How John Paul DeJoria Went From Being Homeless To Billionaire

John Paul DeJoria
John Paul DeJoria made his first sale at 7 years old. The budding entrepreneur and his brother were in foster care at the time and spent afternoons at the Variety Boys Club’s wood shop in East Los Angeles.

“The man [in charge] said, ‘Hey guys, here’s a design for a wooden planter. It’ll be 25 cents worth of wood, but if you want to build them, I’ll give you that 25 cents on credit,’ ” DeJoria, now 73, tells The Post. So he took on his first investor. He went from door to door for two days, ultimately selling the planter to a waitress for 50 cents — enough to pay back his supervisor and buy the wood for a second planter.
His career took off from there. At 9, he sold Christmas cards to neighbors. After high school, he hawked Collier’s Encyclopedias while living out of his car.

So in 1980, when the sole investor backed out of the haircare company he and celebrity hair stylist Paul Mitchell were moments away from launching, he knew what to do. The two men pooled their available cash — $700 between them — and started heading from salon to salon to sell their shampoos and conditioners before their first bills arrived.Modal Trigger

The rest is history, as relayed in the new documentary “Good Fortune,” now showing at Village East Cinema. Today, Paul Mitchell pulls in $750 million in sales annually, between products sold in salons and the hundred-plus Paul Mitchell Schools locations around the world. DeJoria, now worth an estimated $3.1 billion, went on to co-found Patrón Spirits and a handful of other companies and philanthropic organizations.

He’s come a long way from where he started. DeJoria was raised by a single mom in LA’s then-dangerous Echo Park and spent five years in a foster home when she couldn’t afford to care for him. Most of his neighbors were immigrants or members of biker gangs.

“We didn’t know we didn’t have anything, because we didn’t have the TVs to know what everyone else had,” DeJoria says. “But we had at least two changes of clothes, so we thought we grew up OK.”

He bounced from street gang to school to the Navy to sales jobs, living out of his car and crashing with Hell’s Angels friends when things got tough. In the 1970s, at the suggestion of a friend, he moved to Texas to sell Redken hair products. He worked his way from salesman to manager at three of the biggest companies in the industry, befriending formulators and stylists along the way.

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