Beauty services are, at their core, high-touch experiences, and there’s not much high-tech involved in a blow-out. But Alli Webb, founder of the popular blowout salon Drybar, noted that digital elements have played into the growth of her 48-and-counting salon business.
Webb, who was a hairstylist before becoming a stay-at-home mom, founded her first company, Straight at Home, an on-demand, in-home blow-dry service, to fill a need among her fellow moms. “There were a lot of women out there like me who didn’t know where to go for a great blowout. There were traditional salons where they were overpaying or discount salons where the experience was off,” she said. Little did she know that with mobile GPS technology, such services would become the norm with a few taps on a phone. In 2010, she opened the first Drybar in Brentwood, Calif.
“I went to my brother for money to turn it into a brick-and-mortar salon. It was meant to be my one little shop and that would be that, but we severely underestimated the demand and how much women would love this, the kind of thing they wanted and needed even though they didn’t know it,” she said.
With her brother running the finances and her husband the marketing, Webb grew by franchising a few locations and opening even more company-owned salons. Two years ago, she launched a mobile on-demand service called Dry on the Fly, as well as an app that allows customers to book salon appointments. About half of all appointments are now booked online. A year ago, Drybar hired a non-family chief executive officer.
Social media has enabled Drybar to improve its customer service like many companies, able to respond with one-to-one comments immediately.
Webb has found a newer opportunity in the how-to video. “The how-to is the most searched-for item online. It’s another platform we are developing, and we’ve made 13 videos this year,” she said.
Now in Canada and with an eye to eventually opening in Europe, Webb said it’s the experience and the fun branding that keep her company pushing ahead.
“Another big pillar of our success is we are not just selling blowouts, we are selling happiness and confidence. There is something really magical and powerful when your hair looks good you feel amazing.”