Emily Pence


Emily Pence

Local business owner. Founder of Sixpence Salon and Spa. Worked at Stella Nova in Charleston for 13 years before opening her own business.

"I had to be a little more assertive when trying to fight for this space. On the other hand, it really helped to stoke my passion for starting this business.”


Full Interview

Emily, tell me about your career as a stylist.

I have been in the salon and spa business for fifteen years. I knew I was interested in starting my own salon, and while my family was supportive, the closest thing to the type of career I was envisioning was something like my aunt’s beauty salon which operated out of her house in the perfect vision of a1989, “Steel Magnolias” beauty shop. My vision for a career in cosmetology doesn’t typically carry the weight of other professions. However, I was determined to shift perceptions around this craft because I deeply cared about it. I embarked on a career in cosmetology that would eventually take me to where I am today, the owner of SixPence Salon. This salon is in West Greenville on Pendleton St. While my mom still calls and asks, “How are the girls at the shop?” I take enormous pride in the intensional way we have created a space for excellent customer service and professional development.

Tell me about the steps that led you to opening your own business.

I worked in Charleston at the same salon for thirteen years, Stella Nova. Additionally, I was doing some outside education in other cities, such as New York, where I got to take courses with well-known international stylists, such as Oribe. I also had styling classes with a hair stylist who was working with Victoria Secret. This whole experience really helped me to understand the professional side of cosmetology, and that is what we try to create at Sixpence Salon today. My husband and I decided to move to Greenville for a change, and also to be close to family. I worked at a salon here in 2014, with a girl I knew from college. This was a great experience, but I started looking around and noticed that there could be a niche for a high scale salon in Greenville, where I could even take it a step further in professionalism. I wanted to provide an above and beyond level of service for clientele.

However, when I found out that I was pregnant with twins, I planned to work almost up until labor, but because of early contractions, I was committed to strict bed rest for eleven weeks. So, I had to quit working a little earlier than expected, and by the time I was ready to get back on my feet, it was time to look at opening my own salon.

Why West Greenville?

While driving my son to school, I passed through the Village area, which reminded me of the Charleston atmosphere. Soon after that, I found out spaces were available on Pendleton, and I began to call immediately, without realizing how quickly those spaces were being let. At this point, I was learning a lot about myself. Being the passive kind person I was, I had to be a little more assertive when trying to fight for this space. On the other hand, it really helped  to stoke my passion for starting this business. After persistent searching, a space finally became available. At this point, the brainstorming began, trying to decide more accurately what my vision would look like. The space I rented was previously an art gallery, so luckily much of the lighting and framework was already in place.

What guided you in creating an aesthetic for your salon?

The aesthetics of the salon and spa is this collaboration of old and new, the older pieces being items from my dad’s storage unit. I was able to use pieces that had sentiment, matching them with some modern lighting and other assorted decorations. My Dad even built my table, which sits in the middle of the space. In fact, my whole family has been essential to this project, which adds even more character to the shop.

What relationship do you have with the West Greenville community?

I love all the local business owners; they are all so supportive. I have worked with community programs for teenage girls and do a fashion show for Safe Harbor; donations from our older line of products go to them as well. I am also working on contracting some of the women from Safe Harbor as hair models in exchange for discounted prices for them. The revitalization of the area reminds me a lot of Charleston and I am looking forward to more businesses moving in.

What do you want your studio to stand for?

I wanted to open something with an intimate family working space with employees who really care about this type of business.

What are a few of your goals for SixPence?

I want to continue to grow the spa, and open some educational programs for students straight out of school to further their professionalism and knowledge. I felt so encouraged and helped throughout my education, I want to provide the same service to others who are passionate about this business. Helping others flourish through their skill set, increasing professionalism and customer service, these are a few of my goals. I never want my clients to feel rushed or crowded during their time. I am adamant about having a great scheduling system by having someone manage that part of the business and by hiring well- trained stylists as well.The scheduling system is set up to where the stylists do not have to worry about booking appointments while they’re trying to work on other clients.

What are some things unique to you and your business?

We really care about our clients, the community, and our employees. Our unique décor and style definitely shows throughout the shop as well as through my personality. I try to purchase from local artists when at all possible to further support the community. Ultimately, I love to take care of people, learning about them while working for them; this helps to grow my understanding of how to provide the best service for every person. My intention is to treat our clients really well, and by extension, the West Greenville community.