Shark Tank has had some notable guest sharks visit the tank. From celebrity athletes like Charles Barkley and Alex Rodriguez to billionaires like Richard Branson and Sara Blakely. However, some viewers may not have heard of Alli Webb before her appearance on the show during season 10. In this article, we’ll take a look at this entrepreneur and why she deserved to sit on the panel as a guest shark on ABC’s Shark Tank.
Alli Webb’s Background
Born on March 20, 1975, in South Florida, Alli Webb’s journey into the world of beauty started at a young age. Her naturally curly hair, often a challenge, served as her initial introduction to hairstyling. A personal quest to tame her curls eventually steered her towards a professional path in the beauty industry.
At the age of 21, Alli Webb ventured into the heart of the beauty industry by enrolling in a cosmetology school. This bold move was the first step in a journey that would shape her career. After her rigorous training, Alli was fortunate to work alongside the iconic hairstylist John Sahag. Sahag, known for his innovative techniques and visionary approach to hairstyling, imparted a wealth of knowledge to Alli.
Eventually, Alli relocated to California. This marked a significant shift in her life. Transitioning from the salon’s fast-paced environment to the role of a stay-at-home mother could have been a full stop for many. However, for Alli, it was a parenthesis filled with inspiration. Like many successful entrepreneurs before her, she identified a gap in the beauty market.
She realized that busy women needed a quick and efficient hair styling solution that fit into their schedules. To address this need, Alli conceptualized “Straight-at-Home”. This was a mobile service offering premium blowouts.
It wasn’t just about convenience; it was about bringing salon-quality treatment to the comfort of one’s home. The overwhelmingly positive response was a testament to her foresight. To Webb, this indicated a much larger market waiting to be tapped.
The Birth of Drybar
Webb realized that although there were options for cut and color, there wasn’t a place dedicated solely to blowouts at an accessible price point. This insight led to the creation of Drybar, a salon exclusively focused on blowouts, with no cuts or colors offered.
The first Drybar location opened in Brentwood, California, and it was an instant success. The concept appealed to a wide range of women who desired a quick, affordable way to get their hair styled professionally. The appeal wasn’t just in the service but also in the experience. Drybar salons were designed to feel luxurious yet approachable, with a unique and fun atmosphere. They featured chic decor, a bar-themed layout, and a personalized customer experience, making each visit enjoyable and memorable.
Marketing played a significant role in Drybar’s success. The company effectively used social media and word-of-mouth to build its brand. Their distinctive yellow hair dryers and the bar-themed names for different styles of blowouts created a unique brand identity. The focus on a singular service allowed them to perfect the experience and become a leader in the niche market.
Eventually, the company grew to have over 150 locations and had annual sales of around $66 million. In 2019 Webb sold Drybar for $255 million to Helen of Troy.
Notable Shark Tank Moment
A notable moment for Webb on Shark Tank was when she invested in a business called Shower Toga which was invented by an entrepreneur named Kressa Peterson. She entered the shark tank seeking $80,000 for 33% equity.
Shower Toga is essentially a wearable, durable, and water-repellent garment designed for people to shower and change underneath. It’s a simple, yet clever product that addresses the need for privacy and convenience in situations where traditional shower facilities are not available like at beaches, campsites, or after endurance events like marathons or obstacle course races.
During her pitch, Kressa demonstrated the Shower Toga’s functionality and explained its features. The product is made from a lightweight, opaque, and quick-drying material. It can be easily adjusted to fit any body size and doubles as a bag for dirty or wet clothes after use. Kressa also highlighted the portability of Shower Toga, making it an ideal accessory for outdoor enthusiasts and athletes.
The Sharks were intrigued by the product and its potential in the outdoor and sports markets. While Kevin O’Leary could not see the potential of the product calling it the same as a $2 trash bag, Mark Cuban and Webb offered Peterson the $80,000 for 40% equity. Peterson accepted their offer.
Shower Toga has gone on to be a very successful company. The product can be found on its website as well as on retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and Camping World. It holds a strong 4.6-star review on Amazon. Shower Toga has also expanded its product line to include a portable shower head attachment that can be added to any one or two-liter water bottle.
The Messy Truth
Alli’s vast knowledge and experience culminated in her authoring “The Drybar Guide to Good Hair for All.” This book was not just a hairstyling manual but a reflection of her passion, expertise, and commitment to making every woman feel her best.
In 2023, Webb released a new book entitled The Messy Truth: How I Sold My Business for Millions but Almost Lost Myself. In the book, Webb speaks about the challenges she faced on her journey to build a multi-million dollar business. One of those challenges was trying to grow her business while maintaining her relationships. She writes of how she went through two divorces while growing Drybar and the pain of her strained relationship with her son who battled addiction.
She also shared her belief that work-life balance while trying to achieve massive success is not possible. The book gives great insight into the struggle and growth of this successful businesswoman and shares lessons that many entrepreneurs could learn from.
No entrepreneurial journey is devoid of challenges and Drybar’s meteoric rise was no exception. As the brand grew, it encountered skepticism, operational intricacies, and the daunting task of maintaining consistent quality across locations. However, Alli’s resilient leadership and clear vision ensured that Drybar wasn’t just a transactional service; it was an experiential delight.