Episode 125 – Featuring John Paul DeJoria (Paul Mitchell Hair Products; Patron Spirits)

Paul Mitchell Hair Products.   Patron Spirits.  With Two Billion Dollar Startups Under His Belt, What Is John Paul DeJoria Doing To Go For the Hat Trick?

“You’ll never succeed in anything in life!”

When John Paul DeJoria’s high school math teacher uttered those words directly to him, that teacher was probably correct.  After all, at the time, John Paul was a wayward soul that found himself caught in the trappings of a street gang as a youth.

Even AFTER he heard those words, despite being hell-bent on turning himself around at that point, things weren’t much better.   After a stint in the Navy, John Paul wandered from job to job.


Insurance salesman.

Door-to-door Encyclopedia salesman.

A squabble with his first wife left him homeless for a period of time at the age of 22 (not the last time that would happen to John Paul).  He had found himself BACK on the streets, equipped with not much more than the clothes on his back and a fighting determination to prove the doubters (including his high school math teacher) wrong.

Then, in 1979, John Paul DeJoria found himself with $700, half of which he borrowed from his mother.

He hooked up with a friend of his.   They decided to use that $700 to create the artwork for their startup idea, a company that would specialize in hair care products.   When it came time to name the company, they used his partner’s name.

His name:  Paul Mitchell

And suffice to say, from the point they decided to launch their company during some of the roughest times in America’s recent economic history, even though it resulted in a (temporary) SECOND brush with homelessness for John Paul DeJoria, Paul and John Paul never looked back.  Using the same door-to-door approach he had taken with encyclopedias and insurance, only this time with beauty salons, John Paul’s persistence saw him through.  And it has paid off, as Paul Mitchell hair products are a staple of pretty much ANY beauty salon you walk into, some 35 years later.

Ever the entrepreneur, John Paul, in 1989,  had encountered a colleague who made frequent trips to Mexico as part of his architecture business.  He asked him to bring back some of the best tequila that the locals were drinking at the time.  When he did,the tequila had a smoothness unlike anything either John Paul or his colleague had ever consumed.   With the Paul Mitchell business thriving, John Paul decided to purchase 1,000 cases (12,000 bottles) of this unique blend.  He and his colleague would import it, use a little mixology to make it even MORE smooth, then try to market the tequila in the U.S.  Worst case scenario, he thought: he’d have celebratory gifts to give away for decades!

And Patron Spirits was born!  And in the 25 years since, it’s revenues have surpassed even those of Paul Mitchell,

All because of persistence.   For John Paul DeJoria, it’s all about approaching the 101st door with as much enthusiasm and optimism as the previous 100 that have been slammed in your face!

So what’s next for John Paul DeJoria?  The 71-year-old entrepreneur is showing ZERO signs of slowing down, embarking on two new projects, one (or both) of which he is confident will be the third billion dollar enterprise under his belt.  On this edition of “The Raja Show”, John Paul DeJoria joins Raja to discuss his story, the importance of never giving up, and the challenges of starting a THIRD billion dollar company in a time when more and more startups are falling by the wayside than ever before.