Representing the five-plus decades since the founding of REDKEN in 1960, former and current employees reunited Saturday, August 27th to celebrate and share gratitude for their tenure working with, learning from and loving Paula Kent and John Meehan, salon professionals, and each other.
“Within moments of hearing of Paula’s passing on June 23, 2014, I saw a sign in the Washington DC Metro station posting three words, ‘Stay Forever Connected.’ I took this as Paula’s admonition,” said Ann Mincey. “It became the theme of our reunion.”
Former colleague Fred Shober, salon owner from Cumberland, MD., reached out on a Facebook message, “Can’t we just get together?” In the spirit of Paula who would respond, “Let’s do it!” The gathering became reality through the creativity and organization of Joni Rae Russell (Joni Rae & Associates), Kristin Firrell (John Paul Mitchell Systems), Gloria Saponaro (Saponaro Company, Inc.), Janie Caplan (Industry Producer Education/Events/Media) and Ann Mincey (REDKEN 5th Avenue NYC).
“REDKEN cultivated a most unique corporate culture,” said Joni Rae Russell. “Paula and John provided opportunities for each of us to develop our individual talents and shape our careers as we followed their business and personal principles. The last time we were together was 2010 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Paula hosted 419 pre-acquisition (by L’Oréal USA) employees at the 50th Reunion.” Russell continues, “It was an honor to plan this reunion event and witness our colleagues reliving those days and committing to staying forever connected.”
Early in the day Saturday, thirty-one colleagues encircled Paula and John’s grave sites at Hollywood’s beautiful Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens. Placing a rose, each person reflected on the Meehans’ leadership that positively impacted their lives and ensuing careers. “The visit to the cemetery was very special. The memorial for both Paula & John really warmed my heart,” said Jerry Otelsberg, manager of Information Services at the Canoga Park headquarters. “Saturday’s visit gave me closure. I hope we have an opportunity to do this again. Until then, we are forever connected.”
The evening’s activities were hosted at Padri’s Italian Restaurant and Martini Bar, with 119 friends enjoying the signature martini, The Amino Pon Bomb, a video wall displaying photos from REDKEN signature events; educational seminars hosted globally, sales meetings honoring the distributors, and personal moments with Paula and John. Following dinner, the microphone was passed throughout the dining room for the sharing of One Minute Memories. Concluding the evening, the alumni joined their voices in singing the REDKEN Song, “Light the Way” composed by Tom Saponaro and Geoff Levin, performed in Las Vegas at Hair World 1984 by recording trio St. Tropez.
Dhaniel Doud, Director of Education/Pillar Programs at REDKEN 5th Avenue NYC, offered his reflections. “Having dinner with titans of our industry and knowing we all had the same roots, reminded me that hairdressing transcends so many things. Our mutual respect for Paula, instilled in all of us, made it clear she lives on. Our responsibility to her is to carry that forward. She believed that hairdressers wanted “to know” and she gave all of us that. Education will always be the heart of a hairdresser.”
Each attendee was presented with ‘The Best in Business SWAG bag’ with gift products donated by former employees who are now principal owners and/or senior level executives in the leading beauty industry companies. Former Division Controller, Jeffrey Roy, captured the spirit of ‘Stay Forever Connected’ with these reflections, “We had a wonderful evening and the original Redken spirit was present. Given the headlines of the day, we could use more of that spirit today. I once heard someone refer to REDKEN as Camelot, well, looking back it certainly was.”