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October 10, 2023 46 mins

Lanny Smith is one of those people who you come across and automatically want to root for, and I’m so proud of all that he’s accomplished with his brand Actively Black and prior company Active Faith.


Despite his impressive career and successes, he remains so humble. When he came onto That Moment with Daymond John, Lanny was transparent about the struggles that came before the success, how he’s hungry for even more with Actively Black, and how the mission behind the brand comes before anything else. It’s always refreshing and inspiring talking to people who truly emphasize giving back to the community in need over generating sales, and I know listeners will walk away with actionable steps for making their own goals come to fruition.


Tune in now to get can’t miss reflections on:

  • The life-changing injuries that halted Lanny’s dreams..and how he channeled that into a successful company 

  • Why people want to support his brand - and how you can build your own community

  • How to respond to people who don’t understand the mission behind his brands

  • His experiences working with powerhouses and getting to see his product on people like Barack Obama

  • Noticing injustices and taking action, rather than waiting on others to take that first step

  • And more!


Host: Daymond John


Producers: Beau Dozier & Shanelle Collins; Ted Kingsbery, Chauncey Bell, & Taryn Loftus


For more info on how to take your life and business to the next level, check out 

See for privacy information.

Mark as Played

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
So why is it that we've been okay with buying
other people's stuff and making their founders and their CEOs wealthy,
but now we've got a problem with other.

Speaker 2 (00:09):
People buying our stuff.

Speaker 1 (00:10):
Because here's the thing, that money that they spend helps
increase how we can give back to the Black community.
So regardless of who it comes from, our mission is
still the same. My mission never changes to uplift and
reinvest back into the Black community. So if all of
these white people, Asian people and Spanish people, if they
want to buy actively black, I welcome them, because, you
know what, that further empowers our mission and our goal

and what we're trying to do.

Speaker 2 (00:34):
It doesn't change who we are. Who we are we are.

Speaker 3 (00:39):
What if I told you there was more to the
story behind game changing events? Get ready for my new podcast,
That Moment with Damon John will jump into the personal
stories of some of the most influential people on the planet,
from business mobiles and celebrities to athletes and artists. All Right,

so today, guess uh, there's nothing new in this world.
There's always just a new form of delivery, a new time,
a new customer, a new you may make it lighter faster, stronger.
And today's guest is by far somebody that I really respect.

He is doing what you know, I believed who didd
the past, And I believe what Martin Luther King and
Malcolm Maggs and I believe what you know, Mandela and
people who are not of color have done before us,
and way before that, and way before that. They have
looked at the challenge that was in the market and

they said, you know, everybody's talking. Yeah, they mean, they
mean well, but talk to talk and talk is cheap,
and some don't mean well, some mean just to talk.
For the moment, I'm going to do something and I'm
going to empower others, and I'm going to not only
show them what can be done in real time, but
I'm going to hopefully empower somebody else to be bigger

and better than me ten twenty, thirty, forty fifty years
from now. You know what do they say that you
understanding of life is when you plant seeds and you
know that you will never be able to sit under
the shade that that tree will produce pretty deep. And
that's who the man is right here. The man is
named Lannie Smith. Lannie and you know Lannie just did

a couple of things, like make it to the NBA.
You know, a lot of people, you know, talk about
these athletes and they say stuff like, oh, athletes are athletes,
and athletes are the one percent of the month percent,
and only fifteen hundred professional athletes in the country. And
I'm talking about at this time, and I'm talking about soccer,
I'm talking about basketball, I'm talking about baseball, I'm talking

about football. So you think entrepreneurship is hard, let's not
take it away from athletes who compete on the highest
level against everybody. All right, So he made it to
the NBA. It's too much to talk about. This guy
basically made his NBA hurt himself. Decided to come out
with a brand because he is active and he is

a man of faith actively uh. And he came out
with this brand and he started and I actually got
to see him. He became to visit me, and I
don't believe he was ready at the time, and he
came to visit me. But I also was in the
middle of Shark. I think I got a lot of
stuff going on, but I loved the who the man was,
and I said, you know, I'll support you anyway I can,
I can give you to some advices and that the
man disappears, but he just is going back in the lab.

You know, they say, I like the story about two
people chopping down a tree and wonder hammer the other
guy on the other side. He doesn't see him. He
keeps disappearing, and then all of a sudden that guy
treat his falling. He said, wait a minute, you weren't
chopping when I was shopping. He's like, no, no, no, no, home boy.
I was shopping in the axe every time, but I
was sitting down and Lanny went back and shopping. The
Axe comes out with actively Black in twenty twenty. He

sees exactly what we're all seeing. The world is melting,
George Floyd is happening. There's a lot of people going crazy,
no leadership, and he's seeing people of all colors coming
together saying we need to stop this injustice. And he said,
what am I going to do. I'm going to flip
the knowledge of what I have with my baseline and
I'm going to add that knowledge is something to call it.

