As a kid, Alli Webb had no idea what she wanted to do. After high school, she worked as a hairstylist before becoming a stay-at-home mom. Then in 2008, she started giving women blowouts in their own homes. Eight years later, her 61 Drybar salons are expected to pull in more than $100 million in sales this year and have inspired an upcoming movie. As BuzzFeed puts it in a lengthy feature, "Drybar has become to blowouts what Starbucks is to coffee." For $40 to $45, customers get a wash and dry with Drybar's signature $195 blow-dryer—called the Buttercup—while enjoying free cookies and champagne and a rom-com on a large TV. "I wanted it to feel like how it feels when you go to your favorite bar and you know the bartender and everyone's really nice to you and engaging," Webb says. "I wanted it to feel like an oasis for women."
Only when the blowout is done are customers spun around to face a mirror for the "Big Reveal." It's what Webb calls "an affordable luxury," though that's relative. Some black women also complain that Drybar employees aren't necessarily experts on textured hair. But young working professionals are flooding in and have made blowouts a part of their normal routine, the company says. While beauty parlors mostly disappeared by the early 1980s, selfies and social media mean women have "to be physically self-aware 24/7," one investor says. There are competitors, of course, but "there's something special about the experience that you get with Drybar," Webb says, adding the company hopes to have up to 400 salons in the US eventually. Click for the full piece. (Read more business stories.)