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Prized Penzone: Local salon named best in North America

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You won’t have to travel far—some of you may not to travel at all!—to visit North America’s best salon.

Penzone Salon + Spa in Dublin was named the Salon of the Year at the North American Hairstyling Awards held in California this past weekend!

status = SALON OF THE YEAR. 🔥PENZONE Dublin has been named Salon of the Year by the North American Hairstyling Awards!…

Posted by Penzone Salons + Spas on Sunday, January 27, 2019

Penzone Salon + Spa operates six salons throughout central Ohio, including a brand new location in the Short North. Their service menu includes hair, skin/makeup, massage, nails, and bridal.

Last year, the company marked its 50th anniversary with the reopening of its 14,000-square-foot Dublin salon and spa.

Scroll down to read (614) Magazine writer Olivia Miltner’s experience at the new and improved Penzone Salon + Spa Dublin.


The new Penzone is like stepping into a room that has collected everything millennial women are into. The salon and spa has plants growing on the walls, succulents decorating tables and health juices and energy balls for thirsty or hungry patrons. Local art hangs on the walls, they sell local beauty products, and sandwiches sit in the refrigerator. Crimson Cup coffee, with a special Penzone drink, is served in the “Social Room.” Basically, all it’s missing are cute dogs.

Of course, there are the typical salon and spa accents: around the corner are rows of almost every nail polish hue imaginable. A color station shows clients how dyes are mixed, the mirrors hint at taking an unfiltered selfie and shelves are filled with styling products. But these aspects don’t overshadow how much of a foil this location is to the “O.G.” Charles Penzone Grand Salon just across the parking lot.

The company, led by President and CEO Debbie Penzone, is trying to defy what many middle-aged women work hard to fend off: the wrinkles, dark spots and lost glamour of aging. On the eve of its 50th birthday, the salon and spa company that has always called Columbus home is completely revamping its identity, creating a Penzone that is younger, hipper and more closely aligned with the city’s style.

“It’s electric, exciting, all-inclusive,” Penzone said, adding she wants Penzone’s identity to include mindfulness and gratitude. “We are beyond beauty…How do you still continue to be your best self, and that’s really from the inside out, and the outside in.”

I haven’t been to a salon in over a decade, opting for a haircut twice a year at Great Clips and relying on drugstores for my clearly high-maintenance beauty needs. “Contouring” and “blowout” are not words that exist in my beauty toolbox. But, I have to say, sitting in the new Penzone location really showcased how the other half lives, and I could see how Penzone’s newest attitude could attract folks that would have never considered heading there in the past.

Penzone’s transformation has been happening gradually over the past few years. The opening of its new location was three years in the making, dating back to when Debbie first started visiting other salons and spas around the country looking for inspiration. When development on the new location was stalled due to a zoning conflict with the City of Dublin, she and her husband went ahead with two ideas that in the end paved the way for reinventing her company. First, Charles Penzone opened a barber shop, the Royal Rhino Club, in early 2017. With its 400-pound rhino-head statue mounted on a wall and signature cocktails crafted by Cameron Mitchell, the Royal Rhino attracts millennial men and women to its trendy Fourth Street location.

Later last year Penzone’s first yoga studio, LIT Life & Yoga, opened next door. The space hosts LIT Labs with themes such as “Harness your fear” and “This is me,” where all women rock their sports bras. Representing the company’s revitalized philosophy of holistic beauty and wellness, Penzone said she hopes the yoga studio and the salon and spa will help empower women and encourage them to love themselves inside and out, regardless of size, age, color or other characteristic.

“It’s fresh, it’s exciting. It’s all about community it’s all about being together and sharing experiences and moments, and empowering each other with those moments,” Penzone said.

All together LIT Life & Yoga and the Royal Rhino Club added a dash of urban youth to the brand that became infused in the latest concept: the new location has a patio where Penzone envisions host yoga classes for mindfulness and meditation and a women’s empowerment group.

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Penzone’s locations are a not-so-coincidental reflection of its clientele, and its hopes for expanding into the future. The original salon was founded by Charles Penzone, Debbie’s husband, in 1969. Since then, it’s grown from three artists serving a handful of guests to six salons serving more than 25,000 guests monthly. In its newest iteration, Penzone is evolving out of the suburbs and welcoming not just the suburban mom but also a younger, more diverse generation into its buildings. “We are on fire like Columbus is. I love everything I’m seeing in Columbus right now, that’s why we were so excited to go to Italian Village…That whole area is getting gentrified. I love it,” Penzone said.

The rebrand spans from the font it uses for its new name and its advertisements featuring “ideal clients,” AKA your average person, to its modern outlook on wellness and beauty. The concept will be rolled out at its various locations throughout the next few years.

