This article is a true story about lifelong dreams coming true. It is also about fate, karma and traveling full circle.
This story is a fascinating look at the creation of the Pave Salon & Spa and how celebrity hairstylist Ken Paves brought Hollywood home to Clinton Township, Michigan.
So just who is Ken Paves? He is one of those endlessly positive and upbeat people that oozes electricity. Chat with this charming and fabulously talented man for just a few minutes and you will be infected with his radiance and megawatt energy.
A major celebrity in his own right, this master stylist was recently listed at #6 on US Weekly’s Hollywood Hot List behind JLo’s Bentley at #1. How did he make the list that others in Hollywood would give their eyeteeth to make? Quite simply Ken is the guy that all of Hollywood wants to do their tresses.
Now seriously, just why is Ken Paves so hot? For starters he is famous for his hair wizardry on the likes of legendary beauties like Jennifer Lopez, Heather Locklear, Jessica and Ashlee Simpson, Paulina Rubio, Sela Ward, Callista Flockhart, Cameron Diaz and Spiderman’s Kirsten Dunst, to name just a few.
Open any major beauty or fashion publication from InStyle to Allure and you just might find one of his spectacular makeovers like his recent US feature about Lara Flynn Boyle’s latest do, or helpful beauty tips in Allure or Marie Claire.
Tune into Oprah for your daily dose of the reigning diva and you might spy and ebullient Ken rushing around behind the scenes. With a few flicks of his brush-yielding wrist this hair wizard transforms audience guests with horrible hair to spectacular strands.
If you aren’t lucky enough to see Ken on Oprah or in the glossy pages of your favorite beauty tome, you just might spot him exiting from an elevator in The Wedding Planner film or rushing around town helping to creatively coif a very special group of Oscar or Emmy bound beauties. What I wouldn't give to be a fly on his lapel Trust me, watching this man create hair is one of life's greatest opportunities.
If all else fails, you can find Ken one week a month in Clinton Township, Michigan at his heavenly new spa and salon right across from the Lakeside Mall at 19 Mile Road & Hayes (586-416-8600). If you dream of personally experiencing Ken’s magical hair designing hands and can wait a few months, you can consult with Ken at the Pave Salon And Spa.
Although the Pave Salon & Spa was only recently opened in October of 2002, once Oprah mentioned it on her show, it instantly booked up for months in advance. Anyone who knows Ken and his talents will wait however long it takes to experience his vision.
Luckily I was fortunate to track Ken by phone in October as he was prepared to fly to Austin, Texas to create a wedding hair masterpiece for the gorgeous Jessica Simpson, one of Ken’s many celebrated clients.
My original Dallas meeting with Ken in July of 2002 was inspirational. Watching this incredibly talented hair genius work on Jessica Simpson’s hair for a Seventeen Magazine photo shoot was mesmerizing. Not only was Ken able to create a series of stunning styles for the lovely Jessica, he was kind, caring and friendly with everyone on the shoot.
Ken is not only a master stylist, privately he is a very giving and loving person. Ask any of his clients from Carmen Electra to Jessica Simpson and they will tell you that Ken Paves has a gigantic heart and a beautiful soul. Carmen has been quoted in the press referencing Ken’s many kindnesses and favors done on her behalf. A PR ruse? No way.
Ken Paves sincerely likes to help people whether family, friend, clients or complete strangers. He also doesn't take anything too seriously. He likes to have fun and enjoy life.
Take the case of the severely cowlick challenged Skylar who was the subject of one of Oprah’s famous makeover shows. Ken’s natural benevolence went into overdrive when he learned of the abuse that the teen-aged Skylar was subjected to by cruel high school peers.
Not only did Ken teach Skylar how to conquer and retrain her cowlicks, he whipped her up a cute hairdo and snagged a personal JLo autograph for the new young beauty in the process.
Saving young ladies from cruel classmates is just one tiny part of Ken’s incredible selflessness. This man gives freely of his time and compassion to many good causes. Ken also generously donates his time and services on the behalf of charity. Ken and Oribe colorist Rita Hazen recently performed a range of hair care services for all thirteen producers of the Oprah’s show requesting that their normal fees be donated to St. Jude’s to help the kids.
