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Industry Mourns Loss of Redken Founder

June 24, 2014

Paula Kent Meehan passes away at age 82.

Paula Kent Meehan, founder of Redken Laboratories, Inc., passed away June 23 facing the tranquil environment she treasured including her Japanese Gardens, fountains and flowers of her Beverly Hills Home. She was surrounded by her son, Michael Miller and his wife Jeeny, family, caregivers, and intimate friends who loved and revered her.  She is survived by Michael Miller and his wife Jeeny along with grand children Courtland Miller and his wife Monica Mack Miller, Patrick Lydon and his wife Faviola, stepsons Chris and Matt Meehan and their wives, Shari and Brenda, step grandchildren Renee Tab, Amir Tab, Candice Tab and great grandchildren Mya Lydon, Gia Lydon, Debra Mack Flanagan and Alexander Tab Tuffin.

According to the obituary, "We will forever be grateful and indebted to Paula for her vision, inspiration and generosity while she was leading our Redken, and beyond, in the 21 years subsequent to our acquisition.  She continued to support our relationships witnessed by her hosting the 50th Anniversary Reunion in 2010 for 416 returning Redken alumni at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  It’s been said, 'You just cannot out give Paula Kent Meehan.'"

In 1960, a young actress and model, Paula Kent, launched her business career, founding with Jheri Redding, a small California based company, Redken Laboratories, Inc.

On the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Redken, Modern Salon Magazine publisher honored Redken as “the company that changed an industry forever.”

Ms. Kent pioneered the “Scientific Approach to Beauty” based on her dedication to developing products compatible with the natural elements of hair and skin. Her highly sensitive skin and hair reacted adversely to many products on the market. Her quest was to discover why. Redken began with three products and an intensive education program for hairdressers about the chemistry of hair and skin thereby enabling them to better serve their clients and generally elevating a career in hairdressing to that of a profession.

Redken Laboratories, Inc., also designed programs and trained hairdressers to successfully market Redken products in the salon, something unheard of at the time.

In 1971, Paula Kent married John Meehan, an advertising executive for trade magazines, including publications that covered the fashion and hair care fields. They met when he paid a business call to Redken. She took his last name, becoming Paula Kent Meehan, and he brought his experience to bear in helping her grow the company. He became chief executive officer while she served as chairman of the board. During the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, the company was a leader in product technology in the US and abroad.

In 1993, L’Oreal USA purchased Redken Laboratories, Inc., and following the Northridge earthquake, relocated the headquarters to Fifth Avenue New York City. Now 54 years later, REDKEN is a global leader in professional hair care, styling and hair color products and services as well as business education. The company is energized with talented people strong partnerships with the best salon professionals and superior research and development. REDKEN products are available in professional salons globally.

For the last 21 years, Ms Meehan has been headquartered in her Beverly Hills KenQuest building which will serve as a tribute to her memory.

She created the Global Salon Business Awards through the B.E.S.T. Foundation to honor leading salons in the world for their strategy, globalization, brand and lifestyle marketing, creativity, inspiration and entrepreneurship. Three events, from 2004 to 2008 were hosted by Paula in Barcelona, London and Hollywood. There she welcomed industry icons to celebrate the creative art of business.

Meehan has received countless industry awards including “Hall of Leaders” given by the North American Hairstyling Awards and Intercoiffure’s Lifetime Achievement. In 1992 she was named one of Entrepreneurial Women magazine’s “Eight Most Powerful Woman Business Owners” and was selected as one of the “Top Fifty Women Business Owner” by Working Woman magazine. #1 on Los Angeles Business Journal’s list of women-owned businesses in LA for four consecutive years; also named 2003 “Woman of the Year” for California’s 42nd assembly district.

Meehan’s wide-reaching philanthropic work most recently included major donations to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and the Beverly Hills 9/11 Memorial Garden. She served as president of a pet rescue and adoption foundation she opened in Beverly Hills called Pets 90210 – The Pet Care Foundation. An avid animal lover, Meehan was also a supporter of Woofstock. In May 2014, Paula purchased and became the Chairman of The Beverly Hill Courier and The Beverly Hills Fine Arts Theater.  

According to the obituary, "One message Paula would leave to us would come from the pen of her favorite poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, 'That which should come to you will come to you through open and winding passages.'"