Shark Tank episode 923 featured Adam Butlein and Chid Liberty’s socially conscious clothes subscription service, Uniform.
Liberty fled Liberia as a small child and grew up in the United States. Chid lived in Silicon Valley for several years before returning to his homeland in 2009.
After becoming dissatisfied with what he witnessed, he co-founded Africa’s first Fair Trade garment manufacturer, Liberty & Justice.
He also saw that children in Liberia were skipping school due to the high cost of school uniforms.
Uniform was founded due to his business zeal and a desire to assist his fellow Liberians.
The company charges clients a monthly subscription fee for apparel ranging from T-shirts to gowns to bomber jackets.
The garment is entirely handcrafted in Liberia by Liberian women using only fair trade African materials.
The rapper and fashion designer A$AP Ferg joins Liberty to design and marketing.
Uniform provides a free school uniform to Liberian youth with every monthly subscription.
Many children do not attend school because they lack the school uniforms required in all African schools. They are prohibitively pricey for the majority of disadvantaged families.
The company began in 2015 with a $230,059 Kickstarter campaign.
The firm marketed its products as the “softest tee shirt in the world.”
The goal for Uniform is to become the world’s leading apparel brand.
Liberty expects that its “ethical manufacturing technique” will assist the brand is growing. He also looks for assistance from a Shark.
What Is Uniform?
UNIFORM is a collection of affordable streetwear t-shirts, hoodies, joggers, and headwear designed and manufactured in Africa.
Uniform donates clothing for every item purchased to a young African who needs a school uniform.
Many African countries require students to wear school uniforms to attend public schools. Children who cannot afford these uniforms are not permitted to attend.
Chid Liberty and Adam Butlein founded the company UNIFORM. The company is primarily a clothes company, but it encompasses much more. It would be more appropriate to say they are in the business of assisting others.
Chid and Adam sell their garments from North America to locations worldwide, while Liberian women create them.
They donate a school uniform to a Liberian child for every clothes purchased.
Many people in Africa benefit from advancing children’s education and providing jobs for working mothers across Africa in ethical factories.
|Company Name||Uniform +1|
|Entrepreneur||Chid Liberty & Adam Butlein|
|Product||African social enterprise promotes ethically-produced clothing.|
|Investment Asking For||$300,000 for 10% equity in Uniform|
|Final Deal||No Deal|
|Episode||Season 10 Episode 10|
|Business Status||In Business|
Who Is The Founder Of Uniform?
Adam Butlein and Chid Liberty founded UNIFORM. Chid is a Liberian native who emigrated to the United States as a child.
He was raised in Silicon Valley before returning home as an adult to his native country.
He observed immediately after his return how few children went to school. Many African schools require students to wear a school uniform.
Students will frequently miss school without a uniform if their families cannot afford it.
In addition, Chid and Adam founded the first Fair Trade clothing company in Africa, Liberty & Justice.
Uniform was producing $4,000,000 in annual revenue before the Ebola outbreak halted production for a year.
They decided to expand their business by manufacturing uniforms for children in Liberia. They founded UNIFORM with an excess of fabric.
A study has shown that donated school uniforms can increase attendance by up to 62% and test scores by up to 0.25 standard deviations, and two in three girls who receive a uniform postpone getting pregnant.
Uniform Before Shark Tank
The combination of an international platinum hit, fashion design, and socially conscious marketing was perhaps unexpected.
However, ASAP Ferg, a.k.a. Darold D. Brown Ferguson, Jr.
He displayed artistic abilities as a child growing up in Harlem, assisting in creating t-shirts and record logos for his father’s business.
As soon as he graduated from art school, he started his own business.
Chris Brown and Diggy Simmons were attracted to Devoni Clothing, specializing in high-end accessories.
However, ASAP Ferg recognized his talent and passion for music by 2010.
ASAP Rocky, a high school classmate, hooked up with him to form the hip-hop group ASAP Mob.
Drawing on his artistic and fashion backgrounds, he created costumes for the ensemble.
As a rapper over several years, ASAP Ferg became very successful, eventually making a platinum album as a solo artist.
