This is the story of John Paul DeJoria.
John Paul DeJoria was born April 13th, 1944 in the Echo Park neighborhood of LA. A son to two immigrants, his parents divorced by the time he was two, leaving only his mother to take care of him and his brother.
To help out with bills, he started going door-to-door selling Christmas cards, newspapers, and encyclopedias before he was a teenager.
“Doors slam literally in your face- maybe 30, 40 doors before the first customer will actually talk to you and let you in.”
When his mother couldn’t provide for them anymore, he and his brother were sent to a foster home. He joined a street gang but turned his life around when his high school math teacher told him he would never succeed at anything in life. He graduated high school at 18 and joined the navy.
At 22-years-old, DeJoria found himself homeless for the first time. His wife at the time left him to care for his son and with rent overdue, he collected coke bottles to try to make ends meet. He wound up on the street for a few days before getting help from a friend.
DeJoria got into the hair care industry and began working at Redken Laboratories. He was later fired over a disagreement on business strategies.
With only $700 dollars, $350 of which came from his mom, he went into business with a hairdresser named Paul Mitchell, founding John Paul Mitchell Systems in 1980. Like his youth, he went door-to-door selling hair care products to salons.
For the first two weeks of business before making money, DeJoria found himself homeless for the second time and living in his car before business took off.
With Paul Mitchell doing well, DeJoria began to reinvest in other businesses starting with the alcohol industry. Along with a partner, he took a premium tequila from Mexico, refined it to be smoother, put it in hand crafted bottles, and Patrón tequila was founded in 1989.
“Here’s a bottle of tequila! [laughs] If you’re too young, give it to your parents.”
John Paul DeJoria is also a founding partner of the chain House of Blues, owns interests in Pyrat Rum, Ultimat Vodka, solar companies, natural gas, petroleum, and mobile technology among many others.
DeJoria is also active in the film industry, starring as his former partner Paul Mitchell in the 2008 Adam Sandler comedy You Don’t Mess With The Zohan and The Big Tease; he also served as a guest investor on ABC’s Shark Tank.
“Whether it’s a product or a service, make sure you have the best quality out there. The next thing is, whatever you do, make it so good people will want to buy it again.”
Today, Paul Mitchell earns around $900 million a year; Patrón generates over a billion dollars and growing.
DeJoria is an active supporter of Food4Africa and also funds charities to help homeless families around the United States.