Rags to riches tale of John Paul DeJoria - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Rags to riches tale of John Paul DeJoria

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"Success unshared is failure." Those words from billionaire, businessman and philanthropist John Paul DeJoria.

John Paul DeJoria has worked hard to build his $4 billion fortune. He is the founder of Paul Mitchell Hair Systems, Patron Spirits and John Paul Pets.

"I did work hard. Yes I did overcome a lot of rejection but that's part of why we feel success unshared is failure," DeJoria said.

It was that rejection and his upbringing that gave John Paul the launch pad to turn his life into a rags to riches story.

"My mom struggled and made sure that we never knew we had little to nothing. We thought we had what everybody else did," he said.

John Paul sat down with FOX 7's Loriana Hernandez in his Austin home to open up about what shaped his future and what it's like to be a billionaire.

"I can sleep at night and not have to worry about that and puts us in a position to bring others along," he said.

But he gives his mother all of the credit.

"One day she gave my brother and I a dime she said ‘boys, hold half the dime each. Go over there and put in the bucket with the boy ringing the bell.' We said to her after we did it, mom that was a lot of money," DeJoria said. "She said ‘that's the Salvation Army and they help people who really need it badly. Remember this all your life, no matter what you have, what you don't have, there's always somebody in more need than you are.'"

John Paul grew up thinking he had a lot.

"They called us the under-privileged kids. We didn't know we were under-privileged kids. We thought we were really lucky to go to free camp for the summer," he said.

His first entrepreneur job, he built a flower pot.

"My brother and I build a flower pot for 25 cents on credit by the way and went out and sold it for 50 cents," he said.

Despite craving more John Paul later found himself homeless but with $750 he took a risk and made what would become his best career move ever.

"We stared JP Mitchell systems in 1980 and of course our product has expanded quite a bit since we started it. Whether it's Paul Mitchell the Tea Tree line or the Awapuhi Ginger to become the largest independent professional hair care product line in the country and maybe even the world," he said.

John Paul says the odds were against them. The year 1980, inflation was 12.5 percent.

"Once we were able to pay our bills off on time we knew we made it. We were on our way to success," he said.

Boy were they ever and that was just the beginning.

"We were sitting one day drinking tequila in my home one day and said God this is great but there's got to be something better," he said.

And that's how Patron Spirits came about.

"We think the world was ready then for the first ultra-premium tequila, the finest you could ever make. One we never changed it by the way," he said.

And then the first hair care company to say it does not test on animals. Found another nitche, giving back to pets with John Paul Pet.

JP Pet was about giving something that was good for the pet and their PH not for humans that bought it.

But what gives John Paul the greatest joy is giving back.

"I call it paying rent while you're on the planet earth. Hey while you're here, why not help someone else out who needs a helping hand? Like my mom said no matter what you have or don't have there's always someone who needs it more than you and when you give back you feel good," he said.

His motto is success unshared is failure. And he makes sure there is no room for failure at his companies from the Paul Mitchell School to his greatest project Grow Appalachia, an organization that gives families in need the tools to grow their own food, market it and ultimately support themselves.

"Every student participates in fundraising and every dime is underwritten by us," he said. When you get someone on food stamps or they go on disability the government keeps feeding them feeding them.

John Paul says to date Grow Appalachia has taken 150 families off food stamps.

"When you can afford it, you take those food stamps you put them back in the envelope and send them back to the United States Government. That is we the people that says this ‘take me off the food stamp roll. I'm self-sufficient but don't waste that money but take it off the national deficit,'" he said.

It's a program so successful he says it caught the attention of the White House.

"So I went to Washington DC to meet with them," he said. "I said great I'm ready to do it. I'll come back to the White House. Never heard from them since."

But John Paul says he holds no hard feelings.

"It's not that the Obama Administration or the President doesn't want to do it. Maybe he doesn't know how. He's never run a business," John Paul said.

Instead this self-made billionaire hopes to inspire others to go the extra mile, work hard and get ahead the old fashioned way.

"We don't want a handout in this country. You can still make it in this country. There's still a way to make it. Believe in yourself believe in America. Don't give up," he said.

John Paul says "The difference between successful people, and unsuccessful people, is that the successful people are willing to do the things that unsuccessful people won't do."

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