The blowout queen and founder of Drybar, Alli Webb, joins me on today’s episode of Unstoppable to talk about building her incredible hair enterprise. With more than 100 stores all over the country and 3,000 hair stylists, Alli is an entrepreneurial powerhouse.
Today we talk about how Alli raised 70 million dollars to help scale her business, how she goes back to the basics, how they get people in the door of her brick and mortar business, how she decided to launch Drybar as a stay-at-home-mom, and how this major enterprise is still a family business.
And I have some very exciting news to share with you! For the next 3 months as a special thank you to all my listeners, I’ll be choosing 5 lucky listeners to win ONE YEARS supply of Hint Water!
To enter and win, all you have to do is head over to iTunes HERE and leave a meaningful review for the show. That’s it! And if I see you tweeting it out and tagging me @karagoldin, you’ll increase your chances of being picked. Please be sure to spread the word to your family and friends, and thanks for listening to Unstoppable!
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“If Drybar didn’t work, no one was going to die, the world wasn’t going to end, and I would’ve figured something else out. I think you have to have that mentality to not feel afraid to take that big leap.” – Alli Webb
- What is Drybar
- How to get people to buy your product
- Why you should create brand guidelines
- How to work with your husband
- Why branding is important
- How to scale a business
- What to do when people knock-off your idea
“Every day there is something that puts a fire in my belly about something that is happening with our business.” – Alli Webb
- Listen to Alli’s new podcast Raising the Bar with Alli and Michael
- Connect with Alli Webb:
“I’m that kind of person that is like, ‘you just figure it out’.” – Alli Webb
|Kara Goldin:||Alli Webb, super, super excited to have you here. Thank you so much for taking the time to-|
|Alli Webb:||Thanks for having me.|
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah. So we are actually in West Hollywood right now where I’m interviewing Ali Webb, and we’re actually in Charlie Chaplin’s old house.|
|Alli Webb:||I heard. That’s so cool.|
|Kara Goldin:||I know, right?|
|Alli Webb:||I’m like wow.|
|Kara Goldin:||I always go on my little travel hack, I got on Trip Advisory all the time, and somehow I was looking for a place that was not so hotel-y because we live up in San Francisco that had a living room. Then I typed in like West Hollywood living room, and then this place came up.|
|Alli Webb:||I never even knew.|
|Kara Goldin:||I know. All these great reviews and it has like a bedroom upstairs and in here it’s two bedrooms.|
|Alli Webb:||It’s so cool.|
|Kara Goldin:||I know, right? I said it’s got good energy and it’s …|
|Alli Webb:||It’s amazing.|
|Kara Goldin:||We’re taking pictures all around it because it’s just so …|
|Alli Webb:||What a great vibe.|
|Kara Goldin:||I know, right?|
|Alli Webb:||It’s very cool.|
|Kara Goldin:||It’s super, super great. So anyway, good place to be doing this interview from as well.|
|Alli Webb:||Yes, for sure.|
|Kara Goldin:||So as you know now in the preview of this conversation, I’m a huge fan.|
|Alli Webb:||Thank you.|
|Kara Goldin:||Constantly going to Drybar to actually put my locks into some sort of ..|
|Alli Webb:||Well, you have gorgeous hair.|
|Kara Goldin:||Thank you.|
|Kara Goldin:||But anyway, so I’ve been a huge fan of yours and I want to hear how did you come up with this idea?|
|Alli Webb:||How did the whole thing start?|
Well, I mean, really it probably dates back to when I was just a little kid. I mean, I grew up in South Florida and it was like the land of human hair. I mean, as you know, if you’ve ever spent time there, and my hair was just naturally really curly and frizzy and out of control as a kid. I just didn’t like it and I struggled with it. I used to try to figure out how to blow it out myself. I used to beg my mom to blow it out. I don’t think … I know I couldn’t articulate back then why I cared. I think I just didn’t feel … I felt just kind of like not put together and it was just always thing that bothered me about my appearance.
As I got older, I kept trying to figure out how to do it and I remember like looking at pictures of like Cindy Crawford and Christi Brinkley, the big super models of our generation, and their hair was always so like bouncy and beautiful and smooth. I was like, “How in the world did they get their hair like that?” I was just so interested in it.
Fast forward to after high school, trying to figure out what I wanted to do and I was just very lost. All my friends knew what they wanted their majors to be in college, and I was like, “I don’t really know what I want to do.” I thought I wanted to do something in beauty or fashion, so I moved to New York City. I did all sorts of stuff when I was trying to figure it all out. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20s that I finally decided to go to beauty school, which I felt was like, after trying a bunch of other things, was the best thing-
|Kara Goldin:||You did PR first, right?|
|Alli Webb:||I actually did PR after. My brother and I, my brother, Michael, who’s my business partner who you know, he was always the over achiever in the family as well. Nobody was ever worried about Michael. He was always going to land on his feet. Me, I think was a little bit of a different story. How ironic now, but back then it was I just was so lost. When I was living in New York the first time, Michael was also living in New York. He was working for Nichole Miller, who is a big designer at the time. I started working for Nichole Miller also, but in the SoHo store, just kind of selling clothes. I was kinda happy doing that. Then my brother decided that we should move back to South Florida and open Nicole Miller boutiques. So we opened two Nichole Miller boutiques in Mizner Park in Boca Raton and then in Miami. Here I was 19 years old running these two retail operations. I was like, this is not it, this is not what I want to do. I remember having to basically break that partnership with my brother. We had always been super, super close. I was like, really scared to tell him that I didn’t think I wanted to do this. But I kinda got the courage to tell him I didn’t want to do this and that I wanted to go to beauty school. I wanted to finally pursue this passion of mine, which was hair. I didn’t know what I was totally going to do with it, but I thought maybe I’d moved to New York and do fashion shows and editorial and stuff like that. My brother was actually, probably the most supportive of any body of me wanting to go to beauty school. He was like, “I think that would be such a great thing for you.” I had to get out of that relationship that we had in Nichole Miller because we were killing each other, it was not ideal. My parents couldn’t believe that we went to work together later.|
|Kara Goldin:||I was going to ask that-|
|Alli Webb:||But I’ll get to that. I went to beauty school. It was the best thing that I ever did. I felt like I found my people. I was so happy I worked in South Florida for a while, then I moved to New York City and did hair for a while. That was the second time I lived in New York. That time I was doing hair for a while, but then decided, as a true 20 something year old, I think I’m going to change careers again. Then I started working in PR for a little while in New York City at Rogers and Cowan. It was like celebrity mecca [crosstalk 00:05:42].|
I was working in the music department and just getting to go to so many cool things. It was like a fun little stint. That’s when I met my husband and we got married. We lived in New York City for a while and then moved to San Francisco for a year, and then moved to LA. Then I had my first son. Within five years I had two boys and I was a stay at home mom, I was happy as a clam. This is the perfect life, I was so happy. My husband was working in advertising. I was with my kids. I was like this is it, this is the greatest life ever.
Then after five years of that, I was like, oh my God, I’m starting to feel like my brain cells are drying up. I needed to do something else. Something for myself. I had spent five years in totally mommy mode. That’s when I was like, I’ve got to figure out something to do, that I can kind of do on my own terms. I don’t want to go back to a hair salon. I don’t want to go back to a full time job. What do I want to do? That’s when I started a mobile blow dry business because I had know spent 10-15 years figuring out how to blow out my hair, my friends hair and a lot of my girlfriends at the time would ask me to blow out their hair. ‘Cause they knew that’s what my background was.
