John Paul DeJoria’s Rise From Gangs To Grandeur
Mar 2012 05

Rags to riches stories are inspiration for a lot us. It’s great to know that there are so many people who were not born with a silver spoon in their mouths, they worked and make their millions from scratch. John Paul DeJoria of John Paul Mitchell hair products is one such success story. This son of Italian and Greek immigrants made a huge success of his job as a Redken sales representative, which was the catalyst for his involvement in the world of hair care products.

Born in 1944, John Paul DeJoria lived in a one bedroom home with his mother after her divorce from his dad. Making hats for money, John’s mother ensured her kids always had food on the table. John Paul indicated that it was not a rich lifestyle but it was a good life with his mom and sibling.

Early Years

John Paul took his first job at the age of nine, selling greeting cards from door to door to earn extra income. He then took a paper route, and all the money John Paul DeJoria made he gave to his mother as additional household income. He also worked as a gas station attendant, janitor and a delivery boy after he finished school.

During his schooling years DeJoria became part of a gang. He did not get into any real trouble but it earned his a reputation and he was voted the least likely to succeed. His business teacher accused him of having not business skill and told him he wouldn’t go anywhere in life. Many of us wonder where that teacher is now.

Inspirational John Paul DeJoria

Inspirational John Paul DeJoria


This natural salesman took his sales pitches and went from door to door selling encyclopedias and hair-care products. It was during his time with Redken and five years after his promotion to District Manager that his management philosophy began to change. It clashed with that of the Redken Management and John Paul DeJoria was subsequently fired.

He then went on to work for a pharmaceutical company but they fired him because he refused to socialise with the hierarchial management. After that job fell through he went to work for another hair care company who were fortunate to have brought such a brilliant salesman on board and John Paul DeJoria tripled their sales in one year but they eventually fired him too because they felt he was costing them too much in commission.


After years of working hard and being fired left, right and centre, DeJoria and his friend Paul Mitchell decided to start their own hair care range. Mitchell’s hairdressing skills and DeJoria’s sales abilities meant they took their small company, which they started in 1980 with only $700 and turned it into a multi-million dollar hair product empire that put him on the Forbes richest list thanks to their product that is sold in all salons throughout the world. John Paul DeJoria is a millionaire, philanthropist foundation starter and the ideal boss to work for thanks to his philosophy of respecting everyone regardless of who you are or where you come from.

Vida Denning is a keen writer who enjoys writing on a wide variety of topics. She loves rags to riches stories and often remembers her days while working in executive suites and in a serviced office China that she used to dream of her writing bringing her millions too.