Stylist, Salon Owner, Educator, Innovator and Manufacturer Paul Brown passed away July 7th in San Francisco after fighting cancer. He was the owner of Paul Brown Salons in Hawaii and the founder of the haircare company Paul Brown Hawaii. He was 74.
For decades, if you were at a professional beauty show and you saw attendees walking around wearing leis made of dark brown Kukui nuts, you could wager Paul Brown was just around the corner bestowing them on anyone who came by to say hello.
Brown opened his first hair salon in Honolulu in 1971, and made his mark in the industry with a revolutionary thermal hair straightening system and flat iron. With the success of his salons, Brown recognized the need for a unique professional hair care product system that would incorporate the organic plants naturally grown in Hawaii to help benefit clients of all cultures.
Combining a Love for Hawaii with Beauty
By the late 1980s, Brown had founded the successful international hair care product company that bears his name, Paul Brown Hawaii. Inspired by Hawaii’s tropical flora, diverse cultural and ethnic influences, he developed botanically-based hair care products used worldwide. Inspired by Hawaiian fauna, sea essences and Kukui nut oil, the products provide clients with manageable, soft, shine hair.His earth-friendly, omega-rich products crowd the shelves today, but back then few companies ventured along this avenue.
Despite any challenges, Brown never forgot what inspired it all—his beloved Hawaii. He continued to spend four days a week doing what he loved most, cutting his clients’ hair, while continuing to guide his professional salon product company through innovation. “With a commitment to progressive research and product development, the primary focus of Paul Brown Hawaii remains hair care solutions for all cultures and all people,” he said.
A Motto for Giving Back
Brown’s industry involvement goes much further than just the salon and product line. Whether it was representing the industry in Washington or lobbying for various bills in favor of beauty professionals, Brown's reputation as an educator and developer of a highly respected product line carries over internationally. He traveled extensively and presented education seminars to large groups of visitors. He frequently gave demonstrations and explained his distinctive hair design techniques across the globe. And, he donated a tremendous amount of time and money by ‘giving back’—a motto of importance to his continued growth and values.
“My success in the professional salon, spa and product industry has been based on my professional commitment to education, hair fashion and industry trends," he said. "I enjoy having the opportunity to still work behind the chair in a salon while building a brand that I am extremely proud of.”
Brown was a past vice president of the International Salon/Spa Business Network, where he worked for more than a decade to affect positive change for the beauty industry, its businesses and the countless people working within it.
Brown also was well known throughout his beloved Hawaiian islands for his extraordinary charitable efforts and contributions to the state. His charitable work benefitted the American Cancer Society and he volunteered or the Alzheimer’s Association. He donated his styling services to Goodwill Industries and their “Goodwill Goes Glam” fundraising event, where models lit up the runway in gently used fashions to rais money to help disadvantaged residents find meaningful work.
Kat Malencha, managing director at Paul Brown Salon says the stylists, staff, apprentices and assistants at the salon will continue to honor his legacy. He says the salon will remain open, and staff will continue to work under the Paul Brown name, as was his wish.
The Industry Remembers Paul Brown
“This is a sad day as we mourn the death of a true legend, Paul Brown. Paul was devoted to the hair industry and to Hawaii. He worked tirelessly to promote both. He may not have been born on the islands, but he captured their essence – from his dynamic personality to the revolutionary haircare line he founded. There were so many firsts when it came to Paul. He was the first to showcase the benefits of Kukui nut oil in a professional beauty line – and he did it long before hair oils were in vogue. He collaborated with biologists and researchers at the University of Hawaii to develop the omega-rich Hawaiian Protein Flora Complex (HPFC). He helped to introduce the flat iron to the United States. And who can forget his hair straightening system with its board and magnetic rollers? In his ongoing journey to maintain the health and integrity of hair, he introduced perms that were proven to be gentler in restructuring the hair than most conventional perms. But in addition to his creative genius, Paul was quick to donate his time and energies to mentoring young stylists, the International Salon/Spa Business Network and the Wounded Warriors Project. He committed countless hours and resources to helping the wives, mothers, and daughters of service members feel beautiful. It was his gift – to make another person feel beautiful.”—Scott Bowers, CEO of Paul Brown Hawaii
