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Sibling entrepreneurs Alli Webb and Michael Landau say they owe much of their small business’ enormous success to the three-word motto they have embraced since day one: “We are family.”
In 2009, the brother-sister duo cofounded Drybar, a chic chain of hair salons that offers blowouts (“no cuts, no colour, just blowouts”) for $US40 a pop.
Since its inception, they have opened 37 locations and hired over 2,200 employees — including Webb’s husband, Cameron, who serves as the company’s creative director, and Landau’s wife, Sarah, Drybar’s Spirit Director, recruiter, and “mother figure.”
But Webb, Landau, and their spouses aren’t the only family members in the business.
They consider each and every one of their 2,200 staffers family — and they strongly believe this mentality has helped them achieve so much of their success.
Webb and Landau say infusing the “we are family” motto into everything they do, and including it as an official company core value (“We are family. Drybar was started by family. You are part of our family.”), has allowed the company to stand out from conventional salons where stylists clock in and clock out and “don’t feel like they’re part of something bigger.”
“In most salons, stylists rent a chair, come in, do their work, and go home,” Landau tells Business Insider. “At Drybar, we do things differently. And because we’ve created a ‘family environment,’ and everyone is reminded over and over again that ‘we are all family,’ our employees are excited to come in to work. They are passionate about the brand, the products, and what they’re doing. And this helps them create a wonderful experience for our clients — which makes them want to come back again and again.”
Webb and Landau say they recognised the importance and power of the “family environment” — and the “we are family” motto — early on.
When they first started hiring in 2009 they placed job ads on Craigslist and conducted interviews in Webb’s Los Angeles home.
“During interviews, I would have stylists ‘audition’ in my living room,” Webb explains. “They would blow out my hair, and I would see how they did and whether they could hold a conversation.”
But she quickly learned that the best stylists weren’t the ones with the strongest technical skills. They were the ones who wanted to be part of the Drybar family; those who truly embrace that core value.
“Now we always make it clear in the interview process that working at Drybar is like joining a family. If the person isn’t interested in being part of an environment like that, we know it won’t work out,” she says. “Many stylists don’t come from that type of environment, so some try it, thinking they will like it, and later decide they don’t. Those stylists ultimately don’t work out for us.”
To figure out whether an individual would be a good fit for Drybar, Webb says the company’s hiring managers typically ask questions that have nothing to do with skillsets. “Instead, we try to learn about who they are and what they value most. That helps us determine whether they’d thrive in a family-like environment.”
And when the employees thrive, everyone wins.
“The ‘we are family’ motto really works for us, our employees, and our customers,” Landau says. But as Drybar continues to grow, maintaining the “feel of a small, family company” may prove challenging.
“As we get more corporate, we don’t want to feel more corporate,” he says. “We always want to have that family atmosphere and vibe we all enjoy today.”
Watch Drybar’s video on their 10 core values and beliefs here:
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