How a Jacksonville Beach hair salon made it to the Inc. 5000

Even in the midst of a still-sluggish economy in 2010, Courtney Costello believed enough in her dream of opening a hair and beauty salon - and making it survive.

'Women were still spending money on their hair and looking good - they wanted to be pampered, and that's what we did,' said Costello, 33, of her first business venture, Cortello Salon.

Survive it did - and then some.

The Jacksonville Beach business was recently named to the 2012 Inc. 5000. The magazine, which ranks the fastest-growing companies in the United States annually, ranked Cortello Salon No. 713 based on the company's 636 percent growth over a three-year period. Past honorees on the list include Zappos, Microsoft and Jamba Juice.

Cortello Salon, which launched with just 10 chairs and four stylists, now employs a staff of more than 40 at its swanky location on 3rd Street North in Jacksonville Beach.

'We are thrilled to be featured on a list that both inspires entrepreneurs and recognizes the hard work and dedication it has taken to fortify Cortello's national presence,' said Courtney Costello, the salon's CEO and master stylist who has 14 years in the industry.

Costello moved from Boston to join family in the North Florida area several years ago. After pouring a lot of capital into the business in its inaugural year, Cortello Salon began to see results, with revenue growing to $3 million last year. The salon has expanded and remodeled twice to accommodate its growth.

Key to that success has been Costello's investment in training - something she provides every other month at the salon so stylists can stay current on the latest trends and products. She also takes on 'new talent' apprentices who earn their own chair within a year if they stay with the business.

Colleen covers finance, technology, sports business and health care

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