Although Ken is a modern day white knight he is incredibly modest. Chances are you will read volumes about his hair mastery but never know about all the kindness and generosity he spreads behind the scenes.
All In The Family
When I meet a renowned celebrity that hangs out with the likes of Jessica, Jennifer and Laura Flynn and is kind, generous and humble I wonder about their personal history. Ken Paves is no different. Having talked with this man on several occasions I observed that he is the real deal.
So where did this knight in shining armor come from anyway? Quite simply he is an old fashioned Midwestern boy from an incredibly close, loving and wildly supportive family. Adding to all the love and support is an additional network of fiercely devoted friends.
To say that Ken Paves adores his family and friends is an understatement. Every conversation that I have had with Ken is peppered with wonderful antidotes about his extended family. Which brings us to the incredible story of how Ken went from his very first days of dealing with hair to opening his highly renowned Pave Salon & Spa.
Although Ken is talented, warm and fun, I have to add that he is a wonderful storyteller. During the course of our conversation about his new salon I was completely enthralled by Ken’s tales of all the amazing circumstances of his life.
The Early Road To The Pave Spa & Salon
The Pave Spa and Salon is truly the realization of a dream that began simply with the loving Mom Paves serving as a willing volunteer for her 14 year old son’s natural talent for styling her hair. To this day Ken jokingly claims “he grew up torturing his long-suffering mom” who was forced to “sport fuzzy and burnt hair”. Although there were a few rocky moments when Ogilive home perms “went awry”, for the most part both Ken and his adored Mom really enjoyed the hair experiments that lasted until Ken finished high school.
Years later after emerging from college with a degree teaching deaf children, Ken was adrift with apathy about his future. Having been raised by 23 Mile and Gratiot in the small town of New Baltimore. Michigan, Ken faced the reality of finding a career that would allow him the opportunity to achieve financial success.
During his intense search for answers to his future, Ken turned to his beloved dad for advice. Having spent 32 years laboring in the auto industry “in a job he didn’t love” Gary Paves gave his son an incredible gift. He asked his son to promise that “32 years from today you will be in a career that you love and not be stuck in a dead-end job like me just because it pays the bills”.
And what did Ken love doing from the time he was in Anchor Bay high school? He loved working with hair. Sounds like a simple answer right? Unfortunately Ken had to first come to terms with the fact that in his small town guys like him went snowmobiling and cross country skiing. They just didn’t do hair. That was left to the girls who worked hard and only got $8.00 a haircut. Ken struggled mightily with the question about whether a guy should go to beauty school and whether he could make a satisfactory living.
Enter Ken’s best friend to the rescue. Dena Collinger was Ken’s close friend for over sixteen years. While Ken was off studying teaching, Dena was in beauty school having a blast. Encouraging Ken to give it a shot, he found himself in beauty school. From the very first minute he loved the entire experience. He truly found a career that he loved and still loves today. As Ken says “he loves every second of his life and his work with hair.”
After he graduated and got his stylist license he pushed himself to be the best he could be by pursing advanced studies with Vidal Sasson in Toronto, Toni & Guy and Martin Parsons. With each new advanced study course his passion for hair grew to new heights.
The Other Side Of Town
Ken’s rise to celebrity hairstylist has strong Cinderfella tones minus the evil family part. When it was time to apply for his first job as a stylist Ken was determined to land a job in a dream salon on the very tony West side of Detroit. Dressed in his Anchor Bay uniform of Levis and Timberline boots he was royally snubbed on “the other side of town” with a snotty “you don’t look like a hairdresser” when he inquired about a stylist job. Needless to say, a job at the first salon was not to be.
Dejected by his first experience with hair snobs, Ken was reticent about applying at other salons on the West side of town. His wonderful mom gave him a good nudge and launched into a long cell phone pep talk while Ken paced back and forth in front of the second salon. Mustering the courage to actually walk into a magnificent hair palace complete with gorgeous gals and walls of glass, Ken’s mom remained on the phone until he approached the receptionist. The minute she knew he was safely inside and asking about a job she hung up on him.
