ScaleUp Success: Melanie Guzzo of Virtue Salon

Have you ever thought about the culture of your small business? Was it created with purpose or did it just grow organically?

Melanie Guzzo, owner of Virtue Salon, chose to take a very purposeful approach to creating and maintaining the strong and vibrant culture of her salon touted by both employees and clients.

Virtue Salon is Columbus’ only vegan, eco-friendly, sulfate-, paraben- and gluten-free beauty salon located in the heart of Clintonville. Virtue opened its doors nearly six years ago with one stylist, Guzzo herself. Within five years, the salon blossomed into a thriving small business with 15 employees and an exceptional culture.

Guzzo shared that as a business owner, it’s been a learning experience to fully understand and appreciate the value of a culture where employees are energized and committed to the mission and vision.Virtue5

“I started my business because I had a passion for hair care but didn’t feel at home in any salon,” Guzzo says.

Having been a vegan for a long time, Guzzo wanted to incorporate her lifestyle into a salon concept and create a more eco-friendly environment and culture.

She began reading about what was going on in the industry, and paid attention to the culture of businesses she visited like restaurants, other salons and hotels to see what was working and what may fit for Virtue.

Guzzo documented policies and also focused on her team’s experience.

“I ensure that we hang out together outside of the salon so everyone can get to know each other,” she says. “It’s been helpful sharing common time with others.”

Virtue4Guzzo also chooses ways to communicate that works for her team, such as a private Facebook page, morning huddles and weekly meetings. She also issues a quarterly book called Plant and Grow. In it, she provides culture-growing initiatives that the staff can do, such as writing letters of encouragement to a coworker.

The resulting culture of Virtue Salon is one committed to growing the individual, creating team unity and putting guests/clients first, all while honoring the community and environment. Her commitment to growth also included herself as the leader.


With a desire to continually grow herself and the business, Guzzo applied to the Entrepreneur Exchange Program.

“I was intimidated by financials and needed a better understanding of marketing and developing policies,” she says. “But now I feel on track and better understand how to put a lot of different business concepts into play.”

Guzzo also benefited from the program resources, such as having Sharon DeLay, HR workshop speaker, develop their policy handbook and getting salon-specific consulting from a business peer.

In all, Virtue Salon has had many accomplishments and awards, but Guzzo says, “The greatest success is that we have really good team unity that was hard to cultivate, but has been super rewarding.”

For more information about Virtue Salon, visit

To take the next step in scaling up your business, visit to apply and learn more about the Entrepreneur Exchange Program.

The Entrepreneur Exchange™ Program is a nine-month program fully funded by the Small Business Administration’s ScaleUp America initiative. Any Ohio small business with $150,000 – $750,000 in gross revenues and at least two years in business can apply. However, each year only 30 Ohio small business owners are selected.