That is kinda what started the mobile business. My best friend and I were literally sitting in our living room with our babies crawling around us.
|Kara Goldin:||Wait, this is in San Francisco?|
|Alli Webb:||No, this was in LA.|
|Alli Webb:||San Francisco was a year, a really short lived year.|
No, I was living in LA with my two babies. Very immersed in the LA mommy baby community. My best friend and I were sitting around one day and I was like, “I feel like maybe I should start a mobile blow dry because I can go to women’s house when their babies are sleeping and they’re stuck at home like I felt like a lot.” I’ll only charge, I think we were like $40 what we were going to charge and it felt like that was easy two twenties. Not a very big business plan here, but I was like it would be a good way to get out of the house for a couple of hours. I don’t think I actually made any money charging only $40 and driving around and gas-
|Kara Goldin:||Did you have like a yellow car or anything?|
|Alli Webb:||No, no yellow was not invented in my world yet. I think I had a Nissan Xterra, I did have a Nissan Xterra and I had like a duffle bag filled with all the products I accumulated over the years. My husband, Cameron, that does all the creative for Drybar, he made me a one page website, I thought of the name Straight at Home. Which I was really proud of because usually it’s my husband that thinks of all the cute names.|
It was called Straight at Home and he made me this one page little website. It was really one of my first marketing lessons because he said, “If your website is really cute, people will call you.” And that’s exactly what happened. I put my little business card all over town really and I also but it on one of the mommy, these was back when Yahoo Groups were a thing, I don’t know if you remember that, but there was something called Peach Head. It was like where all the moms in LA went to, it was like a mommy resource, like what’s the best diaper cream, do you have a baby sitter? Where’s the best place to go with your kids. Everything you could ever what to know.
I was a member of this group and I posted and said “I’m a stay at home mom, long time hair dresser, I’m thinking about starting a mobile business would anybody be into this? I’m charging 35-40 bucks.” I got flooded with emails and that was it. I started this business and I was running around town, probably for the next year doing just blowouts.
I loved it. It got me out of the house, got me away from the kids for a little while and just kinda gave me my own income. It was just really empowering to do something for myself, by myself. In the meantime I met amazing women. I had only been in LA for a couple of years so I was meeting a lot of great people, it was perfect. I was so happy and thought this is a great thing to do for now. During that time I realized that, there was this really big hole in the market. I was saying to my clients, if I can’t come to your house and do your hair, what do you do? And the answer was either I begrudgingly go to the discount chain down the street where you don’t know what you’re going to get it’s very low pricing, you’re sitting next to a kid getting their hair cut, bad lighting, it’s blah not great. And then the other alternative was your full service hair salon where the hair dresser would rather be doing cut and color where they can make real money. They don’t want to do a blow out.
There was this big gap and I was like huh? Maybe my mobile business could become an actual place. So that’s when I went to my brother, who I don’t know if you’ve met him in person, but he’s bald as well as my husband. They were like “so basically you want to turn your mobile business into a brick and mortar.” Of course, my brothers rightful first question was, or understandable first question was “How do you make this business work if you’re only charging 35 dollars a blowout. That’s like a lot of blowouts.”
|Kara Goldin:||And then you’re driving around LA.|
|Alli Webb:||At that point I was … yeah. I was like I don’t know, I felt like in my mind if we can do enough blow outs, it will work. But that was the big question mark, right? My brother was like, don’t you want to do cuts and color, like a normal salon?|
That’s where the money comes in. I was like I really don’t. I want to try this as just blowouts. [crosstalk 00:11:08] So there is not pressure to get your hair cut and colored. Because you know when you go sit in a salon, they say, “oh have you ever thought about this?” Or you may very well need a hair cut. Where at Drybar, it’s like, we wanted it to be this like escape. I think I had actually seen somewhere, I think it was actually in San Francisco, there was like a nail salon, I don’t remember where or when. They were playing Sex and the City when I was getting a manicure once and I was like this is such a nice little treat. I want to play movies in the shop. I wanted it to feel like a real bar. I wanted to be an affordable luxury really.
I really thought it was going to be for girls with curly hair like me. It was going to be something women did, my brother thought women would do it more for special occasion. I was like women like me will come in, get their hair blown out once a week and then not have to worry about it because that’s how it’s always been for me.
So anyway, that was really the start of it-
|Kara Goldin:||So he didn’t think it was going to work?|
|Alli Webb:||He was a little skeptical. Everybody was a little skeptical. I was a little, I was nervous. I knew, at that time I ran the numbers, I mean there was no fancy business plan, and thank God for my brother, he started putting spreadsheets together to see if we would actually start making money when everything was said and done. Which is why you need that business person. I hate spreadsheets and all that stuff.|
I think we came up with if we did 30-40 blowouts a day at 35 dollars, that would be a nice profit. We weren’t going to change the world, but it would be a viable business.
|Kara Goldin:||And how many people were working? Like what was-|
|Alli Webb:||Well, that first shop in Brentwood was 8 chairs, which I didn’t even have it fully staffed on the first day we opened. Even though I should have because it was so bananas. We were so busy, but the bigger question was how many people do we have to do a day to make this business work, which like I said I thought it was 30-40. Which now we are doing like 100 plus give or take in every store. And obviously you can do that math at 100 locations it’s crazy, it’s a lot of blowouts.|
By the time, we were like does this even work? Then what was funny, once it did work, so beautifully in Brentwood. Women were coming in from Beverly Hills and they were like we want our own shop. Women from Studio City were like, we want our own shop. Everybody wanted their on shop in their little neighborhood. We were like shit we are on to something. That’s when Michael who was at the time operating a little, well not little but, real-estate marketing company in LA with his best friend Elliot. Cameron had a full time job, creative director in an agency and I was just kinda figure this out.
My brother’s wife Sarah was also helping me at the stores. We were just there all the time and just so crazy. I didn’t leave Brentwood. I was there everyday for the first six months, seven days a week. It was so thrilling, it was so crazy how busy we were all the time. And we use to have, in the very first store, walk-ins welcome, a sign that said that. And then we were like shit, we have to take that down because everyone was booking on line and everyone was booking for when they wanted to come, not just popping in, which is kinda what we thought the behavior might be. It’s a little bit like that, but as you know it’s really hard to just pop in unless it’s like a Monday or Tuesday. [crosstalk 00:14:33]
|Kara Goldin:||Although I will say, that I tend to be on a flight from San Francisco to New York and then recognize that I probably want to get my hair blown dried tomorrow morning, you can usually get in.|
|Alli Webb:||Yeah. Like you can go on the app and you know … especially, New York, San Francisco, LA, Boston, Chicago, Dallas there’s a lot of major cities that we’re in that we have a lot of locations now. We want people to be able to get in.|
For so long we had the problem of people couldn’t get in because we weren’t opening stores fast enough. It’s been this up and down ever since we opened. But yeah, we realized that we were on to something and had to keep going.
