Squeeze’s first location is in Studio City, California.
In 2010, Michael Landau, Alli Webb and her then husband Cameron mustered together enough capital to open their first Drybar location in Los Angeles. It was a crazy idea: a salon that did just blow-drys for women. No hair color, no cuts, no additional spa features. But the simplicity worked.
A decade later the idea has evolved into a $100 million business with locations across the country and put more than 3,000 stylists to work. Using a franchise model, Drybar spread beyond the coastal cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City to the heartland of the US, suggesting that the founding trio had spotted a gap in the market.
As a woman with curly hair who had struggled to blow dry her own hair, knowing how taxing and time-consuming it could be, Webb knew the concept of Drybar would work. And then she hired Brittany Driscoll to do the marketing who was ready to hustle, helping make Drybar the largest chain in its category in America.
The same team is tackling a different problem: massages.
Before the core market was just women, Webb says. Now, it’s anyone with a body, Driscoll jokes. This is not geared towards one gender but to anyone who has been to a massage studio in a strip mall and had a less than stellar experience, she explains.
Yes, there are national chains selling massages by the hour. But the experience Driscoll, who is now a co-founder of Squeeze with Webb, says is lacking: “The discount chains can be clunky, and it can be hard to make appointments. There was an opportunity to do it better.”
Much like how the team streamlined the process of visiting the salon for a blow-dry, they’re doing the same for massages. The Squeeze locations charge from $29 to $129 depending on the length of the massage; shorter messages can be focused on a specific area of the body.
But what’s unique about the Squeeze model is that it’s all digital: the booking is made online; the therapist is selected at the time of the booking; how one likes the room (temperature, lighting, mood music) can be all preset; and payment is entirely done on your phone, including tip. “The therapist might change but you get the same experience.”
The goal is to get you to “float out,” Driscoll says. “So you’re not standing in line after that relaxing massage, waiting to pay. But on your way to having a better day.”
The flagship location in Studio City, which opened in 2019, reflects their teal blue branding in the physical space; the outside and inside are adorned in this calming but noticeable shade. There’s a spa-like, relaxing feel with the added bonus of a fully digital, automated experience.
Just as Drybar was a franchise model, Squeeze will be too. “We know the demand for a better massage experience is there,” Driscoll says. “The technology that we’ve built on the backend to make this all happen will help us grow this quickly.”
Unlike Drybar, which had its offices in Los Angeles, not far from Webb’s hometown, Irvine, Squeeze will be headquartered out of Nashville, Tennessee. Webb and Driscoll certainly see Squeeze as a national chain. In fact, the learning curve, Webb says, could be simpler with Squeeze.
Whereas they had to explain to new consumers how Drybar worked, Squeeze, she says, is much easier to explain: “It’s simply a better experience of what you’re already doing — going for a massage.”
With wellness becoming an integral part of life for many Millennials, massages fit right into the paradigm, and are unlikely to go out of style.
The duo also wanted to give back like many brands today. “We knew we wanted to have some philanthropic ties from the onset. We are all animal lovers,” says Driscoll.
Inspired by service animals and how they’re essential for everyday life for many Americans, Driscoll said she wanted to bring animals together with messages. But not have it result in goat yoga. Instead, how could the brand give back to a cause they cared for? Each membership sold will result in a donation to Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit that provides service dogs to individuals with disabilities free-of-cost.
Webb started Drybar with no ambitions of building of a national brand a decade ago. Now her success is enabling them to launch another venture. Her wise words to other entrepreneurs? “Just get going. You can hire people smarter than you later, down the road, after you build the foundation.”