Two weeks ago, Drybar, which has four locations in Los Angeles, unveiled its first Manhattan salon and has gotten more press than a new Danny Meyer restaurant. Even more noteworthy? By this time next year, the blowout-only salon on West 16th Street may have as many New York City outposts as SoulCycle. That’s a whole lot of grooming.
What’s making the beauty cognoscenti freak for the de-frizzing stylings of Drybar? For starters, the flat-rate fee of $40, regardless of your hair length and texture. (No penalty for long- or curly-haired clients!) Plus monthly money-saving memberships and Bar Tab packs for the blowout-dependent.
Founder Allie Webb clearly gets what busy New York women want. The salon opens at 7 a.m., there are iPhone chargers at every chair, you can book through an app, and someone puts a glass of Champagne in your hand, if it’s been that kind of a day.
“New York has the same problem LA did, where you paid way too much or a variable rate for your blowout. Or you went to a discount salon, where you ran the risk of an arguably bad experience,” explains Webb. She was running a mobile blowout business until February of last year when her brother gave her funds for “a tiny shop” and a place to dock her blow-dryer. The salon took off “crazily, wonderfully, and organically,” she says. She now has ten locations in four states.
Along with her bit of good luck, Webb has business savvy: Instead of a one-size-fits-all experience, Drybar’s cocktail menu of blowout styles means you get to have a say in how the look turns out—a rarity. The Cosmopolitan’s loose curls and beachy Mai Tai waves are Gotham faves.
And a promotion with SoulCycle, which is down the street, allowed Webb to reach her downtown demographic right out of the gate. “We want to be where they are,” Webb half jokes. “Women who are busy, take care of themselves. They are 100 percent our people.”
In November, she’ll open a second Drybar location in Midtown’s Parker Meridien Hotel. And Webb also has her blow-dryer pointed on the Upper East and West Sides, as well as Tribeca. “We’re looking at loads of locations. New York women are so passionate about where we should go next,” she says.
Fortunately, Webb can move quickly to satisfy demand. The salons are standardized, location to location, from the staff training and the girly-minimalist interiors to the last drop of mousse (one quibble—we wished for a truly natural hair-product choice). “You almost don’t know what city you’re in when you’re inside a Drybar” she says. You could always count the chairs—Flatiron has the most at 14. Here’s hoping that’s enough to manage the crowds until the other salon locations open. —Melisse Gelula
Drybar, 4 W. 16th Street, at Fifth Ave., Flatiron, 212-561-5392, www.thedrybar.com