Actively black. Comes out with actively Black. Obvily enough. You know.
The fool story is when I saw people burning buildings down.
In nineteen Rodney King time the same exact thing. What's happening.
The same lawyer was in the White House the chokehold
was being implemented and people were burning down city, and

I said, well, why am I going to go out
there and burn down my own community. The only way
they're going to respect us is I ampowering people. And
I bet people with all calls will get together. And
that's why he's here with actively Black. He has done
things such as he's done a collaboration with Black Panther.
How did you get a Marvel license? President Barack Obama

has wanted now doing collaborations in that world and I
think just the Nigeria for the winch Olympics. What's up, man?
How you doing?

Speaker 2 (05:13):
Man? I am? I am blessed.

Speaker 3 (05:15):

Speaker 1 (05:15):
I know that you are a busy man, but man,
I might need you to introduce me in my other man.
That's an incredible introduction. I appreciate you. Man, So humbled
to be here on this on this podcast with you.

Speaker 3 (05:26):
Man. Yeah, now it is great. Man. You know, we
run the same circles and I know and there's so
many things here, so you know, let's just say, it's
really hard to really capture all of who you are.
And I know that the brand is doing really amazing.
I know that it not only is doing well from

a monetary standpoint, not saying like you are making a
lot of money, because at this critical moment of a brand,
you're growing, you're reinvesting in the brand. You got investors
coming in. Your buddy, Steph Curry was the one when
you were injured. I believe that said hey, man, get
back out there. We're going to get into that. I
don't want I don't want to tell your story, but
you're making a difference. And I've seen movements before and

this is the movement. But first of all, product is
always king. The product is absolutely amazing. It is the
Fubu to me of our day. Right if it's a
need for from an athletic standpoint, from a casital standpoint,
from a fly standpoint, you have you have, you have,

you have icons working with you that we you know,
we love people like Iverson. I've even granted Fubu stuff
Black Panther, I mean the President of the United States,
the So how what's happening? Like, how are you moving

that quick? Because twenty twenty twenty three. You know, you
are moving at the level that we did. You're you,
and you did what we did in ten years, you've
done in three. Wow.

Speaker 1 (07:06):
First, man, that's just that's it's humbling to hear that
coming from you. You got to understand, like I would
beg my mother, you know, to to buy me whatever
the latest Fooboo release was.

Speaker 2 (07:19):
When I was you know, when I was coming up,
that Fooboo was everything to me.

Speaker 1 (07:23):
You know what I'm saying, And I appreciate that, you know,
So to even be sitting here talking to you like
this is surreal. But I think, you know, similar to
what you said, when you're moving in purpose, when there's
some purpose that is the center of what you're doing,
I think that's the fuel. People ask me all the
time and how are you doing all these things? When
do you sleep?

Speaker 2 (07:44):
You know how?

Speaker 1 (07:44):
And it's like, you know, my my purpose wakes me
up in the morning, you know what I mean. Like
there's there's a drive here that is beyond making money.
And and I believe that that authenticity is what people
actually feel, that's what they see when they interact with
the brand. And I think that's why it's attracted the
opportunity to work with the icons and the legends that

that have come in contact with this brand.

Speaker 2 (08:11):
I mean you you mentioned it. I look on I
look on my wall.

Speaker 1 (08:14):
Man, I've got I've got you know, Barack Obama on
the wall. Matter of fact, this is a great opportunity
to announce this on on your on on on your podcast.
We actually just got clearance from the Tupaca State. So
you see Tupac over my shoulder. Yeah, crazy with with
with with the Tupaca State, John Carlos, Muhammad Ali, all

of these icons who meant something to the culture. Alan Iverson,
I mean, we know what he means to the culture.

Speaker 2 (08:42):
Uh man.

Speaker 1 (08:43):
Honestly, it's just God has been blessing me. Man, He's
been opened up these doors. I've been running through them.
And the tribe as I like to call them, I
don't like to call them customers. The tribe has been
responding in such a way that it's been moving this
forward so fast. It's crazy you say that. Yeah, in
November Black Friday, it will be three years since we
launched out of my apartment.

Speaker 3 (09:02):
So yeah, absolutely amazing. And but I want you know,
and I want people. It's very hard to get people
to learn from these moments because you take it at
face value because usually we talk, we do press, and
I know you do a lot of it and people
kind of go through it. But I want to I
want to ask you something. When you were when you
hurt yourself and you know you played for Sacramento, right, yep,

when you heard yourself, was when was that moment you decided,
you know, let me take it further level, you hurt yourself,
you do a face brand. How did that brand do itself?
I mean, I know it was doing something, but I
don't know how big it was, you know.

Speaker 1 (09:40):
Yeah, I mean we've got customers in seventy one countries
at the height of it did abound around ten million
in one year. Okay, that's good. Yeah, So it was
it was, it was moving. It's definitely something that for
me was was learning on the fly.

Speaker 3 (09:59):

Speaker 1 (10:00):
Like you said, I went straight from being you know,
a basketball player, which I had dedicated my entire life
to up to that point, to now I'm starting an
e commerce brand, the e commerce apparel brand. I knew
nothing about either one of those things, e commerce or apparel.

Speaker 2 (10:15):
You know.

