Alli Webb opened the first Drybar in 2010, thinking women would love a blowouts-only salon. But when she unintentionally sparked a new business category, she had to learn how to stay ahead of the competition.
In 2008, after five years as a stay-at-home mom, hairstylist Alli Webb was ready for some grown-up time. She started traveling from home to home in Los Angeles, providing affordable blowouts (that’s a wash, a dry, and a style, gentlemen) to other moms who, like her, were eager for a small break from nonstop responsibilities. Nearly a decade later, Webb’s brainchild has grown into Drybar, a blowouts-only salon chain beloved by women across the country. The bar themed business—styles offered include the Cosmo (loose curls) and the Mai Tai (beachy waves)—is chic and girly, and serves up as many mimosas as hairstyles in a given day. As the business prepares to open its 100th location and eyes international expansion, Webb is the first to admit that she and her cofounders—who are also her husband and her brother—are still learning as they go.
Drybar is approaching 100 locations after just seven years in business. How do you keep the service consistent at scale?
It’s one of the biggest challenges we face. We’ve learned how to make good stylists great through our training programs and audition processes, but it is tough, especially in some smaller cities. New York and L.A. are ripe with stylists with a lot of experience, but we definitely have challenges in smaller cities. And we don’t run an actual school—not yet, anyway—but we’ve got a robust training program to teach our signature tricks and styles. The best compliment I can get is from a woman who travels a lot and can depend on Drybar in any city.
The company has really made blowouts ubiquitous and inspired quite a few copycat businesses along the way.
It’s funny because when we first opened, customers would come in and I would tell them literally everything about the business, because I was so proud. And then we started seeing similar models open up.
People actually copied the model and opened shops where Drybar already existed?
Yes! One woman came in, asked me a bunch of questions, and then opened her own store. She even wrote me a letter almost apologizing, saying I was so generous with my time and she was feeling guilty. But we always knew that if this took off, there would be competition. We didn’t know people would take actual verbiage from our website and put it on theirs, which has happened, but we knew there would be competition. But you can’t really duplicate what we do just by hiring some stylists and making a space look cute. We’ve got a secret sauce.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Staying Ahead of Change
Yousuf Ali had a successful career in marketing until he failed to embrace new technologies. Now, as a My Eyelab franchisee, embracing forward-thinking capabilities is the key to his success.
READY FOR A BIG RETURN
The end of the pandemic is in sight, and many franchises are anticipating an explosion in business. Leaders at four franchises share how their brands are working overtime to prepare for the rush and win back coveted business.
Managing Mental Illness Can Be a Team Effort
Like so many people—and so many entrepreneurs— my husband and business partner struggles with his mental health. I’m speaking up so others know: With the right understanding, life and business can still be good.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS STARTS WITH PROCESS
My business barely survived its first few years, and I nearly crumbled under the stress.Then I learned the greatest lesson of my career, which transformed our company into the go-to apron brand for restaurants everywhere: Without process, we are nothing.
Think Like a Disruptor
If you want to shake things up, you must have a mindset that’s different from everyone else’s. Here are three ways to reshape your thinking.
Bethenny Frankel Is a Time-management Machine
She builds multimillion-dollar brands, stars in TV shows, and vigorously defends every moment of her day. The secret? It starts with deciding what matters (and what doesn’t).
Can Creativity Be Created?
Your team has big ideas. To unlock them, you must first build an environment of support and encouragement.
His Worst Five Years Were His Life's Best Gift
What is it like to build a hit business and then lose all control? The founder of Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man has a lot to say about that.
Creating Trust Where There Was None
Home renovations are full of headaches—but how do you fix an age-old industry woe? Here’s how Jean Brownhill, founder and CEO of Sweeten, built something better.
Build Lasting Partnerships
Finding trustworthy vendors and partners is key to growing your business—but it’s a challenging relationship to perfect. We asked six entrepreneurs to share their best methods.
01 / SpaceX For flying past competitors in the space race by launching astronauts for NASA
It’s not enough, in 2021, for businesses to be resilient. As many search for ways to manage the ongoing disruptions caused by COVID-19, a growing number believe that disorder is the new normal. They are embracing it and making it part of their processes.
FIRE AT FRENCH CLOUD COMPUTING FIRM DISRUPTS WEBSITES
Numerous companies and websites in France suffered outages and disruptions to services after a fire swept through a cloud computing provider’s facility.
APPLE TO CRACK DOWN ON TRACKING iPHONE USERS IN EARLY SPRING
Apple says it will roll out a new privacy control in the spring to prevent iPhone apps from secretly shadowing people. The delay in its anticipated rollout aims to placate Facebook and other digital services that depend on such data surveillance to help sell ads.
MICROSOFT KEEPS CHUGGING AS PANDEMIC CONTINUES
As the pandemic raged through the U.S., Microsoft’s business continued chugging ahead and beat Wall Street expectations for the last three months of 2020, powered by ongoing demand for its workplace software and cloud computing services as people worked from home.
Time for Apple to reevaluate how the App Store does business
The App Store is the most contentious business Apple runs, and it needs some fixes.
NEW DEVICE PUTS MUSIC IN YOUR HEAD — NO HEADPHONES REQUIRED
Imagine a world where you move around in your own personal sound bubble.
AS WORLD GOES ONLINE IN PANDEMIC, ANOTHER MAMMOTH CHIP DEAL
Advanced Micro Devices is buying Xilinx for $35 billion in an all-stock deal that will combine the two Silicon Valley chipmakers and accelerate an already rapid-fire pace of mergers and buyouts in the industry.
NONPROFIT APP AIMS TO HELP UNBLOCK GLOBAL AIR TRAVEL
A nonprofit foundation is testing a smartphone app that could make it easier for international airline passengers to securely show they’ve complied with COVID-19 testing requirements. It’s an attempt to help get people back to flying after the pandemic sent global air travel down by 92%.
ERICSSON EARNINGS BOOSTED BY 5G NETWORK ROLLOUTS
Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson has reported upbeat third-quarter earnings, helped mainly by the rollout of 5G wireless networks in China and a strong U.S. market.