I have really been wanting to connect with women entrepreneurs and women who are an integral part of family businesses. I made the statement, talked to a couple of friends about it, and put it on my list of things I’d start working on this summer. Well, putting the idea out into the universe gave it some energy, and then something unexpected happened.
A couple of weeks ago, I received an e-newsletter from Drybar with the subject line “Alli Webb in Sacramento.” I immediately opened it because I just adore her. After I learned about her story through The Influencer Podcast by Julie Solomon, and then a Drybar opened in Sacramento, I really admired her journey and tenacity. I discovered that she was going to be present at a masterclass at the Ulta in Folsom that Saturday. There was just one problem: I was hosting a ladies brunch at my house, too. There was no way I was going to cancel, so I just told myself, “next time.” But, with the help of the Sacramento Drybar team, and the timing of my brunch, I was able to get 10 minutes with her to shoot the breeze about business, chasing passion and self care.
Kachet: Alli, thank you so much for meeting with me today. I know you’ve done a bunch of interviews, but I have to hear firsthand: What is it like working with family, especially as you launched?
Alli: [laughs] I get asked this question a lot and I get why it may seem challenging, but we’re all so passionate about Drybar. It has changed our lives. The biggest thing is that we all have our skill sets and we work hard to stay in our lanes. My husband does all of the creative. I weigh in and give him my thoughts, but that’s his thing and I let it be his thing. My brother is on the business side and he’s taught me so much, but I focus on hair and the customer experience. I think that’s why it works. There is a strong level of respect for each other’s expertise and we don’t step on each other’s toes. If we didn’t have our own roles in the beginning, it would be hard.
Kachet: I would think so, too.
Alli: And really, we just like each other!
Kachet: Which is super important! I mean, you leave the family stuff at home and just get to it. You mentioned passion in the beginning, and I think a lot of people right now, including myself, are either searching for their passion or are passionate about many things. Do you have any advice for someone who may still be figuring it out or trying to hone in?
Alli: Figuring out what you’re passionate about and what makes you tick can take time but it is so important. For me, I always loved hair, but it took me years to come around and make the decision to go to beauty school and start down that path. I didn’t know where I was going to end up. I wanted to move to New York and do hair for fashion shows and editorial and I think it could’ve gone that way, but I decided to focus on family and be at home. Doing what feels right for you at all of the stages in your life is crucial. Everything in my life led me to Drybar, but I always went with my passion and my gut about what to do next.
I started my mobile business began when my kids were 3 and 5 because I had been a stay-at-home-mom for five years and it was time to do something for myself. I remember feeling, “This is the perfect thing for me right now,” and that eventually led to the first Drybar location. I’d say pay attention to the signs and listen to your inner voice. I think a lot of people are passionate about things but they are afraid.
Kachet: Do you just push through the fear?
Alli: I think you do, and you find a good support system of people who believe in you. You need people around you who you trust and have your best interests at heart. “I have this idea” and they can say, “Hey that’s not a good idea, “or “It’s a good idea and what about x, y and z?” When it came to launching Drybar, there was a lot that I didn’t know, so bringing in my husband and my brother to help make sure my idea and passion could flourish was key.
Kachet: And has it flourished! Drybar is 8.
Alli: Yes, and we have 100 locations now!
Kachet: So exciting. What’s the future hold?
Alli: Our Drybar product business has grown and there are still so many cities to go to. We’re starting more product distribution internationally now. We’re playing around with the dry styling concept, but I feel very strongly about keeping true to the original vision. I’ve been asked before about adding manicures or makeup services, and I get it. We’re busy women, we’re multitaskers and we want to get a lot done at once. But, we (Drybar) couldn’t be as good as we are at just blowouts if we are trying to be really great at nails, lashes, and whatever else we’d be doing. I feel strongly about being focused on one thing and being the best at it.
Kachet: I can appreciate that. Drybar is great, and it took me a while to discover that! For the longest time, I didn’t think I could get my hair done at a Drybar before you came to Sacramento – I have big curly hair – but now I’m here a couple of times a month. How important is inclusion to the business?
Alli: Maybe it’s just the hairdresser in me, but I really do feel like hair is hair. We have every race, shape, and size come through our doors. Sure, some hair types are easier to style than others, but we train our stylists to be able to style any woman’s hair. When they come on board, we do extensive training on all hair types. There are challenges on all sides, and the different markets we are in have different needs, so we work hard to adapt and serve.
Kachet: I dig it. Since your business model is so strong, what’s the best piece of advice that you received and didn’t take immediately, or something you wish you had done differently?
Alli: I had a hard time in the very early years visiting a Drybar and if wasn’t perfect, not being super critical. Whether it was the volume of the music, or the cleanliness of the store, there could’ve been a lot of little things that are triggers.
Kachet: [laughs] You’re speaking to my core right now.
Alli: [laughs] It used to be hard! My brother was like, “You can’t make everyone crazy when you go into the shops” and that there has to be a more effective way to give feedback. Over the years, I’ve gone through coaching and now we have a process for handling those things and providing solutions. It’s very important to back up feedback with the why.
Kachet: I think it’s so great that you make the time to visit every location and are still connected to the business. I know being at the helm of everything can require a lot of you, and because this is very much buzzing right now, I must ask: What do you do for self-care?
Alli: Oh, I’m a big proponent of self-care. For a long time, I felt this need to be in my office by 9 am every day like it was some rule, and yes, business is business. But, I realized, if I get to the office at 10 because I get my workout in first thing in the morning, and if that is going to make me feel better and be a better employer, then I need to take that extra time. If I don’t do that, I’m tired, I have no energy, and that’s just not good for anybody!
Just like Drybar has given women permission to get their hair blown out and provided an affordable luxury, for me, I’ve given myself permission to do the things that I need to do for myself. I like to get facials, massages, and I work out all of the time…. and I’m always trying new things!
I don’t have my phone when I’m working out, or taking part in those experiences. I take that mental break, and I feel rejuvenated.
Self-care is so important for women. I don’t feel like they do it enough.
Kachet: I would have to agree with you. I once wrote a blog post on self-care because I think that people think it has to be something grandiose, and it doesn’t.
Ok, I know we have to wrap up but for fun, what’s your order at Starbucks?
Alli: Short Americano 🙂
There are were SO many great pieces of advice that came out of this interview. It was a great reminder for all of us to:
Stay in our own lane
Focus and play to our strengths
Lean in when we need to
Take care of our minds, bodies, and spirits
Infinite thanks to Alli for the quick chat! Stay tuned for my next boss lady interview.