When Drybar founder Alli Webb opened her first salon in 2010, she didn't expect it to transform into the juggernaut it is today.
Five years later, her wash-and-blowdry business is a $70 million company, with nearly 40 locations across the country. Webb had disrupted the beauty industry, and in the process created a profitable market niche: a hair salon that offers only blowouts, no cuts or color.
The entire blowout trend may feel a bit old-fashioned, like a weekly ritual your grandmother had as a social or pampering activity. The success of Drybar has proved otherwise, thanks to the formula that Webb has carefully crafted--something she'll be discussing Thursday at Inc.'s Women's Summit.
Though all her shops have been successful, Webb still gets the pre-opening jitters. "In a new location, you never know if it's really going to work, or if it's going to resonate with people," she said during Inc.'s Startup Bootcamp live chat on Wednesday. "In any newer market, it's hard to get the word out. Sometimes there's a slower ramp, but they've all gotten there eventually."
Webb started out as a mobile, solo hairstyling business. Going to beauty school and being in the hair industry, she became very immersed in the L.A. mommy community. Soon Webb realized there was a hole in the marketplace for women who wanted only blowouts. It simply didn't exist.
"I was getting so much demand, but there wasn't enough 'me' to go around," she said. Webb often gives this word of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs: "There are probably things out there that you love, but wish they were done better and done differently. The writing is on the wall."
A large part of Webb's formula centers on catering to her consumers and staying true to the brand's mission: Beautifying the hair. In other words, Webb says she will never expand into other categories. Drybar has its own line of products--which are a natural evolution of the brand--but it is solely dedicated to creating and maintaining a blowout. Makeup, lashes--or what about something for men?
"Never," says Webb.
Being an entrepreneur and running a business, however, does come with its dark moments. "It's a lot of stress," she admitted. "The 24-hour schedule is daunting. You never stop thinking about it. When you work for someone else, you can at least shut it off during the weekend."
Webb has been handling her stress better over time. To alleviate her tasks, she's expanding her staff count. Luckily, her parents owned their own business, which gave her a glimpse into the entrepreneurial lifestyle as she grew up.
"I saw how much pride they had in the great operation that they built," she said. "As hard as it is to own a business, it's just as nice to be your own boss."
Watch the entire chat in the video below.