Trend Alert: The Anti-Salon

Drybar_1Trend alert! Here at Retail Design Diva, we love discovering new retail design concepts, product offerings, visual merchandising, sustainability projects, etc. – if it’s retail – we love it. We also (if you’ve ever met any one of us) love our hair. So, when the two merge together, it’s sort of a big deal.

Now, that we’ve got your attention, here’s the trend: a salon that does nothing more than blow out your hair. If you’re a man, you probably have no idea what this means. We’ll explain. A blow out is when your hair is freshly washed and then blown dry into the lusciousness that you always knew your hair could be, but that you can never get it to be on your own.

For only $35, customers can enter Drybar, sip a tasty beverage (champagne perhaps?), watch a favorite movie, relax and walk out with movie star hair.  

Hot-toddy-two__largeHave I mentioned that we love this?

It gets better. Drybar is mixing it up by creating several choices for thier customers (so smart!). They host parties for girlfriends, offer a variety of blow-out options (from the Straight Up to the Cosmo-Tai to the Hot Toddy), and even – now this is really smart – offer monthly memberships for ladies who rely on a blowout as their signature look.

And the reason we’re calling this a trend is that Drybar is popping up all over the place. They currently have locations in NYC, Atlanta (the home of DDI), Texas, California and Arizona. Now, if I can just talk them into opening a location in Portland, Ore.…

Part of Drybar’s expansion and success may be linked to bringing on Karen Kelley as COO and president. Kelley is a retail executive with more than 20 years of experience with a host of national retail chains. There just might be a connection…

OR it’s just a wicked awesome concept. You decide.

First things first, have you been to a Drybar? If so, details please! Secondly, what do you think of the “anti-salon” concept? Leave your illustrious thoughts here!

-Heather Strang


  1. Heather, this definitely seems to be a mega trend and a one that seems to be here to stay AND practical.
    The first time I went to one of those blow dry places was about 3 years ago. It was Blow, W14th St in NYC. The service was quick, efficient and super affordable. Then I got acquainted with Hersheson's Blow Dry Bar in London's Westfield Shopping Centre. I was snowed in London for almost 10 days and went there every second day to get my hair washed and styled. Their concept is quite simple – you can choose from 11 hairstyles and your hair will get washed and styled in less than 30 minutes, for 26 Pounds Sterling (about 40$). Less traumatic than having to do it myself.
    But to tell you the truth, the ultimate anti-salon I have experienced is nothing fancy, nor does it have a menu. I have just spent a couple of weeks in Beirut – currently one of the most vibrant cities and where most women are gorgeous and quite groomed. And I so happened to learn that most women in Beirut – independently from their socio-economic state – rarely wash and style their hair by themselves. Maybe it's the result of decades having to live with electricity and water shortage in their homes, maybe it's a way for them to never give up, but in any case, women in Beirut can get their hair done in less than 30 minutes and for less than 5$. Sure they have fancy, glitzy salons there. But Beirut is full of small no-frills salons headed by really crafty hairdressers who make you look like a million bucks in no time. So I decided to forgo the luxury option and go for the real deal. It so happens that my sister – who now lives there – frequents this tiny salon on her street. Owned by a gorgeous young and talented guy named Issam, it may very well be the most basic place with the most incredible service. My hair is of the limp scarce type. In less than an hour, Issam had colored, cut and styled it and made me – for the first time ever – walk out of the salon feeling happy. The bill was 30$ (where I live to get a service less efficient and a so-so result I pay over 300$). I returned every couple of days with another request. He of course infallibly executed it. And the best part was that whether it was a 60's updo or a poker straight blow dry, it never cost more than 10$.
    So maybe like the women in Beirut before them, women everywhere are beginning to consider that a decent head of hair is a essential and they are fed up of having to spend hours and lots of money on something as essential. So yes, this is definitely a mega trend. Now if all the hairstylists were as crafty as Issam…If anyone is interested and happens to be in Beirut, his phone number is +961 3 770772…

  2. Maya,

    You are amazing (which sort of goes without saying)! However, you are giving us all a new way of looking at the anti-salon concept. Making it sort of like the pedicure or brow wax – why would we do it ourselves when we can have a professional do it for us (at an affordable price no less)?

    Do you think Issam is making any money at said salon BTW? And of course now we need a photo. Email me one!

    In the meantime, I look forward to the anti-salon making it big up in the Pacific NW portion of the U.S. So far, no luck. And we've got to get the DDI team (or at least one of them) to report back on the new Drybar in Atlanta.

    Thanks so much for your comment!

  3. Oh, there's one in Montreal that I've been to once or twice called Bleu. It's exactly the same premise, but I usually go to their sister company instead. It's called Rouge Nail Bar. Wine, manicure, Sex and the City playing constantly. It's an absolutely treat.

  4. Megan,

    Us girls need this type of thing. My friend and I are already planning our visit to the Portland, Ore. version of this (thanks to our awesome reader Dave!).

    And LOVE that Bleu plays Sex & the City all of the time (my fave show ever!).

    Thanks for sharing!
    Heather :)

  5. Maybe I'm just an out-of-touch Midwestern girl, or an over-worked mom/student/employee, but I don't get it. WHO has TIME to go and get their hair done all the time?

    I know I get up at 5AM, rush to get the kids and husband and I out the door, drink my coffee in the car or at my desk, attend classes or work my internships all day, then pick the kids up and finally get home to cook dinner by 7pm. WHEW! I wouldn't have time to drive or go to another location and spend 1/2 hour just to get my hair done. I do my own hair and make-up in 1/2 or less. Is it fabulous? No. Is it practical, time and money saving? YES!

    Don't get me wrong, I would LOVE to have someone else do my hair and feel fabulous all the time, but I really don't know where someone would find the time. Do you go in the morning before work? Do you go on your lunch (and what do you do in the AM? Look like a drown rat or have bed-head?)

    I see this as a niche service for wealthy businesswomen who can take a 1/2 hour out of their day and $40 a day out of their wallet. The rest of us "everyday" women… would only do this if we lived in Beirut! (which by the way, sounds AWESOME!)