When I was 20, living in my mom’s house, the new sound of hip hop was breaking out from the streets to the stores. Records were flying off the shelves, and although my community was underserved in resource, we were rich with hustle. I knew it was time for a brand that represented this rise and movement — a brand that was “For Us By Us.”
But I was broke, with no guidance on how to make my dream a reality. So I started sewing and stitching at night. I made 40 hats — and my brand FUBU was born. At the time, I didn’t know how to access capital or source material. I didn’t know how to build a business.
So I got my neighbor, L.L. Cool J, to take a photo wearing a FUBU hat. I spent my last dollars mailing that photo to trade buyers. It was my big break. Suddenly, every major music artist was begging to wear my swag and I amassed over $300,000 in orders. To meet demand, my three partners and I transformed my childhood home into a full-on clothing factory. I learned to exercise what I call “The Power of Broke.” By harnessing that power and that drive, I managed to turn FUBU into a multi-billion dollar iconic brand.
The challenges I faced and the journey I took mirror the potential of millions of young entrepreneurs here and around the world. They have the drive and spirit to imagine, innovate, and create — but we must all come together in order to keep lifting them up.
That’s why, in 2015, I became a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE), working with the White House to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs across the globe, providing opportunities and pathways to capital and skills, and helping to inspire success in others.
This year I am proud to travel with President Obama to the seventh annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) at Stanford University. With over 700 entrepreneurs from 170 countries and 350 investors in attendance, we’re bringing the world to Silicon Valley and Silicon Valley to the world.
I’m excited to meet people like Sumana Shrestha, who started Medication for Nepal, an organization that uses technology to tackle inefficiencies and high healthcare costs, ensuring medical access for the most vulnerable populations in her country. And Evans Wadongo from Kenya, the co-founder of GreenWize Energy, which is advancing cutting edge African-designed renewable energy products and solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa.
I hope you’ll join me at 1:45 pm ET in watching the President’s remarks at this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit.
New York, NY