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3 Questions for Drybar Founder and Author Alli Webb on Her New Memoir

Monday, November 20, 2023

“I wanted to write a book about sharing real stories instead of sticking to the fluff.”

by Diana Tramontano

Alli Webb is no stranger to transformations. After working as a hair stylist for 15 years, Webb left the industry to start a family, but after a few years at home she wanted to pursue the creative side of hairstyling—blowouts. With this idea, Webb launched drybar, now one of the most renowned “blowout bars” with more than 150+ locations. But the business wasn’t always pretty.

In her new memoir, The Messy Truth: How I Sold My Business for Millions but Almost Lost Myself, Webb opens up about her experience as an entrepreneur, the truth about the tough times, and how it felt to put this story on paper. Here she shares more about her writing process and what it took to showcase the good, the bad, and the messy.

Zibby Mag: Why did you choose to write a book about your experiences?

Alli Webb: I experienced a lot of darkness and difficult times while growing this massive business. This book is about sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly, as well as the lessons learned. I didn’t have a business background—I learned on the job, making it feel like I earned a degree in running a business through experience. I wanted to give back and share what I’ve learned, along with the actual story of growing drybar: what it looks like to build, scale, grow, and sell a company of that size.

I also wanted to write a book about sharing real stories instead of sticking to the fluff. It’s about providing hope and inspiration to those who may feel like failures or are going through tough times. When someone else’s story resonates, it brings comfort and reassurance that things can get better. The power of shared experiences is invaluable for personal growth and supporting one another. It’s like a business book meets a memoir.

Your first book, The Drybar Guide to Good Hair for All, is much different than this honest, raw memoir, The Messy Truth. How did the experience of writing and publishing this book differ from your first?

The initial impetus of the book was to shine some light on the behind-the-scenes duality of having your own business—the amazingness and awesomeness, along with the less glamorous and not-so-great aspects. That’s true of entrepreneurs, and life, in general—you can have great moments in one area while being a total mess in another. The book delves into my story, covering the highs, lows, and the divestitures. It’s about normalizing life’s ups and downs and finding balance in the middle.

Publicly discussing personal life is interesting, but my motivation was to emphasize that you can’t ignore what’s happening behind the scenes. When going through a traumatic experience, you become more comfortable sharing the hard parts of life, leading to a deeper connection with others. It’s a shift from the facade of everything being okay to being transparent about struggles, creating a sense of understanding and comfort for both the storyteller and the audience. The writing process was rough at times, but certainly a cathartic experience to re-live and process my journey.

After reading The Messy Truth, what do you hope people take away from the story? Is there anything in particular you think readers should pay attention to while reading?

We’ve all seen the rise in entrepreneurship, and you know, being an entrepreneur is really cool. I like to think I was somewhat involved in the start of that, along with founders like Candice Nelson or Elizabeth Cutler from SoulCycle. What’s not talked about a lot is the building of a business, the pitfalls, and the things that happen along the way, which really just happens to humans, no matter what they’re doing. My life, success, and business have been largely amplified because of what they are and the impact they’ve had on so many women’s lives.

I wanted to share the lessons I learned about the journey of building drybar and what that happened behind the scenes: going through divorce, my son going to rehab, my depression, stepping away from the business, and figuring out who I am (and I am still figuring that part out). I hope people take away that I was an unexpected, scrappy entrepreneur who worked really hard and hit a good time to start and grow this business—and then how my life kind of imploded along the way.

I think the biggest takeaway is that in whatever you’re doing, you need a beginner mindset: you know, being really open to learning and never stopping is key.

Posted November 20, 2023