“It’s not just your outer shell of beauty. You’ve got to be your best you and how do you find your unique beauty and live it,” Penzone said.

Accompanying these changes is an increased intentionality in design and detail. At the new location, the Beauty Zone is an area right in front of the main entrance that features a bar offering blowouts, makeup, skincare services and Beauty Labs to teach quests about trends and techniques. It’s a social area where everything is on display that doubles as a learning lab.

In the lather rooms, squishy neck pads are a fan favorite, and aromatherapy turns a guest’s shampoo into a multisensory experience, a theme throughout Penzone. Stylists have soft-close cabinets at their stations, and each chair is positioned just far enough apart so guests can only see themselves in their mirror. Floor to ceiling windows bring in natural sunlight and enhance a connection to nature that Penzone said the location was striving to strengthen.

The salon and spa is also expanding the services it offers, now with threading, hot rocks, and ayurveda. While having a dual mani-pedi, guests can choose to listen to a station through headphones, even with the option of working in some ASMR with binaural beats. Penzone even makes its stylists work under new names so that each person can easily be identified by clients. Two, Harley and Athena, were working at Penzone the day before it opened to the public in early May, and they both said they were excited about the new concept.

These changes don’t necessarily mean the cost of Penzone is going down; a trip to the salon or spa could easily run a guest over $100. But with all the options for personalization it now offers, Penzone is hoping guests will demonstrate why the company has been able to stick around for half a century already and is ready for 50 more.

For more about the rich history of PENZONE Salons + Spas and for locations near you, visit penzonesalons.com.

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The heart and sole of C-Bus sneaker scene

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“Me and my Adidas do the illest things.”

Run-DMC’s “My Adidas,” an homage to their love for the sneaker brand, created an urban fashion craze in the mid-eighties and set the stage for the sneaker explosion. Each member of the hip-hop pioneers wore a three-striped Adidas tracksuit with gold “dookie rope” chains dangling from their necks and black fedoras on their heads. But what tipped the fashion scales were the unlaced white Adidas shell toe Superstars that would “Walk through concert doors […] and roam all over coliseum floors.”

It was no coincidence that the same year “My Adidas” was released, Dionte Johnson was born in Columbus, Ohio. He is the owner/operator of the only niche retail sneaker boutique in Columbus: Sole Classics. And he is at the forefront of the hot sneaker scene in Columbus.

 “I walk down the street, and bop to the beat.”

Hipsters, students, and hip hop heads bob to the beat down High Street and walk into Sole Classics to check out the latest. Located in the Short North, Sole Classics has the Run-DMC-style Adidas track suits, Vans, Nikes, Adidas, hoodies, G-Shocks and other “fly wear.” Artistically curated, every inch of the two-room fashion gallery is meticulously crafted to reflect the Short North arts scene. (The newly-opened second store in Dublin pays tribute to the area’s Irish attitude with a pub vibe.) “We want the stores to embody the neighborhood we are in—Short North more urban, Dublin more Irish,” Johnson says.

“I like to sport ‘em that’s why I bought ‘em.”

Johnson bought Sole Classics (originally opened in 2006) from the previous owners ten years ago and has been in its current location since 2014. As a former Ohio State fullback, Dionte had a cup of coffee in the NFL, but when that plan fell through, he put his Business Marketing degree to work. “I was looking for the next challenge […] and heard about Sole Classics being available,” Johnson says, wearing his signature black hoodie and jeans. “Growing up in Columbus and going to high school [in the nineties] I worked in retail at Big Daddy’s, the first to carry urban street fashion stuff—and I was hooked.”

“And now I just standin’ here shooting the gift.”

What Big Daddy’s (now closed) taught Johnson was the importance of community—about creating a space where people come for the experience, to hang out, shoot the shit and share their love for sneakers. It’s the barber shop minus all the hair on the ground. “You can go buy your shoes from anywhere, but with a store like ours, you get to sit down, spend two hours talking and maybe buy something, or maybe not,” Johnson says as he sits behind the self-designed wood cash wrap desk that is the centerpiece of his Dublin store. “The person who comes in and knows exactly what they want gets treated the same as the person who stops by to say, ‘What’s up?’ ” 

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“Now the Adidas I possess for one man is rare. Myself homeboy got fifty pair.”

The Columbus sneaker scene has grown exponentially, with more options than ever. Sole Classics is a retail shop that is linked to the sneaker companies. But up High Street, less than a mile away is Premium Kicks, a consignment sneaker store. “There is plenty of room [in Columbus] for sneaker shops to coexist, “ Johnson says. “Yes, we’re in competition, but theirs is always a place for a consignment shop to do their thing. We are a little more beholden to the sneaker companies, whereas they have a little more freedom.”

