When it comes to the business of blowouts, Drybar founder Alli Webb isn't just a big player -- she created the industry. Her first brick-and-mortar location opened in 2012 in West Hollywood. Now the former solo stylist has nearly 50 salons nationwide, with more openings in the works. Over five years, she grew revenue from $1 million to $70 million.
Speaking at Inc.'s Women's Summit on Thursday in New York City, Webb recounted her startup story and offered a few takeaways from Drybar's rapid growth.
From the beginning, Webb wanted Drybar to differentiate itself by keeping a laser sharp focus. Customers come in for the blowdry and styling experience--no haircuts, hair color, nail services, etc. And DryBar caters exclusively to women.
"We've been approached by so many different people. We can sell so much, but we choose to be clean, consistent and perfect. You don't always have to listen to what everyone suggests," she said.
As Drybar has grown, the company has expanded into its own line of styling products and tools. Hairsprays, gel, dry shampoos, hot tools, and brushes are sold at the shops as well as in Sephora and Nordstrom. But the salon experience has stayed consistent.
Every Drybar's interior looks roughly the same with its signature yellow and gray color scheme and row of retro mirrors. Customers sip champagne in flute-shaped glasses and pop music plays in the background. There are fresh flowers and iPhone-charging docks at each station.
Drybar has raised more than $50 million in venture capital to date from investors including Castanea Partners and SPK Partners. A number of investors began as clients of Webb.
Although Webb says she's looking into international expansion, for now she says "there's still so much to do here. The products are something I'm very passionate about."
And then there's the task of figuring out ways to make the service more convenient for customers. That has led Drybar to launch an app called Dry on the Fly, which lets customers locate a trained stylist who will come to their home for a blowout. The price is $75, though it's only available in a few cities for now.
"Everyone wants to do everything really quickly, so it's just another convenience that our clientele appreciates," said Webb.
For Webb, the startup journey has coincided with a personal evolution. As Drybar has grown, the founder has learned to stick to her guns. "At first, it was a little intimidating. But over the years, I've become a lot more confident to speak up for what I believe."
And she believes very strongly in sticking with what the business does really well.
"I have never entertained the idea of adding on services--but I have seen all of our competitors do that," Webb told Inc. earlier this year. "Let them."