Amy Leavell Bransford, the founder of the eco-focused Aviary spa and salon in Atlanta, developed an appreciation for organic and sustainable beauty and wellness not by playing with makeup as a young girl or attending esthetician school—but in a much more unlikely place: her family’s farm.
Growing up on Charlane Plantation, about 20 miles southeast of Macon, Bransford practiced farm-to-table living long before it would become a lifestyle movement or international food trend. “We ate organically, grew our own food, pickled food from last season to eat it later—and we did it all without any labels,” she says of her childhood. Her grandparents and their friends all ran small family farms, while her parents’ commitment to environmentalism would earn them the honor of being The American Forest Foundation’s Tree Farmers of the Year in 1999. Decades later, those early experiences informed her approach to Aviary, which she opened in 2009.
“My passion has already been the farms and farming community,” she says. “Many people think about farm-to-table dining, but they don’t think about farms when it comes to their hair products or salons. I wouldn’t have products to use if there weren’t small farmers growing those herbs, flowers or fruit, vegetables.”
Many of the lines Bransford features are exclusively available at her salon in Atlanta, including the California brand Moon Juice, which offers supplements based on Chinese medicine to support the adrenal system, and Oway, an Italian hair color collection that uses biodynamic farmed ingredients that are also fair trade and organic. “So many of people’s skincare or hair issues come from stress and other internal factors,” she says. “I always make it a point to remind my clients that while the time they spend in my chair is essential, the work they do the rest of the time is even more important.”
While she offers a range of hair and spa treatments and organic products, Bransford ultimately considers the spa and salon a collective of creatives who share common a vision. “We’re focused on environmental consciousness, chemical consciousness, local consciousness,” she says. “We want to be a community that supports people who have our same values, whether that’s shopping at their businesses, choosing which boards we serve on, or which organizations we give back to.”
WRITTEN BY FEIFEI SUN