Drybar’s Chicago Debut + Words From Founder Alli Webb

Welcome to BYOB: Be Your Own Boss, a feature series highlighting some of the self-starters we love.FSCN0184Here’s some game-changing news for all Chicago girls: We finally have our very own Drybar location!

If you’re not familiar with Drybar, here’s the skinny: It’s a blowdry-only salon, which means no cuts, no color, just amazing blowouts. You can choose your ideal blowout from their lookbook (which is set up like a cocktail menu, complete with beverage-themed names for each style.) An appointment at this chain will only set you back $40 – even if you have the world’s longest, thickest hair. I have a lot going on on my head and often get charged for two (yes, two) cuts…so this is awesome news for me.

I was lucky enough to attend the grand opening this morning, where I was able to chat with Drybar’s founder Alli Webb and have my hair styled – I went with the “Cosmo-Tai” blowout, a hybrid with elements of a Cosmo (major curls) and a Mai Tai (loose, beachy waves.) Perfect timing since I’m going to a holiday party tonight! Read on for photos of the space (which looks amazing) and a few words of advice from Alli.

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Statement/scene: Can you tell me a little bit about how you came up with the idea for Drybar?

Alli Webb: So I’ve been doing hair myself for years and I have naturally curly hair. I’ve struggled with it my whole life and I’ve always liked my hair blown out, ever since I was a little girl. Fast forward: I went to beauty school in my early twenties and I’ve been doing hair ever since.

Then I got married, had kids and decided to be a stay-at-home mom. Five years later I started having the itch to get back out there so I started running around, blow drying all my mommy friends. I was only charging $40, which was really cheap and I just started getting really busy. I realized that there was this huge hole – women either went to high-end salons and overpaid for blowouts – $60, $70, $80 for a blowout – or they’d go to the discount chain, where you don’t know what you’re getting. It dawned on me that there needs to be a place where women can go and just get a blowout that’s affordable and in a great space.

I went to my brother, who is my business partner, and my husband. My husband designed the web site and the branding that you see everywhere; my brother gave me the money to do everything. Both my husband and my brother are bald, ironically. Now we have 35 locations. It’s crazy that it’s turned into this.

SS: So you never expected it to turn into this huge nationwide thing?

AW: No, never! I kind of thought I would have my little life, my kids, I’d live in Santa Monica. There was just such a great demand for this. My life completely got turned upside down…but in a good way.

SS: At what point did you decide to expand the brand and start selling products and tools?

AW: I think from the very beginning it bothered me that we had such a mishmosh of products in the salon. We were sort of cherry picking from this line, that line – but there wasn’t a line out there that was perfect for blowouts. There were products that would do what they were supposed to do, give you the volume or curl or smoothness, but would weigh your hair down – so I started developing the products about two years ago. The tools sort of followed suit. I needed a dryer that was lightweight but still powerful. I just kind of made them for our stylists but they turned out so great that I was like ‘we have to sell these.’

Our products are sold at Sephora now. It’s really humbling. Women tell me that they had no idea a dryer could make such a difference; their hair is shinier, bouncier than it ever was. I’ve been so excited to create products that are so well received. It’s so nuts. It’s been crazy.

SS: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business?

AW: For me it was about having a great idea and being able to execute it. Other people, like me brother and husband are good at other things, so you need to make sure you have all your bases covered. You have to be ready for the 24-hour, never stop mentality. When it’s your business you never get to stop thinking about it. Having partners you trust, who are good at hat you’re not so they can help you get your business off the ground and maintain it, that’s so important. If there’s something out there that doesn’t exist or you think you could do better, do it. We didn’t invent blowouts, we just created a space for them. If you feel passionate about it, just go for it.

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