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The Patron origin story

When DeJoria’s friend Martin Crowley came back from a trip to Mexico, he brought with him a nondescript bottle of tequila with a horseshoe on it.

“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s the smoothest tequila I’ve ever had — you could actually sip this.’”

Crowley, however, had come across a master distiller, Francisco Alcaraz, who he thought could make it even better. DeJoria decided to bankroll production, ordering 1,000 cases (that’s 12,000 bottles). And that’s what led to Patron.

But, back then, “nobody wanted the product,” DeJoria said. This was in 1989, when a bottle of tequila typically cost a few dollars. Patrón, on the other hand, was selling for $37.95.

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Then he walked into Spago in Beverly Hills. Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck was a friend, and DeJoria asked if he’d serve it to his celebrity guests. Before he knew it, stars like Bruce Springsteen were requesting cases of Patron.

The business grew from there, and Patron was sold to Bacardi in 2018 for $5.1 billion.

When Patron was sold to Bacardi in 2018 for $5.1 billion, the company was approaching sales of 4 million cases a year, according to DeJoria.

Getting unstuck

Even when DeJoria was sleeping in his car and living off loose change, he maintained a positive attitude.

You shouldn’t focus on how bad things are, he says, “because that’s yesterday’s newspaper — if you do that, you’re stuck in the past.”

Since you can’t change yesterday’s newspaper, he recommends looking ahead at “who do I call next, how do I make another sale.” No matter how many times you’re rejected, “keep your eye on the target.”

After he started making good money, DeJoria went back to one of the restaurants where he used to eat for 99 cents and “tipped everyone in that restaurant the biggest tips they’ve ever had in their life for helping me out when I needed a helping hand.”

That’s a key ingredient to his success: kindness. DeJoria has learned over the years “just how wonderful kindness is,” founding JP’s Peace, Love & Happiness Foundation — which supports a variety of philanthropic causes — to continue giving back.

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Vawn Himmelsbach Freelance Contributor

Vawn Himmelsbach is a journalist who has been covering tech, business and travel for more than two decades. Her work has been published in a variety of publications, including The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post, CBC News, ITbusiness, CAA Magazine, Zoomer, BOLD Magazine and Travelweek, among others.

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