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Drybar Founder Alli Webb Dishes on Her New Chicago Location

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Photo: Courtesy of Drybar

It's here! After months of hair-raising anticipation, Chicago got its first Drybar today. The Lincoln Park salon offers one thing—that would be blow-outs—and it does it damn well (our own tresses can attest.)

Named after drink styles, the treatments are all $40 and include the sleek-and-straight Manhattan; the messy, beach-inspired Mai Tai, and more. There are also perks like chick flicks playing on loop, plenty of iPhone chargers, and champagne on demand.

Alli Webb is the innovator who got the whole thing going—when she founded Drybar in 2010, there was nothing else like it on the market. We chatted with the hair pro to get the scoop on her newest salon, at-home styling tips, and more.

Welcome to Chicago! We're definitely ready for Drybar—we've been waiting!
We're growing pretty fast and we're trying to get to as many locations as quickly as we can, and it all takes time. Chicago was definitely one of the markets that have been on the list. It was just a question of finding the right location and the right time. So we fell in love with the Lincoln Park location, and that was that! We're so excited.

The first Drybar was in Los Angeles—would you say that was the first market with a real demand for salons that only offered styling?
We opened our first location in Brentwood, Los Angeles, in 2010, and we never realized it would become what it has. When we started, there was nothing like Drybar anywhere, and I realized there was kind of a hole in the marketplace. There was no place to go to just get a great blow-out, in a great space, at the right price. You either had to go to a regular salon or a discount chain, and you didn't know what you would get. So, we really tapped into the market and the response was so great because women were longing to bring back that behavior of our grandmother's generation where women could get coiffed for a night out! We brought back a modern version of that.

Will the Chicago location be pretty consistent with your locations in other markets, and have all the Drybar hallmarks—like champagne?
My vision that we started to grow business was that we have so many clients that are bi-coastal or traveling a lot. And people really love the consistency and the grand standard across the board, and so we work really hard to make sure that no matter where you go, no matter what city you're in, there are little touch-points you can count on. There will always be the iPhone chargers and the champagne, and the customer service, and the same styles, and all of that. And we'll bring that to Chicago as well. I think part of our success is that our clients have that comfort level when they go to any Drybar they know what they'll get.

What's the training process like for your stylists?
Now that we have all these locations and we have over 2,000 stylists I actually have key educators that work closely with me coast-to-coast, and go out and have these intense bootcamps when we open any locations. And the way we do hair—while we certainly embrace stylists having their own unique flair and style, there is certainly a Drybar way that we do hair. So, it's a combination of all of that. I've been doing blow-outs my whole life, so [education] is very near and dear to my heart. I'm so proud of how far we've come in terms of training.

Do you have certain styles you recommend for certain types?
I think a lot depends on you, personally. Most of the clients that have super-straight hair tend to like The Cosmo so they can get some curl. Or women start with The Straight Up, which is our signature look. But once they get a little more comfortable with Drybar, they may try The Mai Tai one week. So it's more of a personal choice.

And did I hear that men are starting to get blow-outs too?
It's a small faction. We do see that from time to time—especially in West Hollywood—but it's few and far between.

Finally, do you have any products you can recommend for at-home styling?
Well, we just launched our own product line and tools, and it's really important to use a good brush, and a good blow-dryer. And the products we use in our stores, I believe they really are the best, and they help our stylists give the straight blow-outs. So our styling line, and especially Buttercup, our blow-drier—I can't tell you how much great feedback I've gotten. People don't realize how much difference a good blow-dryer makes. The Buttercup is so great because there's so much amazing technology in it: it has Nano Beads that seal your hair cuticles, and it has minerals that condition your hair, et cetera. So it's a lot for a hair dryer to do, and it really makes a difference for shine and body. You've got to have that stuff if you're going to be doing these styles yourself.
· Drybar [Official Site]
· Drybar Sets Opening Date (And Location) [Racked Chicago]
· All Drybar coverage [Racked New York]


1611 North Sheffield Ave., Chicago, IL