Cyril Thomson Mitchell was born in 1936 in Carnwath, Scotland, his mother was the town’s first hairdresser. After trying his hand at silversmithing, Cyril decided to follow in his mother’s footsteps and enrolled at the Morris School of Hairdressing in London’s West End. By the age of 18 and with several hairdressing awards already under his belt, Cyril joined The Park Lane, a salon in Mayfair. It was here that he changed his name to Paul, a moniker given to him by his boss.
The swinging 60s arrived and Paul moved on to work with the legendary Vidal Sassoon. After five years, Vidal enlisted Paul to train his staff at his first salon in the USA. “He had great style,” Vidal enthused. “He had something terribly special. He could inspire people.”
By 1967 Paul had moved on again to help launch Crimpers Salon at Bendel’s department store in New York. It was here that Paul introduced the idea of wash-and-wear hairstyling that spread like wildfire throughout the USA and is a mainstay of hairdressing today. The 70s was a decade of great change and new adventures in Paul’s life. In 1970, Paul and his wife, Jolina, welcomed their son Angus to the family; the following year he met John Paul DeJoria, then a district manager for Redken. They quickly became firm friends.
In 1974 Paul opened his successful Superhair salon in New York and started America’s first cutting club. Stylists from across the country visited the salon for training. After taking the Paul Mitchell Cutting Club to London and Hawaii, Paul sold his Superhair salon in 1976 and moved to Hawaii. Here he started to host week-long ‘Paul Mitchell in Hawaii’ seminars and met his future stage partner, Jeanne Braa.
In 1989 Paul died of Pancreatic Cancer at age 53, leaving his share of the company to Angus.