Business & Real Estate

Drybar salon succeeds by doing less

Jenn Kistler-McCoy sips a mimosa as she has her hair styled at the new Sacramento Drybar location. Launched in 2010, the fast-growing chain opened its first Sacramento location on Sept. 22.
Jenn Kistler-McCoy sips a mimosa as she has her hair styled at the new Sacramento Drybar location. Launched in 2010, the fast-growing chain opened its first Sacramento location on Sept. 22. efletcher@sacbee.com

Some businesses get fixated on being all things to all people. Not Drybar.

The fast-growing chain of salons focuses on one thing – blowouts.

“We are skipping the cut and color and just giving them a blowout,” explained founder Alli Webb while on a visit to the recently opened Sacramento spot. The location in the remodeled University Village shopping center, 480 Howe Ave., opened Sept. 22.

It’s the company’s 85th site worldwide.

The drybar experience includes a wash, blow dry and styling for a base price of $45. There are options that cost more, but that won’t charge more money for longer hair, as is customary in some salons.

A visit to a full-service salon would generally include a hair cut and color treatment and cost $200 or more. (Just try telling your stylist you don’t need a cut or color.)

The company has grown rapidly with support from angel investors – some of them customers – and later institutional investment totaling $50 million, Webb said. The company performs 100,000 blowouts a month, Webb said.

Webb said her company was born out of her desire to tame her naturally curly hair.

“My whole life I’ve been fighting with my hair. I really think it’s why I decided to go to beauty school all those years ago,” said Webb, 40. “I wanted to figure out how to do my own hair.”

After a “hot second” in public relations, she moved to Los Angeles with her husband. Kids soon followed. She eased back into doing hair with a mobile blowout business.

“I was basically running around and blow drying all my mommy-friends,” said Webb, whose kids are now ages 10 and 12. The first Drybar opened in 2010. Rapid growth quickly followed.

Webb said she prides herself in her stylists being trained to tackle all types of hair – from tight coils to stick straight.

“It is such a confidence booster,” Webb said of having your hair professionally styled. “It gives women really great confidence. When their hair looks good, they feel good. And when they feel good they can do everything a little better.”

Sacramento blogger Kachet Jackson-Henderson gave the location a positive review, complimenting the look, feel and product merchandising. The complimentary sparkling wine, USB ports and flat screen TVs playing “chick flicks” all earned a mention.

“The biggest surprise and delight of them all was how straight my stylist got my hair and how fast the service was!” Jackson-Henderson, who is African American, wrote on her blog, thelipstickgiraffe.com.

Jenn Kistler-McCoy, who lives in midtown, dropped in to get her hair styled in the business’s second week of operation.

“I hate to do my own hair,” said Kistler-McCoy, who runs Sac Running Tours. “It feels good to get it done. I feel good for the rest of the day.”

She said she normally wears her hair in a pony tail. When she wants a little more style, she looks something up on YouTube or goes to a stylist. She described her hair as awkwardly wavy.

Kistler-McCoy said she didn’t have a special occasion.

“Now I have to find something to do,” she said.

Ed Fletcher: 916-321-1269, @NewsFletch

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