One of the interesting topics that came up during my interview with Daymond John was what he looks for in a marketer, including who was the first marketer he ever hired, and why.
Here’s that story. And if you want to read more, including his recommendations when you’re marketing to a culture you don’t know well, click here to download the full interview (transcript and audio).
Thorin: Do you remember the first time you hired someone in marketing for FUBU?
Daymond: The first time I hired somebody in marketing was basically public relations. It was a fusion of public relations and marketing, and perfect example of what you’re asking if people weren’t part of it and how did they help.
I did an event at Macy’s, it was with LL Cool J. The woman that worked over at Macy’s side who was there to look over the event, she was an African-American woman, but she had just came back from Japan, and she was a ballerina for most of her life, and she was in France and Japan and wasn’t exposed to hip-hop — didn’t know what it was. She grew up in Jersey at a younger age.
But she handled the event with LL Cool J and us. And the people at Macy’s, they were okay, but they kind of were like … they weren’t treating us — remember, this was when hip-hop and hip-hop empowerment was young — they weren’t treating us, like, the best. You know? They kind of gave us a side area and they told her, “Eh, Just do what you can for the guys, they’re cool, but you know, whatever.”
And I loved her, and I loved how professional she was, and I hired her. And I remember her coming on board, and she didn’t know not one rapper, not one artist, but she knew how to communicate and get this information out to whatever magazine. Once she started talking to all the rap magazines and all the media outlets, she carried herself like a professional like she did in France and in Japan, and she communicated like she was at Macy’s.
She didn’t go in there and try to have the hip-hop lingo and everything else. She went in there and she treated other people like professionals, and they actually stepped up their game and respected her, and the communication got better. And I think that that was part of how hip-hop has grown, from people of different cultures and different levels taking the same fundamentals they practiced and moving it and using it where, initially, hip-hop was just the music from the streets.
That was my first person, and she stayed with me for 20 years. She’s still with me today. Her name’s Leslie, Leslie Short. She handles some other stuff now, but that was the prime example of what you were talking about [earlier, about how to market to an audience you don’t know well]: She didn’t have anything to do with hip-hop at the moment, but she was a professional and she acted and carried herself that way and treated the brand that way.