SalonEVO Magazine

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2020 marks not just the beginning of a new decade, but also 40 years of Paul Mitchell, and it all started in 1980 with two friends and a dream.

John Paul DeJoria and Paul Mitchell, with just $700 in their pockets, started a company that would support the success of hairdressers and provide salon-quality products at an affordable price. 

The original Paul Mitchell brand is famous around the world for its black and white bottles. However, this wasn’t a decision built on branding or style preference. As John Paul tells it, he and Paul were ready to launch Paul Mitchell Systems, their hair product company on half a million-dollar loan from vice president of Citicorp in France when the loan suddenly fell through. Resources were so limited that the Paul Mitchell brand’s now-famous black and white packaging was a result of not being able to afford color ink. At one point, the company consisted of a post office box and an answering machine with a female friend (with an English accent) producing the message recording to convey that there was, indeed, an ‘office.’ However, the partners had a unique and winning strategy –a company-building plan that stemmed from their convictions.

Mitchell and DeJoria traveled extensively to conduct no-cost product demonstrations for salon ownersin a bid to grow the company into what it is now. They guaranteed salon owners would sell all products purchased; if they didn’t, they could return any unsold products for a full refund. Such practices represented a first for the hair care industry, and eventually led to John Paul Mitchell Systems becoming one of the fastest growing privately heldcompanies in the United States.

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