Ben Carey: 2013 Hair Icons Recipient

Ben Carey was the eldest of six children. His father was a sergeant in the air force and much of his childhood was spent in Germany. At the age of thirteen, his family was transferred to West Palm Beach, Florida, where he spent his teen years happily in the warm climate. After High School, he went to Cosmetology School during the day and worked as a dance instructor at Arthur Murray’s in the evening.

Hosting home wig parties was the beginning of his career in the hair replacement business. He was successful at it because he was able to see (and sell) the transformation a wig could make. Wigs became the rage in the ’60s, now women could change their style easily, transforming them immediately from ordinary to exotic or cutting edge in an instant. Not only women, but men also began wanting in on the advantages of changing your hair too. Think of Cher and Liberace . . . and Ben’s favorite, the wiglet, worn by everyone in the era, even Jacqueline Kennedy.

Ben was young and working in Hollywood under the direction of Max Factor. They first transferred him to San Francisco and then Salt Lake City. In Salt Lake his spirit of a true entrepreneur set in. He started his own wig business, Cleopatra Wigs. The success of Cleopatra Wigs prompted him at the age of 25 to go to Hong Kong, where he met a young bank clerk, Michael Chan. Michael spoke perfect English and helped Ben negotiate his own factory in Hong Kong.

In the seventies when South Korea began producing toupees, he was one of the first to establish a factory and open a chain of retail stores throughout the west including Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Nebraska, and California.

In the 80’s he began his company he would be most known for, Nova Hair Systems, which is still operating today. He was known in the industry as a pioneer in the development and manufacturing of new styles and technology in the hair replacement industry. One of those names is Randy Martin. Ben always respected and admired Randy greatly. He was shocked and saddened by his sudden loss.

Although Ben was in the hair replacement business he had a full head of hair. His hair turned grey in his early 20’s giving him a distinguished look. He did have his challenges, losing one eye and luckily saving his sight in the other. He had difficulties with depth perception and always wanted to see 3D. He would have been very disappointed to go to the movies these days. He would have been extremely proud and honored to receive this recognition.

“Ben would have been very proud and thankful for this great honor. He had tremendous respect for and was inspired greatly by his peers and would be very thankful for this recognition. As his family, it brings us great joy and satisfaction that his memory has been honored in this way. Thank you.”

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