When Alli Webb founded Drybar in 2010, she couldn’t have imagined that her passion for hair would turn into a multi-million dollar beauty empire with over 150 storefronts nationwide. With its striking yellow and gray logo and brightly colored products, the company capitalized on an unmet consumer interest: a simple blowout, without cuts or colors.
“We were on such a rocket ship with Drybar, and the trajectory of the company was so fast and incredible,” said Webb, who sold the explosive $255 million company in 2019. Fortune. But Webb’s story had a harsher reality, which she reveals in her recently published memoir. The messy truth. “I am a living example of how high you can climb and how fast you can fall,” she writes in her book.
Webb didn’t have a traditional business background, but remembers feeling celebrated in what she describes as a period of entrepreneurial popularity for female founders. “I was kind of your more scrappy, unexpected entrepreneur,” Webb says. But with his rapid rise to success came the attention, and then the pressure to maintain his place there. In addition to challenges at home, she had to face Burnout And depression and is now sharing his story as a message for other founders.
Burnout and depression as an entrepreneur
Webb has always loved styling hair. After attending beauty school, getting married and having two children, she began offering moms a simple $40 blowout in the comfort of their home while their newborns slept. Her services have become highly sought after, particularly among working mothers, she details in the book. As word of mouth propelled her home services business, she laid the foundation for her next venture. When her sons were around three and five years old, she founded Drybar alongside her brother, then husband, to offer blow drying services to the general public.
But as the business took off, Webb suffered a series of emotional difficulties—a failed marriage to the husband she worked with and the death of her mother after a cancer diagnosis—that left her depressed. .
Webb masked her feelings by hustling harder at work — so much so that she was featured on the cover of Inc. magazine and appeared as a guest judge on Shark tank. Webb remembers having success in one area of his life, but failure in another. She hated no longer having the perfect image she had of herself and her family, she said. But Webb refused to slow down, which ultimately led to burnout.
“You give so much of yourself to the cause and you can easily get lost,” she says. “My life kind of imploded along the way.”
Ultimately, the numbing didn’t work, especially when her son needed help. By the company’s seventh year, his eldest child began having mental health issues and spent time in rehab. She regrets not having seen the extent of her suffering sooner, she writes in her book. Feeling like she had let her family down, Webb, for the first time in her life, had lost the motivation that propelled her professionally. She didn’t feel well, didn’t take care of her body physically or mentally, and couldn’t get out of bed.
Looking back, Webb says Fortune his inability to delegate at work and, later, his lack of self-care were “a very small reflection.” Webb, who has since gone to therapy, says she’s learned to take care of herself by admitting that things aren’t as glamorous as they seem instead of using work to avoid challenges.
She has a message for entrepreneurs: don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, stay in the background when you need to, and check in with your ego.
How Entrepreneurs Can Combat the Dark Side of Success
Webb admits she began to crave praise and accolades: “Drybar was all the rage and it was intoxicating. I loved it,” she said. “It’s a bit of a drug. It’s like an addiction.
Finding contentment beyond the brand was essential. ” At one point, [things] is going to start to implode because you’re not taking care of yourself,” she says.
Learning to delegate and trust others has served the company well and allowed it to take care of itself. Webb, who now acts more as a creative consultant, feels fortunate for the reach of her business and the opportunities it provides.
She also hopes her memoir will remind her to take a more balanced approach to ambition and success: “You don’t let the big things that happen get to such a crazy level, and you don’t let the bad things that happen get you bring down,” she said. said.