spotted! Linda & Jody of Lark & Sparrow Nails

after years of being broke in college and painting my own nails one of my favorite treats is going to the salon. for the longest time i would hop between nail salon after nail salon with no loyalty, stopping in one that was close, ask for a simple gel polish and then leave happy as a clam. but i always wanted to find THE salon for me. then i went to Lark & Sparrow.

located in grant park, this beautiful boutique salon is serene and charming. the owners Linda and Jody were the first ones to work on my nails and have always created beautiful designs. you can see the love of their craft as they talk to you about what you're looking for, offering suggestions as needed. i'm hooked. 

not only is their space amazing, but Jody and Linda are truly wonderful. i love their dynamic together, their panache for starting their own business and their story of Lark & Sparrow. so if you're looking to find the best nail salon in atlanta (as determined by both myself AND Atlanta Magazine) and fall in love with a fantastic story, continue below to read more. 

Jody & Linda of Lark & Sparrow

lexi (l): every time i am at Lark & Sparrow, i love the energy between you two. you collaborate well and bounce enthusiasm off one another. how did this dynamic duo start?

Jody (J): Linda and i have been friends for many years, starting with the friendship between our husbands.  we met for the first time at Linda’s wedding shower. i was pregnant and all her friends were falling over themselves trying to locate a non-alcoholic drink for me…water was my only option. there we discussed my wedding cake business and several days later i brought her samples of my cakes.  we became closer friends after she had her son Jack.  our boys have been friends since birth and are best buddies. we are similar in just as many ways as we are different, making it easy to for us to both agree and introduce the other to new ways of thinking and living.  this was an especially valuable relationship as new mothers. 

Linda (Li): we met through our husbands 10 years ago. we were both just starting our families and i looked to Jody as my mother guru. i was impressed with her natural approach to motherhood and strived to be more like her. Jody can be a little shy at first but i quickly broke through to her crazy fun side and we have been close ever since. i remember being nervous about that cake meeting with Jody. it’s so funny because i can’t imagine ever feeling uncomfortable with Jody now. she is my rock.

l: what made you both realize you work well enough together to take the leap and open Lark & Sparrow?

J: the decision to open a business together was sort of an organic one.  it just naturally evolved from bouncing ideas off one another and the need for both of us to change our working from home status, which can be a lonely.  we knew we wanted to create a business that would tap into our strengths as artists, healers and hostesses.  a full-service spa was our first thought, which quickly turned into simplifying, focusing and becoming the best at one type of service.  when we were both pregnant with our second children, we would often get pedicures together after we dropped our older children off at school.  we both loved and despised the experience, leading us to discuss how to improve the industry.  why not make it beautiful and comfortable?  most mainstream nail salons are neither of those.  more research lead us to understand the need for more safe and clean salons.

Li: after many years of close friendship with our families becoming so close, traveling together, sleepovers… it was never a question of whether we would work well together. i knew she was the perfect partner and did not doubt for a second that we could make it work. 

l: how did you decide on the not-so-nail-salon-revealing name?  

Li: the name was Jody’s idea. she had always wanted a business named Lark. and i love birds so it just seemed perfect. it was easy just like every other part of starting this with Jody.

l: the name Lark & Sparrow immediately makes me think fun, light-hearted, bright... all things the salon is, but i never would have thought you were a nail salon. my branding is similar; from your experience, do you think having a name that doesn’t reference your services has been more beneficial or a hindrance?  

Li: i definitely did not want to brand us as a typical nail salon. we have had many customers come in who might have been customers sooner had they known what we were, but on the other hand we also do not get very many walk-ins looking for services we do not provide. people actually do a little research on us before they come in. 

J: while choosing a name for the salon, we wanted it to have a boutique feel and be a far departure from the idea of what mainstream nail salon had been.  plus, we wanted a name that would allow us to grow and not strap us to only nails, perhaps one day we will include more spa services or other healing and beauty modalities.  our not-so-nail-salon sounding name has been very beneficial in carving out a new place in the nail industry for salons such as ours.  there is an enormous need for the industry to change in the way we’ve approached it.  plus, clients often tell us our name is what peaked their interest into finding out just who and what we are.  many say they were just driving by, saw our adorable place and immediately looked it up.

l: its great that your polishes and products are so clean; free of DBA and Formaldehyde with options that include vegan and non-toxic. you’re looking out for your clients in ways many of them don’t realize or even consider before scheduling a nail appointment. i don’t feel like i am harming my body when i come in for a paint job. is it hard to maintain such a “clean” product line?

