I remember my first trip to Drybar. I was an undergrad at Southern Methodist University, and the incredibly popular chain had just debuted their first Dallas location on Oak Lawn Avenue. I can’t recall the occasion, the hairstyle I chose, or whether or not I went with girlfriends, but I do remember what a treat it was to have someone wash and coif my thick blonde hair for me. (I’d also do anything to avoid communal sorority house showers.)
I still love Drybar, of course. There’s something soothing about their enduring romcom marathons, their signature yellow hair dryer chandeliers, and the complimentary champagne that I’m certain I’ve never passed up. But there is a consistency issue that has made me wary of booking in recent years. I have had stylists pull of an inspired Mai Tai (my usual Drybar choice billed as “effortless, messy, beach hair”), but I haven’t always been so lucky. Somewhere, there’s a photo of me with aggressively teased hair I’ve failed to bury.
Charlie Price, the Instagram-famous Dallas stylist behind Charlie + Co. (née Hair by Charlie), echoed my thoughts earlier this year while sharing plans for his new dry bar concept, Co. Bar, in the Design District. He believes the consistency issue is rooted in the inability to advance. “No one’s taken the initiative of wanting something more for those employees,” says Price. “At Co. Bar, the goal is not to blow dry hair.”
Price’s plan: to hire young hairdressers and train them while they work at Co. Bar. Eventually, they’ll make the move over to Charlie + Co.’s new location, doubled in size, across the street. “We built a platform that allows them to come in and get an amazing education before they start working at the salon,” says Price. “This model allows us to be a lot more consistent and a lot more fluid.”
And while Co. Bar employees aspire to do more than blowouts, they will be specially trained on those as well. “We won’t do the giant prom curls that some people love because, to be honest, that’s not my brand. We’re a lot more minimalist and effortless,” says Price. “We’re not going to hand you a book and say, ‘What do you want done?’ We’re going to take charge and give you what’s going to look best.”
Last weekend, Co. Bar finally opened its doors. I stopped by a press preview, along with many a Dallas blogger, to see how the experience compared to Price’s description. After shampooing my hair with Australian Evo products, a tall, tattooed former assistant of Price’s, who is helping get Co. Bar up and running, asked me what I wanted to do with my hair. I told him to do whatever he felt like. The end result was better than the best Drybar Mai Tai I’d ever had.
It’s too soon to tell whether or not Co. Bar will conquer the blowout bar’s consistency issue, but as I watched a set of local bloggers leave with equally shiny, effortless looking locks, I felt optimistic.