Vanessa Yakobson is the CEO of Blo, America’s original blow dry bar that is all about the experience, culture, and vibe. She is a visionary who plans to grow the company and expand beyond their signature blowouts. We spoke to Vanessa about her journey of entrepreneurship.
By Camilla Misiaszek
Blow dry bars have become incredibly popular in the last few years and are taking over the country. What makes Blo unique from all other dry bars?
Blo is North America’s original blow dry bar. We launched this category when we opened our doors in 2007 and revolutionized beauty norms for women. We are experts in this space. The other thing that makes us unique is that every one of our locations is a franchise owned by an entrepreneur. We decided early on that our business would be most successful if we partnered with passionate owners.
Congratulations on becoming the newly appointed CEO of Blo! What’s first on your to-do list?
Thank you! I'm so thrilled to take on this role. Blo is expanding quickly and we are seeing strong growth across all our locations, so it is a really exciting time at the company. My to-do list has two parts: focusing on our guests and focusing on our franchise partners. For our guests, we are working to ensure we are always the best-in-class in terms of the quality of service, the customer experience, and the retail products available in-bar. For our franchise partners, we are dedicated to providing tools and resources to help support their business growth.
Given that Blo is part of the beauty industry, most salon owners are women. How does Blo encourage female entrepreneurship?
It is true that most - although not all! - of our owners are women. It is such a point of pride for us that Blo provides a vehicle for smart, ambitious women to realize their dreams of business ownership and independence, and we partner with both seasoned and first-time entrepreneurs. The advantage of a franchise system is that it gives people - women and men alike - the ability to be a business owner with a built-in business coach. Our team spends each day encouraging and supporting our Franchise Partners to help optimize their success.
Can you share a few female entrepreneurs that inspire you and why?
There are too many inspiring female entrepreneurs to single out any one or two of them – and most of them are not well known - although I do admire the success of people like Oprah Winfrey and Sara Blakely, who founded Spanx. I'm inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit in general. I admire people who have the drive and passion to build something on their own. I deeply respect the "don't take no for an answer" attitude and the tireless dedication to pushing a business forward. I also applaud entrepreneurs who take the opportunity of running their own business to create new models of corporate culture and who leverage their business to give back to the community.
Clearly, blow dry bars are not just a trend and are here to stay. Are there any plans of expansion for the company? What's next for you?
It's true: we are about to celebrate our 9th anniversary so this is definitely not a trend. Blo is on an expansion plan and we will be adding to our location count significantly in the years ahead. We are also rolling out our Blo Beauty Services - makeup, nails and wax offerings - to provide additional value to our guests and to our franchise partners.
What is some advice you would offer to women facing challenges as they pursue a path of entrepreneurship?
Surround yourself with great people whose skill sets are complimentary to your own - including supporters whose counsel you respect. If you believe in the potential of your business offering, stay focused and don't let doubts hold you back. But don't be afraid to make adjustments along the way. And of course, never forget that a great blow out helps on those tough days! (Wink, wink.)
What is your go-to style at Blo?
These days I'm loving our Pillow Talk - loose, beachy waves that our bloers (aka our stylists) can soften up to give you this season's romantic feel.
Check out Vanessa’s favorite style and 6 other signature styles at two new Blo locations:
- Upper West Side (287 Amsterdam Avenue) — Opened March 18th
- Midtown East (142 East 49th Street) — Opening mid-April
Photos courtesy of Blo.