ASAP Ferg has undoubtedly remained interested in art and design throughout his career. He partnered with Chid Liberty’s group, Liberty & Justice, in 2017.
Liberty & Justice, founded in 2010 as a socially responsible apparel company, sells clothing from numerous African countries, like Liberia and Ghana, that is labeled “Fair Trade.”
The Liberian Women’s Sewing Project, for example, is owned by 49 percent of its employees, and its profits are donated to the Community Development Fund of Liberty and Justice.
The company launched its UNIFORM label in 2015 on a “one-for-one” basis, with every apparel purchase resulting in a child in Liberia receiving a new school uniform.
Vogue.com asked ASAP Ferg why he wanted to partner with Liberty & Justice and provide uniforms for African youngsters in an interview in April 2017.
“I attended public school for junior high,” he recalled, “and she forced me to wear a uniform, even though such a requirement didn’t apply.”
Students in African schools must wear uniforms, and those whose families cannot afford them are heavily disadvantaged.
A 2004 MIT study found that providing free school uniforms to African students led to a 43% reduction in absenteeism and a 25% improvement in test scores.
Free school uniforms were also found to reduce teen marriage by 20% and teen pregnancy by 17%, according to a 2010 MIT study.
Lisa Cox, Forbes.com, May 28, 2018, “A Liberian Entrepreneur Lifts Women and Children Out of Poverty,” p. 7.
A “fashion styling service,” Uniform+1 delivers a hand-picked package of items each month that includes items from Ferg’s Traplord range as well as other premium and “authentically street” brands.
A logo tee, a camp jacket, a hoodie, and a bucket hat are included in the collection. The clothing comes in various sizes and is available in both men’s and women’s styles, plus a 100 percent money-back guarantee backs every item.
In 2017, ASAP Ferg traveled to Liberia to discuss the need for uniforms for children who now have the opportunity to attend school.
In the Vogue article, he writes, “You see many kids on the streets because they cannot afford to buy a uniform and therefore can’t attend school.”
By providing uniforms for these children, they not only receive an education, but they feel empowered and joyful — I believe that dressing however one chooses enriches one’s sense of self-worth.”
It was based on my lack of possessions that Ferg developed the aesthetic of Traplord. “I want these kids to realize that they are kings and that they can reach the highest peaks of the world.”
How Was The Shark Tank Pitch Of Uniform?
Adam and Chid appeared on Shark Tank seeking an investment of $300,000 in exchange for a 10% stake in Uniform.
The display rack displays samples of Uniform apparel as they make their pitch. They provide samples after they are done with their presentation.
Until the 2014 Ebola crisis forced them to close, their Liberty and Justice brand generated $40 million in annual revenue.
After things settled down in 2016, they realized they had a surplus of cloth and decided to make school uniforms out of it. That is when they came up with this business plan.
Although the Sharks were enthusiastic about their social mission, none were excited about their business plan.
Daymond did express an interest in mentoring them, as he had done with Moziah Bridges of Mo’s Bows.
The Sharks expressed excitement about their Project yet expressed concern about the high level of competition in the apparel industry and reservations about the viability of a firm with a clothing line similar to others.
Shark, Daymond John, also considerable doubt over the creators’ commitment to a single product.
Chid and Adam went away without an offer because the Sharks did not believe it was financially feasible to invest in the cause.
What Happened To Uniform After Shark Tank?
The Uniform children’s clothing brand is available in Target shops as of March 2022. Uniform is still operating and sells goods through Bloomingdales.
Butlein also founded another interesting venture: LiteZilla. It’s a five-foot-by-eight-foot Lite Brite.
Is Uniform Still In Business?
Uniform is a thriving company on its own, despite the lack of a Sharks offer. They started a Kickstarter effort to spread the word and generate additional business.
UNIFORM+1 has received support from 1,300 individuals who have given $230,059 to continue the project. They exceeded their initial pledge goal of $50,000 in just five hours, more than quadrupling their goal.
Their garments are also worn by several well-known celebrities, including Shaq, Whitney Port, and Adam Braun.
In addition to providing jobs for Liberian mothers and ethically sourced street clothing for people worldwide, Uniform will continue to advocate for improving children’s access to education in Liberia.