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Cutting Shear Costs

At Drybar, some women prefer a cosmopolitan, while others favor a mai tai or Manhattan. But Drybar isn’t a bar, and those aren’t drinks. It’s a Brentwood salon that offers blow-drying, and those are hair styles.

The oddity is that the service is so limited – no hair cuts, just styling. The shop, the first of its kind in Los Angeles, launched in February by brother-and-sister team Michael Landau and Alli Webb. It offers hair-washing and blow-drying for $35 in a high-end salon setting. Oh, and there’s complimentary champagne.

Landau and Webb are in the middle of raising about $1.5 million in funding from private investors such as clients and business people to open more Drybars, including locations in Studio City in September, West Hollywood and Pacific Palisades in October, and Calabasas and Newport Beach early next year.

Webb said she and Landau believe there’s room for more Drybars in the L.A. area because of the demand they’ve seen in Brentwood.

“We’ve been getting people from West Hollywood and so many people from east of the 405,” Webb said. “And our Brentwood clients are saying, ‘Open more so those people will go away.’ ”

There are other cities with blow-dry-only salons, including New York and Vancouver, British Columbia, where a blow-dry can run $40 and $33, respectively. Women can just get their hair blow-dried at most of L.A.’s full-service salons, but it usually costs upward of $50.

Webb, a veteran hair stylist, developed the idea for Drybar after she moved here from New York several years ago. At the time, she was a stay-at-home mom and started a business blow-drying women’s hair at their homes. The mobile Drybar became a hit, so Webb approached Landau, a former Yahoo marketing executive, about investing in the business.

Landau – he’s bald, by the way – said at first he was doubtful that the concept would do well, especially in a down economy.

But he realized that a professional blow-dry salon could work if priced cheaper than the blow-dry services offered at full-service salons. So far, the clients, from stay-at-home moms to corporate executives, have been coming in once a week on average.

“I was very skeptical as an investor,” Landau said. “I thought, ‘Is this the right time to be opening a luxury goods concept?’ It seemed like a frivolous purchase to me.”

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