How One Woman Created a $100+ Million Business on…Hair Blowouts

It all started in 2009, when stay-at-home mom, Alli Webb, found herself getting a little stir-crazy.

To get out of the house and keep herself busy, this former hair stylist started running her own mobile hair blowout business.

Before long, Webb had more clients than she could handle. Given the high demand for this service, she believed that there was potential to turn her side hustle into a real business.

So Webb reached out to her brother, who lent her $250,000 to open a salon devoted exclusively to hair blowouts.

Fast forward to today and that salon, named Drybar, now has over 70 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada and a revenue of over $100 million.

So how did Webb and her two co-founders turn their salon into such a massive nationwide hit? Two words: cohesive branding.

Here are the five main branding wins of Drybar:

1. Single Focus

When it was founded, Drybar had zero competition. Sure, there were other hair salons out there. But there were no other salons devoted to just blowouts.

In The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, the authors state that in order for a brand to be successful, it must be first in its category.

And that’s exactly how Drybar succeeded.

By narrowing their focus and specializing in just one thing, the founders of Drybar were able to distinguish their brand and make it stand out in a sea of hair salons.

2. The Experience

Drybar co-founder, Michael Landau, states, “What we set out to do was create a place that felt nothing like a salon.” They wanted to make it look and feel “like an actual bar where you get your hair done,” according to Webb.

In that too, they succeeded.

The name itself (Drybar), along with the salon’s “menu” of different hair styles named after cocktail drinks (like “Old Fashioned,” “Straight Up” and “Mai Tai”), makes customers feel like they are somewhere fun, rather than just a typical hair salon.

As Landau puts it, “What we’re selling at Drybar is a feeling and an experience. For 45 minutes you get to relax and be pampered, drinking a mimosa and indulging in the guilty pleasure of the latest chick flick or celebrity magazine while someone washes and brushes your hair.”

To enhance that experience, none of the salons have landline phones (so customers don’t have to listen to phones ringing off the hook), and the hair dryers are specifically designed to be as quiet as possible.

So that they can fully relax, all customers face away from the mirror while they are getting their hair done and only turn around to see themselves at the end for the “big reveal.”

It’s all these small, unique touches that add up to create a special experience for Drybar customers that leave them feeling good—and wanting to go back for more.

3. The Look

One quick glance at any photo of a Drybar salon, and it’s obvious that no expense was spared in its creation.

From the hardwood floors and paneled ceilings to the soft lighting and yellow chandeliers, Drybar salons are simply beautiful. The salon’s sophisticated look adds to the overall experience; it sets high expectations for customers, which in turn help to create the positive experiences that result.

4. Brand Personality

Drybar’s personality, which is fun, laidback and friendly, is evident in everything from the way that hair stylists treat customers to the copy used on its website.

Walk into any Drybar salon, and immediately upon entering, you will step on a mat that reads “Nice shoes.”

Inside, there’s a blackboard hanging on the wall with a summary of the salon’s “menu,” along with the following: “Pop-ins welcome. Hugs accepted. Wash included!”

Drybar even has its own language. Their conditioning service, called a “Mudslide,” comes with a head massage, referred to as a “floater.” And when it rains, customers are given free “Rain blows” umbrellas.

Now, how can you not love a salon with a vocabulary like that?

5. Consistency

Customers know what to expect when they go to Drybar. Why? Because every single Drybar salon throughout the country looks the same and provides those customers with the same memorable experience.

There is always a pitcher of flavored water and a plate of cookies sitting on the front desk. The “menu” of styling services is the same everywhere, and unsure customers can pick the style they want from Drybar’s “Lookbook.”

And of course, the outstanding service is the same everywhere too. Before starting, all stylists go through an intense training program where they learn to master the salon’s unique styles and are taught how to treat and talk to customers. For example, stylists are trained to always ask customers if they want their hair shampooed once or twice and then ask if they want conditioner all over their hair or just on the ends.

These may seem like small things, but it’s that consistency—of exceptional service, experience and everything in between—that has helped to fortify Drybar’s brand identity and turn it into the massive success that it is today.