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Drybar’s Alli Webb disliked her CEO at first, then changed her mind



Alli Webb Drybar
Drybar founder Alli

Hollis Johnson/Business

  • Drybar is a hair salon for
    blow-outs founded by Alli Webb alongside her husband and
    brother in 2008. To date, the store has more than 100 locations
    around the United States.  
  • Her brother, Michael, was serving as the company’s CEO
    when they started receiving pressure from investors to bring
    in a more experienced CEO.
  • They brought in multiple candidates, and at first, Webb
    thought now-CEO John Heffner was too corporate.
  • But after chatting for 20 minutes, she knew he was the
    right person for the job.

Alli Webb founded Drybar, a hair salon for blow-outs that today
has more than 100 locations around the United States, with her
brother and her husband in 2008. 

Her brother, Michael, was serving as the company’s CEO
when they started receiving pressure from investors to bring
in a more experienced CEO,
Webb said
on an episode of Business Insider’s podcast
This Is Success.” 

Webb was skeptical. She explained: “I also felt like,
Michael’s doing such a great job, we have this great partnership,
and I felt like, if we brought somebody else in from the outside,
it was going to change the culture, and I was very against

But her brother was open to bringing in an outsider. “I
think he recognized the fact that he’d never been a CEO before,
he’d taken the company pretty far, but it may be time for
somebody who actually had experience with this level of
management that it would require,” she said.

The Drybar team met with several potential CEOs, many of
whom Webb thought were qualified, but came with huge salaries and
ideas for major company culture shifts. When Webb first met John
Heffner, the current CEO of Drybar, she thought, “‘No. No way.’
We need someone cool. This guy isn’t cool.”

Webb said he was 6’2″ and as corporate-looking as they

“Shame on me,” she said. “I judged him so much by the way
he looked, but, after we spoke to him for 20 minutes, I was like,
‘Oh my God, I love this guy.'”

Heffner came from OPI with a long career in the beauty
industry. Webb said his history working with founder-led
organizations and understanding that he couldn’t come in and
overhaul the company is what sold her. 

“I remember him making this analogy of me, Michael, and him
being a three-legged stool. Without the three of us, everything
falls apart. I was like, ‘That’s a good one,'” Webb said.
“Because I felt like that was what we needed, was somebody who
was going to come in and partner with us, versus someone who’s
going to come in, like this ivory tower, and change

Since hiring Heffner, Webb said he hasn’t changed the
culture or core of Drybar, but provided the management they

“If I’m being totally honest, there’s times that I don’t
agree with all the decisions that are made, and that is a really
hard pill to swallow,” Webb said. “But it’s like, we have to keep
going, and we have to learn from our mistakes, and we have to
look back and say, ‘You know what, we should have done this
differently, but here we are.’ I think that’s all part of the
learning and growing process.”

Listen to the full episode and subscribe to
“This Is Success” on
Apple Podcasts
or Art19.

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