This Twice-Homeless Man Is Now Worth $4 Billion

john paul dejoria mitchell

Photo: Getty Images

Billionaire John Paul DeJoria had a tough childhood, working his first job at age 9, bouncing into a foster home and then getting caught up in a Los Angeles street gang. A high school teacher even told him he was “least likely to succeed.“So it was devastating to be homeless at age 22.

“Rent was overdue,” he tells Entrepreneur. “And you know, a couple weeks later I was out there hustling, getting a job, picking up Coke bottles along the way, cashing them in, two cents for a little one, five cents for big one. And we ended up on the street for a few days there.”

After working gigs as a janitor and insurance salesman, DeJoria finally found his way working an entry-level job at Redken, a hair product company. It inspired him to later co-launch John Paul Mitchell Systems with hairdresser Paul Mitchell in 1980.

Which is when he found himself homeless again.

“I wasn’t getting along with my wife at the time,” he tells the magazine. “So I had left and given her all the money. We had a backer for Paul Mitchell Systems putting in a half-million dollars. That money was supposed to arrive that day. Never got a penny. So I just slept in my car. And I slept in my car for the first two weeks when I started the company.”

Today, John Paul Mitchell brings in around $900 million. Another company he co-founded, Patron Spirits Company, ranks among the top tequila sellers in the world.

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