While many of basketball’s brightest young stars will help the NBA make millions with their speculator athletic performances during the playoffs, the league is betting that someone even younger might be just as lucrative when it comes to off-the-court potential.
The league has entered a licensing partnership with the 15-year-old entrepreneur Moziah “Mo” Bridges and his Memphis based company, Mo’s Bows, which manufactures handmade bow and neckties. The agreement, which was initiated by the league, grants Mo’s the rights to manufacture his products with the logos of NBA clubs, for distribution through the company’s online store as well as retail outlets.
“Moziah’s creativity and entrepreneurial spirit are an inspiration, and we are thrilled about the launch of the Mo’s Bows NBA Collection,” said Lisa Piken Koper, NBA Vice President, Global Partnerships. “We are always looking for ways to diversify our merchandise offerings and cater to our fashionable fan base, and couldn’t be more excited that fans will have a fun and unique way to show support for their favorite NBA teams.”
So how in the world did a 15-year-old end up doing what may become a seven-figure licensing deal with a league on track to make over $6 billion in revenue this year?
There can only be one answer, and that’s hustle. In 2014, Mo and his mother, Tramica, appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank, where entrepreneur and fashion mogul Daymond John invested into Mo’s business. Just 12 years old at the time, Mo left an indelible impression on John, who quickly assessed that his own network and connections could help take Mo’s Bows to an entirely new level.
“When I do deals in Shark Tank and in business, I always look at the person first,” reveals John. “And when I first met Mo and his mother in The Tank, it reminded me so much of my mother and me. Here was a young man with a great vision and a mother with a strong business sense that was able to keep him grounded. Having both sides of the business equation is always key.”
With John’s support and guidance, Mo’s Bows sales exploded as the brand landed on the shelf of luxury retailers like Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales. Naturally, Bridges’ own popularity saw an equally rapid rise, leading him to be named to TIME Magazine’s Most Influential Teen List in 2015 and being invited to the White House by former President Barack Obama. That same year, ESPN hired the 13-year-old Bridges as a fashion correspondent for their NBA Draft telecast, while his company hand-made bow ties for all of the draft picks.
“My goal has always been to make Mo’s Bows a household name for kid entrepreneurship and men’s accessories,” says Bridges. “Partnerships like this one will help me reach my goals of having a full clothing line by the time I graduate from college. It feels really good to know a major company like the NBA believes in me and my vision to shake up the world through fashion,” he adds.
There is little question that the NBA partnership has the potential to make Mo’s Bows a household name. The NBA has been extremely selective of the brands it chooses to work with, and requires significant guaranteed rights fees (often in the six-figure range according to NBA sources) to utilize league and team logos. It is all but unprecedented that the league – or any of the big four sports leagues – have approached a brand as small as Mo’s Bows to formulate such a relationship.
“This is the sort of partnership that is an absolute game changer,” proclaims John. “Mo is someone that continues to inspire me, because I remember I had to wait a number of years to get an NBA license for FUBU. Meanwhile, Mo is still a teen and has the opportunity to align with an international brand like the NBA. This sort of deal will allow Mo to reach a whole new demographic and continue pushing his brand in an amazing direction.”
Fan’s can purchase their favorite team’s bow or necktie through Mo’s Bows website.