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Birds of a Feather

Amy Bransford was struggling to find a name for her new business, which was about to open in a loft development on Auburn Avenue back in 2009. “As I was sitting in the courtyard at Studioplex, a bird flew by,” remembers Amy. “It felt as though I was in an aviary.”

It was a lightbulb moment for the young esthetician who had grown frustrated in an industry’s one-size-fits-all approach to skin care and made the bold decision to branch out on her own. “There wasn’t a salon or spa space where I felt I fit in or could identify with,” she explains. “I had to create it for myself and, later, for my employees.”

Ever since, Aviary Beauty + Wellness has been a direct reflection of the freedom Amy embraced to become an entrepreneur and how she operates her growing business. In the process of creating a space for her professional philosophy, Amy also established the gold standard for stylists, estheticians and artists longing to break from the mold.

Focused on skin care and hair services, Aviary operates as a collective of like-minded professionals who share Amy’s belief that beauty is not skin deep; that the way we look and feel is deeply and directly influenced by the lives we lead.

“The two go very well together as our clients often seek expertise in both areas,” says Amy. “I have a collective of employees and independents and, through the years, I have personally evolved into a mentor and people grower. I love how my flock works together.”

Aviary is a highly personalized, boutique studio. There are two treatment rooms and a handful of styling stations where beauty and wellness professionals create a peaceful environment using handpicked products to deliver customizable treatments.

Amy had considered expanding her business before the pandemic, but set the idea aside during the uncertainty of the times. She applied for, and received, an Invest Atlanta Resurgence Grant, which helped her pivot to accommodate new COVID protocols and begin delivering products to her clients.

It soon became clear people were seeking self-care more than ever before. One day while walking with her husband in the Summerhill community, Amy had another lightbulb moment – this time it was the very spot for Aviary’s second location.

“I love Summerhill’s storefronts and history,” says Amy. “The neighborhood has been there since 1865 and was home to the first emancipated slaves and later immigrants. The residents at that time were among the city’s first minority business owners.”

Before she could expand, Amy immersed herself in the Small Business Development Center in Dekalb County (SBDC) where she created a business plan, accessed her financials and re-evaluated her operational practices. She also applied for an Invest Atlanta Business Improvement Loan to help with operating expenses and inventory.

“The funds allow me to keep inventory on the shelves and maintain a profitable business during those first few months,” says Amy. “I’ve been amazed by the support from Invest Atlanta and can’t believe I owned a business for a decade without knowing about their services.”

True to her independent spirit, Amy tapped local artists and contractors to build a unique space for her Summerhill location, which features a mural and custom millwork. “I love that I was able to create jobs at a granular level during a tough economic time,” says Amy. “I have 20 employees between both locations and my build-out radiated even further to include designers, electricians, painters and plumbers.

“Working with Invest Atlanta has been so fulfilling,” continues Amy. “I realized people truly believe small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. At every turn, I had cheerleaders to champion my business and dreams of growing.”

Learn more about Aviary Beauty + Wellness: https://www.aviarybeauty.com/


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