all embroidered with the FUBU label.
FUBU success story is not complete without mentioning the early support John received friend, an entertainer who help in promoting FUBU. Quickly FUBU became one of the leading urban clothing lines, setting fashion trends for young African Americans. However, FUBU’s popularity soon extended beyond the inner city, from suburban malls in the Midwest to Russian Internet sites, making it a true international powerhouse.
John recollected he could not afford billboards as a young entrepreneur; but he pays retail store owners in key areas to let you spray paint “FUBU” on their overnight roll-down security walls. His drive and improvisation has led him from sewing cloth in his kitchen to #15 on Details magazine’s list of “50 Most Influential Men.”
In 1997, John created the FUBU Foundation, which raised $1 million annually. Building on the success of FUBU The Collection, John expanded his business empire with the launch in 2000 of FUBU Entertainment. FUBU sportswear also gained a sizable following of professional athletes. It was FUBU Sportswear that sponsored Nienhouse Motorsports for the 1999 Indianapolis 500. In 2002, FUBU began outfitting the Harlem Globetrotters. John also launched y2g.com as a Web portal to target the untapped market of African Americans on the Internet.