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Drybar, Castanea Partners Ink Deal

The blow-dry-only salon chain has signed a $16 million deal with the Boston-based private-equity firm, which gives it the capital to expand.

Drybar could soon be blowing into a city near you: The blow-dry-only salon chain has inked a $16 million deal with Castanea Partners, which gives the Boston-based private-equity firm a minority stake in the company and Drybar the capital with which to expand.

“We believe Drybar has not just national appeal, but global expansion possibilities,” said Janet Gurwitch, an operating partner in Castanea and formerly the chief executive officer of Laura Mercier Cosmetics and the executive vice president of Neiman Marcus. Gurwitch and Paul Pressler, former president and ceo of Gap Inc. and president of Disneyland and Disney Stores, will join Drybar’s board of directors. In addition to the Castanea investment, both Gurwitch and Pressler personally invested in Drybar.

“They’ve found a real niche,” said Gurwitch, adding that Drybar reminded her of Laura Mercier in its early days: a company with a point of difference and quality services executed well. “We have the investment capital and will give them the monies to grow and grow properly. Many newer businesses have to make questionable decisions based on lack of capital, and we will make sure Drybar has what it needs to be successful.”

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The investment follows a swift rise for Drybar, which will open its second New York City location at Le Parker Meridian hotel on Jan. 26. This brings the Drybar location count to 13 in two years — including its first Manhattan location, at 4 West 16th Street, which launched this past September, and Michael Landau, chief executive of Drybar, noted that the expansion plans were just beginning; he was speaking from Washington, where he was scouting locations. Drybar currently operates four stores in Southern California, as well as locations in New York; San Francisco; Dallas; Scottsdale, Ariz.; San Diego; and Atlanta. New locations in Manhattan Beach, Calif., and Westlake Village, Calif., are set to open later this spring.

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“We wanted a partner who brought real experience to the table,” said Landau. “Castanea has that, and also has Janet Gurwitch’s knowledge of beauty and fashion — she knows what it takes to build a beauty company.”

The company plans to use proceeds from the investment to continue their rapid national expansion efforts and further invest in talent and infrastructure, noted Landau, adding that Karen Kelley, former senior executive at Pinkberry and Jamba Juice, recently joined the company as president and chief operating officer. As well, the company is in the process of creating its own product line.

Drybar launched its first shop in Brentwood, Calif., in February 2010 — the brainchild of Landau’s sister, Alli Webb, a professional stylist with curly hair, who was tired of overpaying for blowouts at traditional salons. Her solution? A blow-dry-only salon that offers $40 blowouts. Now, noted Landau, each location does upward of 100 blowouts a day. “We’ve found that even in a bad economy, women won’t give up blowouts,” said Landau. “They won’t cut or color their hair as often, but they will get blowouts.”