What is also helping the sneaker scene thrive is the innovative chances sneaker companies are taking (see the re-release of the Air Jordan 4 and the new Nike line of kicks called Have a Nike Day), combined with online media. When new kicks get released it’s a feeding frenzy. “Once upon a time you had to go into a store to hear about the release date; to find out what was dropping that weekend, “Johnson says. “Now, with the internet, it doesn’t matter whether you’re in rural Ohio or in New York City, you’re going to know about the product at the same time. It has expanded the sneaker community exponentially. Tons of people now know about a sneaker they would normally not.”

Does he see the internet ruining the brick-and-mortar, mom and pop shops, more than it already has? “Retail will settle back down,” he says. “Convenience is what people are into—paper towels delivered to your front door—but nothing can replace human contact. Life is about what you’re experiencing, and it’s not usually sitting behind a computer.”

“We took the beat from the street and put it on TV.”

When I ask Dionte who his biggest influences were when he first started out in the sneaker/fashion world, he cites his favorite nineties’ shows and actors: Martin, Will Smith, and even Seinfeld (with those dope white running shoes and jeans—not!). “I was heavily influenced by what I saw on TV because they were setting the trend. It was how I saw what other people were experimenting with.”

 “My Adidas only bring good news.”

Run-DMC is from Hollis, Queens, and Dionte from Columbus. Big difference. But nobody can deny they both have a love for the squeaks of their sneaks. Their collective “sole” has brought communities together and left an indelible footprint.•

Sole Classics is located in the Short North at 846 N High St. and in Dublin at 6391 Sawmill Rd. Visit soleclassics.com for all the latest sneaker looks.

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Prost! Inaugural Maifest to offer bier, brats this weekend

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Move over Oktoberfest, Maifest is here! Yes, that does mean maypoles and queens and bier (lots of bier). A tradition that’s been cast aside for a while is a last being revived here in Columbus.

This Sunday, stop by the Valters at the Männerchor for wine and beer tastings, drinking games, food, raffles, and more.

Maifest is hosted by the Columbus Männerchor, a German singing group that began in 1848 with 12 immigrants bound by the motto: “Harmony—in song and in life—holds us together.” The choir has rehearsed every Tuesday night since its first chilly October meeting as the members huddled around candles.

So maybe you have a nostalgia for the Homeland. Or maybe you studied a couple years of German in high school. Or maybe you just really like beer and brats. In any case, here’s your excuse to put all that to use in German Village this weekend. Prost!

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Book it to Indie Bookshop Crawl this weekend

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Sure, you could buy that book online and save a few bucks, but by doing so, you’d be stealing away from the dream of any one of Columbus amazing independent book stores.

Don’t be a dream stealer. No one likes a dream stealer.

Instead, celebrate National Independent Bookstore Day this Saturday, April 27! Worm through local shops, browse through stories to find your favorite stores, and Dewey Decimal the hell out of your weekend with these amazing events planned for the holiday! Just don’t overbook yourself, mmkay?

Bookshop Crawl | Multiple locations

Gary Lovely of Harpoon Books, Harpoon Review, Write Bloody, and The Book Loft, has put together a bookshop crawl for all the indies in town. The Book Loft, Two Dollar Radio, Prologue Bookshop, Cover to Cover, and Gramercy are all participating. Stop by and and all of the shops for great deals and a chance to win a giant gift basket!

“Also if you mention amaz*n in this store on that day we’re legally obligated to set you on fire,” warns Lovely.

Two Dollar Radio HQ | 1124 Parsons Ave., Columbus

Two Dollar Radio will be hosting an Independent Bookstore Day celebration of their own with special guests like bookseller Elissa Washuta, a DJ set from Megagenesis, Trivia with Regular Aaron, and a reading in the evening by acclaimed poets Edgar Kunz, Kathy Fagan, and Keith Leonard. Plus, a FREE Two Dollar Radio tote bag when you buy 5 books (while supplies last).

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Prologue Bookshop | 841 N High St., Columbus
Sat, April 27 from 11am – 9pm

Prologue invites you to drop by for exclusive merchandise, a talk by Conrade C. Hinds at 4pm, and FREE Tupelo donuts (while supplies last).

Ohioana Book Festival | Columbus Metro Library, 96 S Grant Ave.
Sat, April 27 from 10:30am – 5pm

Join the Columbus Metro Library and the Ohioana Library Association for the 13th annual Ohioana Book Festival. This year, over 150 authors will be present for meet-and-greets, programming for children’s, teen’s, and adults, food trucks, and much, much more.

Side note: Have you seen The Book Loft’s Twitter account? If not, you’re missing out on some amazing content—some book related, some not, but all funny. Read media coverage here.

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