Drybar Co-founder Alli Webb on Going from Stay-At-Home Mom to Building a Hairstyle Empire

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

Drybar Co-founder Alli Webb
Courtesy of Alli Webb

With her parents as business owners, Alli Webb said entrepreneurship was in her blood.

On this episode of the Behind Her Empire podcast, Webb talks about the founding of Drybar, along with her other ventures like humidifier company Canopy and jewelry business Beckett + Quill.

Webb grew up in South Florida, where the high humidity gave her problems with her curly hair. That inspired her to learn how to blow out her own hair (since she couldn't always afford to pay others to do it). She enrolled in cosmetology school and became a hairstylist, but it didn’t occur to Webb to start her own business until much later.

“The entrepreneurial bug was like never anything that hit my radar,” she said.

Webb was a hairstylist for several years, before working for a time in public relations. She had a family and moved to the West Coast, and was a stay-at-home mom for five years, before getting the itch to return to work.

“So I was like, ‘How do I manage this new-mom pace with trying to work?’ And so having a mobile blow-out business seemed like a pretty good idea,” she said. Webb plied Mommy groups with offers to blow out clients’ hair while their kids were asleep, working a few times a week while she raised her son. She soon found herself overwhelmed with work.

“I did come to a bit of a fork in the road,” she said. “Do I want to build this thing mobily? Because I was really having to say no more than I was able to say yes [and] I really only had like a few hours a day to do this.”

Instead, Webb decided to try to scale up and open a brick-and-mortar store, keeping the price for a blow-out low and hoping clients would return regularly “as a pick me up. As like, you know, ‘I have a date tonight or a job interview’, or ‘I just want to fucking feel good about myself’.”

She opened the first Drybar in 2010. The first location was a task all on its own. She ran out of money before even opening and had to raise some extra money from investors, “and probably gave away a little bit too much equity,” she said. “I think that was like a mistake.”

In the last decade, Webb's opened over 150 locations nationwide. Drybar was sold to a Texas-based health and beauty manufacturer and supplier for $255 million in 2020.

“I felt like in my gut, that this was something that was going to really resonate. And women were going to really like this. And it was like, we were reinventing the wheel,” said Webb.

After her success in hair care, Webb became the president of Canopy, a humidifier company., Webb was drawn to the product and its efforts to help people with dry skin and hair. As a skin and health product, she said, it’s not far from where she started with Drybar.

Webb has also ventured into the jewelry industry with Beckett + Quill and a massage service called Squeeze.

Looking back, Webb said that what drives people changes over time, and that it’s important to check in with yourself and take time to question whether what you’re doing is what you want to be doing.

“I think that there were definitely times in my life where I liked a boss,” she said. “I liked being told what my priorities were, what I needed to do. I mean, I think I've always been a little bit of an overachiever. But wherever you land on… just do what you love and try to really have enough self awareness.”

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