Drybar Taps Former Taco Bell Exec Liz Williams as CEO
Liz Williams joined Drybar as its CEO June 8.
Liz Williams, who since 2018 was Taco Bell’s president of international after serving as its chief financial officer for five years, was contemplating what she wanted to do next in her career when conversations began with the executive team at Drybar.
“I’ve always loved the brand,” says Williams of the blowout and styling services franchise. “I’ve long been a client of the brand … and I fell in love with the vision. It’s a brand that’s relatively young and is just getting going with growth.”
The Irvine, California-based brand tapped Williams as its CEO earlier this month, replacing John Heffner, who left to join Helen of Troy Limited and oversee the Drybar-branded product line it acquired earlier this year. That company’s portfolio of brands also includes Bed Hed, Pert and Revlon Hair Tools.
Calling Drybar, which founder Alli Webb launched in 2010 and is now up to 142 locations, a premium brand with a “passionate, loyal consumer base,” Williams says there’s opportunity to put her international development experience to work as part of that aforementioned vision.
“The vision is to bring Drybar to many more markets in the U.S. and internationally,” says Williams, who during her time at Taco Bell helped the brand enter new markets such as Thailand, Australia and New Zealand while also growing through its first-ever master franchise agreements in Brazil and Spain. Drybar, though, will first need to bolster its corporate infrastructure to support franchisees before signing any major deals.
“Drybar started with primarily corporate ownership,” explains Williams, “so in the last couple of years it’s brought on a lot of franchise ownership,” necessitating a focus on helping those franchisees open and add stores. Williams says that, like at Taco Bell, she’ll aim to build strong teams in the support center and in the field as systems are put into place to ensure the Drybar experience remains consistent as the brand expands.
Right now, though, “my first focus has been getting the shops back open,” she continues, noting all Drybar locations were closed at one point because of government shutdown orders. About 90 of the 142 are back open with additional health protocols in place such as temperature checks and mandatory facial coverings for employees and customers, plus enhanced cleaning measures. Waiting areas are closed, and Drybar’s appointment booking technology sends text message updates to customers to notify them when they can enter the shop.
Demand for Drybar’s blowout and styling services is returning, says Williams, with appointment bookings now being spread across the week versus primarily on the weekends. “People want to enjoy small little luxuries and pleasures right now, so we’re the perfect brand for that,” she says.
Still, it’ll take time and plenty of effort to grow sales.
“Clearly, coming back from COVID, we need to do a lot of rebuilding just to get back to our 2019 numbers,” says Williams of work that will including championing the Drybar experience and emphasizing the premium product line. "Drybar has a terrific brand identity and a fantastic consumer experience."