John Paul DeJoria: A Tale of Two Startups (Part 1)

As one of America’s most successful entrepreneurs, John Paul DeJoria’s business ventures include John Paul Mitchell Systems and The Patrón Spirits Company.  Forbes magazine reports that he is worth over $4 billion, but the story of his early life includes many hard knocks, including time spent in foster care and a street gang.  At 20, he was a single dad struggling to provide for his son, and worked any job he could find, including pumping gas, repairing bicycles, and working as a janitor, and selling encyclopedias door to door.  His work ethic was extraordinary and, in 1966, he was Collier Encyclopedia’s top salesman.  

In 1971, DeJoria began selling hair care products as a Redken Representative.  Again, his diligence was quickly noticed, and in less than two years, he was a divisional manager.  Over the next few years DeJoria bounced around to several hair care companies.  He achieved immense success in each endeavor (at one company, his sales commission was more than the owner’s salary), but was repeatedly fired for not “fitting in”.   

In 1980, DeJoria teamed up with a hairstylist friend named Paul Mitchell.  With the  $700 they had between them, they made samples of two shampoos and one conditioner.  DeJoria and Mitchell went door-to-door visiting salons offering free demonstrations.  Their sales strategy was innovative—they offered to take back any unsold products at no cost to the salon.  The offer was too good for the salons to refuse, and the high-quality products became wildly popular.  Today, John Paul Mitchell Systems produces over 100 products and is available in over 80 countries worldwide.  DeJoria explained his success to Upstart Business Journal, “I have said many times that the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people do a lot of the things that unsuccessful people don’t want to do. Like when the door is slammed in your face ten times, you go on to door number eleven with just as much enthusiasm.”

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1 Comment

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One response to “John Paul DeJoria: A Tale of Two Startups (Part 1)

  1. Wow, I did not know they had such a hard time with sales at first they make incredible products. I am glad they kept trying and found their market!

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