John Paul Dejoria: The billionaire entrepreneur who was once homeless

John Paul Dejoria is one of the wealthiest people on earth. His current net worth is estimated at about 3 billion dollars. He is best known as the co-founder of the Paul Mitchell line of hair products. His life is very interesting and can be an example for all of us as he started his entrepreneurship initiatives with just 700 dollars. At the same time for a long period he was homeless. So, it is very interesting how this man turned the difficulties of the life into success.

Another reason that it is worth mentioning John Paul Dejoria is for the survival strategy plan, he followed during 2020 in order to handle the consequences of the covid-19 pandemic to his business. Due to the huge loses John Paul Dejoria put a sum of his own money to the company to keep it going and also maintain jobs and salaries.

He had difficult childhood years. Both his parents were immigrants to the USA. His father was an Italian immigrant and his mother a Greek immigrant. They lived at a neighborhood in Los Angeles where he was born. His parents divorced when he was two years old and his mother unable to take care of him and his brother, the boys were sent to a foster home. As a child he tried to support his family as much as he could. When he was 9 years old, started with his older brother to sell Christmas cards and newspapers. However, due to serious financial problems the solution of a foster home for the two boys was inevitable.

When he grew up he tried different jobs in order to survive. He proved to be good at selling products door to door. However, he didn’t earn a lot of money. He just covered his basic needs. He didn’t have a home, he used an old car to sleep at nights and get some rest. But one day his life started changing rapidly.

John Paul Dejoria and hairdresser Paul Mitchell decided to develop a new shampoo that Dejoria peddled in salons across Los Angeles. Some salons bought the new shampoo. Steadily, more and more salons started buying the product. This was the beginning of a success story. In 1980, the two men formed John Paul Mitchell Systems with a loan of 700 dollars. The company’s sales reached 900 million dollars in 2019. Unfortunately, Paul Mitchell died in 1989. After that, Dejoria runs the company with co-owner Angus Mitchell, the son of John Paul Mitchell System’s late cofounder, Paul Mitchell. John Paul Mitchell Systems (JPMS) includes the brands Paul Mitchell, Tea Tree, and MITCH.

In 2020 the company came through a difficult phase. The implementation of social distancing measures due to covid-19 shuttered hair salons and barbershops across the country and the company’s sales zoomed straight down. The company lost almost 60% of its revenue. Dejoria and Mitchell had to find a solution. They decided in order to maintain jobs and salaries amid plunging sales, to give each month 6 million dollars of their own money into the company to bridge the financial gap. It was a really quick decision without second thoughts. It took only 30 minutes Dejoria to decide, as he revealed in an interview. Also, in order to help with the financial strain of the shutdowns, DeJoria gave partner salons more than 4 million dollars worth of free goods that owners could turn into pure profit once business resumed.

Dejoria followed three main principles in his life that led him to success. He was always prepared for rejection, he did his best for his products in order to be number one in the market and lastly he remains focused on social responsibility. He said in an interview that “customers like to be involved with people and businesses that donate their time to help others, save the planet and make a difference”.

Not to forget to mention that in 1989 John Paul Dejoria with his partner Martin Crowley purchased the rights of the brand Patron Tequila. In January 2018, Patron was sold to Bacardi for $5.1 billion.


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