As soon as you enter the paved pathway, it hits you like a brilliant solar flare. The luminous, canary-yellow hue of the arched front doorway instantly captures our attention, and suddenly our faces are beaming with Cheshire-cat like grins. The color's instantly mood-changing effect isn't lost on us—or on its homeowner, Alli Webb. In fact, there's a method behind this sunny sentiment. From her brand's logo to its styling tools, the radiant tone has become a key part of the "secret sauce" behind her multimillion-dollar business, Drybar.
In just seven short years, the mother of two has gone from driving her 2001 Nissan Xterra around L.A. to building 83 stores across almost every state in the U.S. along with an in-house product line that's sold in-store, online, and at Nordstrom and Sephora, a New York Times best-selling author, and last night she made her first appearance as a guest shark on Sharktank. And to think she started this business while her boys were still in diapers. Now that's impressive.
So how does she do it? For many of us with babies or young children at home, just the idea of launching your own business is mildly terrifying and exhausting, and you'd be right on both accounts. If you follow Webb on Instagram, you know that the busy mom is a frequent flyer, traveling across the U.S. to cut the ribbon for a new store almost every other week, with more on the way. But her enthusiasm is unwavering. "I think you just have to jump in and embrace the change," she tells MyDomaine. "It's really hard to balance kids and work without a whole lot of guilt on both sides, so I had to quickly figure out what would work best for me and my family. It's still a work in progress."
Of course, she says, she hasn't done it alone. Both her brother, Michael Landau, and her husband, Cam, co-founded the business and were strategic partners in crafting its success. But as we entered that bright yellow door, our intrigue was at an all-time high. How does the Webb family make this crazy schedule work and still have time to spend with each other? For the next edition of our Her Domaine series, step inside Webb's front door with us and discover how her secrets to happiness lie in ditching the guilt, embracing change, and viewing work/life balance as a work in progress.
For those of you reading this who recently had a baby or are just returning to the workforce after having one, we know the emotional (and physical) struggles are real. Becoming a mom turns your whole life upside down, which makes the return to work all the more challenging. It wasn't easy for Webb, either, especially when she went from one to two. "It was so hard," she says, eyes wide. "My boys are now 10 and 12, but when they were babies and constantly running (er, crawling) in different directions, I kind of thought I was gonna lose my mind (I think that's when I realized I needed some help), but I also think it's what got me through it—just knowing that everything changes. As my wise mama used to say, this too shall pass. The boys are my everything. I wouldn't have it any other way."
For Webb, surrounding herself with "a good support system" was crucial to getting through it. "Luckily my mom was able to help me with Cam and the kids and be there for all of us quite a bit when they were really young," she says. "This made me feel much better about traveling and working so much. My husband is also a very hands-on dad, which also helped me feel okay about getting back out there."
As an entrepreneur, there is no clock-off time. Webb says you're always "on," thinking about how you can evolve the business and keep your customers happy. Knowing when to stop gets even harder when your business partner is your husband. When asked how they both keep the relationship fresh, she recognizes there's no clear-cut answer. "Oh man, good question," she laughs. "For us, it's about little getaways. Cam and I seem to really connect if we can get some alone time for a few days to reconnect and actually have an uninterrupted conversation."
Finding that personal time for you, your family, and your relationship, among everything else, is the tricky part. But Webb doesn't force her version of balance into the cookie-cutter work/life balance standard. "I do believe in balance, but I don't believe I have found it," she says. "Some days are better than others. I think it's all about doing the best you can and appreciating the days that you manage to pull it all off. As much as I hate the hard days, they honestly make me cherish the good ones."
Having watched the business grow, Webb understands how important it is to define clear boundaries around work and home. In fact, being present is one of the biggest lessons her boys have taught her. "My kids kind of force me to put the phone down and give them my full attention," she explains. "I'm glad they do. It's so important to unplug and be present." But life isn't always perfect, and it certainly doesn't always go to plan, so why put that pressure on yourself? Webb certainly doesn't.
"Don't feel guilty," she says. "If you love your job and what you're doing, you will be a happier, better mom. My kids often say they wish I was a stay-at-home mom, and while that stings a little, I explain to them that I also need to do what fulfills me as well so I feel personally satisfied and, more importantly, can provide a great life for our family. I'm not sure they totally get it yet, but I watched my parents work really hard growing up and I learned the importance of having a great work ethic. I'm hoping my kids get that too."
In her effort to strike a work/life balance and prioritize that family time, Webb is a stickler for details and has learned the art of letting go (which isn't always easy). "I think the key (to getting more done in less time) is prioritizing and delegating," she says. "We have hired a lot of amazing people to help us grow and scale Drybar. I feel very, very lucky." That's not to say it has all been smooth sailing. Webb has made (and learned from) a few mistakes along the way too. "I once botched an interview so badly, and it really taught me to think through my thoughts before I spit them out," she says. "Oy."
To maintain sanity while running a successful business and being a mom of two, self-care has become a key part of Webb's daily ritual. "Exercise is crucial to me," she says, "both physically and mentally. I feel like working out clears my mind and refreshes me. I get my workouts in after we get the kids off to school. Then it's over with for the day." Health, in general, is a key focus for the whole family. "We try to eat really well but also keep a balance so my kids don't feel deprived," she says. "There are a lot of different food delivery services out there that we utilize to help with dinners because I'm not the best cook and don't have the time. This way it also allows me to spend more time with my kids."
Leading by example has also been a great tactic for getting the kids to follow in their wellness footpath. "I think they have watched how hard we work to stay in shape, and we have talked to them a lot about eating healthy, getting off the couch, and staying active so they can look and feel their best," she explains. "I think our kids really mimic and pick up what we do, so we try hard to demonstrate a healthy lifestyle. Our kids love to make their own smoothies, and I always sneak in some greens that they can't even taste."
If there's one thing Webb wishes people knew about being a mom that no one told her it's how "all-encompassing it was," but she's also glad she didn't. "My boys are the absolute light of my life," she says. "The love is the best thing about being a mom. It's such a raw, pure, unconditional love. But I think the biggest surprise is losing your freedom; your life and time really aren't your own anymore, and that is quite an adjustment. But luckily, the love makes it all worth it." Hear, hear.
And if it all goes sideways tomorrow, Webb has a plan B already waiting in the wings. "I have a dream of being a country singer in Nashville," she laughs. Now that's something we'd love to see happen in this lifetime.
This post was originally published on September 13, 2017, and has since been updated.