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John Paul DeJoria, the shampoo and tequila king

By Noah Miller


Updated on

The businessman and philanthropist started his life on the 13th of April, 1944, as the second son of an Italian immigrant father and a Greek immigrant mother who settled in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California to live in a stead that he would later describe as a quarter the size of his living room.

When he was only two years old his parents divorced and thus he had a difficult childhood, beginning to sell Christmas cards and newspapers from the age of nine, to help support his family. He also tried to sell encyclopedias from door-to-door but this didn’t work very well, having to knock at 30 doors before someone was actually interested, since a Collier’s Encyclopedia was worth $369 in the 1960s. His early years were spent in the Atwater Village on Garden Avenue and then they moved to Revere.

His studies started with the Atwater Elementary school and then on to the John Marshall High School. He and his brother were sent to a foster home when the mother couldn’t support them anymore and John remembers that during this time he joined a street gang but during high school his math teacher told him that he wouldn’t succeed at anything in life due to his current behavior and thus he decided to make a change.

He graduated in 1962 and then joined the United Stated Navy, serving two years aboard the USS Hornet and then he worked for a series of jobs that varied from being a janitor to an insurance salesman. When he was an employee of Redken Laboratories he began to be interested in hair care products and was fired from the position for disagreements involving the business strategies, as he claims.

In 1980 he took a $700 loan and partnered with Paul Mitchell, a hairdresser, to create the John Paul Mitchell Systems company. The hair care company now has revenues of $900 million each year and it made John Paul join the Forbes list of billionaires.

DeJoria also owns 70% of The Patron Spirits Company, selling a large number of premium tequila bottles each year and he was one of the co-founders of this company in 1989 along with a friend of his Martin Crowley. His interest in the liquor industry didn’t stop here; he has interests in Pyrat Rum, Smokey Mountain Bison Farm, Ilc and Ultimat Vodka.

On June 13, 1993 he married Eloise Broaday, an American model and actress that was chosen as Playboy Playmate for April 1988 and they have four children together, one of which is the professional drag racer Alexis DeJoria.

Some other ventures in which he is involved are the African oil industry, through holdings in Madagascar Oil Ltd., the House of Blues nightclub chain where he was one of the founding partners, Solar Utility, Sun King Solar, Touchstone Natural Gas, Three Star Energy, Diamond Audio, the DeJoria diamond company, the mobile technology developer ROK AMERICAS, he has a Harley Davidson dealership, the John Paul Pet company and the J&D Acquisitions LLC which is the parent company of the Larson, Striper, Triumph, Marquis and Carver boat companies.

He went to the sub-Saharan part of Africa in 2008 to help feed over 17000 orphan children through the Food4Africa program initiated by Nelson Mandela and through his company he helped give over 400,000 meals in the same year.

When he started the Patron Spirits Company, the idea of “ultra-premium” spirits wasn’t very real and now the company sells millions of bottles each year. The CEO of Patron Ed Brown said about John “He’s one of the most giving guys on the planet, and he’s a visionary. Who would have ever thought of doing ultra-premium tequila back in those days?”

During the economically difficult period of 2009 revenues increased, proving once more that when people are in trouble, the liquor industry thrives.

He made a cameo appearance impersonating Paul Mitchell in the comedy You Don’t Mess with the Zohan and he also acted in The Big Tease in the role of John Paul Mitchell, a fictional character combining the two personalities. He supported Captain Paul Watson from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society through a video and on November 1, 2013 he replaced Robert Herjavec in the reality series Shark Tank.

The man who now owns homes in Malibu, Las Vegas, Austin and probably several other places as well was two times in his past homeless and had to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning to deliver papers to help support his family.

The first time he was homeless was when his wife left him with his son and took all the money they had with rent left unpaid, so he had to live on the streets for several days before a friend let him stay at his house. The second time he was homeless was at the age of 22 when he had a 2 years old son, waiting for some money that never came and thus he had to sleep in his car for the first two weeks of owning Paul Mitchell Systems.

Once the company was set up he did the same thing he did when trying to sell encyclopedias, he went from beauty salon to beauty salon presenting his products and this was how people began to use the shampoo.

Patron began when his friend Martin brought several bottles of tequila from Mexico and the two of them considered that it could be improved with the help of a mixologist, after which he would add a beautiful label to the product and pour it into a hand-blown bottle for a really exquisite looking product. The overall quality of the drink spoke for itself and it quickly became one of the best choices for a gift, making John Paul a very rich man. As he says: “Patron is extremely profitable. And large. Patron is very, very large.”

As he recalls today, he considered he became successful when he could pay every bill on time and even had a couple thousand dollars in the bank. This was after two years of being in business and today Forbes estimates his worth at $2.8 billion, with no plans of retirement for the future.

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About Noah Miller

Noah is a professional journalist who has been specializing in the jewelry and watches industry since the early 2010s. He’s been contributing to Luxatic for more than eight years now, and he's also a contributor to well known publications like GQ, Esquire or Town & Country, and many watch and jewelry blogs. Learn more about Luxatic's Editorial Process.

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