Today’s Salute to American Success goes to a man who pulled himself out of poverty to create a multi-million-dollar hair-care products empire, and has proven he can more than cut it in the business world.
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Meet Jim Markham, founder of ColorProof Evolved Hair Care. Markham is originally from Farmington, New Mexico. He was born into poverty to a single mother. By age 15, he was already married and expecting his first child, so he dropped out of high school to get a job to support his young family.
“Early on I learned to depend on myself,” said Markham. “My destiny was in my own hands, and I was required to seek out opportunities and work extremely hard.”
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He took a job as a barber, just to put food on the table. But as fate would have it, he was pretty darn good at it. So talented, in fact, he entered a hairdressing competition and won. He entered another one – and wouldn’t you know it, he won that one too.
Jim racked up one competition win after another, until one day he read an article about Jay Sebring – stylist to the biggest stars in Hollywood and creator of his own successful hair product line.
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Jim was struck that someone could be so successful doing hair, and wanted to know Sebring’s secrets. So, taking his destiny into his own hands, he borrowed $1,000 and traveled to Hollywood to meet Sebring. Three years later, he was president of Sebring’s company and was a sought-after celebrity stylist himself – teasing the tresses of stars like Frank Sinatra, Robert Redford, Paul Newman and Steve McQueen.
After making a name for himself as a stylist, Jim took his destiny into his own hands again and entered the product ring, working with companies to develop, manufacture and distribute men’s hair-care products.
In the years that followed, Jim founded a string of successful hair care companies including Markham Products, ABBA Pure & Natural, and Pureology – which he sold to L’Oreal in 2007. That same year, Jim was inducted into the North American Hairstyling Awards Hall of Leaders and was the recipient of the Ernst & Young Consumer Products Entrepreneur of the Year.
After selling Pureology, Jim thought he would retire, but that didn’t last long.
“Opportunities always presented themselves, and I couldn’t turn them down,” said Markham. “I occasionally considered retiring, but my love of beauty kept bringing me back.”
So he created ColorProof, a line of professional luxury products designed exclusively for color-treated hair with formulas that combine the latest innovations in technology with best-in-class ingredients. According to Markham, ColorProof is on track to do $14 million in revenues this year, and is projected to be a $100 million company in six years.
“I’m persistent, focused, and I refuse to lose. Never let your past hold you up,” said Markham. “With dedication and hard work, any dream can be realized.”