W. Denis Hand (1948-2001)

W. Denis Hand (1948-2001)

Years ago, during my interview for an editorial job with Salon Biz, a beauty magazine that was way ahead of its time, W. Denis Hand asked me how often I got pedicures. Flustered, because I considered myself at that time a serious journalist, I couldn’t answer the question. “Well then,” he continued, “what kind of music do you like? We all share an office here and we need to know whether you’re going to be putting on country-western music.” So went the interview for a job that got me into the beauty business and ultimately led to the one I have now. Salon Biz had been Denis’ brainchild and although its publication was suspended after two years, the format he pioneered has been emulated by major publications and is very successful today.

W. Denis Hand passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sept. 20, 2001, after a very long illness that he had fought bravely. He was 53.

Like one of those uncles who drives you crazy retelling a story, Denis used to tell everyone we met that he gave me my start in the business, and indeed he did. He took my uptight English-major, semicolon-laden writing style and showed me how to use an exclamation point (his favorite headline for a new brand of hair curler: “All Tied Up, But Never Kinky!). Even after Denis had retired from full-time work, he stayed active in humanitarian projects, including Fred Jordan Mission’s annual Mother’s Day Makeover that NAILS also participated in. He would also regale his friends with tales of the wild ’70s when he partied at Studio 54 with celebrities (some of whom even wore the bottom-baring “Cheeks” pants he invented).

With his passing, the beauty industry has lost a character, a humanitarian, and an innovator. I lost a mentor and a good friend.

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