Organic beauty takes flight at the Aviary

Not long ago, Amy Leavell Bransford engaged in a little makeover of her own. The former label publicist decided to leave the music industry behind to reinvent herself as an esthetician specializing in organic facials.

It wasn’t an entirely crazy transition for Bransford, who grew up on a farm with parents who were eco-friendly long before it was a cool marketing term. Bransford did stints at local spas before heading to Massachusetts a year ago where she trained with famed herbal skin care line Dr. Hauschka to become the brand’s only licensed facialist in the area. She launched New Moon Skin Care in Plum Salon at Studioplex, but when the salon owner decamped for San Francisco, Bransford decided to stay put and invite a few like-minded beauty and wellness pros to join her as part of a new organic beauty collective called the Aviary.

“It’s a flight cage,” Bransford said. “We are all getting ourselves together.”

Against a backdrop of wood reclaimed from her parents’ farm and with the scent of lavender and citrus hanging sweetly in the air, Bransford and the three other members of the collective practice their respective trades while educating Atlantans on the ins and outs of organic beauty.

“It is confusing for the consumer,” Bransford said. “And even for someone who has an esthetician’s license. You almost need a bible to go shopping. I think there is some work to be done.”

The work starts with Bransford’s facials which, in addition to Dr. Hauschka signature treatments, include several offerings from Juice Beauty and Atlanta-based brand HollyBeth.

Sidney Hollwager is the hair guru who uses products (most notably hair color) free of formaldehyde, parabens and ammonia in creating his lush blowouts and sleek short hairdos.

Christine Legnon offers a variety of massages including Swedish, shiatsu and prenatal, while makeup artist Raney O’Keefe helps clients take their beauty routines from chemical-laden to chemical-free.

Bransford had researched a number of cosmetic brands and was close to choosing another when she had a fortuitous meeting with Julie Hewett. Hewett, a well-known makeup artist on the Hollywood circuit, was building a following with her line of long-lasting, vibrant, yet natural red lipsticks. Hewett’s company was taking off just like the Aviary, and Bransford felt an immediate connection with the brand.

The full line of cosmetics includes lipsticks made with camellia oil, considered to most closely mimic the oil of human skin, mineral powder and cream foundations, richly colored talc and paraben-free eye shadows and cream blush called Cheekie, which colors fully without staining, making it easier to work into the skin.

For O’Keefe, the line is the first of the mineral-based brands to offer a true range of colors instead of just grays and browns, a boon for any makeup artist. And it is application friendly, which helps when O’Keefe is instructing clients who flock in anxious to green their beauty routines without sacrificing their appearance.

In honor of this season of reinvention, and as inspiration to organic beauties ready to take flight, Style asked O’Keefe and the Aviary team to create a few looks appropriate for holiday and beyond.

The Aviary

659 Auburn Ave., Studio 125

Atlanta. 404-577-2460;;

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