Hot Air, Cool Biz

Salon queen blows into Houston to open latest addition to $50 million business

Salon queen blows into H-Town to open new addition to $50 million biz

News, Shelby, River Oaks Drybar, Marh 2015
Fashion blogger Roz Pactor gets her hair blown out in the new River Oaks Drybar by salon founder Alli Webb. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News_shelby_River Oaks Drybar_Elizabeth Rape_March 2015
Elizabeth Rape was one of the customers giving the River Oaks Drybar a try on opening day. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, River Oaks Drybar, Marh 2015
Alli Webb does a blowout on another customer on opening day. Photo by Shelby Hodge
1 Drybar launch event September 2013 Michael Landau, Alli Webb and Janet Gurwitch
Drybar founders Michael Landau and Allie Webb, center, join investor Janet Gurwitch for the Uptown Park Drybar opening in 2013. Photo by © Chinh Phan/CultureMapSNAP.com
News, Shelby, River Oaks Drybar, Marh 2015
News_shelby_River Oaks Drybar_Elizabeth Rape_March 2015
News, Shelby, River Oaks Drybar, Marh 2015
1 Drybar launch event September 2013 Michael Landau, Alli Webb and Janet Gurwitch

Drybar founder Alli Webb did a bit more than just welcome clients as she opened the doors on Wednesday to her 41st salon in the nation and her second in Houston. She was  playing the brushes, the curling iron and hair dryer with an impressive skill that was honed over more than 20 years in the hair salon business.

A little mousse here, a little anti-frizz spray there and voila! The lady in Webb's chair was ready for prime time. Drybar co-founder Michael Landau (and Webb's brother) says that unless Webb does a blow out or two on opening day, a new salon hasn't been properly christened.

As with all Drybar locations, the new Drybar River Oaks enjoys a high-profile perch on the northwest corner of Westheimer and Kirby.

 "We hit this nerve, this chord with women and realized that we had to keep growing, keep opening locations because there was so much demand."

 Webb flew in from home base in Los Angeles for the opening and for a swank dinner party the night before in the River Oaks home of Janet Gurwitch, an operating partner of the private equity firm Castanea Partners, which today owns Drybar. Gurwitch, who has been shepherding Drybar as it expands across the country, was on hand for the opening as well.

Taking a break from opening-day duties, Webb sat down amid the din of raging hair dryers (a sure sign of success) to discuss the nascence of what is now a $50 million a year plus business — any entrepreneur's dream.  After having been in the hair styling field for 20 years, Webb said, "I could do blowouts in my sleep. I had two kids. I was a stay at home mom and I was ready to get out of the house and do something for myself again. So I started this mobile business where I was blow drying all my mommy friends around LA."

She couldn't keep up with the demand for her services so Webb decided in 2010 to go brick and mortar so that her friends could come to her. "That was 2010. That one shop was going to be my livelihood and that was it," she recalled.

But women started coming in in droves. She could hardly keep up with the demand. "We hit this nerve, this chord with women and realized that we had to keep growing, keep opening locations because there was so much demand."

Drybar opens its 42nd location in Beverly Hills next week with 10 more shops planned for 2015. The no cut, no color, just blowout philosophy is a winner with a friendly price point, $40 plus tip.

The real secret to the success, Webb believes, is Drybar's customer service, "making sure that even though this feels very high end and elegant that it's affordable and it doesn't matter who you are, how much money you have or what kind of bag you are carrying, everyone is treated the same." The customer always comes first and Drybar bends over backwards to make the customer happy.

The business has expanded from blowouts-only to include a product line (everything from shampoo and mousse to hair dryers and curling irons) available not only at Drybar but also in all Sephora stores.

ADVERTISEMENT