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MONEY

Blow Dry Wars Heat Up
 

Drybar closes a $16 million investment to help with expansion while its biggest competitor marches into its territory.

Drybar co-founder and former hair stylist Allison Webb

drybar interior

Los Angeles-based Drybar, the barely two-year-old

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Drybar, the barely two-year-old "blow-dry-only" start-up, has closed a $16 million investment from Boston-based private equity fund Castanea Partners.

As part of the deal, Laura Mercier Cosmetics founder and former CEO Janet Gurwitch will join the company's board, as will Paul Pressler, the former president and CEO of Gap. Both Gurwitch and Pressler also invested personally in the company.

Said Pressler: "This is one of the most exciting new retail ideas I’ve seen in years."

The Los Angeles-based company, founded by former hair stylist Allison Webb and her brother Michael Landau, broke even on sales of $1 million in its first 10 months, according to a 2011 Inc. profile.

It has stiff competition. Toronto-based Blo Blow Dry Bar recently has set up shop in the United States. The company, which opened its first bar in Vancouver in 2007, has opened in four U.S. cities: San Francisco, West Hollywood, Austin, and Miami (two locations). Another is scheduled to open in West Hartford, Conn., early this year.

“We’re just getting started in the United States,” said Blo Blow Dry Bar CEO Paul Spindler, who told the Miami Herald the company hopes to open another 10 to 20 franchises in the U.S. this year.

Drybar has a host of celeb fans, Emma Roberts (who recently Tweeted this), Cindy Crawford, and Jennifer Love Hewitt among them, and even a celeb investor, actress Rose McGowan.

“This is an exciting investment opportunity for us,” said Steve Berg, a partner at Castanea. “The team at Drybar has done an incredible job of capitalizing on a void in the marketplace and filling it with a service that truly delights their customers.”

The company plans to use the investment to expand further, it said. It currently has 12 bars and will open its second New York City location next week. A clue to what other cities Drybar has designs on: Webb recently Tweeted that she was in Washington, D.C., and asked followers in which D.C. neighborhood they'd most like to see the service.

Last updated: Jan 24, 2012

Inc. contributing editor COURTNEY RUBIN was for five years a London-based staff writer for People magazine. Rubin, a former senior writer for Washingtonian magazine, has written for the New York Times magazine, Time, Marie Claire, and other publications. She is the author of The Weight-Loss Diaries.




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