It’s been eight years since we last spoke to FUBU’S J. Alexander Martin. Instead of slowing down, the successful entrepreneur has continued to thrive and expand, and not only with the FUBU brand. His businesses are still growing, with more on the way.
In an exclusive email interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE, Martin expresses how his business acumen keeps him going, how FUBU is involved with the Black Lives Matter movement, and how the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped him in his endeavors.
FUBU is not only still in existence but has expanded in many directions. What do you currently have going on and how are you able to keep the brand FUBU relevant and, more importantly, in business?
Contrary to common belief, the brand has always been in the marketplace. Yes, it’s true our market share has diminished over time but that is just the nature of doing good business.
We’ve restructured our business specifically relating to distribution. FUBU is primarily a licensing company. Taking advantage of what we stand on the principles and values of “For Us, By Us” and our dedication to the culture of hip-hop music. We have signed global licensing deals for men’s, ladies’, and kids’ apparel, which have rescheduled to launch–due to the COVID-19 virus–[in] fall 2020. We have collaborated with #BlackLivesMatter to create a line of t-shirts, hats, and hoodies. Meanwhile, you can visit our website at fubu.com for details.
Let’s talk about the FUBU Network. Do you currently have programming? What plans do you anticipate as far as growing the network?
FUBU network is my brainchild. I teamed up with Roberto “Rush” Evans, Terence Greene, Datu Fasion, and Kev Chen of Phoenix Digital and re-named the company For Us By Us Network. We have distribution on Comcast VOD, Roku, OTT networks, and our digital network, ForUsByUs.com. We also recently signed distribution deals with Verizon/Yahoo slated for late fall 2020.
Check out our fall lineup:
Lamar Odom & Sabrina Parr
Synopsis: After a failed marriage to Khloe Kardashian, basketball champion Lamar Odom is back at it for a second time with new fiancé Sabrina Parr.
Synopsis: Rap Superstar Lil Boosie is a father of seven kids and single. Can he manage being on the road and balancing his hectic career?
Spinning The Globe
Synopsis: Iconic female rapper Charli Baltimore has two beautiful daughters, one a model for Ford and the other a DJ, but will their egos clash as fame grows?
Synopsis: Boxing royalty Zab Super Judah, is trying hard at taking care of his family, but things take a twist when his ex-wife and current girlfriend try to co-mingle as one happy family.
I Wanna Be Heard
Synopsis: We hear the horror stories but see it up close and personal with the artist who doesn’t get the correct credit they deserve.
In My Closet
Synopsis: You want to live like the rich and famous? First, you have to play the part. Come take a look at some of the best closets of these celebrities.
Chopping It up With Oakley
Synopsis: Cooking plus great conversations. How could you go wrong? That’s what you see when entering the kitchen of basketball great Charles Oakley and his megastar guests.
Tell us about HotelFUBU, FUBU Radio, and Daymond John.
HotelFUBU is a boutique hospitality brand innovation that was founded in 2015 by myself, Carlton E. Brown, and my chief operating officer, Cecily R. Groves.
Combining more than 30 years of professional real estate and commercial development experience, hotelFUBU represents the new millennium of real estate innovators utilizing technology and lifestyle branding to debut new concepts for a new era of consumers and communities. We currently have three locations in development in NY Times Square, downtown Brooklyn, and South Beach Miami.
Keith Perrin started FUBU Radio out of frustration of hearing the same 20 songs played on terrestrial radio. He wanted to be able to also have a voice in the community as well as uplift, educate, empower, and entertain our audience with music and life-changing content.
He started the station in 2015 with a monthly listenership of 2,000 listeners and has grown FUBU Radio’s base to over 6 million listeners a month with 3.6 million new listeners.
FUBU Radio currently has 10 radio shows with hosts on-air each and every week.
FUBU Radio signed a partnership deal with iHeartRadio a year ago and are working on another partnership as we speak with Radio.com
FUBU Radio’s fan base is worldwide with listeners in the UK, USA, South Africa, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Netherlands, and Denmark who tune in regularly.
While Daymond John is on his eight season on the award-winning show Shark Tank, he also has a branding company called Shark Branding, a co-working space called BluePrint & Co, and continues to author bestselling books while selling out arenas with his Daymond John Academy series and his inspirational speeches.
We also have new licensees in the following categories: men’s, women’s, kids’, eyewear, suits, footwear, watches, bags.
How does the mind operate in terms of getting business done as opposed to when you first launched FUBU?
I talk about this in my new book, Building an Empire. You must think outside the box. You must follow your own vision. You must create your future. Don’t let your circumstance dictate your reality.
Longevity is one aspect of business that keeps it successful. To what do you attribute the longevity of the FUBU brand and being able to branch off and create other aspects and businesses based on the company you and your friends started?
Always evolving and being in touch with your customer. We are the consumer so we know what we want. We are the narrative and the narrator at the same damn time! We are from the streets of Queens where hip-hop became mainstream via Run DMC and LL Cool J. We took urban fashion all over the world. The culture is our DNA. We wouldn’t be who we are, or have made such an impact without being true to oneself. We are African American Black men navigating in a country that thinks less of us. That gives us strength to keep going. As Black men we have to stick together. We are all we got! For Us By Us!!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to replicate the type of success you have and continue to have all these years?
My advice in any business is my startup exercise. I write down all the foreseeable obstacles in starting that particular business and I find an answer for each obstacle. After that’s done then I start my business. This practice makes you pragmatic, allowing you to pivot when the market changes.
This formula has helped us have staying power.
Was there ever a time when you didn’t think you’d be able to sustain your business?
No, businesses have life cycles. You may struggle financially, however, we built a movement based on the culture of hip-hop. If hip-hop dies, we die! Hip-hop has evolved as we have.
What’s next for J. Alexander Martin?
Due to the COVID-19 virus, I personally felt a need to help by using my business relationships in distribution and manufacturing along with the plethora of contacts to help government, states, and hospitals obtain PPE products. I have been involved in successfully distributing over 1 billion masks to municipalities via my company, J. Alexander Martin Consulting LLC. I am SAM registered and I’m on the national disaster registry list.
I am on the board of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, [which] is dedicated to economically empowering and sustaining African American communities through entrepreneurship and capitalistic activity within the United States and via interaction with the Black Diaspora.
I’m the director of entrepreneurship for DreamSmart Academy, a performance-enhancing, behavioral-based, socially conscious, online coaching, and wellness curriculum. Our wellness curriculum aligns students’/learners’ body, mind, soul, and finances. DreamSmart Academy calls this alignment HarMone©. The alignment of body, mind, soul, and finances optimizes students’/learners’ abilities to be productive in the real world. Through consistent practice of HarMone students/learners have the best possible chance to make their dreams and goals a reality.
I’m the board member of the National Association of Black Professional Athletes. NABPA’s mission is to provide a global platform for black professional athletes to come together and unite to be an impact on social justice reform and outreach to underserved people of our communities.
I’m the managing partner of Greenpoint Capital, a middle-market consulting and advisory firm that helps both public and private companies secure equity/debt capital, form strategic partnerships, help with staffing needs, and with mergers and acquisitions.
For more details visit my website, Jalexandermartin.com