Sara Bryan first ran into famed hair guru Kelly Cardenas at a hair show in Long Beach, Calif., where he was teaching a class. “That’s when a light bulb went off; that was a turning point in my career,” says Sara Bryan, vice president of Kelly Cardenas Salon at Hard Rock Hotel. By that point, Bryan had been doing hair professionally for a couple years in Palm Springs, Calif., but it was what Cardenas said in that class that really resonated with her. “It was taking the ego out of what we do; that was a huge point that he made,” she says. “Also the professionalism, taking it to the next level, customer service—adding that special, personal touch to everything.”

A few years later, Bryan was working and living in Hawaii when she vacationed in Las Vegas, and while in town she got her hair done by Cardenas. “Before I left he told me, ‘Well, if you ever move back to the mainland, I’d love to work with you.’ And I said ‘Great! Well, that day is today!’” A few months later, she packed her bags and moved to Vegas. That was in 2006, and she’s been working alongside Cardenas ever since. She started out as an assistant and climbed the ranks from stylist, then director of operations and then her current position. Besides the Hard Rock location, she’s helped open salons in Chicago, San Diego and Salt Lake City.

“My favorite part of this job is how legitimate this is,” Bryan says. “I’ve bought a house. Kelly really helps guide you to your adulthood. I have a retirement plan, a financial advisor. It’s a legit career.” And, in turn, Bryan guides the other stylists—helping them reach their goals, educating and training them, “just being there for my team and setting the example, letting them know they’re loved.”


A popular product used in the salon is Bling, a serum created by Cardenas. A few drops applied to either wet or dry hair helps condition and polish while it softens and adds shine and volume without weighing the hair down. Bryan is a big fan of the product, and still uses it when working on her clients. In fact, she doesn’t just run the operations of the salon, Bryan still works as a stylist full time, too. “I’m known for being really quick, really fast. I’m also good at extensions and doing updos,” she said. In fact, she said, she once clocked in 52 updos in just two hours. “That’s my jam,” she said, smiling.