John Paul DeJoria
John Paul DeJoria, the Co-Founder of John Paul Mitchell Hair Systems and Patrón Spirits Company, among other enterprises, is a leading businessman and philanthropist.
DeJoria grew up in Echo Park as the second son of an Italian immigrant father and a Greek immigrant mother. His mother raised her sons alone after her divorce when DeJoria was two. When he was nine, DeJoria and his brother helped to support the family by selling Christmas cards and newspapers. For a while, DeJoria and his brother were in foster care due to their mother’s inability to support them financially.
Later, DeJoria was in a gang in East Los Angeles. Still, he worked as a janitor, a delivery boy, and a gas station attendant, among other jobs. He graduated and spent two years in the Navy. After his honorable discharge, he sold encyclopedias door to door for five years and later worked for a pharmaceutical company.
Eventually, DeJoria was hired by a hair care company and subsequently formed John Paul Mitchell Systems with a hairdresser friend Paul Mitchell. They began the company with $700, some of which DeJoria borrowed from his mother. For a period of time, DeJoria lived in his car as he and his partner were launching the business. As of 2011, John Paul Mitchell Systems had revenues of $900 million annually.
In addition to the John Paul Mitchell Systems, Dejoria is involved in a variety of other businesses. He co-founded the Patrón Spirits Company with a business partner and was founding partner of the House of Blues, which was subsequently sold to Live Nation. He also has interests in a range of other companies, including solar energy, mobile technology, spirits, diamonds, boats, and motorcycles.
DeJoria is among Los Angeles’ most philanthropic individuals. For many years, he has been a major supporter of Chrysalis, a nonprofit group that helps homeless and low-income individuals get back on their feet and find the path to self-sufficiency.
In addition, DeJoria has kept the John Paul Mitchell Systems based in Beverly Hills due to his commitment to the Greater Los Angeles area, even though it does not make sense to do so financially. As Dejoria mentioned in the May 21, 2011 issue of the Los Angeles Business Journal, California is among the worst states in the United States in which to have a business due to taxes and regulations. While DeJoria could easily move his business to Texas (where he now has his principal residence) or Nevada, he has chosen to keep John Paul Mitchell Systems in Southern California out of regard for his employees, who have roots in our community.
In 2010 De Joria expanded his philanthropy to the South with the founding of Grow Appalachia, a nonprofit initiative that provides the skills and resources needed to Appalachian families for them to grow sustainable, nutritious food.
Lone Sailor Award
U.S. Navy Memorial, 2012
Horatio Alger Association, 2004