LONGTIME HAIRSTYLIST Alli Webb opened her first Drybar in the Los Angeles suburbs in 2010. The company now has 36 locations in eight states. Like them all, the D.C.- area salons — Bethesda and Georgetown — offer only shampoos and blowouts. We recently spoke with Webb about the business and her customers.
JBK: Why choose Washington to set up shop?
Webb: Since opening, we got so many requests for a D.C. location on social media and over e-mail that it persuaded us to open here in 2012. In addition, as in New York, there are so many professional women here, be they lobbyists, high tech workers, Hill staffers, who want their hair to look good whether they’re sitting in their office, attending a conference or going to a board meeting that it just made good business sense.
JBK: What does a blowout cost? Can you describe your average customer?
Webb: We charge $40. We used to say jokingly that women with hair was our demographic. But we’ve got predominantly two types of customers — those who have stick straight hair who want volume and curl and those with hard-to-tame, long, thick, textured hair who want a smooth look. The Georgetown salon skews somewhat younger with single women and college students, than Bethesda, which is more family-oriented. [Malia Obama was spotted at Bethesda Drybar earlier this year. She came with a group of friends all primping for a dance at Sidwell Friends.]
JBK: Is there a reason you wanted to stick to just doing a shampoo and a blowout?
Webb: A shampoo, conditioner and blowout sounds simple, but it takes a lot of energy to style hair in a certain way and make sure you do it well consistently, so that the experience is worth it. It feels good when someone washes your hair and
makes you look like you’re ready for the Red Carpet, something you would never
be able to achieve yourself. Customers feel like a million bucks. I also feel as if I’ve brought back an old-fashioned tradition of women going to the beauty parlor to get their hair washed and styled.
JBK: This is a hardworking town. What are your hours?
Webb: The doors open at 7 a.m. on weekdays in both salons. We’re open ‘til 9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday in Bethesda and ‘til 10 in Georgetown. We’re also open Sunday from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. in both places.
JBK: You carry out the bar theme of the salon with your website graphics, style menus and by naming blow-out choices after cocktails. Customers can order a Straight Up, a Cosmopolitan, a Manhattan or a Mai Tai. Which one(s) are most popular with clients here?
Webb: The Straight Up — smooth with a little bit of body — is popular here, as is the Cosmo, a style with lots of loose curls. In Los Angeles, the favorite is the Mai Tai — a messy, beachy look.