Speaker 1 (10:15):
I went to YouTube University teaching myself how to use
photoshop and illustrator, just so I could create mockups of
what I saw.

Speaker 2 (10:22):
In my head.

Speaker 3 (10:24):
I don't want people to overlook this. You went into
YouTube university, you started to look online, and we're right now.
Everybody listening to you will not realize it. Well, not
a portion will say they'll just brush over that. But
that's where people are right now with AI, and they're
going to act like, oh, that's something else in no way,

But there is that moment you realize I don't have
the money for this, or I don't want to spend
the money on this. I can go on YouTube if
I want to look at great music video, maybe if
ways to cook or some stupid randoms. I mean, you know,
you don't get caught you get caught up with stupid stuff.
Or I can create I can use that as my universe.
It's access to information is key, but more important than that,

it's the way you use access. Every one of us
has exactly what you want online and looked at when
it comes to AI too. So now you go on there,
how long does it take you to really start to
understand that? You know what, I can find a way
to learn from this because a lot of people go
on there. They look at the first two lengths, ain't
nothing here. They don't even have the patience to go

to the third and fourth paid you know what I mean?
So how long did it really started? You started to
get fixated to say, nah, I'm going to do this.

Speaker 1 (11:36):
I've been blessed in my life three times that I
can count where I felt, you know, I don't know
what everybody else believes in, where I felt God's voice
directing me in a in a particular direction.

Speaker 3 (11:49):
Three moments, let's hear them.

Speaker 2 (11:51):
I had no doubts. The one.

Speaker 1 (11:55):
I told everybody from the moment I was five years old,
I told everybody's going to the NBA. My mom has
saved homework that I used to have in elementary school
when they ask what you want to be when you
grow up? She still has it saved at home, and
it's crazy just to go back and look at it
and it'll say, what do you want to be when
grow up? I'm going to be an NBA player, Like
there was no there wasn't a doubt, there wasn't a question.

It was like, That's what I'm going to do. And
then my actions aligned to support that dream. So everything
I did was to prepare myself to make it to
the NBA. When my friends were partying, I was in
the gym, you know what I mean. Like it was
just I was so laser focused on that, and then
it ended up happening. As I was praying after the injury,

trying to figure out what to do next with my
life now that basketball was done and it was gone,
this vision for creating this faith based sports apparel of
brand which ended up becoming active faith. That vision and
that voice was so clear that even though I didn't
know anything about apparel or starting a business or anything
like that, I knew this is what I'm supposed to do.

So I got to do whatever it takes to learn
what I need to learn.

Speaker 2 (13:05):
I didn't.

Speaker 1 (13:06):
I didn't have a guaranteed contract when I got when
I got injured, so it wasn't like I had a
parachute of money that I could invest in this.

Speaker 3 (13:13):
I didn't. I didn't even think about asking that. I
thought maybe you had a little something I didn't know.

Speaker 1 (13:17):
No, no, no, I was an undrafted free agency This
is this is part of the story that that I
haven't shared very often, But I was projected to be
a late first round early second round pick after my
sophomore year at the University of Houston, and I stayed
in school to improve my draft status, and my first
career ending injury actually happened in college.

Speaker 2 (13:37):
I broke my foot.

Speaker 1 (13:39):
Teammate undercut me, felt awkwardly snapped up bone in my foot,
and have I had three surgeries on my foot. One
of the surgeries is actually to save half my foot
from being amputated because my foot got infected when they
put the screw in it. And the doctors told me, then,
you will never play basketball again. They told me the
severity of this foot injury, you will never play basketball again.

And I just couldn't accept that. I was like, I
worked my whole life for this opportunity. There's no way
that this is the end. And so I started training
again against the doctor's wishes, went to the Development League,
and that's when I earned my spot to get signed
to the Sacramento Kings in two thousand and nine. So
I had already had an injury that the doctor said
was career enduring before that. Got to Sacramento Kings as

an undrafted free agent, and thirty three days after signing
that contract, teammate fell into my knee, blew my knee.

Speaker 2 (14:31):
I had two micropractice surgery. That was over with not
having that money.

Speaker 1 (14:35):
When I'm looking at how much it costs for a website,
agencies were charging twenty thirty fifty thousand dollars just to
build a website. At the time, I'm like, well, I money.
I'm a broke man living at home with my mother.
At the time, I'm on the internet teaching myself how
do I hold my own website? I go to YouTube?
How do you use Photoshop illustrator? And honestly, the biggest

unlocked for me was taking that same passion and drive
and dedication that it took to make it to the NBA.
That's what I poured into now to try to create
this brand. And I knew that wasn't gonna be an
overnight thing. I knew that wasn't gonna be something that
showed up on the first two pages of the search
of the YouTube.

Speaker 2 (15:13):
That was something that I was gonna.

Speaker 1 (15:14):
Have to now dedicate my life the same way I
dedicated my life to make it to the NBA. I
was gonna have to dedicate my life to this and yeah,
I became obsessed with it.

Speaker 2 (15:22):
I would I got all of your books.

Speaker 1 (15:28):
I studied Kevin Plank, who's the founder of under Armour.

