How To Make It Big In Beauty: Haircare and Tequila Tycoon Schools Us

As a beauty writer, it’s not always easy to find common ground with industry heavyweights – they’re sitting on an empire and I’m sitting at a desk with a five-year-old laptop (read: considered ‘vintage’). So, when I was asked to meet with co-founder of haircare brand Paul Mitchell and the Patrón Spirits Company, John Paul DeJoria, at the  Palazzo Versace Hotel on the Gold Coast for his new Marula Oil hair range (watch this space...), I expected a worlds-apart conversation... 

However, John Paul's humble beginnings and determination have given him a perspective that is broad in its appeal. He was raised by a single mother (who dyed her own hair and made her own clothes to support her boys) and he later lived in his car while knocking door-to-salon-door trying to sell Paul Mitchell. His rags-to-ridiculous-wealth story is inspiration incarnate, in a way we can all relate, learn from and replicate. So I asked him to share the biggest gems of wisdom he’s collected while building a beauty business. 


While a hard slog, John looks back on the early days with late business partner, Paul Mitchell, fondly. Image: Instagram @hothairstudio

While a hard slog, John looks back on the early days with late business partner, Paul Mitchell, fondly. Image: Instagram @hothairstudio

Embrace the hard days…

"I still appreciate what the early days were all about. It was meant to be that our backer pulled out and we didn’t make any money. It was just meant to be. I have this saying now and I think it comes from the early days. ‘In the end everything will be okay and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.’ So that reminds me of it all the time, it makes me twice as thankful as I am today for what’s come out of it."

 
John Paul doesn't believe in seeing rejection as a negative. Learn from it, and move on.

John Paul doesn't believe in seeing rejection as a negative. Learn from it, and move on.

Be prepared for a lot of rejection…

"If you are prepared for a lot of rejection, when it comes along, it isn’t going to bug you. A good example of that is if you knock on 50 doors and they are closed in your face (rudely or politely), you have to be just as enthusiastic on door number 51 as you are on the other 50. If you are prepared for a lot of rejection it’s not going to get you down."

 
John Paul with wife, Eloise.

John Paul with wife, Eloise.

Be thankful…

"Wake up and be very thankful for where you are. Take a big breath and just say ‘thank you for giving me the life I have right now.’ Say it to yourself, to whoever, or whatever, you like. Then go about your day doing what you normally do; brush your teeth, go to the bathroom, have a little cup of coffee or tea – but then you’ll realise there has been a positive shift in how you see things in life, just from being thankful everyday." 

 
John Paul and Eloise in Louisiana for the annual Invisible Children event, raising awareness for displaced Ugandan children. Image: paulmitchell.com

John Paul and Eloise in Louisiana for the annual Invisible Children event, raising awareness for displaced Ugandan children. Image: paulmitchell.com

Give back, even when you don’t have a lot to give… 

"My motto is ‘success unshared is a failure’. When I was a kid, there was this man with this red bucket and he was ringing a bell, he was homeless. My mother took a dime out of her purse, that’s all she had, and told my brother and I to hold half the dime each and walk over and put it in the bucket. And we did. Success in my opinion isn’t how much money you have or how powerful you are. Success is how well you do what you do, and how much you help others. You don’t need money to do it. At the Paul Mitchell school, part of our curriculum is giving back. They have fundraisers where every dime raised goes to part of the community and other parts of the world to make it a better place to live." 

 
The new Marula Oil range definitely holds up the quality standards; it is this beauty writer's latest oil obsession...

The new Marula Oil range definitely holds up the quality standards; it is this beauty writer's latest oil obsession...

Quality counts… 

"I knew when I started Paul Mitchell that nobody [knew who we were]. But, I knew that the product had to be so darn good that the hairdressers we tried to sell to would love it enough to use it and then recommended to their customers to use in between visits. And, it was of that high level of quality, so it worked. You want that quality to be that good whether it’s a service or a physical product."

 
Social Media is a vital component of the Paul Mitchell business model. Image: Instagram @paulmitchelledu

Social Media is a vital component of the Paul Mitchell business model. Image: Instagram @paulmitchelledu

Use the power of social media to boost your beauty business...

I don’t do email. If I did, I would be inundated. But I understand social media and I have a brilliant daughter who is the Vice Chair of the company and is all about social media. I am learning from her about how powerful it is. It's an incredible to tool to reach your audience. 

 
 

Story and interview by Rikki Hodge-Smith; Photography by Normal Jean Roy, supplied by Paul Mitchell.