How hip hop’s love of the iconic yellow workboot helped make Timberland a billion-dollar company

In the early ’90s, Daymond John was a budding designer, sewing hats to sell in his mother’s Queens, New  York, neighborhood. It was during that time Daymond remembers reading something that redefined his mission as an entrepreneur.

An executive of the Timberland Company — at the time a rising brand whose nubuck leather boots were becoming synonymous with cool in New York City, especially among young African Americans — told The New York Times that the company was scaling back distribution to cater to its “target customer.”

Like many of Timberland’s Black customers, who took “target customer” to mean wealthy, white customers, John saw the statement as a sort of rejection.