Speaker 3 (15:32):
Look who's texting me right now?

Speaker 2 (15:34):
Wow? Yo, that is crazy?

Speaker 3 (15:36):
That is yo. Yeah, that's crazy. Just sing as I'm

talking there you go.

Speaker 2 (16:04):
Yo, that's wild. Yeah, that's crazy. Uh in my life,
that's that's act of faith. Come on now, like you
can I can't. You can't make this stuff up.

Speaker 1 (16:14):
And you know, Nike had been this huge machine even
before I was born, so it was hard to fathom
the beginnings of Nike, but under Armour. I watched under
Armour go from a startup to what it's become in
my lifetime. So I studied everything on Kevin Plank. I
became obsessed with learning and studying those who had created
something out of nothing. And Yeah, that obsession led to

being able to launch active faith through my relationships with basketball.
Anthony Tolliver a former teammate of mine Steph Curry, who
I met through basketball. I told him about my idea
and they were like, yo, I want to be a
part of this thing. And that's kind of how that
relationship started.

Speaker 3 (16:57):
Yeah. Yeah, and so and so that was the second one.
I'm waiting for the third one. I think I know
what it is, but you gave me two critical moments.

Speaker 2 (17:06):
Actively black act.

Speaker 3 (17:08):
There you go, act on. I didn't know. You could
have told me you fell in love. I don't know,
but I was hoping that was it.

Speaker 2 (17:15):
No, actively you did?

Speaker 3 (17:17):
You did actually fall in love with actively Black? I did?
I did?

Speaker 2 (17:20):
I did? You could call it that. It was to me.

Speaker 1 (17:24):
The vision has been clear as day from day one,
like I know where this is headed, I know where
it's going.

Speaker 2 (17:31):
The people that I initially told.

Speaker 1 (17:32):
About the idea, they're like, man, why are you Why
would you put black in the name? That might limit you?
Or I don't know if this is going to work.
There are a lot of people who did.

Speaker 2 (17:40):
Not believe in this idea in the beginning.

Speaker 1 (17:42):
But like I said, these moments where I felt like
I heard God telling me this is what I want
you to do have been unshakable and undeniable. So regardless
of what everybody else said, I was like, Okay, y'all
don't have to.

Speaker 2 (17:54):
Believe in this. This is what I'm doing.

Speaker 1 (17:56):
And I still have the notebook where I wrote the
name down, where I wrote down the ideas where I
wrote down who I wanted to get this brand in
front of. And it's been amazing to see everybody that
you mentioned, from Alan iverson to yourself to the Obamas.
They're all written down in my notebook, you know, before
Actively Black even launched. So there's some power to writing

down your vision and then putting the action behind the
idea to make it happen.

Speaker 3 (18:25):
You know, I want to, you know, because my whole
purpose of doing this is to go down a rabbit
hole with people, and I want to really focus on that,
and I truly do, and I don't want to get
warm and buzzing people. But you know you said that,
Kevin Plank's right there. The conversation I had with my
wife last night was this. He said, you know, damn
we you know, you know I'll make a she gets
in trouble, not in trouble. Maker is a very good girl.

My daughter, she's seven years old. And she says, and
you know, obviously you want to take away the iPad.
I didn't do stuff. And then but when you take
away the iPads, fine, and she's doing some of the
great things, like let's say, making jewelry, meaning you know
you know, doing some really crafting things in that time

you took away the iPad? Well, she said, mommy, I
really love this stuff. Can we go to Michael's and
get more? Because what she did was she put down
the iPad, which you don't like anyway, right, and we're human,
But now she's on punishment, but she's doing something creative.
Do you not take it? No, I'm not taking you

to Michaels. But she's un punishment. But then then then
if she says, well, I really loved jewelry. I really
loved that little design, but Mommy wouldn't get that for me.
What do you do? And we all learn, we all grow, right?
And I said to her, you know, and I said,
you didn't do anything wrong. You know, as parents, we

want to love our children and we want to give
them these things. I said, but you know what my
mother did, and I realized what I why I think
that I've gotten to a level of success being not
really a very educated person like when we grew up.
My mother would say. First of all, my mother always said,
when I punish you, I punish myself. What do you

when you're talking about well, you know, you used to
go out and play if I tell you sit your
ass upstairs, no TV. When you went on plate, I
got to do my thing whatever it is, right, clean
up around the house, goes someplace. But now I gotta
make sure I stay home too and watch your ass.
I can't do anything. So you know, she used to

say the old school stuff that our parentsly do. Write
down one hundred times. I will now make sure. Let's
talk about this goal setting in its rarest form, in
its rawest form. You don't write down I will not
lie to my mother. Why because the word is lie
to my mother. That's program in your head. You write

down I will always be honest to my mother a
hundred times. So now why's this you take the iPad
away from Minka. Well, didn't mean that she can't play.
Doesn't mean that she knows when the time level is there.
But you and you know kids, you know she's like, well,
we're going to a birthday party and I see I

