November 16, 2018 / 11:00 AM / a month ago

REFILE-Tired of house calls, Alli Webb built a Drybar styling empire

 (Changes number of salons to 115)
    By Burt Helm
    NEW YORK, Nov 16 (Reuters) - A decade ago, Alli Webb was a
hair stylist who made house calls, driving all over Los Angeles
to shampoo, style, and blow-dry clients’ hair before big nights
out. 
    Huge demand for her services led her to open Drybar, a
Brentwood hair salon that exclusively offers blowouts. Today,
the business she built operates 115 salons across the United
States, with 3,000 employees and over a $100 million in annual
revenue.
    Webb spoke to Reuters about financial lessons she has
learned over the years. 
    
    Q: Did your parents inspire your entrepreneurship when you
were growing up in South Florida?
    A: When I was in elementary school, my parents opened a
clothing store, called Flip's, which was my dad’s nickname. We
sold older ladies’ clothes. Our whole family revolved around the
store. Entrepreneurship was bred in us.
    I started working there when I was around 10. We’d go over
after school, and do whatever our parents made us do - sweeping
the floors, putting tags on the clothes. There were thousands of
little menial tasks. We didn’t realize we were getting an
education, but we really saw how they operated their business,
how they bent over backward for customers. 
    
    Q: Did that influence how you worked when you were older? 
    A: When I was 16, I got a job at the mall, at (clothing
store) Express. The other employees got annoyed with me because
I was working too hard, they thought I was showing off. But that
was something my parents had instilled in us - that you always
treat the place where you work like it’s your own. 
    
    Q: Before starting Drybar, you worked as a hair stylist.
Your husband worked in advertising. Was money tight in those
days? 
    A: When our first son was born, we had just moved from San
Francisco to Los Angeles. We’d gathered up money enough to buy a
little one bedroom apartment in Santa Monica and we were
stretched. 
    There was definitely a period where we were arguing a lot,
because he would be working all day, and I would be staying home
with the baby and spending money all day - I signed up for every
mommy group, every kid activity. Finally, we got super
disciplined. I started tracking every single thing we purchased
in a budgeting app. It helped so much. After that we kind of
stopped arguing. I always tell my newly married friends: Get a
budget app! 
    
    Q: How did starting Drybar change the way you think about
money?
    A: I started the business with my husband and brother. At
first financing a business was such a foreign concept to me. My
brother said, 'I’m going to put up the capital, and you’re going
to do the sweat equity.' I said, 'what’s sweat equity?' I was
prepared for hard work, but over time I became aware of just how
much money it takes to build a business - that you have to raise
it from investors. We raised and raised, I was like, God can we
ever stop having to raise money? But you have to keep doing it
to keep growing. 
    
    Q: You have two sons, 11 and 13. What attitudes about money
do you want to pass onto them?
    A: The mentality I grew up with was, if you want to spend
money, you’re going to have to earn it for yourself. We do nice
things as a family, but my sons certainly know that just because
mommy and daddy have money, that doesn’t mean that when they
leave the house that it’s coming with them. 
    
    Q: Now that Drybar is established, how are you thinking
about philanthropy?  
    A: It’s still relatively new for me. So far I just give to
causes I care about - gun control issues, helping immigrant
families. But I’m in the earliest stages of setting up my own
foundation, we’re just starting to map it out. 
    I am very involved with Baby2Baby, a local charity here that
raises money and items like diapers for mothers in need. I also
just joined the board of The Little Market, a non-profit company
that empowers women from impoverished communities to sell their
crafts online. For me it comes down to women and families.
Whether with my business or charity, helping women is very
important to me. 

 (Editing by Beth Pinsker and Susan Thomas)
  
 
 
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