John Paul DeJoria was born in 1944 to Greek and Italian immigrants. He was raised in Los Angeles, Calif., by a single mother who often struggled financially to provide for her children. At one point, these struggles even led to young DeJoria being placed in foster care. Despite her struggles, his mother always taught her children the importance of generosity. This would be essential to his later success.
DeJoria worked hard to overcome his economic difficulties, motivated by the prospect of supporting his mother. As a young boy, he sold Christmas cards and newspapers. Later, he worked as a janitor. After graduating from high school, he joined the Navy, with which he served for two years and deployed aboard USS Hornet. He later stated his service taught him “personal management and teamwork skills that would help [him] later on in his career.”
After leaving the Navy, DeJoria worked several jobs, selling encyclopedias and again working as a janitor. Although he first faced many difficulties, he eventually succeeded in jobs across the cosmetics and hair care industry before becoming a consultant.
While working as a consultant, DeJoria joined his friend Paul Mitchell to form John Paul Mitchell Systems, a beauty company. Despite having only $700 to launch their business, DeJoria and Mitchell succeeded in their effort. By 2018, John Paul Mitchell Systems was worth nearly $3 billion.
Beyond founding John Paul Mitchell Systems, DeJoria co-founded a tequila business called Patrón Spirits International, which he later sold to the rum brand Bacardi. His success has led him to become one of the world’s wealthiest individuals, having a net worth of around $3 billion.
Living by his mother’s advice on generosity, DeJoria has used his wealth to support others. He promised, for example, to give away half of his wealth to improve human civilization and was a patron of Mineseeker, an organization established to address problems caused by landmines. He also co-founded the non-profit Grow Appalachia, which fosters the growth of organic fruits and vegetables among families in need. He has also financially supported 165 charities.
In recognition of his philanthropic work, DeJoria was awarded the Sustainability Award by Fashion Group International and inducted into the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. For his use of his Navy experience in leading a successful civilian career, he was also awarded the Lone Sailor Award in 2012.
We honor his service.