see all the presents there and all that my mother
used to stick to it. Damon right down one hundred times,
whatever the case is, I come back with seventy times.
You're like mm hmm, waiting for the other thirty. So
now I gotta go back right. I know when my
punishment is there. Also, I can't play because I gotta
write this down now. I walk over to her and

let's say it was supposed to leave it a birthday
party at two o'clock, and I heard all my friends
are going to be her friends are going to be there.
I get there too, thirty, like, here you go, Ma,
you know what she did. She's like, Okay, cool, let's go.
She's like, go, well, no, homeboy, we ain't going nowhere.
I learned a couple of things. I learned the discipline

of time. I learned also she need playing when she
says something. But as I was, and I have nothing
to do with this coming out, I have this pad
caller remarkable. I learned that unlike when we type, when
we go back to writing, there is something that connects

our brain to our arm, to our hand, and it
becomes goal setting. And as a five year old who
didn't have a coach or a professional skill necessarily who
wrote I'm going to be an NBA player, most likely
you're a person who when you were writing about active faith,

I'm gonna do this. I'm gonna take three hours of this.
I want to go to discourse. I'm gonna go to
discourse something this shot. You know, a lot of people
don't realize the power of goal setting. Now by the
way everybody shows they know it can work against you. Lanny,
I don't even have to ask you about how many

of the people that we hope to protect us as
we were growing up told us we'd be dinner in
jail by twenty one and told most of our community that,
and that goal was set in their mind because they
heard it all the time. We've seen people go, yo,
you know we out here in these streets and you
know we don't give it. Why don't you give that
because somebody told you you shouldn't care right and you

mentally programming, or somebody I'm going to be an abusive relationship,
or I'm not good enough. So this is a powerful moment.
But I think the writing aspect is something I never
brought up on other podcasts. I think because I didn't
think about it until that moment last night, and then
you reinforced that moment right there.

Speaker 1 (23:48):
Wow, wow, and something else that you just said that
it's also very powerful, and it's so much ingrained into
the brand of actively black. Is you see the tagline
is there's greatness in our DNA. That's the tagline for
actively Black. And so when I tell people this isn't
really even about the clothes, they laugh at me because

they're like, what do you mean, Like the time that
you take, the to the the attention to detail, the quality. Yes,
all of that, all of that is dope, right, But
I want to leave something imprinted in the minds of
of the supporters, of the tribe, of the people who
encounter the brand. There's greatness in our DNA because once
you change the way you start thinking, then that changes

the way that you act in everything that you do.
So then if you know, man, there's greatness inside of me,
There's there's greatness in the people who came before me,
and there's and I can and I can pass on
greatness to those who come after me. You start acting different,
you start doing things differently, you know what I mean,
because you're you're you're you're you're acting out of greatness.

Speaker 2 (24:47):
You're not acting out of the lack. You're not acting
out of what has been done to you.

Speaker 1 (24:51):
You're not acting out of you know, what has been
told to you that may have been been negative and and.

Speaker 2 (24:57):
So that's the power of.

Speaker 1 (25:01):
Actively black that I believe is, Yeah, I got all
these people that are wearing the clothes, but then also
subconsciously they're being fed with this message there's greatness in
their DNA.

Speaker 3 (25:11):
So yeah, let me ask you something else. Because I
was a very famous person that a lot of us know.
I was. I was outside someplace and I was wearing
the brand and he you know, yo, hey, damn it
happened to be He's not black? Could I wear that brand?
And I said, well, why not? I wear? I wear

Louis Vuitton, I wear brands from Italy and various the thing.
He said, I know, but that's not a country and
I said, yeah, well, don't's think about it. I don't
know what country I came from. M I said, so
I can't necessarily say there's fifty countries in Africa. Are

varius of the things. I don't know. What do you
want me to wear? Ghana? I don't know if I
came from there. I don't know where we can from. However,
I know the country is black, and I know a
lot of people who are not black wear it the
same word. You know, they because they feel they're supporting something,
and it's not that you know, people love to know
when you're supporting something of whatever you are. I love

to walk into a beautiful Italian restaurant. It could be
a hole in the wall. I want to hear Frank Sinatra.
I want to see all the beautiful you know, you
know everything. I want to be there. Yes, it got
nothing to do with me saying how dare you be Italian?

What's wrong with you? Right? You know? So what do
you say? Tell us about the people that you found
that said I'm so happy that that's what you're doing
for you and us in general, meaning yes, the country
of the world.

Speaker 2 (26:55):

Speaker 1 (26:56):
The serendipity on this podcast is absolutely credible. At the
end of our New York Fashion Week show, I literally
got on the mic to speak to this point exactly,
and the fact that you brought up an Italian restaurant
when I've seen a clip. You're gonna trip out because
I said, I can't think of a time where we
have ever stopped in front of a Mexican restaurant or

an Italian restaurant and said I'm not Mexican, I can't
eat there, or I'm not Italian, i can't eat there. Right,
that never crosses anybody's mind. You go there and they're
purposely embracing their culture, their food, and you're going to
enjoy somebody else's culture and their food and there's never
issue with it. So why is there an issue here
for me? Every Like I said, everybody is welcome to

wear actively Black. If you support the fact that we
are uplifting and reinvesting back into the black community, you're welcome.
And you don't have to be black to support that initiative.
And we have actively black customers that are white, Asian, Hispanic.
The amount of people that I've seen weren't actively black
that are not black. It's really really dope to me,

and it gives me hope because it means even though
that you know, we're in a time that there's so
much division happening, there are still people who have enough
love in their heart, have enough care in their heart,
have enough empathy in their heart that they're like, you
know what, I want to support this, this this mission,
this message, this initiative, even though I'm not Black, and

so yeah, I never understood why when it comes to
our culture, there's a caveat there when.