|Kara Goldin:||How fast did you do your second store then?|
|Alli Webb:||It was only six months, but it felt like a lifetime. When I talk about that now, I’m like yeah it wasn’t that long, it was only six months, which is fairly quickly. But at the time, I remember yelling at my brother, “you have to get us another location! It’s so crazy in here.” And we couldn’t meet the demand. We were like the hot club that you couldn’t get into. That doesn’t last very long. It was only six months, but it felt like two years until we got the second location up and that was Studio City. Then I think opened West Hollywood and our second, not California location was Dallas, which was like, of course. It all kinda went from there.|
|Kara Goldin:||Went from there. And how many years ago was this?|
|Alli Webb:||This was 2010, a little over 8 years ago.|
|Kara Goldin:||That is so crazy.|
|Kara Goldin:||I have so many questions, based on what you just talked about. But first of all obviously like working with your brother.|
|Kara Goldin:||Oh tons, right? And people who have really been successful, but also I hear a lot in your description of sort of how you decided to launch this of scrappiness. Right-|
|Alli Webb:||Yeah. So scrappy.|
|Kara Goldin:||You were like trying to figure out what was ultimately going to make you get out of bed at morning-|
|Alli Webb:||Yeah, exactly.|
|Kara Goldin:||And you weren’t going take, that same path of going off to go to school and-|
|Kara Goldin:||Staying in Florida.|
|Alli Webb:||Yeah. [crosstalk 00:17:26] I mean I talk about it all the time, that I don’t have a big fancy degree. I mean, I don’t have a degree at all. I always remember my parents saying that, and I say this to my kids now too, they’re really street smart, maybe not so much book smart. That’s kinda always how I felt about myself that I had really goo instincts and confidence and street smarts really, but common sense. I just was never … all the more power to people that are book smart and you need those people are just as important, it just wasn’t me. I did have that hustle and the scrappiness. Just kind of the belief, and it sounds kind of hooky, but that I can do anything that I wanna do.|
I’m a big dreamer, believer, type person and its always kind of been my mo. It’s kinda a joke in our family, like if anybody can do it or there’s like … I have good luck and good things just happen to me and I don’t think of it like that-
|Kara Goldin:||No you work hard obviously-[crosstalk 00:18:30]|
|Alli Webb:||But I do. It’s just kind of this like blind faith that everything will work out has always been the cornerstone for me. I think that is very much the case with Drybar. I think as an entrepreneur, you know, you just kind of have to have that. I’m going to jump full in and I pray it works and a lot of hard work and if it doesn’t … I always felt like if it didn’t work and Drybar didn’t work, no one was going to die, the world wasn’t going to end. I would have figured something else out. And I think you have to have that mentality to fell like not afraid to take that big leap.|
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah and I’m sure there were points that you were afraid-|
|Alli Webb:||Of course. Still, always [crosstalk 00:19:19] You kind of need that fear to keep your blood boiling and to keep your … I get it all the time, everyday there’s something that puts a fire in my belly about something that’s happening with our business.|
|Kara Goldin:||I think it’s also that it’s, it sounds like you weren’t afraid … and this is always a weird things because of course you don’t want to fail-|
|Kara Goldin:||But you thought if you fail that there was some rough math in your head-|
|Kara Goldin:||If you were opening your second store[crosstalk 00:19:54] that you thought, well I have a year least. I don’t know maybe-|
|Alli Webb:||I just felt like, yeah, we would just figure it out. I think that where’s there’s a will there’s a way. I think that we learned so much from that first store. There was the demand, how women were responding to it, that we felt like there’s no way this isn’t going to work.|
I do have to say that it … Brentwood was a very overnight success and when we opened Studio City … and I feel like every store we’ve opened, we still have to work really hard to get people there, to get women there. We go into a new market, even today, where people aren’t … we aren’t as well known. We do a lot of marketing, we do a lot of outreach, we do so much in preparation for opening a new store and we always have. We did it with Studio City, Brentwood, all of those stores. It’s not like it just magically, people magically showed up. We do so much to get. So many promotions and I remember for a while we did so much on the, what the coupon, Groupon.
Sometimes we end up in cities where, even though there’s a lot of demand it’s still new to a lot of women in that city and we still need to educate people. We’ve always had this philosophy, if we get them in the door once they’ll be hooked. It’s like a healthy addiction, which generally tends to be the case. Sometimes women who haven’t typically gotten blowouts their whole life are like, “I’m fine, my hair is fine.” They don’t realize how good it could be for such an affordable price. Sometimes they’ll end up going in because they have a wedding or bat mitzvah, or some special occasion they’ll go in and be like “oh!” They love the environment, they love the way their hair looks, they have this amazing confidence and they’re like, “maybe I’ll do this more.” Then we’re able to transform all those women who are like, never had a blowout before in their life.
|Kara Goldin:||I always tell my friends and they’re like, “oh really you get a blow dry there? And isn’t that hard because you’re working?” I was like, “I do my email there.”|
|Kara Goldin:||I mean, it’s actually my hour away-|
|Alli Webb:||It’s so funny that you say that. We actually did a campaign about, a little over a year ago, that’s like “Why do you dry bar?” It’s funny because I can now do my own hair pretty well, but I was just telling you I just came from getting a blowout. It’s the same thing, that 40 minutes that it takes me to do my own hair, I’m sitting in a chair catching up on email. So many women are sitting in Drybar with their laptops, obviously we have wifi in every store. You’re able to do so much more, your so much more efficient because someone else is doing your hair.|
We all know as women that it’s hard to do our own hair, and then when you’re turned around for the big reveal. You have this amazing hair and you’re like, “I can do anything now.” That’s really what we’ve built the business on is this, we’re not just selling blowouts we’re happiness and confidence and that’s what you’ve seen. I’m sure you’ve witnessed it being in our shops. You see this real transformation that happens with every women and how they are looking at every mirror and they have this like glow and happiness and confidence about them and that makes them feel like “yeah, I’m going to come back next week for this too.”
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah. No, it’s huge and I think you are right. You get … it’s a great example of a business and I always talk about this with our product Hint, where we’ve up until now, we just started doing advertising over the last year-|
|Kara Goldin:||Built this just on having people try our product-|
|Alli Webb:||And get hooked.|
|Kara Goldin:||And get hooked-|
|Alli Webb:||Which is so good by the way.|
|Alli Webb:||I’ve never tasted the cherry, sorry it’s so good.|
|Kara Goldin:||No-[crosstalk 00:23:51]|
|Alli Webb:||I don’t remember cherry, but I love it. Okay sorry.|
|Kara Goldin:||It’s fairly, it’s new in the last 18 months-|
|Alli Webb:||Yeah. Yeah.|
|Kara Goldin:||So, it’s a great product.|
|Alli Webb:||It’s so delicious.|
|Kara Goldin:||It’s really, really yummy, anyway-|
|Kara Goldin:||I’ve said, if you’ve got a great product that you should start with that [crosstalk 00:24:03] and that should be your marketing [crosstalk 00:24:05] and then people, we’ve had companies reach out and say, “do you want to do couponing?” I’m like, what’s the tie in?|
|Kara Goldin:||In actually trying our product because [crosstalk 00:24:14] it’s like then they’ve got a coupon and they’ve got to think about it and make decisions about it. If we can get them to actually-|
|Alli Webb:||In their hands.|
|Kara Goldin:||In their hands, and drinking it [crosstalk 00:24:24] which is the same for you, if you get someone in the store and actually trying it, they figure it out-|
|Kara Goldin:||They’ll see other women on their laptop [crosstalk 00:24:31] and their like, “Oh my gosh I should have just brought [crosstalk 00:24:36] my work.” I think it’s such a great business. I’ve always talked about, I was so excited when you agreed to be interviewed for this because I was telling someone I was going to interview you and I said, “The thing I like about Alli that I really, really appreciated about this business is that you’ve put a stake in the ground around blow dries.” And you briefly talked about this-|
|Kara Goldin:||What about the coloring and the hair cuts-|
|Kara Goldin:||All the rest of these things. It’s not to say that you don’t have other revenue streams. You’ve got shampoos and which I bought all of these things and-|
|Alli Webb:||Thank you.|
|Kara Goldin:||It’s such a simple thing, which is-|
|Alli Webb:||It’s funny because I say a lot that, we certainly didn’t invent blowouts, they’ve been around forever. We just created a much better experience and price point and environment around them. That was the magic. That’s what’s made it so great.|
We feel like we took this thing and isolated it into just this one service business, which has been really funny and interesting to see how that’s affected other businesses. There’s lash bars, and there’s place that are focusing … But you know I think it’s smart. I remember, again being such a beauty junkie and I remember my mom going to the local salon in Boca and she got everything done. She got a manicure, pedicure, she’s get her color done and sometimes she’d get a massage and a facial. Everything happened in that salon, which was cool, that was neat. I think maybe when I was in beauty school and I’ve been to a zillion colorist and people who cut hair and I feel like there was always one person that was particularly good at cutting and their was a particular person that was good at color. I never found, in my experience, that someone was great at both. It was either one or the other.
