Off the Cuff

From Homeless to Hair Care Billionaire

Off the Cuff

If there ever were a rags-to-riches story, this is definitely it. John Paul DeJoria is a billionaire (he's worth about $4 billion) today but before making it big, the co-founder of Paul Mitchell Systems was homeless. Twice.

DeJoria grew up in a poor single parent household and got his first job at the age of 9, selling Christmas cards door-to-door. In his early 20s, things got so bad he didn't have a place to live.

DeJoria found himself homeless again just as he was starting up Paul Mitchell Systems in 1980 (with a mere $700). He was in the middle of a split with his wife at the time and ended up sleeping in his car for a few weeks.

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Despite these challenges, John Paul DeJoria said on "Off the Cuff" that his mom instilled a solid work ethic in him, letting him know he "could do whatever you want to do, never give up… keep on working, keep on going forward…".

And DeJoria has kept moving forward - with many other businesses. He was a founding partner of the House of Blues —sold to Live Nation for $350 million. He started a conflict-free diamond company, which focuses on the Kimberley Process, where all rough diamonds are carefully monitored and logged. In 1989, he co-founded Patron Spirits — the luxury tequila and spirits company.

DeJoria's biggest indulgence is his private jet. "It's extravagant," DeJoria admitted, "but I could never do what I do now… because most times I'm in two cities at the same time on the same day, sometimes three."

That's something DeJoria never could have imagined in the early days of Paul Mitchell Systems. In fact, the story behind his signature black shirts and suits wasn't so much a matter of taste— it had to do with dollars: "…we didn't have any money so my suits were a little tattered but I had a black suit," DeJoria said. "Just keep on changing those black t-shirts…"

Even nowadays, DeJoria travels lightly (albeit on that private jet), using the skills he learned during time in the U.S. Navy in the early '60s. He's proud of the fact that he takes just one suitcase on trips. "You wear your jacket with you, and get it dry cleaned if you have to."

Of course, the color of that jacket —and suitcase — is black.

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