Kelly Cardenas might be the most tenacious man in the beauty industry. Behind his bleached-blond dreadlocks and rock ’n’ roll swagger is a burgeoning salon empire he grew himself, with locations in Las Vegas; Carlsbad, California; Salt Lake City and Chicago. His most recent location, a Paul Mitchell Focus Salon, opened inside the Hard Rock Hotel in November, and it couldn’t be a better fit.
“If you come to the Hard Rock and get this experience, you’re never going to be the same,” Cardenas says about his second Vegas location. “I believe this is going to change the way people do business in the professional beauty industry.”
Because of Cardenas’ outsider approach, he has created a culture he says you won’t find at any other salon. “We only focus on the true relationships of our team,” he says. “If we get along, our guest is going to feel that. I want it to become the industry standard.”
Happy stylists, after all, make happy customers. But Cardenas goes above and beyond. He wants clients to leave informed about their hair, too. “We as hairdressers do true education based off of who you are, your lifestyle, your hair texture and what your maintenance is truly going to be,” he says. “And then we tailor-fit it for you—not what’s in [a] magazine.”
From the relaxing shampoo and cut to the styling, Cardenas’ staff offers something truly individualized. Salon president Marc Jay—who started as a customer—agrees. “From the moment you walk in, you get treated like you’re a best friend,” he says. “[You] can get [your] hair cut anywhere. It’s about that experience you give that customer.” Kelly Cardenas Salon at the Hard Rock Hotel, 702-693-5522; Sunday & Monday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.