Monday, October 22, 2012

Drybar opens on Bethesda Row

A giant Buttercup, Drybar's mascot, on Bethesda Avenue
Drybar owner Alli Webb
(all photos taken by Karen Watkins)
Bar menu

On Saturday I was lucky enough to get my hair styled at Bethesda's new Drybar, which features a shampoo and blowout for $40. I also got to meet the fabulous Alli Webb, who came up with the concept two years ago as a stay-at-home mom. Now, she plans on having 26 locations by the end of the year. The Bethesda site is No. 18.

A former stylist, Webb wanted some "adult time" while staying home with her two boys. She advertised at-home $40 blowout services on "mommy" blogs and websites, and soon couldn't keep up with demand. She opened a space so clients could come to her, and thus, the first Drybar was born in Brentwood, Ca.

"Women don't want to pay $70 for a blowout from their regular stylist," she says. "Plus, then if they decide you need a cut and color, you could end up paying $300."

The Bethesda location is one of the biggest, according to publicist Barbara Martin of BrandlinkDC.  The pretty, feminine setting is done in all-white with signature yellow accents and chick flicks playing on a widescreen TV.  The sleek white blowdry bar stretches around the room with decanters of spa water, iPhone ports and magazines within reach. There is also a private party area and a shampoo room with comfy padded sinks. Most notable: the chandelier made of yellow Conair dryers.

Growing up in a business-oriented family gave Webb a business sense at a very early age. "My parents had a retail clothing store for older women in Boca Raton [Fla.]", she says. "They taught me about customer service." She said her father had about eight or nine chairs set up for their customers' husbands. "He would go out and bring them all bagels," she told me.

Drybar is also a family affair. Her brother Michael is the CEO and marketing whiz, while husband Cameron is the creative genius behind the branding and web design. You couldn't miss mascot Buttercup, the signature yellow blowdryer, parked outside for the opening.

The bar menu features six different styles: the signature Straight Up, the Mai Tai, Cosmopolitan,  Southern Comfort, Manhattan or the  kid-friendly Shirley Temple. I've never been able to manage a blow-dryer with any finesse and came out loving my "Mai-Tai" do. My stylist, Julie, who was in town from California, talked with me first about what I wanted and set to work. First the shampoo, then the style. Alli is definitely right when she says: "it always looks better when somebody else does it."  The whole experience was relaxing and my hair looked fantastic. Call or book appointments online. When I was in, the place was packed.
Celebrating my fab hair in the party room

All stations were buzzing on opening weekend

How cool is this? Vintage Conair chandelier