I love a good rags to riches story, and what better way to motivate my readers as you head into the weekend than to recount the story of billionaire hair care products magnet and co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems, John Paul DeJoria.
John Paul Dejoria and his brother spent over four years of their childhood in a foster home because their sick mother could not work and take care of them at the same time. Both ended up in street gangs in East Los Angeles, California, and one of DeJoria’s high school teachers predicted that he would never amount to anything. When he was in his twenties, his wife abandoned him, and he and his infant son were living in a car. He had to collect bottles to survive. Despite being dealt such a bad hand, John Paul was determined to make something of himself.
Here, in his own words, DeJoria talks about getting fired three times and how those setbacks were crucial in launching John Paul Mitchell Systems:
I worked for a company and ran two full positions for them. Even though they were up, they said I wasn’t their type of manager and fired me. I went to work for another company. After one year they fired me because I didn’t hang out with them on the weekends. Next company I worked for I tripled their sales, and one day the owner of the company said, “I’m sorry, but we have to let you go because we have someone that could do your job for half the money.” And then I started John Paul Mitchell Systems. Two years into [the company], I realized something; had I not worked for those three companies that fired me, it would have been virtually impossible to start John Paul Mitchell Systems, because each company taught me something. Even though I was fired, it was like the Universe was moving me on, teaching me various things along the way, whether I knew it or not.
DeJoria and his business partner, the late Paul Mitchell, took out a $750.00 loan to start John Paul Mitchell Systems. As they were set to launch their hair care products, they faced a potentially devastating setback. An investor who had agreed to provide money for their business suddenly took away all of his funds. Left with massive commitments, no way to pay their bills, and no way of surviving the next 45 days until their clients paid their accounts, things didn’t look good. But then DeJoria had an epiphany: How about offering discounts cash payments on delivery. Almost every client liked that idea, and their company was saved. The rest, as they say, is history.
John Paul Mitchell Systems has gone on to become one of the biggest and most profitable hair care products companies in the worlds, generating revenues in excess of $1 billion a year. DeJoria now boasts a personal net worth of $2.8 billion. They say you have to play the hand that life deals you as best you can. John Paul DeJoria could write a book on that!