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Yellow Man: Skin Deep

This clothing entrepreneur wears his heart--and his art--on his sleeve.

Vital Stats: Peter Mui of YellowMan in New York City
Company: High-end apparel company that transfers tattoo art onto fabric
Projected 2008 Sales: More than $10 million

Rebel with a Cause
YellowMan may only be a 3-year-old company, but it has been a business in the making ever since founder Peter Mui was a child. Born in Oklahoma to Chinese immigrants, it didn't take long for Mui to realize that he was different--and that being different wasn't necessarily a good thing. Memories of being scolded by his father for speaking Chinese in public and being the target of racial slurs in eighth grade planted the seeds for a clothing line that has become Mui's ultimate form of self-expression. Defying all stereotypes, and proudly embracing his heritage and defining it as his rebellious calling, the brand YellowMan declares to the rest of the world that being different is not only good, but also beautiful.

Making a Mark
While the name speaks volumes, the clothing behind the brand leaves many speechless. Traveling the world in search of tattoo artists, Mui found 10 of the best and devised a way to transfer an art traditionally done on skin onto clothing. The shirts, adorned with tattoo designs ranging from Maori tribal to American traditional, have become what Mui calls "wearable art," and the number of artists he uses has grown to 75. Says Mui, "I look at my [pieces of clothing] as being collectibles."

Inking the Deals
Though the brand is personal to Mui, it's one that many identify with, which has resulted in partnerships with Disney, Harley-Davidson and Marvel Comics. Today, Mui is focusing on opening additional U.S. stores (he currently has a Los Angeles location), introducing more product lines (he just launched an apparel line for extreme sports athletes) and finding global partners to take YellowMan international. Says Mui, "When you think about the name YellowMan, think about the potential of China."

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This article was originally published in the July 2008 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Yellow Man: Skin Deep.

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