I always went separate … I almost never, never went to the same person for cut and color because I always felt like they were better when they were separate. That was kind of also part of my experience with, with Drybar it was like, we could probably be good at several things we could … I also understand as busy women we want to be able to get a manicure while we’re getting a blowout and the efficiency of that is amazing, but I knew I didn’t want to have everybody doing everything and then kind of dilate the blowouts, because that was the most important thing to me.
I get asked all the time, why don’t you do other things? Well, I know it’s hard enough work to get our stylist to a level we need them to be at, train them, customer service. There’s so much that goes into just the blowouts. If I was trying to say, “Oh and now we’re going to introduce make-up from the same stylist.” It would never work. That was always part of the over arching philosophy of we’re going to do one thing and we’re going to be the best at it and we’re not going try to be everything to everybody. It was a kind of guiding light for us to stay focused and stay successful. It’s something that I feel extremely strongly about.
|Kara Goldin:||That’s awesome. Well I think it’s differently worked. So, you’re in LA-|
|Kara Goldin:||And you launch a couple there-|
|Kara Goldin:||Then when do you take this to the next city outside of California?|
|Alli Webb:||Dallas was our next city. It’s funny because my brother and I had so many conversations about proving the concept. Because to be I was like, “What do you mean it works, everybody loves it. We’ve proved it.” He was like, “No, no the women of LA have too much time and too much money, whatever.” I was like, “I don’t think so.” And we opened in Dallas and I was like, “See it’s really successful here.” And he was like, “Oh the women of Dallas.” I was like, “Michael, I am telling you, I really just think this is women with hair. Wherever there is women with hair will care about this.”|
|Kara Goldin:||Who’s older?|
|Alli Webb:||He’s older.|
|Alli Webb:||Yes. He’s older and has way less hair. He … it’s wasn’t until probably 2 1/2 or 3 years in that he was like okay, I think this is going to work on a grander scale. I remember when we hit 25 stores and we were like, “holy shit.” This is crazy. Then we hit 70 store and I was like man. That’s the thing, it doesn’t, it can really go anywhere. We needed a lot of density, we need to be in places where there is just a lot of women because we need a certain amount of women to make business to make the shops work, as I talked about before.|
There’s just so many cities and there’s so many pockets, even in smaller cities where there’s a very, there’s like that mix of the stay at home mom, your working mom, a college girl, ladies who lunch, you know everything, we like it all. There are just so many places for us to go that women. We get emails all the time. People reach out to me daily, like can you open here, will you come to my city? [crosstalk 00:29:49]
|Kara Goldin:||I’ve been to almost all of your cities and I think the thing is that it’s really consistent.|
|Alli Webb:||Well that’s like the best compliment, thank you so much. That is the holy grail to me. Even from the very get go, before we had our own products and tools, I had all. I would only allow stylist, I supplied the tools and products because I didn’t want stylist bringing in a red blow drier, their blue blow drier, and they’re like all different colored brushes. I don’t want this to feel like a traditional salon where everyone, where it’s everything everywhere. And not that there’s anything wrong with that, but for the kind of vision I had of it. I wanted everything to look uniform. I wanted you to be able to sit in anyone’s chair and have a great blowout, not the exactly the same blowout, but a great blowout.|
To grow this and scale this and obviously we have so much training in place. We have a pretty robust training program. We have great ways of getting feedback from customers, making sure we’re constantly doing it right, but that consistency across the board is the hardest part, by the way so when people tell me that it’s like truly the best complement that we can get because it’s incredibly hard. To keep 3,000 stylist doing what you want them to do. I also don’t want to, we don’t want to take away their creativity anyways. We want them to understand our styles and there are certain non-negotiables, but a cosmo you get in New York might be different than a cosmo you get in Chicago, it’s still lots of loose ways, but there’re that stylists own unique kind of twist on it and we always wan that to stay intact, but we want that consistency. No matter what Drybar in the country that you’re getting a great experience from the customer service, the stylist, the whole shabang.
|Kara Goldin:||Well and the book. How quickly did you put the brand guidelines in place?|
|Alli Webb:||From the get go. And that was really, that’s were, you know I talk so much about having good partners and people around you. We were, I was very lucky in the sense that my brother’s really business side of things and he was dealing with things like finding new leases and spreadsheets and all the shit I hate. And my husband was create director, so he had this, he’s a creative generous, so he was … before we opened, so many months leading up to opening Cameron and I would be like in bed on our laptops. He would be just designing the site. He had a strong sense of what it should look like and it was a lot of conversations between the three of us. We knew we wanted it to feel bright and happy and pretty, but not overly feminine, even though it is feminine. We stayed away from pink because even though I love pink, it feels like after a while when your in a pink space in makes you feel a little bit syrupy and whatever.|
From the very get go, Cameron encapsulated the brand and what we wanted the brand to be. I remember too as he, the website itself is dark gray and he was getting a lot of feedback from people. Like “Oh do you this really dark website, it’s such a female focused brand.” And Cameron was like, “yes.” And you can’t tell me what to do kind of thing because in advertising he was like he was always having to do what the client wanted and now he was the client. We deferred to him in anything creative. We trusted him so much, even though we would have a lot heated conversations, but ultimately it was Cameron’s decision. I think that part of what makes the partnership between the three of us work so well is because we all three clearly stay in our lines.
