When Amy Ross decided to open up a Drybar franchise at Scottsdale Quarter eight years ago, the venture was not a guaranteed success.
“Lots of people thought we were crazy,” said Ross, who previously worked as an executive with Estée Lauder before taking time off to raise her son.
She had a chance to go back to Estée Lauder when the franchise opportunity presented itself but decided, along with husband Matt Ross, to dive head first into owning their own business.
“I really wanted to do my own thing and thought the concept would resonate here,” Amy Ross said of Drybar, a California-based company that provides blowouts, or high-end hair styles that are difficult to achieve without the help of a professional stylist.
The Scottsdale resident – who attended Cocopah Middle School and Chaparral High School before graduating from ASU – was right, and her decision to get in on the ground floor of the now-booming business looks like a stroke of genius.
Ross and her husband now own five Drybar franchises in the Valley, including two more locations in Scottsdale and a brand new location in Gilbert at SanTan Village.
Forbes estimated that Drybar corporate – which Founder Alli Webb started less than a decade ago – was worth $100 million as of 2016.
Drybar franchises now run between $600,000 and $1.6 million and the company has over 100 locations in the U.S. and Canada.
Despite the company’s rapid rise, it was less of a proven commodity outside of California in April 2011 when Ross and her husband opened their first location.
“At the time it was not a proven (national) brand,” Ross said.
She first heard of Drybar during a trip to Los Angeles when her son was two. She had read an article about the growing company and also heard a lot of word-of-mouth buzz in the city.
She had left the corporate world to be a stay at home mom but got the itch to work again.
“I researched them at home and then got a hold of owners,” Ross said. “They said they were interested in bringing the concept to Scottsdale Quarter … they were not sure if they wanted to franchise at the point, but I stayed in touch until they were ready to franchise.”
Ross and her husband opened that first location at Scottsdale Quarter in April 2011 and then opened their Phoenix location in fall 2012.
The Scottsdale market responded to the brand, which Ross calls “affordable luxury,” and the couple opened their third location last December at Lincoln Plaza.
Drybars in Arizona charge $45 for a blowout – its signature offering – and also offers other services like updos, mudslide hair treatments and braids.
In March, Ross opened a fourth spot inside the Phoenician resort.
The fifth location opened in Gilbert at the end of November. They had received requests to come to the East Valley for years and were attracted by the population growth in Chandler and Gilbert.
Though Drybar is a growing national brand, Ross said her locations still have a small business feel that has allowed her to retain employees, including her current district manager who started with them eight years ago doing front desk work.
“All of our managers started as stylists,” Ross said. “One thing I feel passionate about is growing the team and leading by example.”