The majority dreams to be successful, rich and famous, but not all get a chance to live their dream. Maybe they lack the dedication, perseverance or they give up when the success is just a step away. Fortunately, there have been a number of individuals that have beat all the odds that were stacked up against them. And one such inspiration story is that of John Paul DeJoria. Today we all know him as an American billionaire business man and philanthropist. He is the founder of the Paul Mitchell line of hair products and the Patron Spirits Company. He is also worth $4 billion according to Forbes magazine. But he didn’t achieve all this or became the owner of a wealthy empire overnight. As a first generation American, he had it rough from the initial stage.
He was 2 when his German and Italian parents divorced. At the age of nine he started selling Christmas cards and newspapers to support his family. He was sent to an East Los Angeles foster home when his single mother found it impossible to support both children. John spent much of his youth in a street gang in East Los Angeles, but changed when a high school teacher told him that he would “Never succeed at anything in life.” It was disturbing to be homeless at the age of 22. He recalls, “Rent was overdue, and you know, a couple weeks later I was out there hustling, getting a job, picking up Coke bottles along the way, cashing them in, two cents for a little one, five cents for big one. And we ended up on the street for a few days there.”
He spent 2 years in the United States Navy after graduating in 1962. After this, he took up a series of job ranging from janitor to insurance salesman. On his experience of working as a door to door salesman, John says, “The job that was one of the most influential experiences you can imagine was door-to-door selling encyclopedias. It was Collier’s Encyclopedias. Tough job. You’re just cold-calling. Doors slam literally in your face–maybe 30, 40 doors before the first customer will actually talk to you and let you in.”
John entered the world of hair care when he joined Redken Laboratories. But he got fired from there over a disagreement on business strategies. Finally, in 1990, he took a $700 loan and created Paul Mitchell with hair dresser Cyril Thomson Mitchell. This is when he found himself homeless again. His wife decided that she didn’t want to mother anymore (after a son). Whatever money he had, she took and left, leaving John with his son. He recalls, “I wasn’t getting along with my wife at the time, so I had left and given her all the money. We had a backer for Paul Mitchell Systems putting in a half-million dollars. That money was supposed to arrive that day. Never got a penny. So I just slept in my car. And I slept in my car for the first two weeks when I started the company.”
John hawked the company’s shampoo door to door, but the quality was Paramount and JPM Systems, worth over $900 million annually. He also created Patron Tequila and has a hand in number of industries ranging from diamonds to music. He says the memory of streets always motivates him, “It sure makes you very appreciative of what you do have in your life. Those who are homeless–like families, like people with kids who are homeless–I really have a heart for. So I do participate in a lot of charitable organizations that take the homeless off the streets.”He is actively involved in charities in Africa and is an ongoing supporter of Food4Africa. He also joined Nelson Mandela in his efforts to help feed over 17,000 orphaned children. His company Paul Mitchell helped help offer over 400,000 life saving meals the very same for poor children.
John Paul is a caring humanitarian who believes that we all have a responsibility to make world a better place to live. The measure of his success is not in the pre-eminence of his industries or the other ventures he heads, but rather by good that he has achieved through his continuous investment of time and money. He hardly knew that one day he would become a billionaire of renowned and impeccable reputation.