Cameron is creative. Michael and Cameron work together a lot on marketing. I’m hair and customer service. We all have very specific things that we do that we’ve always really stuck too. I think that’s really informed the branding. I remember the first Valentine’s Day we spent, the first Valentine’s Day in Drybar and I wanted to bring in pink flowers because it was Valentine’s Day and my husband’s like, “Are you out of your mind? They have to be yellow.”
|Kara Goldin:||They have to be yellow.|
|Alli Webb:||I was like, “Oh yeah, that makes more sense.” [crosstalk 00:33:59] It was like every single thing, every touch point in the store is also branded. I think that’s part of what women have fallen in love with. I’ve always felt too, that the branding is kind of what gets people a little bit in the door and then we have to prove that we can do great hair and the customer service is great. It’s all of those things, as you know, starting a business is a million things that you have to do right.|
|Kara Goldin:||So, he was … you never hired a head of marketing, it was really-|
|Alli Webb:||We have now, but didn’t in the beginning. Now, we all sorts of heads of everything. We’re eight years in and it’s so different then it was. I would say for the first 10, 11 stores, so the first like 2 years. We were very much bootstrapping it and we made, the three of us really made every decision together. My brother, I remember my brother coming to me and saying, “I think we are going to grow this, I think we need to raise like serious money.”|
Which I was not excited about because that would mean losing equity, which lots of conversations about owning small piece of a big pie versus the other, owning-
|Kara Goldin:||Had he done that before?|
|Alli Webb:||Not really, but he had a lot of really successful friends and he was starting to a lot of investment bankers and he was like, “Listen if we want to really grow this thing, it’s better to own” …|
You know I was like, I remember those first conversations about having to give up equity to raise money. I was like, “wait, what? We’re going to have to give up how much?” Even though insignificant at the time. I was like this is crazy I don’t want to do that.
He was like, “Well, we’re not going to get …” and that’s fine and that’s fine for businesses that don’t want that, but we’re not going to get to this level unless we raise a lot of money and we do it relatively quickly. That’s when we started having those conversations and he also said, “I feel like we need people to come in and scale this business because it’s just not our forte, it’s not what we are good at. We need people who can come in and have experience with running and growing a company that, again at that point we were only ten stores. We were like a couple hundred employees, but that was daunting to us. We were like, we don’t really know how to do this so we need some help.
We brought in, at the time, was this great women who had run pink berry and really knew how to run and scale organization [crosstalk 00:36:20] which we didn’t really know how to do. And didn’t really want too. He was like that is certainly not my highest and best use. I had a very specific and do have a very specific point of view of how the store should look, how they should run, how the music should, you know the customers should be talked to, and all of that. You have to put systems in place to actually make all that work. That was something that I never thought of. That when my brother said hey I think we need this person I was like, huh.
We’re going to pay this person what? We were barely taking any money for so long that we were like, it was all such a crazy learning experience.
|Kara Goldin:||Was this before you took money in?|
|Alli Webb:||This is before we took, like institutional money. We had raised, the first couple of rounds were friends and family so it was like, angel investors and really clients who loved the concept and felt like this was going to be the next big thing and wanted in.|
My brother was like, “Listen, it’s not typical that people are basically willing to give us money.” Which of course I didn’t know, I had never raised this kind of money before.We really did have people coming out of the woodwork that wanted to invest. So now we have a hand full of investors and then it was probably around three years that we started talking to investment bankers and private equity and all of that. And then we raise a big chunk of money to not only open more store, but start the product line and do all that. That was fourish years ago now.
|Kara Goldin:||Wow. That’s-|
|Alli Webb:||I think we raised over 70 millions, something like that.|
|Kara Goldin:||That’s a lot.|
|Alli Webb:||Yeah, but you know the store are expansive to build, the product line is expensive to build, and now the product line become such a big part of the business. We’re in Sephora, Nordstrom, and Ulta, and 3,000 points of distribution on just the products, not even including Drybar location. So that’s a whole other business now too. Who knew that was going to work, you know? [crosstalk 00:38:20]|
My brother always teases me … we have about 3,000 employees now. But, my brother always teases me, he was like, “I didn’t think you knew what, how to start a product line.” I didn’t, but I knew what I liked and didn’t like and having been in hair for so long I feel like I tried everything out there and we were coming at the product line with this very specific niche that I just want products that really support great blowouts. That make blowouts last, they can’t weight your hair down. There was a lot of things that I really wanted that I didn’t think really existed. We both did and people liked it. Nobody was more blown away by that than me. I was so scared when we launched that product. Is anyone going to by it?
|Alli Webb:||Is anyone going to care? But we did have that point of, that trust that we had built with our clients, with our stores, so the credibility was really there because of the Drybar locations and we had started to become the authority on blowouts. People would trust that our products would back that up.|
|Kara Goldin:||That’s amazing.|
|Alli Webb:||So it worked.|
|Kara Goldin:||What’s the number one product that you guys have?|
|Alli Webb:||The number one product is probably Detox, which is our dry shampoo and people love it.|
|Kara Goldin:||I love it, it’s amazing.|
|Alli Webb:||Then our buttercup blow dryer is probably our number one tool. It’s such an amazing dryer because I wanted a dryer that was light weight enough for a stylist to be holding it for 8 hours at a time. No other dryer in the history of dryers has ever had to stay on as long as ours has. It has to work all day long, no matter who’s holding it. So it needed to be strong and powerful, but not dry women’s hair out and not too heavy. So we had to make it.|
|Kara Goldin:||That’s amazing. Have you guys gone international?|
|Alli Webb:||We our products we have. We’re in France, Australia, we’re in Mexico. We’re slowly, but surly making our way international with products. We don’t have any stores internationally yet, except for Vancouver, but we’re still working on that. That’s kind of next.|
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah. It’s … I can totally see that happening.|
|Alli Webb:||Yeah. Oh my gosh, well I would love to more to Paris and open a store there. I only recently went to Paris for the first time-|
|Kara Goldin:||Oh really.|
|Alli Webb:||Yeah, I don’t know what I was doing, but about three years ago I went to Paris and I was like Oh my God!|
|Kara Goldin:||[crosstalk 00:40:34]Where you blown away?|
|Alli Webb:||Holy crap this is the most-|
|Kara Goldin:||What did you like about it?|
|Alli Webb:||[crosstalk 00:40:40]I loved everything, but I think I just had no sense of it really. As a kid I went to New York City with my parents a couple of times and feel in love with New York and it’s been really cool to see, when we take our kids to New York they love it. It’s really all the cliché of like living it through their eyes, but that’s how, they’re just so entranced with everything because there’s so much culture and diversity and fashion and style and they love it. I love that too.|
That same thing happened to me to when I went to Paris. I was like the building and the architecture and restaurants and the streets and the women and the fashion. I was like, I felt like I was going to explode. [crosstalk 00:41:21]
It was so chic, I don’t know if that is the best word. People riding around on bike with flowers on their bikes. That’s like a real thing. I remember seeing that in pictures and in my twenties I think I had a picture on my wall of a bike leaning on a beautiful building in Paris. I had that picture for so long, but never really thought much about it. Going and spending time in Paris, it’s just beauty wherever you turn. [crosstalk 00:41:51] It’s so magical.
