How Drybar Founder Alli Webb Launched 100 Hair Salons in Only 8 Years
Welcome to Beauty Boss, a reoccurring series in which we spotlight the power players driving the beauty world forward. Consider this your chance to steal their get-ahead secrets, and grow from the real-life lessons they’ve learned on the job.
Talk to me after a Mai-Tai, and you’ll find a much more pleasant, enthusiastic, confident Victoria. I’m not referring to the fruity, sugary cocktail, though. That just gives me a headache. I’m talking about one of Drybar’s most popular blowout styles—perfectly messy beach waves with just a little volume at the crown of the head.
I guess I’m a perfect example of why Alli Webb’s mini-salon concept works. Eight years ago, the professional hairstylist came up with the idea of launching a small, bar-themed salon in Brentwood, California; a place where women could come in, quickly get their hair blown out or styled, and feel instantly happier. No cuts. No colors. Just a simple menu of signature blowout styles and braids.
Last month, Webb celebrated opening her 100th Drybar salon—but she's expanded beyond brick-and-mortar, too. The brand now has a full range of hair care products, a monthly blowout subscription service, and is rumored to have reached $100 million in revenue. In honor of the opening, we chatted with Webb about how she got her start in beauty, the shop's new blowout styles, and her best-selling products.
How did you land in the beauty realm?
Since I was a little girl, I was always obsessed with figuring out how to get smooth, bouncy locks. I used to beg my mom to blow out out my frizzy, unruly hair. I just love everything about hair. I only recently got more into makeup, but I have grown to love the transformation makeup can bring, too; the same way a great blowout can instantly lift your mood. It’s magic.
Tell us about how Drybar came to be?
Well, it was a very long time in the making. I’ve been a professional stylist for about 20 years now, but it was only after I began operating my mobile blowout business in L.A. in 2009 that I recognized the huge hole in the market. So I went to my brother Michael Landau and husband Cameron Webb to turn my drea m into a reality.
What’s it like hitting 100 different locations?
It’s completely surreal and pretty freaking awesome. There’s just so much understandable demand. Drybar is an affordable luxury that makes woman look and feel like a million bucks, so we just keep bringing the service to as many woman as we can.
How did you come up with the product line?
I really wanted to create a line of products that were specifically crafted for the perfect blowout. The first couple of years, we used a mishmash of products from other brands. It didn’t feel right. I had a lot of ideas and things I wanted to improve on for both stylists and clients. I never expected the product to take off the way it has. It’s been such a thrill to watch it grow and expand so quickly; I’m extremely proud of it.
What’s the best-selling product?
What was the moment you knew Drybar made it?
We just hit 100 shops, so I feel like we must be doing something right. But, you know, you never really feel like you’ve "made it." There’s always more to do.
What’s the most popular Drybar style on the menu?
That depends on who you ask. My personal favorite is the Mai Tai, and I know that’s a big favorite in California.
How did you come up with the different styles?
Once we decided on the bar theme for Drybar, everything else sort of feel into place around that concept. I thought it would be really cute to name all the hair styles after popular cocktails. My hope was that women would come in and feel like they’re ordering their favorite "drink" from the bar, yet it would actually be their favorite blowout. It worked.
Do you have any plans to add more blowouts?
We recently added the Old Fashioned, which is a take on old-Hollywood uniformed curls, an ode to Marilyn Monroe. That was a look we added because woman were already asking for it, and it’s a classic look that never really goes out of style. That’s how we choose our styles—timeless classics that we can add a fun twist to.