Emboldened by the success of Drybar, a new breed of single-focused salons is flourishing. These specialty providers attract customers, especially younger women, by bringing services once relegated to backrooms of salons or just an ancillary process at a physicians’ offices out in the open — literally as many of them occupy prime store front real estate.
Some have blueprints to duplicate the success of Drybar. In just eight years, Drybar’s sales zoomed from $1 million to well over $100 million leaving many consumers to wonder what they did before the bright yellow blowout emporiums hit the streets. The new trailblazers adapt the Drybar strategy to skin care and aesthetic procedures such as Botox or microblading — the buzzy procedure where semi-permanent pigment is applied by a needle to achieve fuller brows.
According to research from the American Med Spa Association, or AmSpa, medical spa volume grew at a blistering pace, doubling in the past few years to hit $4 billion in sales in the 4,200 locations in the U.S. The industry is projected to double again in the next three to five years. Kline Group added that the professional skin care market grew 6.1 percent last year. The specialty operators have great potential, the research firm said, with consumers increasingly opting for lighter treatments which has helped medical care providers achieve the strongest growth in the last five years. Several other industry observers said the new chains could match the $100 million pace set by Drybar.
“You can’t be everything to everybody, so becoming an expert on certain treatments not only makes it easier to draw patients for that type of treatments, it allows med spas to spend money on what they know will work and not waste time on less profitable treatments. It allows for more predictable cash flow, planning and returns,” said Alex Thiersch, founder and director of AmSpa. The best prospects are those with a larger funnel of potential clients — if successful focusing on one treatment, the facility doesn’t need anything else, he added.
Yen Reis, founder of Skin Laundry, agreed. Specialization and customization are the future of the skin care and focusing on doing one thing very, very well is becoming more and more appealing to consumers who are short on time and looking for top-quality products and services they can trust. Often that trust is built before they even walk through the door.”
Nicci Levy, founder of Alchemy 43, often dubbed the Drybar of Botox, wants to pull back the curtain to demystify Botox and fillers. Levy, who learned about Botox as a representative for its parent Allergan, wants to remove the stigma from getting enhancements that she feels comes from people not getting an education about the process. “I want to be transparent and [present] a welcoming environment for women and men to explore how treatments can work for them,” she said.
Alchemy 43 opened its first location in Beverly Hills last year with three more in the pipeline in the Los Angeles market set to open next month. Levy thinks there is the potential to stamp out 50 sites in the U.S. and in global markets over the next few years. “We want to deliver a true beauty experience and celebrate self care in what has traditionally been very procedural and clinical.” Prices range from $25 to $400 per treatment and there is a membership program called the A43 Society.
She could be onto something — the injectables market in the U.S. brings in more than $4 billion annually with fertile potential. According to Levy, Botox and other fillers are part of savvy Millennial beauty conversations. Alchemy 43 is backed by notable beauty industry figures such as Toni Ko of NYX and the founders of Drybar, along with investors who backed Glossier.
Microblading, gaining traction thanks to countless Instagram and YouTube videos, is a process where training and safety is of top concern, factors driving consumers to specialists. According to the AmSpa Medical Spa State of the Industry Report, microblading and vaginal rejuvenation were the two fastest-growing trends of 2017. Ramon Padilla, founder of EverTrue Microblading Salon, believes the semipermanent process will become a common of a grooming process as visiting a hair salon. Padilla knows what he’s talking about — the former L’Oréal marketing executive also founded BrowHaus and Strip Ministry of Waxing. Padilla operates two microblading-dedicated salons — one in Manhattan and one in Chicago — with a blueprint for more.
More than 3,000 brow services have been performed since EverTrue opened its doors in 2015. His New York’s business has grown from one chair to eight plus a VIP room in the 2,000-square feet location. During a recent visit there were more than 87 sessions booked at prices ranging from $515 to $915. Padilla adheres to a thorough training process to ensure safety. “The barriers of entry are low and sometimes there isn’t enough training. The category is still influx and is really the wild, wild West,” he said.
Although Skin Laundry first bowed 2013, the laser and light therapy specialty operator is gearing up for growth in 2018. The brand has 21 locations across the U.S., the U.K. and Asia, with plans calling for 10 more sites this year. The spaces will be accompanied by more products and improvements to its laser treatments under the direction of Dr. Adam Geyer, a New York dermatologist, who was named global medical director for Skin Laundry this month. In his role, Geyer will support Skin Laundry’s evolution to customized beauty by fusing the company’s laser treatments with a full spectrum of topical products — both prescription and over the counter options — tailored to client’s needs.