Success

'Shark Tank's' Daymond John: There's no such thing as a 'big break'—this is how it really works

Paras Griffin

Even on "Shark Tank," where brands have been catapulted to success after appearing on the show, "there is no one big break," says Shark fashion entrepreneur Daymond John.

He doesn't believe in the concept.

"Actually, when there is that big break you've, probably made a whole bunch of little breaks that got you to that big break," John said in a video he tweeted Tuesday.

Daymond's clothing company FUBU, which he launched in 1992, is a good example of this, according to John.

For example, it seemed like a "big break" for FUBU when LL Cool J, the company's spokesperson (and by then a partner in the business), wore a FUBU hat and surreptitiously name-dropped "For Us By Us" in a 1997 commercial for The Gap. The exposure — and controversy — helped put John's brand on the map.

"You know, it shook up The Gap," John told CNBC's "The Brave Ones" in 2018. "They would spend millions of dollars airing a FUBU ad not knowing it. The entire hip hop community was just dying laughing." (The Gap pulled the ad three weeks later.)

"[The Gap] helped out a little fledgling company," LL Cool J, whose name is James Todd Smith, told Oprah Winfrey in 2013.

(The Gap ad can be seen about 25 seconds into the clip embedded below.)

But rather than a single big break, the ad was really a tipping point in a series of little breaks John had along the way.

For example, Smith, who was from the same Queens, New York neighborhood as John, first wore a FUBU jersey in his music video for the 1995 song "Hey Lover." John told Money he "camp[ed] outside" Smith's house until he agreed to wear it, because FUBU needed a face for the brand.

John has said he also considers the day he "stood on a corner" and "sold a bunch of hats" in 1989 to be one of FUBU's little "big breaks." His mom taught him how to sew, and he would sell $800 worth of hats in just an hour, he told "The Brave Ones."

It might seem like an insignificant number considering FUBU eventually grew to be a $6 billion company, according to John. But it made him realize "I could empower myself," he said.

John also put in a lot of hard work to be ready to take advantage of the breaks, big or small, when they came.

So that's his advice for anyone feeling like they haven't had their moment: "Always look out for all of those opportunities that are right in front of your face every single day," he said.

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Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to ABC's "Shark Tank."

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