Entrepreneurial spirit

McNair Entrepreneurship Showcase to feature Drybar founder Alli Webb

During the McNair Entrepreneurship Showcase this Friday, Drybar founder Alli Webb will describe how she went from a one-woman blow-drying service to chief creative officer of a multimillion-dollar company.

Hairstylist Alli Webb launched Drybar in 2010 to bring luxurious blowouts to the women of Los Angeles for an affordable price. Today her company is an international brand with over 90 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. Webb will participate in a moderated discussion followed by a Q&A session at the showcase sponsored by the McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise.

“We are bringing in Alli Webb, a big speaker, to share a really remarkable story of rags to riches,” says institute faculty director Dirk Brown. “She was a cosmetologist going from house to house blow drying people’s hair and from those humble beginnings she created the empire of Drybar.”

The McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise is a campus organization that aims to educate students on the role of free enterprise and entrepreneurship in society and promote student engagement in entrepreneurship. The institute is hosting the McNair Entrepreneurship Showcase to highlight entrepreneurs who make a difference in the world.

A group of Carolina alumni and current students, representing a wide variety of industries including marketing, consumer goods, technology and education, will have booths at the event and will discuss their individual entrepreneurial efforts. 

“We’ve got a great assortment of young alumni and existing students that have started their own ventures and they all have really compelling stories to tell, both stories of success and failure on the business side, but also personal growth,” says Brown. “It’s not going to be the same old faces that people see all the time.”

The showcase is designed with people of all ages, education levels, interests and industries in mind. Brown says the event is not targeted toward those coming from a business background.

“This event will be completely accessible, meaning understandable, and completely interesting, inspiring and educational to anybody from any background,” says Brown. “I don’t care if you’re a music major, philosophy major, biology major or a business major, this event is for you.”

Event attendees will have the opportunity to network with community leaders and leave with a sheet of resources for starting a company in Columbia.

“We just want people to understand the importance of free enterprise and entrepreneurship in their lives and in their career no matter what they do,” says Brown. “If nothing else we just want people to walk away from this event saying, ‘Wow, entrepreneurship matters,’ and if we do that, then that’s success.”

If you are going

The McNair Entrepreneurship Showcase starts at 1 p.m., Feb. 9 at the University of South Carolina Alumni Center. Tickets are $20 per person; $10 for students.

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