5

No cuts, no color, just blow-outs.

Host Kai Ryssdal (center) with Drybar co-founders Alli Webb (R) and Michael Landau (L) in one of their locations in West Hollywood.

Outside a new Drybar store in West Hollywood. The 34th location opens tomorrow, December 11, 2013. 

It’s a business model that sounds improbable on first listen: a salon in which you can’t find a single pair of scissors or a bottle of hair dye. Because all they do is blow-dry hair.

But that formula has led to great success for Alli Webb and her brother, Michael Landau, co-founders of The Drybar. On Wednesday, they open their 34th location, where their motto is "No cuts, no color, just blow outs."

Alli says the idea to open her first Drybar was an obvious one.

"Most women can’t do their hair as well as a professional can," she says.

She perfected the technique giving blow-outs to friends in their homes while their kids napped. But eventually Alli couldn't keep up with demand.  So she decided to convince her brother Michael to lend her $250,000 to open her own store so clients could come to her.

Michael didn’t understand why a woman would pay for something they could easily do themselves and he jokingly points out that he has no hair anyway. He thought Alli would be crazy not to do cuts and color, where "the real money was."

“I explained to him that women felt really great when they got a blow-out," she explains. "And I felt that if the price point was right, they would come in frequently, not for just events.”

Michael agreed to lend her the money.

The duo figured out Alli would have to do 20-30 blow outs a day in her store in Brentwood, CA. Since they’ve expanded to 33 stores in several cities including outside of California, Landau says, "most of our stores average well over a hundred blow outs a day…it’s become a much bigger business than we ever expected" says Michael.

Michael has a background in brand marketing and they carry that through in every Drybar location. 

"There is really a dry bar way," says Alli. They train stylists to use a specific technique for each blow-out. But even the spaces look similar -- from a "bar" where visitors "order" their style (named after cocktails) to the signature yellow hair dryers at every station.

"I feel like I’m living the dream and I feel so lucky," says Alli.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

Outside a new Drybar store in West Hollywood. The 34th location opens tomorrow, December 11, 2013. 

Log in to post5 Comments

This story was ridiculously patronizing. The woman who started this business deserves more respect than what was reported! You treated her like a little kid who got lucky. Even her own brother seemed to think Alli was just a cute little girl who needed to make a "nice little living". Seriously, Kai? I have come to expect more from a smart show like this.

They pay their employees minimum wage. Hire people for full time work and then cut their hours to less than 30. No one can live decently on what they make working here.

It is great to see this service coming to the states, one of the things I really missed about hotel salons in China was being able to wake up, shower, and call down for room service and get professionally blown, it leave's one feeling great the rest of the day!

how is it possible for this story to not mention the cost of the service? did i miss it somewhere?

How does a blow out last two-three days? Mine disappears as soon as I go to bed.

With Generous Support From...