Danielle Hilderbrand opened Pearl’s Spa and Apothecary Boutique eight years ago, but she’s been in the beauty industry since day one — her mother operated a nail salon out of her family’s front porch in Austell, then went on to open two spas when Danielle was in high school. After helping her mom manage both spas and studying cosmetology, Danielle came this close to opening her own spa in downtown Atlanta. But a well-timed phone call and a bit of serendipity led her to signing the lease at 4827 South Main Street, and looking back, she couldn’t be happier about it. “I tell people all the time that if I were anywhere else, I’d have half the business I have,” she says.
Pearl’s is a family affair: the spa is not only named for Danielle’s grandmother, but the space itself is also the former home of Danielle’s mother’s spa. And, according to Danielle, it couldn’t have succeeded without the Acworth community showing up and supporting her. We sat down with Danielle to chat about what she loves about Acworth, where she and her German Shepherd like to spend a day off, and why she wants all her friends and family to move here:
Tell us how you ended up in Acworth.
I’m a Cobb County native. Both of my parents graduated from South Cobb High School, so we’ve been around here forever. When I was born, there was a nail salon on our front porch, so I was literally born into the beauty industry. I helped my mom when she opened her second day spa. By the time I was ready to open my own place, I thought I wanted to be in downtown Atlanta; I had a contract on a location there. But the owner of this building called me and took me to lunch and talked me into opening my spa here. He just said he felt like it was mine.
What was it like at first, opening your own spa after helping run your mom’s for so many years?
That was in 2010, so we were trying to advertise this luxury place opening in the midst of the economy crashing. But we found our way. I met somebody through the business association who helped me get an article on the front page of the Savvy Shopper magazine for our first Christmas, and it made our season. That’s when we knew we were in the right place, because it was the community that came out to support us. They lifted us up, and it’s just gotten better and better ever since.
How would you describe the feel of the town?
It really has a small-town charm. Everyone is here to pat you on the back and offer you support, but also make sure that everyone feels welcome. And I think you can feel that, as an outsider, when you come to visit. I know a lot of people who have family and friends in from out of town, and downtown is the first place they bring them — you can wind up spending hours here.
Where do you like to take visitors?
We’ll go have lunch downtown, and then we’ll go to the lake and do some kayaking, and hang out in the parks… there’s just so much to offer everybody that it’s just the charm and the small-town feel that really, I think, not only makes people feel special and welcome but keeps them coming back.
What would you consider a perfect day off?
If I could pick any day to have off and enjoy, it would be on a Friday so I could start my day at the farmer’s market. I love our farmer’s market, it gives you that small-town feel, and I love to come to town and shop. And of course have lunch. And then I’d go down to the lake, and spend time down there. And I’d do it all by foot, or by bike. I’d try to be outside as much as possible. I’ve got kayaks and a paddleboard and an 85-pound German Shepherd who shares those with me. My dog loves it here.
How would you sum up Acworth in a few words?
An active community that welcomes everybody.
Your best Acworth insider tip?
Henry’s brunch! I always tell people get there at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning. And don’t miss Fish Thyme’s happy hour.
What are your thoughts on the future of Acworth?
Oh gosh, it’s going to be awesome. Every time there’s a good meeting that the mayor’s doing, I take my employees, even my friends and family, so they can hear about it. The city and the staff, they’ve really got it going on, they have a really good vision for what this place should be. I envision it being even better, even busier. There’s just this really wonderful energy that’s here that makes people happy and excited and it makes them want to stay.