Calling his mom “way cool” Ken shared “he was so nervous when he applied for a job at The Queue Salon, he thought about pretending to make an appointment rather than speak up about a job”. The Fates intervened on his behalf catching the eye of the salon’s owner “who ventured out to talk” with Ken who confessed to his job searching goals. Not only was he instantly hired, Ken landed “the enviable position of the owner’s assistant”.
Ditching his Levis & boots for cool new clothes Ken embraced his “amazing Cindefalla-esque entry into the world of hair”. Rising quickly in his newly chosen career Ken decided to reach for the big time. Pursuing an opportunity to be an assistant to the renowned Oribe at his newest salon in Florida, Ken picked up and left his home in 1996 to learn the celebrity hairstyling ropes from a true hair legend.
From Florida Ken graduated to the big time in New York City.
Speed ahead to November 2001. Arriving home to see his cherished family for Thanksgiving, Ken was hanging out with his longtime best high school bud Dena Collinge. Over the years she had become “an amazingly talented stylist” and a very hard working single mother of two. During their visit Dena took Ken to see a special little secret project she was working on. Arriving at a darkened location at 19th & Hayes, Dena led Ken into a cavernous unfinished shell, with gray cement floors that was the primitive beginnings of her own salon. Although amazed and happy for Dena, Ken also was, by his own words, "incredibly jealous of Dena’s little cave".
Standing in his dear friend’s unfinished salon he watched Dena get down on her hands and knees to lovingly scrape her floors for painting. This experience brought Ken full circle to the beginning of his own hairdressing career. Yes, he “was grateful and content with his awesome success” but he was also “envious of Dena’s initiative in creating her own salon”.
Tuning in to Ken’s thoughts, like only a true friend of 16 years can do, Dena turned to Ken asking “so will you be my partner or what?” Ken was ecstatic and quickly snapped up Dena's offer to a partnership. He could barely contain his excitement long enough to share the news of a dream come true with his family.
A True Labor Of Love
From that first visit to the darkened shell the Pave Salon & Spa took shape and because a true labor of love for Dena, Ken and their friends and family. Ken underlined the fact that “the creation of the salon transcended a single commercial effort and became a work of family love.”
The creation of the salon was transformational for all the family members and friends who participated in the project. One of the most significant transformations took place for Ken’s father.
Early in his work career Gary Paves had abandoned his true love of carpentry to selflessly labor in the auto industry as a means to supporting his beloved family. Even though he spent over 30 years working in a different industry, he never lost his love of building and working with wood.
In an amazing twist of fate, Ken hired his dad to be the general contractor and manager for the construction of his new salon. So many years ago Ken’s dad gave his son the courage and freedom to follow his love for hair to a brilliantly successful career.
Ken returned the favor back to his dad with the opportunity to work in his beloved carpentry profession for the creation of the Paves salon. What an amazing example of father and son setting each other free to follow their true passions.
Following his own path to joy, Ken’s father personally devoted over 1,100 hours overseeing and performing a majority of the carpentry and construction work on the salon.
The local press highlighted the fact that Mr. Paves work on the salon was a magnificent work from his heart. More importantly, Mr. Paves' spectacular work on the salon has opened up a brand new career in carpentry for him to enjoy.
Joining Mr. Paves was Ken's mother, brother and team of family and friends who were all 100% committed to making the salon a reality.
Like The Diamond
Ken named his new place “Pave” like the pave diamond. The name “Pave” comes from Ken’s family history. According to Aunt Nancy, the Paves family historian, Ken’s paternal grandfather was in the jewelry trade where is it believed that he was actually involved in the original creation of the rare and highly prized pave diamond.
Following family tradition with the help of loved ones, Ken has created his own jewel in the form of his salon which has been described as open, airy and elegant. Developed around a 1930’s Hollywood ballroom and antique parlor motif, the salon is visually stunning containing gorgeous Cherrywood floors and spectacular velvet drapes.
