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How to Make a Scene Ace Hotel founder Alex Calderwood did it by transforming his company into a lifestyle brand. Meet the man who set a new industry standard with the 'it' hotel.

By Jennifer Wang

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Alex Calderwood

The Ace Hotel brand is so cool, it even has its own special-edition Converse high tops. Alex Calderwood, co-founder and creative mastermind behind the industry's hippest hotel properties, is showing off a pair to his business partners, Wade Weigel and Doug Herrick, in the airy, stripped-down lobby of the Seattle Ace.

Once the kicks go on sale next month--$100 for the midnight blue two-toned, gummy-soled style, with only a few hundred pairs available exclusively at the hotel's shops--Calderwood will join a short list of people deemed cool enough for the privilege, like designer John Varvatos and Outkast rapper Big Boi. This is rock-star status, without the rock star.

Calderwood puts the shoes away, turns to approve Herrick's proposal to install Brita pitchers as a room amenity ("I love it--do it.") and OKs the franchise manuals ("These are fantastic!") for the Rudy's Barbershop chain, another of his successful ventures. This is how he operates, all the time: frenetic, yet somehow effortless. And if his energy seems better suited to a creative genius than a traditional hotelier, that's because he--and his business creations--are anything but traditional. His appearance helps: wild, curly hair, skinny jeans and a blue button-down with a bunny etching over the shirt pocket. He's also rocking another set of limited-edition Converses--this pair from Japan.

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