Bold Moves: Charles Penzone, Inc. Marks 50 years in the Beauty Industry

All photos provided by Penzone Salon + Spa courtesy of Allie Lehman, The Wonder Jam

One of the factors Debbie Penzone thinks has kept the Charles Penzone, Inc. brand growing and thriving over five decades is their willingness to embrace change.

“Be bold,” she says. “We have never shied away from bold moves.”

It’s an evident part of the Penzone salon empire that has served the brand well. Headed into its 50th year, the company is laying out a new strategic direction and salon concept that’s the blueprint for the next 50 years Penzone says.

She sums up the new brand position as “Beauty from the outside in” and the mantra is on full display at a new location in Dublin unveiled last month at 6645 Village Parkway. PENZONE Salon + Spa trades the traditional spa atmosphere – closed off rooms and isolated experiences – for a more community atmosphere that goes beyond the physical results of a day at the spa.

A Beauty Zone offering “bar experiences” – blow outs, makeup, face masks, etc., a Social Room with a cafe stocked with eats from the Little Kitchen Truck and & Juice Co. (plus a bar), more multi-sensory experiences – guests can expect these new elements at not only the Dublin salon, but the entire Penzone portfolio. The company will roll out the new strategic vision and style to its existing spaces, including all Grand Salons and MAX THE SALON locations. Penzone says its a big undertaking, but they’re starting with Short North, recently announcing MAX will move up the street to the Castle Development and become PENZONE Salon + Spa.

Read more about the new PENZONE Salon + Spa concept on Columbus Underground!

Penzone says they’ve faced a lot of questions about turning a day at the spa into a connect with your neighbor experience – and if older generations would be receptive to the modern changes. However, Penzone says she has been absolutely overwhelmed – brought to tears, actually – by the way customers have been responding. Guests love the energy of the new space. She’s seeing customers settle into the new layout how she intended – grabbing a bite at the cafe with a facemask on; having a drink with foils in their hair.

These bold moves have long been part of the company history. Penzone recalls when Charles came back from a meeting with Vidal Sassoon and threw away the rollers and stopped styling the teased-hair helmut. He saw Sassoon cut hair that moved. Charles told guests to stop coming in every week, and instead come every four and do their own hair in between.

“When he came back and made that bold change, everybody thought he would go out of business,” Penzone says.

The Charles Penzone brand continued embracing new ideas and innovations. They were early adopters of using computers for appointments. When the first Grand Salon opened in 1991, no one knew what a day spa was.


It’s a mindset of never resting on what the brand has done in the past, but continuing to evolve to create a better experience. Penzone says she never wants to think they are above everybody else and turn themselves off to new ideas, but keep grounded in the mind of a student – always learning.

It’s that notion – plus their robust training program that has kept the business growing, Penzone believes.

“We invest in our team and those artist,” Penzone says.

Salon and spa employees receive six months to a year of training personalized to fit their needs. Much of that training focuses on communication. A guest can say they want red hair, but what does red mean to them?

“We strive to really communicate, to really understand what is it you want,” Penzone says. “It sets our artists and therapists up for success.”

Penzone is making a personal commitment in the coming year to focus on the front of house training and guest experience.


Looking back at five decades of Charles Penzone salons and her 31 years with the company, Penzone has a few words of advice for business owners dreaming of celebrating their own 50-year anniversaries.

An entrepreneur shouldn’t let fear keep them from making their dream come true.

Penzone had her own fears when opening her first yoga studio, LIT Life + Yoga. The fact that people started to question how she wanted to run the space different from a traditional yoga studio, that’s how she knew she was on to something; that it was something unique.

“I think at that point, when you have that idea that’s so deep in your gut it’s just burning through your heart with passion to make it come to life, don’t let other people talk you out of it,” Penzone says.

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