At the age of 82, prominent businesswoman and philanthropist Paula Kent Meehan passed away in her Beverly Hills home, after living an incredible life.
In the 1950's, Paula, like her friend Debbie Reynolds, had hoped to become a famous actress. But at the age of 15, Paula dropped out of high school, got married and had a baby.
Divorced at 17, as a single mother Paula did clerical work and was a gas station attendant, while also pursuing her acting career.
Paula did commercials and small acting roles, when one day her big break came from an unlikely source.
Paula complained to her hairdresser, Jheri Redding that the hair-care products and cosmetics the Hollywood studios used, irritated her scalp and skin.
Mr. Redding told her that as an amateur chemist he had developed pH-balanced shampoos with protein, vitamins and minerals that would benefit the scalp not harm it.
He wanted to start a company to produce and market those products, but his investors dropped out. He proposed that he and Paula become business partners.
So in 1960, at age 29, Paula Kent took the $3,000 she earned doing a Hamm's Beer commercial and she and Jheri Redding combined their last names to form Redken Laboratories, a company which would revolutionize hair care and cosmetic products.
By 1965, 34 year old Paula had bought out Mr. Redding and was building a successful product line.
What was the secret to her success?
Years earlier, Mr. Redding had realized that women were a captive audience while in the salon chair, and would listen to the advice of their stylist in buying hair care products.
So Paula sold exclusively through beauty shops. "Salons began to realize that it was crazy not to sell a woman a shampoo," Paula told Forbes magazine in 1984.
Paula aggressively marketed to salon owners across the U.S. and in 35 other nations.
Meanwhile she married her business partner, her third husband, John Meehan. By the 1970's, business was so strong they lived in what had been Elvis Presley's Beverly Hills mansion.
In 1993 with global sales of $160 million a year, they sold Redken to L'Oreal for a substantial but undisclosed sum of money.
Thereafter, Paula devoted her time to donating her money to numerous charities, including a pet rescue group, Pets 90210 – the Pet Care Foundation.
"She was a philanthropist beyond words," Beverly Hills Police Chief David Snowden told the Los Angeles Times. "There's not much in our community that she wasn't behind."