Uniform Before Shark Tank
Chid Liberty was a Man who was looking to transform the world’s perspective on Liberia after its second civil war. Liberia was in a civil war between 1989 and 1987 and then between 1999 and 2003. There has been a period of peace since then and the country is transforming but there is still a lot to be done.
Chid Liberty decided to start a manufacturing company in Liberia to provide employment to the women in the country. He started the manufacturing company Justice and Liberty which was the first clothing manufacturing company in Africa. The company was growing well but he was forced to shut it down after an Ebola outbreak in the country.
When Justice and Liberty reopened, Chad started making school uniforms to find new revenue streams. He then started Uniform which sold clothing and provided children with uniforms for free. Uniform has designers from all over the world working in it and it provides employment to the women in Liberia and free clothing to students.
Although the company had managed to recover from its Ebola shutdown, Chid and Adam still needed more capital and even more insight on how to make it grow. They thought that the sharks could provide this and so they applied to be on the show. They were invited to be on the 10th episode of the 10th season of Shark Tank. Bethenny Frankel was featured on this episode as a guest shark.
Uniform on Shark Tank
Adam Butlein and Chid Liberty went to Shark Tank seeking $300,000 for 10% of the company. This gave Uniform a valuation of $3,000,000. They started their presentation by telling the sharks what they made and how their mission differentiated them from other manufacturers. They then gave the sharks some of their clothing to review.
Bethenny Frankel wanted to know the price of a bomber jacket that she was given. She was told that it cost $88 and that it was sold next to bigger brands in Bloomingdale’s that sold for between $250 and $500. Daymond then asked them what their sales had been for the past year.
Chid said that they had a Kickstarter campaign that raised $400,000 and then did $300,000 in sales. However, he said that it was because they launched in Bloomingdales that year for the back-to-school season and then launched their website in November. This meant that they did not have much time to make a lot of sales.
Daymond then asked Chid to give him more details about the source of his sales. Chid said that 70% of his sales were from online customers and 30% were from retail. Daymond then asked Chid and Adam about their history wanting to know how they started.
Chid and Liberty said that in 2010 when they started Justice and Liberty which was a clothing manufacturing company they did not design any clothes. Chid is from Liberia and after the war was over he wanted to provide jobs to women in the country. Although Adam is from Milwaukee, he was also interested in starting the company.
Chid and Adam then established the first fair trade certified company on the continent. They got orders worth $40,000,000 annually, which was great for the business. However, in 2014, Ebola broke out in the country and the company had to shut down. They changed from thinking about how they could grow to thinking about how they could save all their workers’ lives.
The company had to stay shut for 9 months because that’s how long it took for there to be no new cases of Ebola in the country. By then, their customer base had moved on. They then had to figure out what to do with all of their fabric and that’s it dawned on them that they could make school uniforms. They had research from MIT that showed that giving a child a new school uniform improved school attendance levels by 60%. For every 2 girls that you give a school uniform, 2 will delay their pregnancy.
Chid at once thought of a way that he could give the uniforms away. He had learned of a business model where people give an item free for everyone that they sell. He was motivated by it and started a t-shirt company that would do this. It turned into a full clothing company, and that was how Uniform was born.
Bethenny asked Chid what he needed from the sharks. Chid said that he is looking for partners in the business who can make it grow. They were planning to launch on Target and go from 13 stores to 1300 stores. However, Chid said that they would only offer children’s clothing for this deal.
Daymond said that Uniform looked like it had everything it needed and he wanted to know what else they needed besides more money. Chid said that working with any one of the sharks would be a dream come true for any individual. The sharks would almost guarantee that a business would become a success.
Robert said that he had previously invested in a t-shirt company that Daymond John had been hesitant to get involved with. He thought that the company was going to be a success but instead it took a lot of effort just to keep it running. He thought that they had given a great presentation but he was out.
Lori said that she and Mark had invested in Umano, a clothing company based in Detroit. The company looked like it was performing well but it went bankrupt before Lori and Mark could close the deal. That experience taught her that the clothing business is very competitive and she didn’t think that Uniform was the right business for her. With that, she left.
Bethenny Frankel then left because she did not have any experience with clothing. She did not think that she would be of any use. Mark Cuban then left because he didn’t think he could do anything for them although he was all about the mission.
Matt Daymond then left. He said that he would give Chid and Adam his number and he would be available for mentoring but he was out. Daymond said that he didn’t see what he could help them with.
Chid said that people would no longer think of Liberia as a place of civil war but instead as a place that could change the world.
Uniform Now in 2023 – The After Shark Tank Update
Although Uniform did not get a deal from any of the sharks, the business has benefitted immensely from the publicity that it got on the show. Uniform has been featured in several magazines and shows including Complex, Highsnobiety, Vogue, Fashionista, and more. Chid has been hosted by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on more than one occasion showing the importance of his work to the country.
Uniform has opened operations in Nigeria, Kenya, and Johannesburg. Its social media has grown and it now has more than 7,800 followers on Facebook. It has also changed its name to Uniform Plus One. Several celebrities have been seen wearing the clothing brand’s apparel including A$ap Ferg and Shaq.
Although Uniform Plus One did not get any offer from a shark, it had a Kickstarter Campaign to raise revenue for additional business which was very successful. More than 1,300 people participated in the Kickstarter. $230,059 was raised in just 5 hours. This was 4 to 5 times more than the campaign’s target of $50,000.
As of 2022, Uniform Plus One is valued at $5,000,000. Chid and Adam continue to provide uniforms to the children of Liberia for free while providing the rest of the world with quality clothing.