Billionaire philanthropist and entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria was once homeless – and now, he is using his wealth to help those in his hometown of Austin who experience homelessness.
DeJoria, the Co-founder of the Paul Mitchell line of hair care products and Founder of Patrón Tequila, began his first company while sleeping in his car. With less than $300 to his name, he lived in his car, an old Rolls Royce, and went door to door selling hair care products. Today, Paul Mitchell products are sold in more than 150,000 beauty salons worldwide and did $900 million in sales in 2019. DeJoria's estimated net worth is now $4 billion, but he has never forgotten his humble roots and has sought to use his wealth to help others overcome homelessness.
In 2011, DeJoria created the Peace, Love, and Happiness Foundation (PLHF) to give back to his community. The foundation provides homeless outreach and housing for homeless community members, along with education and skills training and job search help. The organization's community, called Mobile Loaves and Fishes, provides food, clothing, and toiletries to thousands of community members. They have recently secured a plot of land for their affordable supportive housing project catered to those who experience chronic homelessness.
DeJoria also participates in other forms of philanthropy. In 2011, he signed the "Giving Pledge," a document signed by more than 200 other billionaires specifying that signees will give half of their wealth to philanthropic causes. DeJoria also donated $2 million to The University of Texas at Austin's Dell Medical School to create a program for homeless health initiatives, also called "street medicine." In addition, he matched The Salvation Army's Day of Giving donations to help the homeless and instituted a program in PLHF that partnered with more than 6,000 families in Appalachia to produce and distribute food from their farms.