From the first second that I laid eyes on Ken Paves, until this moment, I have been mesmerized by his life. I have also been fortunate to watch his career literally explode into the stratospheres of fabulous fame and fortune.
When I first met Kenney in Dallas at a Seventeen magazine shot, he did not have his namesake Pav Salon in Clinton Heights Michigan. He also had not introduced his top quality Paves Professional line of hair care products designed with an eye to the needs of hair consumers on a budget.
Ken had not yet appeared on The Newlyweds MTV reality venue with Jessica and Nick. He hadn't been splashed on the pages of People, Life & Style Weekly, Star, Celebrity Living or similar publications with his famous client, Jessica Simpson. Ken was well known in the hair industry but his celebrity status for consumers was still building.
After spending four days in Dallas with Ken, Jessica and her entourage, I secretly believed that I would never hear from Ken Paves again. Yes, he promised to call, email, IM and stay in touch to continue our infinite hair chats. But this was a very busy celebrity hairdresser.
I was amazed, flattered and thrilled when he did stay in touch. While he literally bounced from coast to coast like a virtual human ping pong ball, courtesy of a wide variety of commercial and private jets, he would always return my messages. At times I literally stalked him when I wanted styling details of his latest Jessica or other celebrity related hair designs.
A perfect gentleman, he never complained about my bursts of mini cell phone stalking, although he did establish an endearing pattern of hanging up on me. Even then, he did his best to warn me that the click dial tone signal was imminent. The abrupt phone endings actually became part of our history together, making me laugh whenever it happened - as it still does.
I learned early on what Ken would or would not talk about. While any topics involving his hairstyling with any of his clients was usually appropriate, I learned to never ask him any questions about his celebrity clients that did not directly relate to their hair.
My OJT in the world of celebrity hairdressing also taught me that Ken is 1000% focused on his clients when he is with them. Unlike some celebrity hair and makeup gurus, Ken will not take or make any calls on his cell when he is with his famous clientele. Even if they are surrounded by an army of cameras and crazed directors, he will not break his total focus on his client for one minute. Ken even forgoes bathroom breaks, whenever possible, to be totally available for his clients. This man is dedicated to the very core of his being to the celebrity clients that he works with on a regular basis.
Of course he is brilliantly talented and can whip up spectacular hair designs in mere minutes. He also understand the politics of Hollywood and the film industry. No easy culture to penetrate, this man from middle America has not only survived in the celebrity jungle, he has ascended as one of its beloved leaders. Don't get me wrong. While he is polite, kind and caring, he is also a hard working, focused professional who understands that his business. He is no pushover by any stretch of the imagination.
Speed Forward Four Years
From the time I met Ken our working relationship has been limited solely to stolen cell phone minutes, short bursty emails and IMs. Although Ken graciously invited me to the New York launch of his now-famous Paves Professional Hair Care Line a few years ago, a serious illness in my immediate family left me unable to financially cover the expenses of the trip. Ken offered to send me a plane ticket but I felt bad taking advantage of his unbelievable generosity. I excused myself from attending although I had major guilt pangs. Secretly I felt that I had let him down by not being there to support him. I vowed to make it up to him at some point.
As the years rolled by and my finances were in better order, I was determined to find a way to show up at some other Paves event to show my appreciation for our ongoing collaborations. My goals were easier said than done. Trying to intersect with this man's insane schedule is like trying to catch a ride on a comet. Impossible.
I finally discovered an inside scoop that Ken would be spending several days in Beverly Hills on a top secret photo shoot for one of his major celebrity clients in April. I told him I wanted to visit the shoot and 'be a fly on the wall". To my surprise, he graciously agreed. Ultimately I discovered that he went to a lot of trouble to get me into the tightly closed and very confidential photo shoot.
Even though we were in the same city, literally a few miles apart, trying to actually rendezvous was tricky since he is virtually on call 24/7 for his famous clients and friends. When we finally met up I was amazed at how his spiraling fame and success had not really changed him in any perceptible way.
While he was definitely a bit thinner with a more finely chiseled physique, and his highlighted hair was perfectly tousled, he was the same kind, considerate and thoughtful person I had originally met. This man sincerely worries about not deliberately hurting anyone's feelings.