Li: no it is not. the industry is changing and more and more companies are moving in the right direction as far as product development. i really do not understand why all salons are not. the products are a little more expensive in some cases but you get what you pay for. 

l: Lark & Sparrow is so calm and soothing, even when you’re busy. what was your inspiration for the style and feel of the salon?

J: Linda and i created a space we felt comfortable in and knew that would translate to others. we appreciate simplicity.  there is nothing fussy about our space, which eases the mind and facilitates relaxation for everyone.  it also helps that our old building is full of its own character.  not much was needed to make it beautiful.  we also thought long and hard about the comfort of the clients during services and that dictated our furniture choices.  the Lay-Z-Boy recliners are the bomb!  they suited our design aesthetic and are so much more comfortable than the bouncy-jiggly chairs or the chairs that force you to recline. 

 another factor that contributes to calming feel of our salon is all the positive, lovely ladies that work with us.  we were very intent on creating a work community without competition where everyone feels valued and respected.  i think our clients can feel this when they walk through the door.
this is the design  @hipstress  created for me for my minimalist obsession - LOVED it! 

this is the design @hipstress created for me for my minimalist obsession - LOVED it! 

l: and what better way to spend any time waiting than by shopping beautiful things. i love beautiful handmade jewelry you offer within your salon. how do you find the artists for your boutique items?

J: in choosing our boutique items, again, Linda and i selected things we enjoy.  we’ve both lived around east atlanta for most of our adult lives and chose items we knew our friends and neighbors would relate to, found very accessible and could easily incorporate into their lives.

l: when someone comes in and doesn’t know what they want, what is your go-to color or design recommendation? 

J: when someone comes to us not knowing what they want we ask questions about their lifestyle that can give us an idea of their needs.  if they work in a corporate setting, we keep it tame but if they are a creative, we can offer more bold options.  we often refer to nail stamping as “the gateway nail art”.  we have so many design options that can be subtle or wild, depending on color choice and contrast.  we don’t always push nail art.  we truly want the experience and look to suit the client.   

l: what are 3 things you cannot leave home without?  

  1. Li: my phone. I’m afraid I’m a little addicted. I just wish people would stop calling me on it.
  2. Li: sunscreen. this skin is not getting any younger. 
  3. Li: nail file. as an ex-biter, i need to smooth any rough edges before they become too tempting. 

l: what is the best piece of advice you have received? what advice would you give to someone else looking to follow their dream? 

Li: i always plan my business budget very conservatively and try to spend wisely. i was raised to believe that debt is one of the worst things you can do to yourself. i would advise others to spend less time dreaming and more time doing. 

l: i am always telling my friends about your salon and they always love your work but i always hear how “far” your location is (even though we all know Grant Park is not far). do you foresee multiple Lark & Sparrow location in the future?

J: now a days, everywhere in atlanta is a far drive, the traffic is so horrific!  getting from one neighborhood to the next is such a chore, i understand when people say our shop is too far for them.  especially since we live a mile from the shop and rarely leave our own neighborhood.  Linda and i are always discussing the possibility of a second location but then shut it down upon realizing we would have to take on a commute.  neither of us are ready for that.  maybe when our kids are a little older and our need to be as accessible to them lessens, we could wrap our minds around it.  plus, we’ve only been open for 2 years and are still recovering from the nearly 3 year process it took for us to open that location.  one day.  

after my wonderful nail experiences at Lark & Sparrow and falling even more in love with Linda and Jody now that i know their history i truly cannot image going anywhere else. any they aren't wrong about their welcoming staff. no matter which member of the team you work with, they all are just as excited to work with you and will brighten your day. 

you can easily see so many different nail designs and styles via their instagram feed and can book your appointment online through their website. they're also located off Confederate Ave in Grant Park. be sure to tell them i sent you! 

images sources : Lark & Sparrow website and instagram