Speaker 3 (28:35):
We well, let me, let me let me ask let
me ask you a difficult question that maybe I may
get beat up or because what I found is why
I launched, so whin It's a big world, a lot
of people, so they cold fool or whatever it is, right,
it was forth bias is a black culture. But do
you find that because this is what happened to me.
I think it was a Christmas for a holiday. Gave

everybody for who would take we had launched with the kids,
everybody from my office. I gave it to them, my office,
the United Nations, and I had a lot of people
who are not African American come back and say I
got to give it back to because my children harassed
in school. Now they were harassed in school by African
Americans who felt that the brand was only theirs and
that this person didn't belong. Now I can say that

at that time it wasn't social media.

Speaker 2 (29:24):

Speaker 3 (29:25):
I had the Burial Boys, I used to dress MC shirts,
I dressed the BC Boys, A dressed everybody. But with
the limited yeah, with the limited yeah, limited information, maybe
they thought that it was only that. And then there
was just also this pride to hey man, stop wearing it,
that's ours. I can see that too happening. Yeah, do

you think sometimes do you think sometimes people feel uncomfortable
even though they want to support it because maybe we
are like we don't have much and our being overprotective
about it doesn't realize that some of us are hurting

the brand by loving it so much that we feel
that it's not somebody else's right, it's to me.

Speaker 1 (30:16):
It's a trauma response, right, It's a trauma response because
if we look at the reality of society of the world,
colonialism has happened. It did happen, you know, I mean
it has happened. When you're you know, our culture, Native
American culture. There are different cultures that have literally been
robbed of their lands, their their music, their customs. It

has happened, right, So I understand that, I understand the
trauma and why when we do have something that's finally
our own, we grasp onto it.

Speaker 2 (30:50):
I understand why. I understand why. I understand why.

Speaker 1 (31:14):
But you said something earlier that I've had to tell
some of our black supporters who have been upset about
other people wearing our stuff.

Speaker 2 (31:23):
It's like the CEO of LVMH is now the wealthiest.

Speaker 1 (31:29):
Man in the world, right, when I think about how
many Black people by Louis Vautan, by Gucci, by all
of these brands that are not owned by us, right,
we are contributing to the wealth of other people. Fashion Ova,
that founder just bought one hundred and fifty million dollar

house here in la you know what I mean. And
I have to think that hip hop culture, black culture,
black consumerism helps add to his to his network in
his wealth. So why is it that we've been okay
with buying other people's stuff and making their founders and
their CEOs wealthy, but now we've got a problem with

other people buying our stuff. Because here's the thing, that
money that they spend helps increase how we can give
back to the Black community. So regardless of who it
comes from, our mission is still the same. My mission
never changes to uplift and reinvest back into the Black community.
So if all of these white people, Asian people and
Spanis people, if they want to buy actively black, I
welcome them, because, you know what, that further empowers our

mission and our goal and what we're trying to do.

Speaker 2 (32:37):
It doesn't change who we are.

Speaker 1 (32:39):
And I think that's just part of the part of
the education that we have to do for our own
people to help them understand that. I don't think that
it comes from a malicious place. I think it just
does come from a place of it's so very rare
that we have something to call our own that when
we finally do have our own, it's like, no, this
is ours, you know.

Speaker 3 (33:00):
And I think that's our job today to tell our
other people who are very very pro pro black but
never anti anything else, to be very intentional to share
that message you because if I look at two brands
and one I may get criticism for, then why right,

I'm gonna go over here, right, and I'm gonna be celebrated.
Oh man, look at that and you Gucci right, you know.
So I think it's like, now, I do want to
touch on another moment, how did you move and pivot?
Because ten million dollars in business is still a good
business depending or you operate it. And I'm just trying

to figure out how did you move over? Because that's
a leap too, because a guy like you who's super focused,
You didn't say I'm going to be a basketball player
that don't work out, I'm going to then be a
soccer player, and then I'm going to play the spoons
on the corner somewhere or the harmonica. You are very focused,
knee deep like any of us are. Now you're really

focusing actively faith in all and then you start to
move over here what happened?

Speaker 1 (34:09):
Yeah, So, first and foremost active faith and actively black
are two separate entities, completely separatesities. So I actually still
own active faith and I have actively black. The reason
why I knew this was a God dream that was
placed in me and something that was purposeful because I
wasn't looking to do anything else other than active faith.
Like you said, I was laser focused. This is active faith.
This is what we're buildings from building. There were these

different moments that continue to happen throughout that journey that
I think planet seeds that ended up growing into me
launching actively black one.

