Fashion mogul J. Alexander Martin, a founder of FUBU, was to headline Saturday’s Wealth Day Conference in Bloomington at the Doubletree Hotel.
Martin was one of the men with the money behind Daymond John’s hat-making conceit that has reportedly made FUBU a $250 million company. There are, according to Wikipedia, two other lesser known FUBU co-founders, and now my goal is to interview them if they ever come to the Twin Cities. I interviewed John, who has become quite famous as a result of appearing on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” in person when he came to the metro for an Urban League event in June.
Ahead of his Wealth Day (www.wealthday.com) appearance, where he was scheduled to talk about his successful business career, I interviewed Martin via e-mail. Would have loved to ask him if he ever walked around looking stupid in sagging pants, but I couldn’t just recycle the questions I asked John. I wanted to stretch myself by coming up with some different questions, and apparently he found a few of my wealth-related queries not worthy of a response. However, he surprised me by answering questions about mooching celebrities and Miley Cyrus at the VMAs.
By way of comparison, I’ve attached my startribune.com/video with John to the Web version. Via Twitter he remarked that my questions were tough, but he respected my being real.
Q How did you guys decide who would get which big title at your corporation? Did you write the titles on pieces of paper and pull them out of a FUBU hat?
A My partner was already making hats. I came in with a monetary investment and the vision to expand the business into a clothing line. I took the role of vice president because Daymond started the business before my investment. [John is the CEO.]
Q It dawned on me after I interviewed Daymond John that his given name might actually have been John Daymond? Am I right?
A No, his name is Daymond John.
Q Are you living as large as Daymond?
A Declined to answer.
Q What’s the biggest dining tab friends have left you to pay, knowing that you could afford it?
A The largest dining tab I was left to pay was $15,000. Friends and I were in Washington, D.C., and opened the bar at a popular local establishment. The next night, I went back and did it again. Hindsight, that wasn’t a smart decision as it related to building wealth.
Q What is your favorite and least favorite aspect of NYC Fashion Week?
A My favorite aspect of NYC Fashion Week was Fashion Night Out. My least favorite aspect is that I am completely exhausted at the end of the week; that I need another week to recuperate.
Q Does celebrities’ angling for free stuff ever get old?
A Yes, you can end up giving away millions of dollars of free stuff that negatively impacts your bottom line and profit margins. We have scaled back, however; what we do currently is compare the cost of the item to value of the return on the marketing. Then we decide what and to whom to give.
Q Is there an item of FUBU clothing you regret became a fashion trend?
A No. Each trend continued to build the brand and the company, thus increasing profits.
Q What did you think of Miley Cyrus’ VMA bikini?
A It served its purpose. She wanted to have shock value and that is what she got.
Q How much money is in your 401(k) — less than $1 million or more than $3 million?
A Declined to answer.
Interviews are edited. C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.”