retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The New York Times had a story over the weekend about Alli Webb, founder of a company called Drybar, which owns a chain of stores that offer blow-dry services to women.

Though, to be sure, Webb does not believe she's selling blow-dry services. "We’re not selling blowouts," she says. "We’re selling happiness and confidence."

There must be plenty of happiness and confidence at Drybar's headquarters - the five year old company is on track to generate $70 million in revenue this year, and it is the largest of the three national chains offering these services.

The Times writes that "a blowout is a diabolically ingenious product: it can be undone and destroyed simply by adding drops of water. The top three blow-dry chains — Drybar, Blo and DreamDry — have more than 100 locations in the United States so far. As recently as 2007, there was not even one. The feeling of 'happiness and confidence' that comes with smooth hair is real, but it creates its own self-perpetuating need."

And here's the thing - while Webb never saw herself as an entrepreneur, she was a woman with wavy/curly locks who came from South Florida, and because of humidity had always dealt with frizzy hair. And that's where the idea came from ... and you can read the entire story here.

The growth continues. "In May," the Times writes, "Drybar will release an app called Dry on the Fly: A satellite will locate you and a Drybar-trained stylist will show up and give you a blowout for $75. The company plans to open 12 to 15 new shops this year: Locations in Houston and Beverly Hills just opened. The expansion to Toronto, and to foggy, frizzy London, will follow. On rainy days, Drybar provides customers with a free umbrella. “

It is an Eye-Opener - an entire business built on a basic consumer need into which nobody had tapped.

Nice to know, in some ways, that such opportunities still exist. And it makes one wonder about the new, untapped opportunities there may still be out there.
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