Speaker 2 (34:39):
Unfortunately, you know, racism.

Speaker 1 (34:42):
Still does exist in our society, and with active faith,
I would say close to sixty percent of my customers
with active faith are Evangelical Christian are you know, are white?

Speaker 2 (34:55):
You know what I mean?

Speaker 1 (34:56):
And at the time, you know, my personal social media
I had private you know, it wasn't a public account.
I was actually intentionally hiding myself from public.

Speaker 2 (35:09):
View of Active Faith.

Speaker 1 (35:10):
So if you went to the website, the Active Faith website,
you didn't see founded by Lanny Smith. If you went
to the Active Faith Instagram, you didn't see founded by
Lanny Smith.

Speaker 2 (35:20):
Like it was.

Speaker 1 (35:21):
People thought this was Steph Curry's company. And I was
cool with him, thinking this is Steph Curry's company, you
know what I'm saying. Like it wasn't something that I
was out in front of the way that I've been
with Actively Black. And so I would see these moments
where the same people who were buying Active Faith and
would be on social media praising Active Faith, and then
I would see them post the most racist things possible

about my people, and it would really bother me. You know,
entrepreneur in the beginning, you're wearing all the hats. I
would do customer service. I would be on the phone,
and multiple times this happened.

Speaker 2 (35:56):
You know.

Speaker 1 (35:56):
I remember this one guy who's like, you sound like
you're black on the phone. I was like, well, I
am immediately asked for a refund. Even had had a
couple of people who were interested in investing in Active Faith,
going back and forth over email. We set up an
in person meeting when I actually had the in person
meeting and I walked through that door. I saw it

in their faces. They were shocked that, oh, wait a minute,
this is the guy, and all of a sudden, all
of a sudden, they weren't interested in investing anymore, you
know what I'm saying.

Speaker 2 (36:25):
And so.

Speaker 1 (36:26):
Those moments they caused a lot of internal struggling because
my mother raised me to be proud of my heritage,
proud of who I am.

Speaker 2 (36:36):
And I sat back and.

Speaker 1 (36:37):
I thought, I'm like, I built a multi million dollar
brand out of my mother's house, and I'm hiding myself
from my brand because I'm afraid of if they find
out I'm black? What is that going to do to
the business. And that internal conflict was just really messing
with me. And in twenty eighteen, the movie Black Panther
came out. Excuse me, and I'll never forget. And this

is the power of representation. Seeing Chadwick boseman portrayal of
T'Challa on the big screen had such a profound effect
on me to see a superhero, this positive black figure
with skin like mine, with hair like mine. And I
walked out of that theater like with my chest puffed

out and it was just this sense of pride that
I had, and I saw the way the rest of
the Black community and the diaspora was responding to it,
and I was like, yo, I want to create a
brand that makes my people feel the way I felt
walking out of this movie. And it just wouldn't leave
me alone. I was putting the idea on the shelf.

I was like, I'm too busy with active Faith. There's
no way I can do this other brand. I kept
putting the idea on the shelf. I put the idea
on the shelf again. I moved to Los Angeles six
months before the pandemic hitting. The whole city shut down,
and when it shut down, I said to myself, I'm
not gonna let this time pass without burthing something new.

Speaker 2 (38:00):
I didn't know what it was gonna be. At the time.

Speaker 1 (38:02):
We witnessed the murder George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, the aftermath
that happened after that, and I saw all of these brands,
and this is no diss to these brands. This is
just what I observed. I saw the Nikes, the Adidas,
all of these brands come up with these declarations about
what they wanted to do for the black community. And
it didn't sit right with me, because you take the

pandemic away, the events of twenty twenty are not new
to the black community. These things have been happening for decades,
for centuries, And I'm like, yeah, they've just been filmed, yeah,
right right, and they're happening.

Speaker 3 (38:33):
Right now as we speak.

Speaker 1 (38:34):
We know that, you know, I mean, and in the
incident that you talked about Rodney King, it's not like
even though there wasn't social media, it's not like that
the whole thing was.

Speaker 2 (38:44):
Filmed, you know what I'm saying. We we we got
to see it.

Speaker 3 (38:47):
So and it happened, and it happened in Watts before that,
right yeah, all right, Well.

Speaker 1 (38:53):
I'm like, man, this don't sit right with me. This
feels like, this feels very performative. This now feels like
this is now part of these brands new marketing strategies.

Speaker 3 (39:01):
And it is because my thing black from today right
now where we give away money and all the brands
all around us now our core brands are stuck by us,
thank god, you know, the one who want to be
on the market with us. But guess what everybody else
is all of a sudden I don't know yet. I
don't know anymore, but thank god I've chase to the

general Shopify lows and stuff by us. But yeah, a
lot of the other brands are like, oh, we're cutting
back this year and stuff like that really really weird
until all of a sudden, you know what's.