The food was amazing everywhere. The women were dressed so wonderfully. I think there is a need for hair, the hair seems to be the last thing that people think about there. I think we could make a nice little dent.
|Kara Goldin:||I can totally see Paris.|
|Alli Webb:||It was very. I was blown away. I kind of walked around like this the whole time. It was really neat.|
|Kara Goldin:||How do you make that leap to go into an international market?|
|Alli Webb:||The thing that we were learning with international is that, ever county has different laws and rules and all that stuff. We feel like we need a partner to help us there. Not to mention like time zone issues and somebody who we can really trust on the ground there to do it right.|
Honestly, I think it’s more about bandwidth, having not done it yet. That we can’t, we haven’t, we need to actually focus on it.
|Kara Goldin:||This is going to be later on in the podcast, but I’m going to move it up. Travel, health hacks that you have, so you drink tons of water-|
|Alli Webb:||I think that’s my biggest thing. I drink … I workout pretty religiously, but I definitely go through phases where I don’t feel like working out, which I’m a little bit in right now for some reason. I don’t know why.|
|Kara Goldin:||It’s hot.|
|Alli Webb:||You think it’s hot? I’m like off. I’m pretty religious about making myself drink 3 liters of water. Which it is a job. While I’m getting ready in the morning I will make myself finish one and I’ll keep on with my during the day and then I’ll, I just make myself drink 3 liters of what. I think it’s great for your skin and I’ve been really big into infrared sauna. I go and I do that a few times a week. I couldn’t rattle off exactly why it’s good for you, other than I know that it is great detoxifier, you sweat out so many toxins and all of that. I do that a lot. I take activated charcoal to get the bad stuff out of my system. I’m like one of those people that tries everything. Like let me just see what this is about, but I think the things that have stuck have mostly been the drinking so much water and trying to eat heathy. Even though I grew up with the worst eating habits you could image. It’s always bee a struggle to eat-|
|Kara Goldin:||And you have kids?|
|Alli Webb:||I have two little boys.|
|Kara Goldin:||How old are your kids?|
|Alli Webb:||They’re 11 and 13. Do you have kids?|
|Alli Webb:||How old are yours?|
|Kara Goldin:||Youngest is 13. So, 13, 16, 17, and 19.|
|Alli Webb:||Oh wow, you have you’re hands full. I mean my 13 year old is like going on 25, he’s very mature. My 11 year old is a younger, they’re so funny. It’s summer now, so you know they’re waking up at like 12 o’clock. It’s a whole new world.|
|Kara Goldin:||What do they think of your business?|
|Alli Webb:||They love it. It’s interesting because they’ve grown up in it since they were really little and that’s kind of how we were with my parents business. Where we just grew up in it and they definitely get annoyed because all we do is talk about Drybar and all that. They don’t love how much we work, but the conversation always comes back to listen, we work really hard for the life that have and the fact that we can go on vacations and I can buy you those sneakers you want. Try to make them understand that those things don’t just happen magically. Mommy and Daddy work really hard for that stuff. That’s the environment that I grew up in and I think that made me understand the value of hard work and I want my kids to understand that it does take a lot of time and energy to build this business and do what we do. There’s fruits of our labor and that’s a really good goal for them to grow up with and knowing you just have to work really hard.|
They also, they get allowance. We really trying to keep it so that they have to work, we give them like 10 buck for doing certain things around the house and give them money for doing jobs. It’s not like we just give them money just because.
|Kara Goldin:||Do you guys every walk into a Drybar?|
|Alli Webb:||Yeah, yeah all the time-|
|Kara Goldin:||Without them knowing who you are in the Drybar?|
|Alli Webb:||Not usually, they usually know who I am. Obviously, we live in an Instagram age where it’s like everything is out there. I love all that stuff so I put that stuff out there. A lot of our stylist follow me on Instagram so they know me and my kids and they know when we walk in. My older son, my 13 year old has long hair and likes to go and get it braided at Drybar. Not only is Drybar for women, but it’s awesome for 13 year old boys who want braids. He doesn’t let me do it. He’s like, “you don’t do it as good as they do it mommy.” He always wants to go to Drybar and get his hair done. He’s gotten blowouts before, but not recently.|
|Kara Goldin:||My kids, I laugh because we haven’t had a store to date, but my funniest story we were staying in a hotel in Georgia, and we had a whole bunch of Hint and this women came up and said, “I’m so sorry to interrupt you, but you have this product Hint and I had seen this product on How I Made my Millions.” Which was more like how I spent my millions, but anyway, she said, “I was just wondering if I could buy a bottle off of you.” My daughter was watching this whole thing go on. And I was like you can just have one, we have lots [crosstalk 00:53:47] here.|
|Alli Webb:||Probably made her day.|
|Kara Goldin:||So excited to get this product. I saw this founder and I heard her whole story and basically she developed this product to get off of Diet Coke and then I realized-|
|Alli Webb:||Is that true?|
|Kara Goldin:||She was telling me the story that she has no idea that I’m the founder. So I was like, you’re kidding that’s so interesting. My daughter is almost dying. So she jumps in the pool, I think she’s probably like 10 at the time, so she jumps in the pool and she comes back, she’s like did you tell her? Because I told her so what did the rest of the How I Made my Millions, like talk about and she sat there and told me the entire story. This was like a 20 minute segment and she told me the exact, well let me tell you and then she was an AOL executive and then she went on[crosstalk 00:54:44] and she knew the entire story. I have red hair, if she has not figure out who I am yet, and I was like, oh that’s really interesting. So my daughter hops out of the pools and says did you tell her yet? The lady said, “Tell me what?” And I said, “Oh I work for that company.”|
She said, “Oh you’re kidding me. What is that founder like?” She had no idea. And she still had no idea.
