Create & Cultivate 100: Beauty: Alli Webb

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A blowout is one of the easiest ways to feel better about yourself.

That is, if you can do it. 

Which is exactly what Alli Webb, the blowout brain behind Drybar, the styling only salon first launched in Brentwood in 2010, figured out. 

Prior to launching Drybar, Alli had a mobile salon. In 2008, she began a side business called Straight-at-Home, which provided in-home blowouts on a referral basis in LA. She was driving all over town, blow drying her mom friends' hair. Prior to that she was a stay-at-home mom, and the struggle of getting her own hair done, let alone clean, was all too fresh in her mind. Realizing there was a marketplace for women to get an affordable blowout, in an amazing space, and have a great experience to boot, she was on the road toward Drybar. "That was the first baby ah-ha moment when I realized that I needed to  expand," she says, "because I would book up really fast." But instead of expand the mobile business, Alli knew it was time for a brick-and-mortar, well-curated experience in order to service more women. "I felt like opening a shop would allow me to create a better experience and I could oversee it better." That feeling was right. 

Drybar now services 70+ locations across the United States and Canada, and has a growing product line. 

More from Alli below. 

When did you realize, we've really got something here?

We knew that there was something really special here. I’d like to tell you that this was my grand plan this whole time to expand this thing as big as it is now but it truly wasn’t. I was up at night doing the math to see what we could do to make the business viable but, it was really early on that we realized we were on to something pretty amazing.

You received helped from your brother to launch the first storefront, was that an easy convo?

You know, people want to support people who they believe in. My brother had been watching my little mobile business on the sidelines, and he was like “Oh this is a good idea, it sounds very interesting.” I feel like I got really lucky. My brother has been very successful in his own right working at Yahoo. I knew nothing about raising money or how any of that works when I first started. There were a lot of conversations and talking him into it, but he came to me and said, "Hey, I’d be willing to put up the majority of the money and you guys will have sweat equity," which was a term I didn’t even know at that time. So, I learned. And my husband, Cameron and I did end up putting in, basically our life savings, which wasn’t very much. Michael put in about $250,000 and we put in about $50,000 which really isn’t even that much, but it was all we had.

How did you begin to bran the company once you had funding?

Look, you need to get it as right as you can in the beginning, because you only get one chance. We all felt so strongly about how to unveil this thing-- with tremendous customer service, amazing branding, and the blow out. It just all came together. We knew what we wanted from a successful business launch. Also aesthetically I didn’t want one person having a blue dryer, one person having a red dryer. There were all these little things that I thought about constantly-- like removing the mirror so that the customer could have that big reveal. My head was deeply wrapped around the whole experience. 


How does it feel to have disrupted the industry?

We never thought of it as a disruptive business. I was betting on the fact that there were enough women like me out there, with naturally curly hair, that were already figuring out where to get blow outs. Again, never meant to be disruptive. So when people started to say I changed the industry a year into it, I was like “Oh shit! We did change the industry!"

Growing up, my brother I watched our parents run their own businesses. So we had a, “Let’s start our own business mentality!” But we also thought, “Let’s treat people really good, and do this amazing thing.” That was it. In the back of my mind we hoped it would catch on and we would continue to grow. I don’t think any of us knew how big the opportunities were going to be.

Were you ever nervous or scared?

I remember feeling, nervous and worried that other salon owners would hate me that we did this. We started taking away their blow up business. But we were like, but listen, we’re going to send you color business because women want both and it’s good for everybody.  

I remember the first time we met Chris McMillan. He came up to me and told me like what a big fan he was and I almost passed out. He was somebody that I’d grown up admiring.

"If it’s fun it won’t feel like work."

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 What do you think is your secret weapon?

I really think it’s kindness. I try to be really nice to everybody all the time no matter who they are or what their situation is. I wish everybody was like that. It’s just so much easier to be nice and I’m shocked when people aren’t. I was raised on the philosophy of treat people how you want to be treated.

What is your day-to-day like?

One of the ten core values of Drybar is "have fun." I really do feel like the people that you work with are almost like your family and they’re the people that you’re with more than anybody else. You have to find them enjoyable or it’s just not worth it. I’m a huge believer in that and I say when I’m at my office that I like there to be a certain amount of silliness and fun-- I think it brings out the best in people. People want to work somewhere fun and you want to be excited to go into your job. I know it's so cliche but if it’s fun it won’t feel like work.

Photo Credit: @davisfactor

Hair & Makeup: @SmashboxCosmetics @TheGlamApp @TheOuai