Ken personally traveled to far away places to secure many of the salon’s furnishings including all the couches and chairs. His wonderful treasures were flown into Michigan and refurbished to perfection. Ornate mirrors and antique vanities from Los Angeles joined a spectacular antique chandelier from Spain. Even the standard styling chairs were replaced with antique versions specially mounted on traditional salon hydraulic lifts.
Quality is evident in everything that the salon does from the featured hair care products that are offered, like Phyto and L’Oreal’s Keratese, to the elite dermatologist recommended Epicurean skin care line favored by Cher, Madonna and Goldie Hawn.
Ken truly believes that conditioning is a key element of any hair care system and encourages his clients to condition religiously.
He also has a special fondness for exquisite accessories. As a result, the salon carries a beautiful line of trendy necklaces and other gorgeous jewelry pieces.
A Unique Experience
After his own vulnerabilities were exposed in his first job application Ken understands that salons and spas can be very scary places to visit. He noted that "many people feel uneasy when they first walk into a salon with its less than inviting bright lights and loud noises". Ken believes that salon and spa visitors crave intimacy and top notch service. And he wants to give his clients service and special treatment that they won't receive anywhere else.
As a result of this knowledge, not only did he strive to create a beautiful physical space, Ken also wanted to make all of his visitors feel warmly welcomed. As a result, the Pave Spa and Salon has a unique ambience. The salon is dominated by a sense of home and hearth, creating feelings of comfort, security and warmth punctuated by a team of caring professionals who provide the utmost in pampering and caring.
Ken's charming mother often warmly greets visitors to the salon making them feel instantly welcome.
A lot of time and attention has gone into offering visitors a lot of little extras like tea and delicious biscotti that make them feel pampered and special. Guests are often offered warm lotion hand massages while they are receiving a hair service. It is a place where harried women can relax to soothing music, be pampered with stellar treatments and enjoy themselves.
Ken truly feels the pain of all the women who have been forced for years to morph into no-neck marshmallow heads swathed in the one-size-fits-all drab cutting capes. Ken prefers instead to drape his clients in soft snuggly spa robes that instantly eases salon stress and imparts a sense of comfort. Although a small compensation, it makes a huge impact to the overall Pave experience. It is also an idea that grew out of Ken's experiences working with his many celebrities.
When he does hair for his many celebrated clients Ken often travels to their home. Ken confided that he often does their hair in the privacy and warm comfort of their bathrooms. This allows his clients to relax and enjoy his styling sessions.
Ken’s mantra is that “beauty is about confidence that comes from comfort. He believes that "confidence equals beauty and beauty is ultimately confidence". Women clients often thank Ken for inspiring them to want to look pretty which makes them feel great about themselves.
As a stylist, Ken takes extra time to communicate with all of his clients. He admitted that he "never just chops off hair for the sake of creating a new haircut". Instead he likes to work with the ultimate wishes of his clients.
Teamwork is just part of the success equation. Always remembering his own experiences with hair snobs, Diva wannabes or egomaniacs need not apply at the Pave Salon.
Returning home to open his salon and spa is another completed circle for Ken, and personal closure for him with those snooty salons back on the West side. Opening his own salon on what used to be the "wrong East side" of town, Ken has ironically turned his location into the absolute hottest place to be. Whereas the townies used to swarm to the West for the ultimate treatments, they now head to the world famous Pave Salon and Spa on the East side.
Ken and Dena have gathered a group of six full-time stylists and professionals to form the exceptional staff of the salon. Not only is the staff incredibly talented, many of the members are dear friends and extended family members. While Mom Paves greets the many salon visitors, Ken's best friend Audrey's mom, is also part of the staff.
The "dear friends contingency" also includes Sheri Lucciere (from the old Queue salon days) and Judy (from the Heidi salon) who have both worked with Ken and Dena before. Ken is extremely excited by the fact that his beloved niece Whitney is following in his footsteps at the salon as his personal assistant. Ken is literally bursting with pride when he explains how incredibly talented and dedicated Whitney is to learning the hair biz from the ground up.
Ken has worked very hard for his many accomplishments. He has fame, fortune, celebrity clients that adore him and a wonderful family. He also has a wide network of adoring friends and his dream salon back where it all began. Ken Paves would be the last person to let success go to his head.
