T.I., in front of the
restaurant, in the Atlanta
neighborhood where he
grew up. He’s bought the
building, as part of his
Buy Back the Block
of your fucking minds. You should not be
working together.” But this time, it was my
idea. He understood business in a way I
didn’t. And Cameron is a creative genius.
I could tell we were going to be equals. I
was going to run the store, Michael (who
put in $250,000) would do the back end,
and Cameron would do the branding.
In 2010, we opened our first location, in
the Brentwood section of L.A. We had a
line out the door the first day. My grand
plan was to do 30 to 40 blowouts a day.
We probably did 70 to 80. For six months,
I couldn’t hire stylists fast enough.
Michael realized that we needed to open
up more Drybars fast or people would
start knocking us o;. We did a little franchising and then decided to raise money.
In 2011, we met with a lot of private
equity firms, and honestly I thought,
“These guys do not get it.” Finally, we
met with Castanea Partners, which
owned Urban Decay. They understood
our vision. They invested $16 million.
In 2013, the business was growing so
fast, and Castanea knew we had never
run a big operation. They wanted to bring
in a professional CEO. Michael was open
to being replaced. I was like, “Wait. Why?
We’re doing great.” I was really nervous
about changing the culture. I finally said
I’d talk to people, but that was it. I was
very bratty about it.
Then Castanea sent us John He;ner. I
remember seeing him down the hallway.
He’s 6 foot 5, wearing a suit, carrying a
briefcase—corporate America. And I was
like, “Hell, no. This is not the guy.”
But John had worked for a lot of
founder-led companies and in the beauty
world. He understood this needed to be
a partnership. And he had no ego. Both
Michael and I left the meeting and said,
“Yeah, he’s the guy.” John is the adult
in the room—so calm, whereas Michael
and I are very reactionary.
It’s never easy as a founder to trust
other people with parts of your business.
I still want to get my hands dirty. But you
have to recognize that sometimes you
need someone else. Michael was that
person for me first. Now it’s John.