Recently I came across several emails that I had exchanged starting in early 2000 and ending in 2001 with Paul Penders, founder of the Paul Penders hair and skin care lines.
Paul Penders is one of the many hair and beauty industry icons that I have met since HairBoutique.com first came into being in 1996-1997. Besides Paul I have either personally met or chatted with John Paul DeJoria, Dr. Murad, the Toni & Guy brothers, Leland Hirsh of ARTec fame and several famous hairdressers including Jose Eber, Ken Paves, Rita Hazan, Laurent D and Patrick Cameron, to name just a few of the "big names" in the hair world.
Whenever possible, I try to keep very good notes on any type of meetings with people that are considered significant in the world of hair and beauty. Thus I have all the original emails that Paul Penders sent to me and about his visit to Dallas and HairBoutique.com.
The whole Paul Penders connection started in late 1999 with our never ending quest to locate high quality and unusual hair care products that we could offer to our ever growing HairBoutique.com customer base. We evaluated many brands for a number of reasons ranging from Phyto to Aubrey Organics, Giovanni and Paul Penders.
At that time we initiated our search for more information on the Paul Penders line there was very little information available about Paul, his company or his products on the Web. After some searching, a HairBoutique.com consultant located a remote email for Paul Penders. She emailed him asking about his products and introduced HairBoutique.com.
Imagine our surprise when he emailed back personally. After some email exchanges Paul expressed interest in visiting HairBoutique.com in Dallas to discuss his product line. We were thrilled at his interest and wanted to know more about the man, his philosophies, his history and his products.
The Paul Penders Experience
At the time of our initial contact Paul (a Pisces) and his wife Noori were living in Malaysia for a number of reasons. At the time, which was in 2000, Paul had nine children living in different countries around the world. In reality Paul, who was born in the Netherlands, had lived all over the world in a mind blowing array of locations including stints in the United States (Florida). He mentioned that at various periods in his lifetime he had met many of the industry icons such as Estee Lauder and Aubrey Hampton.
Although Paul is currently living back in Malaysia, not far from last year's Tsunumi location, he spent a few years living in California.
Meeting Face To Face
After some months of email correspondence Paul arrived in Dallas from Malaysia with his wife. During his stay he proceeded to talk at length about his long career in the world of hair and beauty and his philosophies behind the development of his products. He also provided personal demonstrations of some of his skin products.
Paul was most proud of the fact that he is considered a true pioneer in the world of non-animal testing. As Paul created his hair and skin care formulas the Dutch FDA required him to have the formulas tested on animals to make sure that they were safe. When Paul discovered what animal testing involved he was horrified at the cruelty and vowed to never test his products on animals again. Refusing to let his products be tested on innocent animals
Known internationally for being the first to defy authorities who wished to test on animals in the name of beauty, Paul eventually gained attention through newspaper articles, radio and TV.
Paul's defiance and fight against the Dutch government officials who threatened to close his factory stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy in the entire country and other parts of Europe. Coming to his aid were two aunts who were nuns in a nearby convent. They offered the convent and all its residents as a testing facility for his products. They tried the products over a long period of time with great results.
Unfortunately Paul's beauty and hair products were never officially approved because adverse publicity and a fast growing animal rights movement made powerful enemies among Dutch officials and the big cosmetic companies. The Dutch FDA came to Paul and demanded animal testing or face closure of his factory.
Paul decided that it was time to flee Holland and start all over again in another country. To his surprise, Paul found that the American FDA was quite receptive to his all-natural, non-animal tested products and the decision was made to move his entire company to America. Meanwhile, animal testing became a hot issue in many countries and it eventually influenced every major cosmetic company in the world. A new industry was spawned as others followed Paul's footsteps and began to manufacture and market cruelty-free products.
Eventually Paul's native country became the first to ban all animal testing for cosmetics and its ingredients in 1994.
Paul Penders is an interesting personality. On one hand he has a kind heart that worries about harming a single animal in the creation of his products. On the other hand he is a rebel and is very outspoken. Whether you love him or hate him, Paul Penders marches to the beat of his own drum and doesn't really pay any mind to what other people think or say. He remains true to his own principles and is comfortable in his own skin, which he treats with his own Paul Penders products.
Paul Penders is definitely an enigma.