Remembering his own struggles in his early days, Ken loves to “give back” and he loves all the “girls” he works with. When possible Ken takes his friends to work with him on some of his celebrity shoot.
One thing is certain. Ken Paves never forgets someone who has helped him along his path.
Trust Is Everything
He adores all of his clients, celebrity or not, and appreciates their trust and confidence in him. Ken is very respectful of his famous clientele. Even though he regularly works with the most stellar of stars, he never blow dries and tell.
As a result of the relationship he forms with all his clients, Ken doesn’t whisper even a word about them without their prior approval. Not only does Ken understand the complicated web of endorsement issues that surround any celebrity like Jlo, he takes their confidences very seriously.
Ken is constantly quoted in the giant fashion and beauty publications like InStyle, Allure, Marie Claire and Lucky to name just a few. Ken mentioned that he truly loves working with all those folks at the various publications. I told Ken that I am even more impressed by the fact that he is very gracious about giving his time for coverage at HairBoutique.com.
As one of the dotcomer underdogs who has been forced to inhabit the back of the Beauty Industry Bus from time to time, Ken’s attitude towards HairBoutique.com is incredibly inspiring and refreshing. Certainly one that I will never personally forget or stop appreciating.
Future Pave Salons
The Pave Salon & Spa has received tremendous press and has been a great success. Jessica Simpson and Carmen Electra personally traveled to Ken's grand opening in Michigan because they wanted to show support to their stylist and friend. Oprah has also helped the salon by mentioning it on her show. Ken chuckled as he reminisced about the fact that women who saw Oprah's comment would call the spa and ask if it was really in Michigan. Yes, indeed.
With all the success and great press of the salon, Ken and his partners have decided to open additional salons in the future.
Being a true Midwestern boy Ken wants to open the next Pave Salon in Chicago. Not only is it close to home, but the Windy City is where cousin Stu Paves operates a world class manufacturing plant that will ultimately manufacture the Pave hair care line scheduled to be unveiled in the Spring of 2003.
Ken also confesses to a strong connection to Oprah and her Chicago based show. Ken not only "loves Oprah" he told me “his work with Oprah has been so incredible”.
Pave Hair Care Line
Ken is a jet-setting bi-coastel hair wizard that often has to turn down plum offers because of his intense schedule. Even though he is crazy busy, Ken has been devoting some of his precious time to the development of his own hair care line that cousin Stu will help with.
Like everything he does, Ken has committed his total time to this effort. As he pointed out "when it comes to the line that will bear his name, quality is the most important factor." Nothing is being left to chance and he is determined to snare the best of everything from aroma and ingredients to packaging for his line, regardless of how much time or tinkering it takes.
He believes that "there are plenty of hair care companies with products that chase the same consumer dollars that are often higher than middle class budgets can handle".
Like everything he does, Ken wants to make a difference and bring the exceptional excellence of a Hollywood hair care line home to the Midlands.
Bringing Hollywood Home
Although he acknowledges that Hollywood is a long way from home, he finds it incredibly exciting to be able to return triumphantly to his home town.
He is also thrilled to bring what he has learned back to his roots. Ken likes to say that he is "bringing the best of Hollywood Home to Clinton Township for his family, friends and clients to enjoy on their own terms".
Indeed, many of the same hairstyling trends and techniques he regularly uses in Hollywood will come to the Pave Salon and Spa through trained professionals and through Ken's regular monthly visits.
The Pave Salon & Spa is the only salon in Michigan that offers services performed by professionals who have been trained by celebrity stylists and makeup artists.
Of all the hair celebrities I have been honored to meet over the years, Ken Paves consistently challenges me the most. Not because he hangs with Oprah, JLo or Carmen. Or that he is wildly successful and a famous. Instead I am haunted by a nagging angst that somehow my written words will not adequately capture the true essence of who he is.
Suffice it to say that Ken Paves is truly a master hair artist who always has the latest styles. Even more importantly he is a genuinely spectacular human being with a huge heart of gold who has worked hard and deserves every success that life has bestowed upon him.
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- Revised Date: 11/23/09
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