Surviving in the Hollywood jungle means balancing clear boundaries with the politics of the entertainment czars. Kenney understand the rules better than most. While he is the first to tell you that what he does is rooted in business, he also sincerely befriends his female-only celebrity clients. Actress Brit Murphy was quoted in a recent Cosmopolitan magazine interview about the fact that her hairdresser, Kenney Paves, had introduced her to Eva Longoria and that had become friendly as a result. She mentioned how cute she thought it was that Kenney introduced his clients so that they could establish new friendships.
I wasn't surprised when I read that quote. Ken has been "supporting his girls" as he calls his celeb regulars, for years. And yes, he introduces them to each other knowing that they often don't have time to pursue new friendships with their maddening schedules. For Ken, it is just extending his close knit family circle. Which explains why Jessica Simpson appeared at the mostly Latin ALMA awards. Jessica has become friends with Eva Longoria through a Ken Paves introduction.
Maybe other celebrity hairdressers introduce their clients, but I doubt it. This practice just says so much about Ken and how he is constantly thinking of ways to support, nurture and help his clients. He thinks of them as family and wants everyone to be happy and to have a good support network.
Fiercely Loyal & Supportive
Ken has unbelievable endless stores of energy. He is in constant motion and talks in a rapid-fire manner. Constantly juggling an unbelievable list of simultaneous tasks, Ken would prefer to walk over hot coals rather than let any of his clients down. His relentless schedule, constant industry pressures and other demands explain the fact that while he looked like he had just stepped out of the pages of GQ, there was a faint tinge of fatigue around his eyes.
In essence Ken Paves never really takes time off. I was amazed when he picked up his famous scissors after 12 nonstop hours on the photo shoot and volunteered to fix the producer's ragtag bulked up hairstyle. Doing a fabulous Edward Scissorhands impression, his hands were awhirl with hair was flying everywhere as he skillfully snipped into the overgrown hairstyle of the weary producer. Everyone watched mesmerized as he completely transformed the former shaggy haired famous producer into a vision framed by a sleek layered style that worked perfectly with her face and body type. She was thrilled at her new look which was stunning. No wonder people pay thousands of dollars for his undivided time and attention.
Walking Fine Lines
If someone offered me the opportunity to trade my life with Ken's I would definitely decline. His life is very intense and full of many daily pressures. In a world full of crazed paparazzi, Ken is often a target due to his close friendships and working relationships with many of today's top celebrities. While he is most famous for his work with Jessica and Ashlee Simpson, his ongoing client rooster includes Jessica and, Avril Lavigne.
If you were to review his celebrity clients over the past ten years, the list would be beyond mind boggling. Although I can't possibly list all of his clients, he has talked to me about his work with Pamela Anderson, Carmen Electra, Victoria Principle, Celine Dion, Paulina Rubio, Heather Locklear, Marley Shelton, Christina Applegate, Kim Cattrall, Lucy Liu, Sarah Jessica Parker, Lara Flynn Boyle, Kristen Davis, Kirsten Dunst and many more.
Ironically this man who has created world class hair looks for the rich and famous, still gets nervous when he works with a brand new celebrity. While I was visiting with him in LA he was preparing to fly to New York to work with a new client who just happened to be the wife of a well-known billionaire. He was definitely nervous, which I found endearing. A man like Ken who still gets performance nerves after all these years definitely has his ego under control.
Has Hollywood, fame and fortune really changed this hair guru? Not that I can honestly see. In reality, this man works incredibly hard. He is 1000% dedicated to his celebrity clients and focused completely on his profession, his various projects and his many charities. The commitment he shows to his family as well as the many clients (celebrity and non celebrity) who frequent his two hair salons (Michigan & California) is beyond reproach.
This man is loyal, faithful and willing to give someone in need the literal shirt off his back or the hairdryer out of his suitcase. He lives to help others and make a difference in this crazy mixed up world. His achievements with Operation Smile and his other charities are amazing considering his ongoing career demands.
Is Ken Paves a hair saint? He is definitely human and as such he is not perfect. He will be the first to admit that he has a tendency to try and bite off more than he can chew (only because he doesn't ever want to disappoint anyone) and that he is constantly racing clocks around the world. He also succumbs at times to total exhaustion from his insane and high pressure work schedules. When he is exhausted he might even be a little cranky.
Is Ken Paves too good to be true? After watching him closely for over four years, I would have to answer with a resounding no. This man is a rare gem which explains while his famous clients never let go of him once they have experienced his hair magic dispensed by a loyal, faithful and honorable friend.
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Original Publication Date: 06/29/2006 - Revised Date: 07/11/10
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