From the very first moment when I met Ken Paves (pronounced PAY-ves) he mentioned his mom.
Within minutes of telling me how he got into the hair biz, he entertained me with fascinating stories about his "best friend and most wonderful women in the world", his mom, Helen.
In case you haven't heard the stories before, Ken and his mom Helen shared a passion for hair from the time Kenney was able to play with a comb and brush.
Since necessity is the mother of invention and Ken was the youngest of three kids - all boys - his mother was his built-in hair model.
While growing up Ken and his mom experimented with all sorts of different hair techniques including applying the famous Ogilvie Home Perm to his beloved mom's tresses after she had first applied them to his hair.
After hearing so many stories about Helen Paves and how she was responsible - along with his dad Gary Paves - for helping Ken find his true life's passion in the hair trade - I was thrilled to meet her over the phone four years ago. Helen Paves is a charming woman who is bursting with energy and enthusiasm. She is also very proud of her now famous son and supports him - along with her husband - in any way possible.
Meeting Helen Paves In Person
After a few years of getting to know Helen through Ken and snippets of short phone conversations, I had the chance to finally met her in person when I was in Los Angeles several weeks ago.
My first reaction was total shock at how incredibly beautiful and youthful Helen is. After all, when I think of someone's mom, I think of someone that is mom-like.
While Helen could win the Mother Of The Year award for her incredible 24/7 support of her son, she is a hair and business star in her own right. A fiery and brilliant Aries with boundless wit and fun packed into her 4'11" Filipino-Portuguese frame, she instantly made me feel nutured and part of the family. Welcoming me with a big hug, this glamorous yet down-to-earth woman could seriously be on the cover of More magazine. Indeed, she should be. There is no way she could be Ken's mom based on her picture perfect unlined skin, trim figure and shimmering tresses without a hit of gray. Instead, she could be his sister or best friend or even one of his beautiful hair models.
I already really liked Helen from our previous chats and all the great stories that Ken has shared about his mom, but meeting her made me like her even more. She is the type of person you instantly want as a lifelong friend.
Helen has accomplished so much for her family and for Ken that this short article does not provide nearly enough space to extol her endless virtues. Hopefully it will provide a good overview of this fascinating woman.
Master Of The Hurry-Up-And-Wait Game
I personally have spent a total of four full days on two different photo shoots with Kenney over the past four years. It's true what they say about photo shoots - they are endless periods of hurry up and wait. The endless waiting starts to slowly gnaw at your bones as you shift back and forth trying to find a comfortable place to sit or stand. After eight hours of hurry-up-and-wait, exhaustion begins to cover your weary bones and you just want to escape to a hot shower and soft bed.
Helen is a hurry-up-and-wait champion. She has accompanied Kenney on a mind boggling array of serial photo shoots over the years and has mastered the waiting game with ease. I watched her over the course of two days know exactly what to do to help soothe frazzled nerves, make sure that Ken and his crew had everything that they needed while skillfully remaining on the fringes in the background.
Another important part of a photo shoot is knowing when to fade into the background so as to not distract any of the models or the crew. Helen is brilliant at knowing when to fade in for a round of helpful comments and suggestions and when to fade out into silence.
On Call Mom
Ken's life as a famous celebrity hairdresser requires him to constantly drop everything and fly from coast to coast with barely enough time to grab his bag of hair tools. At times he has so many responsibilities to handle for his star clients that he needs help. On those occasions Ken knows that he can call Helen and she will literally hop on a plane at all hours of the day to meet him for a major event.
When those events arise, Helen switches hats from loving mom to personal assistant. She does every and anything from making absolutely sure that Ken has his mandatory daily java and Red Bull to helping all of Ken's hair and make-up assistants with whatever they might need.
When Helen is not jetting around the world to assist her son or support her other two sons and their families, she co-manages (with her husband) Ken's Clinton Township Pav salon (near Detroit), which she helped her son decorate into a posh hair palace. She is directly responsible for making visitors to the bustling, always busy, salon feel welcome and completely pampered.
Helen, who has a fabulous eye for selecting exquisite antiques and other fine furnishings has also been helping Kenney personally decorate his new Beverly Hills Salon. Needless to say, her boundless energy, contagious enthusiasm and brilliant eye for beauty have helped transform the new salon into a work of art.
Behind every great man is a woman. In the case of Ken Paves it is his gorgeous, talented, fiercely loyal mom - Helen Paves who has encouraged, nudged and cheered Ken on throughout every minute of his career in hair. While Helen is incredibly proud of Ken's amazing accomplishments, truth be told, she would be just as proud if her son was simply working behind the chair in a salon somewhere. That is, as long as he was happy and following his dreams.
While Helen certainly isn't perfect, after all she is human, she is definitely pretty darn close. One thing is certain, she is a world class five star mom.
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