|Alli Webb:||Did you ever tell her?|
|Kara Goldin:||Well, so then, we were at dinner-|
|Alli Webb:||You saw her again.|
|Kara Goldin:||The next night and she brought her husband up to meet me. This women work for that company. He was like, “What is that founder like?” Now I have my make on and my hair, they still don’t get it. My husband is there and everyone is like, what happened here. Anyway, I always laugh-|
|Alli Webb:||Did you tell her?|
|Alli Webb:||You never told her! That’s so funny.|
|Kara Goldin:||[crosstalk 00:55:43] By the time we left she had looked it up and then she realized who I was.|
|Alli Webb:||She realized.|
|Kara Goldin:||But I always I love the discovery element too that people are-|
|Alli Webb:||That’s so funny I’ve never had that happen and I think that I’m just very out there.|
|Alli Webb:||I do so much press and all that. My kids, similar things have happened to me, where people come up to me “oh are you the founder of Drybar?” I’m like in an elevator and someone is like I was just … that has happened with my kids too and they always get such a thrill out of it. A lot of times when I’m at like a restaurant or I’m shopping or something and someone recognizes me. They’re like, “oh my god I love Drybar.” I’m like oh have you been? And they are like, “no I haven’t been yet” or “I’ve been meaning to go.” And it’s a sales girl, I always keep blowout cards with me. Before I leave I’m like here go get a blowout. It totally make their day [crosstalk 00:56:47] I’m so happy to do it because it’s such a nice thing, but it’s also, that will be a customer for life.|
|Kara Goldin:||And they’ll tell 10 other people that-|
|Alli Webb:||Yes. It’s been nice to do it when I’m with my kids because they’re like, you just gave her a blowout? I was like yeah, she’s never been. They think it’s so generous and they love it. And now when that happens and my kids see it I give my kids the card to give to them and they go up and give it to the person because they love how it feels. It’s been such a great lesson to teach them how good it feel to give to somebody versus always receiving. It’s been this really neat thing, my younger son really love its [crosstalk 00:57:26] He’s like mommy can we give her a blowout? Can we give her a blowout? It’s a neat thing for my kids to experience that feeling.|
|Kara Goldin:||You’re getting into this phase that I’ve seen between 13 and 19 where my kids started to realize it’s not really normal for like moms to be coming up with ideas and developing these kind of kick ass, kind of known through out the country-|
|Alli Webb:||I know, it’s crazy.|
|Kara Goldin:||Which I think is, they’ll really start to realize-|
|Alli Webb:||No, they, I mean, it’s really sweet my kids think I’m legit famous. I’m like, you guys, I’m not, but they’re in this little world with me and they see how people react. And they see how much people love Drybar. I was just on the cover of a magazine and they were like oh my god.|
|Kara Goldin:||I saw the Inc. magazine, it was so cute. [crosstalk 00:58:21]|
|Alli Webb:||I think my son was listening to a rap song and the rapper was like something about a Forbes list. I was like, you know I was on a Forbes list. And my son was like, “You were!” It’s only cool because a rapper was on it too. It’s a really neat, it’s such a thrill. It makes me feel really proud that my kids think it’s cool. It’s really hard to be cool to your kids.|
|Kara Goldin:||But also parents are working together. That use to be considered kind small business, right?|
|Alli Webb:||Mom and pop, which you know, we kind of proud ourselves, I’m sure you all probably do too, it’s like people love that mom and pop feeling. I want that. I want to walk into a store and feel like a warm greeting and everyone is really nice and everyone treats you a certain way. Which that behavior has gone away and I feel like my parents had it in their store. We strived so hard to get that to be the feeling at Drybar when you walk in. That people are nice and warm and friend and I think it’s like, the most important thing to me, of everything that we do. It’s something that I personally want so much when I walk into a business for people to just be nice to me. It’s like, I don’t know why, it’s truly baffling to me how the importance is not put on that more in businesses, all kinds of businesses. There’s not that bend over backwards customer service.|
|Kara Goldin:||We are putting other things into and that’s what the FDA definition. In terms of making fruit or all of our flavors we end up having a third party do all that and that’s the only thing that we ship into the factories. Kara Goldin: So yeah. Okay. Knock off. I get this question a lot from entrepreneurs who ask me like, when somebody launches a product in our category-|
|Alli Webb:||I’m sure.|
|Kara Goldin:||We not only have other brands, but we have stores that launch, the private label product is no where near being what you’ve developed. How do you, I don’t know if deal is the right, but how do you feel about knock off products and-|
|Alli Webb:||Well in the beginning it was like, it would really keep me up at night. We had discovered this brand new thing, really. Nobody else, blow dry bars didn’t exist ten-|
|Kara Goldin:||You were the first, yeah.|
|Alli Webb:||I mean, blow dry bars didn’t exist ten years ago. When we started and we were getting so much attention and so much press, I would talk to anybody about what we were doing and how we did it. ‘Cause I was a little naive and also just very giddy over the whole thing. Sure enough all these copy cats started popping up and some worse than others. There was a women who copied us and ended up writing me a letter and saying that I spoke to her for so long and I was so gracious with my time and blah, blah, blah, but basically she was clearly her conscience and like apologizing for ripping us off. I still have that letter.|
|Alli Webb:||Crazy. There’s been a lot of places that have knocked us off and I have two schools of thoughts on it. First, I think, when it’s so blatant and people take like literal verbiage off our website, take our images, call themselves like Sally’s Drybar, you know we own the name Drybar we invent the name Drybar. It’s like tissue, like Kleenex, but people will still say, I’m going to open my own Drybar I’m going to call it Susie’s Drybar, you can’t do that. A lot of people don’t realize that. That’s frustrating and they set it up to look just like Drybar.|
What makes me the most upset about that, is the more confusion, so if you walked in and said, “oh look there’s a Drybar here.” And as a consumer you aren’t thinking about my business the way I do, so you think oh this is a Drybar. A lot of the time the colors are the same, the interior looks the similar no the same, and but then you didn’t get a great blow out and the people weren’t very great. So now you have a bad taste in your mouth about what you think was Drybar, but it’s wasn’t Drybar. There’s been a lot of confusion in the market place. Honestly, the vast majority of they way that I’ve found out about copy cats is from clients saying they saw it or went to it. They were like, yikes this isn’t a real Drybar. That makes me more upset.
On the other hand, I think that the fact that so many places have opened Drybar’s, in places that we may never even get to, is that it has raise awareness for the category. Until we started 8 years ago, women weren’t getting blow drys regularly. Some women were, like me and maybe you and we were figuring it out and you went to wherever and go it done, but it wasn’t an accessible to women everywhere, now it is and obviously largely due to us. There is a lot of other places that are make it so women can just do that and that makes me happy. I’m just glad that it’s accessible and the category has become raised in such a big thing itself. That’s my horribly politically correct answer, but it’s true. I think it helps our business too. The fact that this is a thing that women do on the regular now, it’s like awesome that, that’s become a behavior.[crosstalk 01:11:19]
I think on the flip side we’ve spent an insane amount of money on legal fees that were never budgeted in the early days. Because we were like we have to send cease and desist letters around to all these people and some were worse than others. We’ve had some big battles and a lot of small battles over it.
|Kara Goldin:||We take our trademarks really seriously too.|
|Alli Webb:||So do we.|
|Kara Goldin:||We have global rights.|
|Alli Webb:||The problem for us is that there is only so much that you can do with interior and I’ve had that conversation so many times, but you can’t really sue somebody for how they decorate a place. And there are a lot of copy cats that have really copied what we’ve done with the bar and all of that.|
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah. That’s crazy.|
|Alli Webb:||But you know what, I mean I honestly think that there is enough to go around. We are, I am extremely grateful for what we have and how fast we’ve grown and all that, I don’t really, I pay attention, I know exactly what’s going on and who’s doing what. I think it also keeps us at the top of our game because I’m always watching what everyone else is doing and I make sure that we stay up here. I think it’s also good in that regard.|
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah. That’s awesome, that’s great. What was probably the biggest mistake you make?|
|Alli Webb:||I really don’t have any regret, if I’m being really honest. I think that there’s certainly little things that have happened. I think I have always really stuck to my gut on this business and what I thought it needed. Even as far as bringing in a professional CEO, I was very against it in the beginning, until we found the person that I thought was the right person, not just to do it. Lots of little learnings always, I’m sure you deal with this too. There’s always something that you can do different and better and paying attention to all that but I don’t think there’s anything that sticks out as a huge mistake.|
|Kara Goldin:||No different tinge of yellow or-|
|Alli Webb:||No there was never that. It was always little things, like we realized that when we first opened Brentwood, that you would expect, there’s a phone right next to the computer for a shop, but I realized that we couldn’t answer and talk to a person face to face and the music was loud and the blow dryers. The experience on the phone was really shitty. This isn’t good, this isn’t okay, we have, uh oh, what are we going to do about this?|
We quickly found ourself in the call center business and having to have the phones answered remotely was the only way to make it work to give the kind of good experience in the shop and to give the client on the phone a good experience. Because that first week in Brentwood, I told the girls working the desk, don’t answer the phone, let it go to voicemail we’ll call people back. It was that crazy inside the shop. I wasn’t going to be like, “one second.” I was never going to do that, I hated that. I wanted to give that person in the store a good experience and I wanted to give the person on the phone a good experience. We weren’t able to do either, so we pulled the phones out of the shop and found ourselves in the call center business. Now it’s over a hundred people that just answer phones for us.
