One-Of-A-Kind Vegan Salon Offers Eco-Friendly Approach to Beauty by Laurie Zinn
elanie Guzzo is the owner and founder of Virtue Salon, and her husband T.J. is the business manager. Together, they offer a team-based environment for their employees, and an all-natural, eco-friendly vegan salon for their customers. After Melanie became a hairdresser at age 17, she attended The Ohio State University to study art education. She never dreamed of owning her own salon, but that all changed when she started searching for a salon for herself. “I realized that I wanted a quality of salon that I hadn’t seen,” Guzzo says. In 2010, she opened a small, 600-square foot salon on North High Street in Clintonville, but she felt like she was missing a niche client. Then she remembered her great grandfather’s barber chair that was stored in the garage of her childhood home. “The chair became the cornerstone piece. I started to unravel this idea of having an eco-friendly vegan salon,” Guzzo says. Virtue Salon began using 100-percent vegan products that are free from parabans and sulfates, and have never been tested on animals. With its new focus, the salon’s business began to grow. Before she knew it, Guzzo was hiring employees and adding another 1000 square feet of
space. In 2015, they moved just blocks down the street to a larger location. She describes the salon as “all the way vegan.” They research all of their products, even the ones that claim to be vegan, to make sure they actually are. “We’re really strict about that. Every ingredient in every material that’s in here has to be zero animal derived or tested on animals,” she says. This includes their products, the coffee and sugar they serve, and the lollipops they give to kids. They also recycle as many products as possible and compost their hair clippings, coffee grounds, tea bags, papers, and other items. Every light fixture, decoration and piece of furniture is previously owned. “If we need something new, we look at local thrift stores or antique stores in Clintonville to find it,” Guzzo says. Their refill program lets customers who buy their smaller product bottles refill them with their gallon-sized bottles for 20 percent off. This cuts down on shipping, packaging and bottles. Benefitting from Guzzo’s education background, Virtue Salon provides weekly continuing education for their stylists. They also started a quarterly “Stay Sharp” program, to offer Central Ohio stylists salon-quality education. Their first event, featuring an instructor from San Diego, was held November 2015 and drew 75 stylists. Their focus on education allows them to offer cutting edge services, such as balayage, a hair color technique, and Olaplex, a vegan product that can be added to hair color to make hair healthier. Also unique to the area is their bridal services. “Since we are a team-based salon, a wedding party can come in here, and they could have eight people in and out in an hour, if they wanted,” Guzzo says. Now employing 14 stylists, including her very first hire, Guzzo credits their growth to team unity. It is their focus and their business model, and it has had a positive impact on their customer community. “Team unity has kept us strong as a business,” Guzzo says. “It helps us stay stronger together.” Location: 3282 N. High St., Columbus. For more information, or to make an appointment, call 614-725-2329 or visit VirtueVeganSalon.com. See ad, page 45. Laurie Zinn is a Columbus-based freelance writer and the owner of Line-By-Line, a digital content management service for websites, blogs, email marketing and social media. Connect at email@example.com.