I’m Kelly Cardenas, owner of five namesake Paul Mitchell® Focus salons in Las Vegas, Chicago, Carlsbad, San Diego, and Salt Lake City, and founder of The Kelly Cardenas Salon Academy. I’m also the creator of the most comprehensive line of scissors in the industry and inventor of a life that I do not deserve. At the core of all of this, I’m a regular guy who has made a ton of mistakes, made even more bad decisions and have had one saving grace; I’ve learned from each mistake and decision made and never, ever quit!
Becoming a stylist for me was not your typical I always wanted to do hair, it was my passion story. Growing up, my family’s means were tight. My dad bought dog clippers to save money on dog grooming. We tried it on the dog once and then turned the clippers on ourselves to save money on our own haircuts. Before long, my mom, frustrated with me for not sweeping her kitchen after cutting my friends’ hair said “you should go to school for that.” To humor her, I looked into the local beauty school where they told me it would take 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 10 months and I thought that was crazy. But on the way home, I decided beauty school was my choice. I started this journey with a single simple mentality that I learned from my mom and pops: “Do everything to the best of your ability, commit to it fully and never look back.” This lesson would prove to be the first of three to transcend position and circumstance throughout my career and life.
My path to becoming an educator was even less inspiring. I simply wanted an education and stopped at nothing to get it. A beauty product sales rep changed my life when she told me about an upcoming 3-day class. When I arrived I realized it was no ordinary gathering, but the certification process to become a National Educator for John Paul Mitchell Systems. I approached this opportunity the same way I did school, got certified, and was on my way. I quickly researched the major players within Paul Mitchell and all roads led to Robert Cromeans, who I followed to every hair show I could for two and a half years. Herein lies the second lesson; “Seek number one relentlessly!”
Being a salon owner is the final chapter in this story. After following Robert Cromeans around the country for years, I was offered a position as one of his assistants. For seven months I assisted him and an all-star cast including Stephanie Kocielski, Takashi Kitamura, Pamela Perettie, and Abe Barron—all in the same salon. Can you imagine?! I went on the floor as a stylist for a year, was promoted to Director for six months and finally sent to the Mandalay Bay Casino, Las Vegas to open A Robert Cromeans salon. The salon grew exponentially with a sole focus on building people that would bring business! Our “culture first” mentality proved to be our greatest asset in producing some of the highest paid stylists in the company – at an average age of just 24 years old!
It was never my desire to be a salon owner, only to be the first in command for the greatest. After ten invaluable years with Paul Mitchell, working for Robert Cromeans—the greatest company in the professional beauty industry—we came to a fork in the road. Decisions were made and Kelly Cardenas Salon was born.
When I reflect on the path which took us here, these valuable lessons have been with me throughout my career and life:
“Do everything to the best of your ability, commit to it fully and never look back.” My commitment to success eliminated the option of all else.
“Seek number one relentlessly!” I knew who the best was (Robert Cromeans) so I didn’t reinvent the wheel, we streamlined our processes and honored the great education that I received.
“Personal success will depend on how you handle things that belong to others!” As you can see, mine sure did.
With lessons learned and embedded into the very being of our business, so was born the three-word mission statement of the Kelly Cardenas Salon group: COMMITMENT ELIMINATES OPTIONS.