Patrón Tequila and Paul Mitchell Systems co-creator on what makes his brands so popular
About John Paul DeJoria
John Paul DeJoria’s rags-to-riches biography exemplifies the American dream – he is a first-generation American turned entrepreneur, philanthropist, government servant, and pillar of the business community. John Paul DeJoria has struggled against the odds not only to achieve success, but to share this success with others. He knows firsthand what it’s like to be the ‘underdog,’ and strives to help as many as possible overcome their challenges and achieve their full potential.
John Paul DeJoria was born in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California – one of two children of immigrant parents (his father came from Italy and his mother’s family came from Greece). His mother raised him as a single parent before John Paul reached the age of two.
John Paul started out selling greeting cards at age 9 and delivering newspapers in order to help support his family. After high school and service with honors in the U.S. Navy, John Paul did whatever it took to make ends meet – he sold encyclopedias, photocopying machines, dictating equipment, and insurance; he also worked as a janitor, pumped gasoline, drove a tow truck, and repaired bicycles. John Paul was even homeless at one time. Even then, he didn’t give up and collected bottles to stay afloat.
Eventually, John Paul got his break – an entry-level marketing position with TIME magazine. Within a short period of time, he was promoted to Los Angeles Circulation Manager. He then moved to his first position in the hair care industry. Within eighteen months, he received a promotion to National Manager of Schools and Chain Salons. John Paul left this position and served at the National Manager and Vice President level for several hair care and cosmetic companies before becoming an independent consultant. He joined his marketing expertise with the hairdressing talents of his friend Paul Mitchell to launch their now-famous professional hair care system.
John Paul DeJoria and Paul Mitchell had a vision - to found a company for hairdressers - one that would provide tools of success for hair care professionals, their salons, and the entire beauty industry. In 1980, the two partners began marketing their products under the brand name Paul Mitchell®, as Mr. Mitchell was the hairdresser of the two, and other hairdressers would respect the fact that they chose a hairdresser’s name to always keep the products professional.
Initially, John Paul Mitchell Systems® faced many financial challenges. According to John Paul, “…the company should have gone bankrupt perhaps 50 times during the first year.” But the partners had a unique and winning strategy – a company-building plan that stemmed from their convictions. DeJoria and Mitchell traveled extensively to conduct no-cost product demonstrations for salon owners. They guaranteed salon owners would sell all products purchased; if they didn’t, they could return any unsold products for a full refund. Such practices represented a first for the hair care industry, and eventually led to John Paul Mitchell Systems becoming one of the fastest growing privately-held companies in the United States.
Although Paul Mitchell tragically died of pancreatic cancer in 1989, the two partners’ dream has flourished. Today, John Paul Mitchell Systems has annual salon retail sales approaching $900 million. The company currently produces over 90 products (including the brands Paul Mitchell®, Modern Elixirs™, Tea Tree™, Paul Mitchell LAB™, and Paul Mitchell Professional Hair Color). All John Paul Mitchell System hair and skin care products are manufactured within the United States. John Paul Mitchell Systems products are sold through 25 distributors within the United States and thousands of hair salons and schools. Internationally, John Paul Mitchell Systems works with distributors in 75 countries that supply thousands of hair salons.
John Paul Mitchell Systems ardently supports a wide variety of philanthropic causes. Recent donations (totaling millions of dollars) of cash, products, and services have been made to non-profit organizations operating in the fields of health care, social services, environmental protection and awareness, and the arts.
Mr. DeJoria traveled throughout the United States in support of the Campaign for Consumer Product Safety, a public service of the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition Against Product Tampering. CAPT’s mission is to educate consumers regarding the importance of product safety codes. In addition, DeJoria has personally spoken with dozens of senators and before the U.S. Congress regarding product safety related issues.
In his capacity as businessman, environmentalist, and philanthropist, John Paul has served on several U.S. government and United Nations missions. For example, John Paul has advised regarding the environmentally-sound harvesting of energy in Africa and other nations, and discussed the development of a demilitarized ecological zone in the context of the reunification of the Koreas with senior level North Korean government officials. John Paul has also donated considerable personal care and money to supporting those who have served in the armed forces, as well as to supporting the families of injured servicemen and the widows and orphans of deceased servicemen.
John Paul also lectures at colleges and universities. He has been a member of the New York Stock Exchange, and is the recipient of the Lifetime Business Achievement award from NAHA and the National Italian Foundation. In 2006 he was appointed a Navy Admiral by the Governor of Texas, and received the Citizen of the Year Dolphin Award.