Which is also why I, personally I hate talking on the phone and I’m always on text. I do everything on my phone-
|Kara Goldin:||Same way.|
|Alli Webb:||But there are a lot of, 50% of our clientele want to call. A lot of that is they want to call and request their person and they have questions and whatever I get it. That is an interesting-|
|Kara Goldin:||I always put it in my notes.|
|Alli Webb:||And that is exactly what you should do. Listen, for anyone who is listening to this that goes to Drybar, we’re not always perfect and sometimes the notes get missed. And then you didn’t get what you wanted and the stylist you wanted and that’s frustrating and I get that. As you know nothings ever perfect.|
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah, but I think it’s pretty good.|
|Kara Goldin:||For the most part. I always ask guests, what makes you unstoppable? I have some ideas in my head of what makes you unstoppable, but I would love to hear as entrepreneurs or fans of Drybar are listening and hearing Allie Webb. What do you think makes me unique and unstoppable?|
|Alli Webb:||I think it’s a lot of perseverance. I would say is probably the biggest thing. Lot of confidence, fake it till you make it-ness. I don’t know what the word for that is, but I’ve always felt like, I really, like I said earlier I think I can do whatever I set my mind too. I’m such a big believer in that stuff that you can make your own destiny and there’s nothing you kinda can’t do with the right people and the right access. You kind of make your own destiny and I feel like that’s always how I’ve lived my life. I will figure it out. I’m that kind of person, where you just figure it out.|
|Kara Goldin:||Well, you’re so real.|
|Alli Webb:||Thank you.|
|Kara Goldin:||No, I mean and that’s really, I think that’s that, everything from recognizing the hassles of being in the reception position and what is the noise in the background to making sure that not only are your customers happy, but you employees are happy and they’re not going to be stressed out. You understand every single element-|
|Alli Webb:||Well, I do think that is a huge part of our success too is that, is that I am a stylist. I’ve always come at this business from the stylist perspective and the client perspective. We make sure our shops are spaced enough so the stylist are pretty comfortable walking around the whole chair, no bumping into each other. We always have snacks for the stylist. Also, I think as a stylist coming out of beauty school your option, which I quickly learned coming out of beauty school, was that you had to assist somebody for like years and you’d be doing blowouts while they did the hair cut. You were washing hair and just doing whatever you had to learn and get there and then eventually they would feed you clients. That process could take years and so you’re not making any money and it’s just a shitty job. I shouldn’t say it’s a shitty job, it’s tough job. It’s like-|
|Kara Goldin:||It’s a grind.|
|Alli Webb:||It’s a grind. I think, listen, everybody should have to go through it. I think that is a good lesson for Millennials to remember. I worked my ass off, I was an assistant forever. I got coffee, washed hair. When I worked for John Sahag, was a very famous hair dresser in New York years ago. He was the pioneer of dry cutting and very famous in his time and did all the celebrities and it was like the salon. He had these two massive grey hounds, dogs that were always at the shop with him. I had to walk those dogs on Madison Avenue. You can figure out the rest. I was like twenty years old walking these horses in New York City having to pick up their shit, you know. It’s like talk about paying your dues. I paid my dues and think that’s a really important rite of passage.|
I remember my parents, “You’re building character.” And I rolled my eyes, but it’s true, I built a lot of character back in those days. I think that stylist who grew up in my time and my generation, we had to be assistants forever before we could do anything. Drybar has bridged that gap a little because even though, not ever stylist that comes out of beauty school is ready, always to work at Drybar right then and there and some are, certainly. Drybar is definitely a place where stylist can work in that in between zone. A lot of our stylist are working at a full service salon. Whether they are assisting or on the floor already. Then they are working at Drybar part time and they’re able to cultivate a little bit of a clientele because they built this relationship with women. We want Drybar to be a lead generator for those stylist to get cut and color. I’m also very, very proud of that fact, because it just wasn’t something that existed for me as a stylist.
We have 3,000 stylist that we have given jobs too. I’ll say again 50% of them work for Drybar full time and then they grow into managers for us and product educators and all sorts of stuff. The other 50% are working at full service salons and then they’ll leave us once they have built their book in their own salon, but then if they are going through a slow period they’ll come back and pick up some shifts. It’s a really cool thing that we’ve done for the industry that I’m particularly proud of too.
|Kara Goldin:||That’s great.|
|Kara Goldin:||And you mentioned that you have a podcast coming up.|
|Kara Goldin:||So excited about this [crosstalk 01:20:22] what’s the name and when is it launching?|
|Alli Webb:||It’s called Raising the Bar. I believe it will be launched maybe when this episode airs, I think. It was really, obviously you know, Podcasts are like all the rage and everybody loves Podcasts. I listen to Podcasts all the time and I was actually on Guy Raz’s How I Built This or How I Built It, I’m sure you’ve probably listened to that before it’s such a great Podcast. I have gotten more feed back from doing that Podcast, than I think of anything I’ve ever done in the last 8 years, maybe except for the Inc. cover. That was kinda of a big deal. [crosstalk 01:21:03]|
I did that Podcast and really just told my story and realized how much people really liked it. That kind of got me thinking, as I’m thinking about new things that I’m doing for myself, to consider starting a Podcast. Also, It’s Called Raising the Bar, did I say that?
|Alli Webb:||A big reason for it was, I’m sure like you, I get approached from people all the time asking me, through my Instagram, through my email, can I sit down and have coffee with you for 15 minutes. I’m starting this business and I have a couple of questions. I really try to do that as much as I can, but you know, we’re so busy, I have kids, I don’t have a lot of extra time. But I do really want to give back and I do want to tell people what it’s like to raise money and what it’s like to start your own business and how do you balance it all with the kid and all of the things that I know we both get asked all the time.|
My brother also gets asked this all the time too. So we were like, wouldn’t it be fun to start a podcast that is really just us talking about our experience, but with other entrepreneurs. So we are having, and you should come on our show too by the way, but other entrepreneurs and how they built their business. Some entrepreneurs who’ve had major success and then some who’ve still figuring out that you’ve never heard of. We have all sorts of really fun guests coming on including my dad. Whose going to come on and talk about our humble beginnings and running a business. It’s a very entrepreneurial driven show and then there’s like the funny banter that my brother and I have and how we kind of fight like brother and sister. We just see things very differently. We see the world really differently. I’m such a like everything happens for a reason and everything is going to work out and he is like that’s all bullshit, that’s not the real world. There’s this really funny dynamic between us that has always been there, that we’re kind of capturing like in the studio now. [crosstalk 01:22:53]
It’s really fun. We shot the episode, the pilot and we played it for like a hand full of people. They were like, “It’s so good I didn’t want it to end!” We’re having a really good time doing it.
|Kara Goldin:||That’s awesome.|
|Alli Webb:||It’s really fun.|
|Kara Goldin:||I can’t wait to hear it.|
|Alli Webb:||Thank you.|
|Kara Goldin:||That’s September?|
|Alli Webb:||It launches July 25th, so it will be prefect timing [crosstalk 01:23:16]|
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah perfect timing.|
|Alli Webb:||So we’re really excited about it.|
|Kara Goldin:||Well this was amazing, amazing-|
|Alli Webb:||Yeah, so fun.|
|Kara Goldin:||I really appreciate you coming on-|