Paul Mitchell CEO, co-founder visits Escanaba

ESCANABA – An international icon in the hair products industry visited Escanaba Monday to rededicate the recently-remodeled Paul Mitchell The School.

John Paul Mitchell Systems co-founder and CEO John Paul DeJoria, 68, arrived here in style, flying in on a private jet. He and his entourage then rode in a stretch Humvee escorted by a group of Harley-Davidson motorcyclists to the beauty school in north Escanaba.

DeJoria was greeted by students and staff from the local Paul Mitchell The School, as well as students invited from other beauty schools in the region.

“We want to help you be the best you can be in life,” DeJoria told those attending the rededication ceremony under a big white tent.

He reminded the students they are receiving the same quality education as Paul Mitchell students from New York and California. He also praised them for their fund-raising efforts for local and national causes.

DeJoria encouraged the group to persevere during hard times, noting the federal government shutdown. Rather than running a business with a decreased number of essential employees, he recommends not replacing workers who retire.

DeJoria said industries that are good to be employed in during bad times are beauty and alcohol.

Besides being the CEO for the famous hair products franchise, DeJoria also launched Patron Spirits Company which produces Premium Patron, the world’s largest tequila brand in retail sales, according to the Paul Mitchell website.

“In the end, everything will be okay. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end yet,” he told the audience.

DeJoria also recommended the upcoming beauticians stay away from negative people, be professional, and keep a dictionary handy to learn the meaning of words.

When asked by the Daily Press what advice he has as a role model for local students, DeJoria said, “America still works. Successful people do what unsuccessful people don’t want to do.”

He also advised students to love what they do.

DeJoria co-founded the Paul Mitchell schools with Winn Claybaugh, dean of all company schools, who agrees one component to being successful is loving your work. Other factors are loving who you do the work for and loving who you work with while being passionate and hungry to learn, he said at the school’s rededication.

DeJoria and Claybaugh partnered in the beauty school business 13 years ago, said Claybaugh, who ran a beauty school prior to the joint venture.

Now there are 110 Paul Mitchell schools in the U.S. and one in Slovenia with an enrollment of 16,000 students of all ages, said Claybaugh.

The Escanaba beauty school was previously the Academy of Hair Design, explained local franchise co-owner Steve Cowan. The building was purchased six years ago from Monday’s date, he noted.

The maximum enrollment at the local Paul Mitchell school is 39 students; six instructors teach the Paul Mitchell curriculum of hair cuts, color and texture, he said.

Monday’s rededication ceremony – including a ribbon cutting and open house – celebrated the recent remodeling of both the interior and exterior of the school, said Cowan.

According to the Paul Mitchell website, the company manufactures more than 100 products including hair styling and care products, heat styling tools, and professional hair color sold in more than 150,000 beauty salons in 87 countries.

DeJoria and his friend, Paul Mitchell, started the hair products business with $700 in 1980. After two years, the partnership grossed nearly $1 million. John Paul Mitchell Systems is now a multi-million company.

Prior to being successful in this venture, DeJoria struggled, working where he could selling encyclopedias, working as a janitor, pumping gasoline, and even collecting bottles to stay alive, the website stated.

DeJoria worked for hair care and cosmetic companies before partnering with Mitchell, who died in 1989. Mitchell’s son, Angus Mitchell, is now co-owner and artistic director of education for the company.

Other companies which DeJoria has helped launch relate to solar energy, natural gas and oil, diamonds, pet care, yachts, and precious metal and gem mines. He encourages energy conservation and contributes to charitable causes including the fight against hunger.