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Drybar Tests Dry Styling Salon Format

The business expects the service to help familiarize customers with — and sell — its styling products.

Drybar, which has been blowing out freshly laundered strands since 2010, is about to try its hand at dry styling.

While founder Alli Webb admittedly hasn’t always been a huge fan of the process (blow outs last longer with clean hair, she noted), Drybar had been doing loads of dry styling events with retail partners since the product line launched, and noticed a direct correlation to sales.

“What we’ve found is when we do these events at Sephora and Ulta Beauty and Nordstrom…it’s a great way to really showcase our product,” Webb said. “Women really love this quick service, and they end up buying the product we use on their hair.”

Drybar founder Alli Webb
Drybar founder Alli Webb with her book, “The Drybar Guide to Good Hair for All.”

The dry styling option, for $20, gives customers access to products and hot tools to style hair without the washing component (and is cheaper than a $45 blowout). It can “serve as a quickie if you’re just running to a meeting,” Webb said, and is expected to help expand Drybar’s reach to customers with hair textures that they don’t necessarily want blown out.

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“The fundamental tenant of this is to have a very close experience with our products,” said Drybar chief executive officer John Heffner. “You can experiment with the entirety of our 40-product line, either on your own or with the help of an expertly trained Drybar stylist in the store.”

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Drybar started dabbling in products back in 2013. Now, that side of the business makes up roughly a third of the overall company, which industry sources said is projected to do upwards of $110 million in sales for 2017. In addition to being sold in Drybar locations, Drybar’s product line is carried by Sephora, Ulta Beauty and Nordstrom. It includes things like Happy Hour shampoo and conditioner, each $48, Double Standard Cleansing and Conditioning Foam, $28, Hot Toddy Heat and UV Protectant, $30, and Southern Bell Volumizing Mousse, $26.

The dry-styling store format is being tested at Drybar’s Bethesda, Md., location starting on Oct. 6. If all goes well, the concept has the potential to roll out on a broader scale, according to Heffner, who added the location expects a “substantial uplift” in product sales and that Drybar vice president of sales Courtney Barfield, Drybar’s vice president of stores, was a main catalyst behind the Bethesda store.

“This Bethesda location was a perfect test because it has a big footprint and we had a large waiting area,” Webb said. “The majority of the store is full styling — in the front of the shop there will be bigger areas for dry styling.”

“This new format invites the client to play with all our products in a customer-friendly environment,” Heffner said. “Other providers do this and it works, we’ve learned from them, and we’re putting those best practices into play. We see this being a game-changer.”

The business has been backed by private equity firm Castanea Partners since 2012. Roark Capital Group, a private equity firm that specializes in franchise investments, joined Castanea as an investor in 2016.

Drybar now has about 85 locations, and is testing its products with J.C. Penney Sephora locations, potentially for a wider rollout, Heffner said. The business is also broadly working on international expansion, Webb noted, including with Sephora France. Women there mainly just straighten their hair, she said — “I’m kind of on a mission to change that.”