"I knew Paul for many years when we both served on the board of ISBN. He was one my and Bettye’s favorite people, always positive and always thinking of ways to grow his business and give back to our industry. We visited with Paul several times in Hawaii and were amazed at the business he had built and the people he knew. One of his clients was the wife of the four-star Admiral who was in command of the Pacific fleet, and we were fortunate to become friends with them as well. When Pat (the Admiral) retired, we were invited to attend his retirement ceremony at Pearl Harbor, on the pier directly across from the USS Arizona Memorial. The National Anthem was to be sung by Jim Nabors; Paul asked, 'Would you like to meet him, he’s one of my clients?' Of course we did, and he was the nicest person! There was always a surprise in store when with Paul. He was delightful and will be missed by his many friends."--Gordon Logan, chairman and founder, SportClips
“I had the pleasure of knowing Paul for several decades. For years, we were board members together with ISBN. I was his sponsor for membership to Intercoiffure. Him being in Hawaii and me in Ohio did not make it easy to connect as often as we both would have liked but, when we did, it was always a great experience. We both started in the beauty industry in the 1960s—we were lucky to have studied and to have partied with the greats of that era. Whenever we were together, we would take a walk down memory lane and relive the halcyon days of our youth and the joy of being in “the Renaissance” of the beauty industry. One of my fondest membories with Paul took place around 2000. We had been to an Intercoiffure meeting together in New York City and after the meeting, Paul accompanied me and my wife Debbie to our home in Ohio for a couple of days. The conversations never ended, and his love of our industry showed the entire time. As well, his love of Duckhorn Merlot became apparent that trip. I have never sipped a Merlot wine since without thinking of Paul. Another memory I will never forget is presenting an ISBN Lifetime Achievement Award along with Paul to our idol and mentor Vidal Sassoon. Paul and I were early apostles of Vidal and credited any success we enjoyed professionally to him. We were both like little boys meeting Michael Jordan or Tom Brady that weekend. We each knew exactly how the other felt about that moment. Paul was an incredible artist and businessman, but more importantly, he was a kind, gracious and charming man. As well, he was the quintessential gentleman who could have written a book on the subject. Those of us who knew Paul loved him. And those of us who loved him will sincerely miss him.”--Charles Penzone, Penzone Salons + Spas
“Paul was one of the first people I met when I joined ISBN. He was so warm and welcoming…and what energy, pizzazz and personality! I always looked forward to seeing him. I admired his strength to make changes in his business and his personal life. We was one of a kind…and simply GREAT!—Rhoda Olsen, Great Clips
"Paul was one of those 'one-of-a-kind' guys. He was smart, entrepreneurial, talented, funny and incredibly generous. He hosted my family when we stopped by for a salon visit, arranging for our daughters to have seaside massages before taking us on a tour of the island. How important is SPAM to the islands of Hawaii? Paul took us to his favorite diner in the heart of Maui where we chowed down on the Hawaiian staple and learned more about the history of both the food and Hawaii. Ours were the only non-native faces in the diner, but we were embraced because of Paul. On the flip side, whenever Paul came to New York, he would take me to the finest restaurants for lavish meals--from SPAM to lobster that was Paul! At trade shows, stopping by the Paul Brown booth was an important destination for me. Sure, I wanted one of the necklaces he handed out, but I knew he would have something interesting to share, like a new product, service or technique. He was all about improving the lives of hairdressers and clients and bringing quality to the industry. He will be missed."--Maggie Mulhern, EsteticaUSA editor-at-large and former beauty and fashion director, MODERN SALON
"Paul Brown was always a reporter's dream--he was as generous with his stories as he was with his time and he always knew how to spin the perfect quote. I always was amazed when we'd be talking about some new business concept or his product company to learn how much he gave back to his community of his time, talent and money. In 2013, my husband and I were in Honolulu for a few days and I called Paul to see if we could tour one of his iconic salons. Not only did he graciously show us his flagship salon, but he spent the afternoon showing us his favorites spots in the city and taking us to poolside lunch at his club. It remains one of my favorite memories, and like Paul it delivered much more than expected."--Stacey Soble, SALON TODAY
“Paul was the soul of the salon industry. He understood the essence of what made this industry so special and he embodied that. I got my first tribal tattoo in Hawaii because of Paul’s inspiration, which came at a point in my life when I needed change and that was the catalyst, and I have never looked back. RIP Brother! “--Phil Horvath, President Floyd’s 99 Barbershop
If you have a favorite memory or photo with Paul Brown that you'd like to share, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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