Celebrities, Entrepreneurs Who Went From Rags to Riches

John Paul DeJoria sold Christmas cards and newspapers to help support his family.

John Paul DeJoria

John Paul DeJoria.

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / Contributor / Getty Images

Before he was the mastermind behind shampoo giant John Paul Mitchell Systems and Patron Tequila, John Paul DeJoria was just a first-generation American trying to make it.

After his German and Italian parents divorced when he was 2, he began selling Christmas cards and newspapers to help support his family — all before he turned 10 years old. 

“We grew up in downtown LA, in the Echo Park area. We didn’t know that we were really going through tough times because everybody was going through the same thing,” he told Forbes in 2011. “I remember once in junior high school, on a Friday, my mom came home from work and said to my brother and me, ‘You know, between us, we have only 27 cents, but we have food in the refrigerator, we have our little garden out back, and we’re happy, so we are rich.'”

After taking a job in a Redken factory, DeJoria became intrigued by the shampoo industry. He took a $700 loan from the company and invested it into his own brand, John Paul Mitchell Systems. Going door-to-door selling his product, DeJoria slept in his car, hoping his product would capture buyers’ attention.

John Paul DeJoria now has a net worth of $2.9 billion.

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