How Atlanta Became a Hub for Beauty Brand Startups

Paco Rabanne top and skirt. Chloe earrings.

3555 Gwinnett Place Dr. NW, Duluth

The Atlanta area’s premier 24-hour jjimjilbang, or Korean bathhouse, features nine different mineral-encrusted saunas of varying temperatures — at just $35 to enter. It’s an example of how Atlanta’s Korean population (the biggest of all metropolitan areas in the South) is a growing contributor to the beauty scene, especially in metro Atlanta’s Gwinnett County.

54 Hilliard St. NE

Stylist Ricci de Forest has turned one of the last standing Madam CJ Walker beauty salons in Atlanta into an event space, his own salon, and a museum that displays flatirons from the 1800s, among other hair tools he unearthed inside.

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Kandace Layne worked at City of Ink for seven years before she opened her own studio in the greater Atlanta area. She specializes in intricate designs rooted in ancient symbolism (mehndi, mandalas, veves) for clients of color and across the gender spectrum.

2550 Pleasant Hill Rd., Ste. 116 Duluth

Since 2003, this Korean-owned hair salon has expertly catered to whatever hair-color ideas and trends its clients have had, whether ombré, balayage, or simply touching up locs, seen on clients including Future and T-Pain.

365 Edgewood Ave., 1 Phillips Drive

Rap-firebrand Killer Mike’s barbershop provides a $40 special that includes what “SWAG” stands for: a shave, wash, and groom. In 2015, Mike interviewed Senator Bernie Sanders at the Edgewood Ave. location, setting the tone for how Mike would support Sanders during the 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns. Three years later, the newly renovated State Farm Arena opened with the latest SWAG Shop location, making it possible to watch an Atlanta Hawks game and get a straight cut at the same time.

Multiple rentals

When Georgia Tech graduate Peiru Kim launched Sugarcoat Beauty in 2010, the salon’s specialty was hair. Since then, Sugarcoat has branched out into nails, waxes, and lashes with 10 locations in the greater Atlanta area. Its success caught the eye of 2 Chainz, who transformed one of Sugarcoat’s locations into a “trap nail salon” to promote his 2017 album, Pretty Girls Like Trap Musicbefore he opened a nail salon of his own.

1039 Grant St. SE, Ste. AT 12

Yisrael Wright was resident barber for the second season of Donald Glover’s FX show, Atlanta. In 2020, he expanded his services with The Yizclusive Experience, offering nail services, scalp treatments, and a 24-Karat-gold collagen mask paired with an alkaline steam.


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