Speaker 1 (39:30):
Going to happen, right right, And so that was I
think that was the moment that made me say, you
know what, I'm going to stop putting this idea on
the shelf. I'm taking this idea off the shelf and
I'm going to do this. And to me, the power
was we've been asking, We've been asking these brands to
do these different things. We've been asking, we've been asking

me asking, And I'm like, you know what, let's stop
asking for a seat at the table and let's just
build our own table. Because if you build your own table,
then you can feed whoever you want to feed. Now
I can feed my people and we ain't got to
ask for it because this is something that we own.
And there's so many brands that have literally become multi
billion dollar brands that have utilized black culture, black talent,

black consumerism and haven't adequately reinvested back into the black
communities that they have profited from. And so I was like,
you know what, I want to do something about it.
There was a lot of you know, there was a
lot of keyboard warriors, especially around that time, you know,
posting the Black Squares and Black Lives Matter, and they
was posting about it, posting about it, talking about it,
and I was like, man, let me, what can I

do about it? You know what, I mean, what can
I actually do about it? And in my lane, this
was something I felt like I could do about it.

Speaker 3 (40:45):
So well, and I'm glad you did, because you know,
I want to make sure that we're very clear about stuff.
You know, it is it is disheartening to hear that
you come out with something about faith and where you've grown.
And some is extreme miss in every religion. There is
extremes in every thing, all right, whether it's any genre

and some yeah, and you know what, and it's always
ten percent, maybe twenty percent, and they usually create eighty
percent of the noise, right, you know, it's challenging, but
it's great to know that you got to that point.
But I want to think about the counter side of that, right,

you know, you look at black Panther, and I want
to keep you know, because this is people just like
either these days, they eat it so far left, so
far right. Black Panther one of the biggest grossing movies ever.
We only make up ten percent of the country, and
out of the ten percent of us, there are a
lot of African Americans who are now out of the

buying public a Black Panther. If you look at African Americans, right,
how many are you know under the age of whatever,
they you know, they don't have a lot of resource,
a lot of money. So Black Father became big because
it was just big to everyone. Yes, And I want
to always show the side of the landing who came
out with actively faith and people of all colors supported

and predominantly one one religious genre, and a small portion
of them m you know, the one who then flipped
it over actively black and so many other people are
supporting you, you know, and all these things because a
lot of and I think you brought up just a
really good point. We don't get mad as somebody to
be to be you know, kissing me I'm Irish right,

or or Italian restaurant or or the Japanese man. I
want to be a samurai, you know what I mean.
I got nothing against any of those things. So it
was those moments that you you've tapped into people and
it issue whatever you were whoever listening to. You can
be LGBT, cou plus, you could be a woman, you
could be white, you can be wealthy, you can be poor,

you can be whatever the case is. When people see
that you love what you're doing, we love to see
that you love if it's not offending anybody, and it's
not hurting anybody, right, right, we love to see that. Right.
We love to root for you, you know what I mean. Like,
you know, Kevin O. Leary is always going to be
Kevin Leary, but he's Kevin Learry. We love rooting for
his little guy. You know, Kevin Zileiary's the only guy

on TV who can curse you out with a twinkle
in his eye. He'll make fun of you and make
fun of himself. And you still kind of root with
Kevin in some ways or another, you know. But listen,
lending man, I really appreciate what you've been doing and
what you have done, and I think that there's so
many people that can learn from you from various different ways.
I started off doing this and I really had a
passion ever since I was a kid. I'm a goal setter.

And then I use that goal setting a physical writing.
Please don't feel like you're outdated when you're like, oh,
I still use a pen and paper. There's nothing to
be ashamed of. That is something that I think is
going to be a craft that's going to take you
way further about lining your brain. Right. So from that aspect,

I think then to come across that challenge and then
show people that you didn't have any money. So whoever's like,
oh that guy was an athlete, No no, no, no no.
I got busted his ass and learned with the access
and use the resources he had now and that was
a phone, right, and then switching and moving into something
else where you're so passionate. One was faith and one

is still faith in your community and giving back and
then being able to get globally recognized brands Mohama Ali
and Black Panther. I mean you dealt with Marvel, you
know what I mean? Like global that shows Marvel is
like we like you man. I know you don't have

the money that the big people have. It doesn't matter.
And I know this is one of the biggest brands
in history. Here you go, a president, here you go.
Anybody right now listening can take exactly what they're passionate
about and turn it into something that can be recognized

and enjoyed by everybody and fulfill what they have and
fulfill their community. So thank you, ma'am for spending this
moment with me. I think we touched on a lot.
I mean everything from Kevin Plank to writing to all
these weird moments that we're having. That means active faith.
It's for everybody. It's still alive, man, and your proof
of it.

Speaker 2 (45:30):
Yes, sir, thank you, thanks for having me man, Thank
you all right.

Speaker 3 (45:35):
That Moment with Damon John is a production of the
Black Effect Podcast Network. For more podcasts from the Black
Effect Podcast Network, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or
wherever you listen to your favorite show and don't forget
to subscribe to and rate the show. And of course
you can all connect with me on any of my

social media platforms. At the Shark. Damon spelt like Raymond,
but what a d
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