Why I Could Never Be An Entrepreneur

A Saturday Night Live sketch from the late 1970’s featured a store that only sold Scotch tape.  Not tape — only Scotch tape.  Then, when the economy went bad, the sketch said that the store did well because everyone needed Scotch tape for their “Going Out Of Business” signs.

It was a pretty funny sketch; how ridiculous to only have a Scotch tape store! 

Well, the last laugh’s on me: around the corner from my house is a franchise of a hair salon chain that proudly announces that it does not cut hair.  It does not style hair.  It does not wash hair.  It dries hair.  That’s it: it blow-dries your hair.  For $35.

I’m suppose that there is something deeply non-ridiculous about this, although I can’t imagine what it is.  Maybe I’m not sufficiently in touch with my feminine side.  Or, as the post’s title suggests, I just have no entrepreneurial sense because I can’t understand why anyone would pay $35 for someone to blow dry their hair.

Or maybe it’s just that some people have too much money.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

21 thoughts on “Why I Could Never Be An Entrepreneur”

  1. It says they do wash hair, which seems reasonable as opposed to having lots of wet haired people walking over to their shop.

  2. They do wash hair — the wash is free with the $35 blow dry.

    But yes, some people have too much money. Trickle down, baby!

  3. Okay, okay! You’re right. My mistake. Obviously, it makes MUCH more sense this way. 😉

  4. In a world where 1)Boston’s chic Quincy Market originally contained a store selling nothing but mustard, 2)Pet Rocks were once an actual product, and 3)upscale homeowners in the DC suburbs some years ago were offered the opportunity to buy a light coating of nice, white, fluffy snow to dress up their property for Christmas, why should a hair-drying salon seem absurd? Especially if it throws in the hair-washing for free?

    My own business idea is to write to the CEO of each of the Fortune 500 companies, offering to pray for a doubling of his stock price, for a modest fee. Monthly, quarterly, or annual plans available. Customer’s choice of god(s). Group discounts for trade associations. Hurry, while supplies last!

    –TP

  5. Actually, professional blow-drying does involve styling, and it can make a huge difference in how the hair looks. It isn’t just drying the hair, it’s drying it so that it’s shaped and falls a certain way. It typically involves volumizers and other gunk worked into the hair before drying, as well as clips to hold segments of hair, round brushes of different diameters and types of bristles, and blow-dryers with various special attachments. Many salons offer a wash and blow-dry as a separate service from a cut. If you’re curious, watch this (or any of the 13,000 videos that come up when you do a YouTube search for “blow-dry”!):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Chi9u8htrm4

    It isn’t just for women, either (although many men’s cuts don’t need this kind of fancy work).

  6. Maybe there’s some licensing issue involved if they charge you to wash the hair? More likely it’s just stupid marketing, like, “Buy three tires, get the fourth tire free!”

    Here’s a suggestion: Try going in, getting your hair washed, and then walking out with wet hair: You’ll find out real quick whether they wash your hair for free.

  7. Yes, pretty much what Loris said. That said, I have no idea why a hairdresser would not at least offer haircuts also; most people stick to one hairdresser they know and trust, and if you’re only offering a small subset of the usual services, you’re probably depriving yourself of potential customers for the sake of a marketing gag. Even if you’re in the process of letting your hair grow long, you will still need occasional haircuts.

  8. I suppose it makes sense in that most women only get their hairs cut a few times a year, rather than the every 3-4 weeks that’s standard for us dudes. I suppose throwing down 1/3 of the cost of a premium haircut is OK just to get it styled nicely and to feel good about it. I’m still going with the “too much money” hypothesis overall, though.

  9. One imagines that The Donald’s world-class comb-over manager stands at the pinnacle of this profession. It seems as if it would be a full-time job.

  10. “That the Division of Labour is Limited by the Extent of the Market”

    (A. Smith, Wealth of Nations, Heading to Volume I, Chapter 3)

  11. Tony,

    Don’t forget to add language options. Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, etc.

    You should also demand a share of any gains. That wouldn’t be much different from the way CEO’s are compensated.

  12. “I’m still going with the “too much money” hypothesis overall, though.”

    I.e., I don’t approve of how you spend your money.

  13. @Katja–I bet they make it up in volume and tips. A blow-dry should take half the time, or less, of a cut (which would include a blow-dry). I also wonder about licensing/training: Are all their stylists licensed for everything? Can you get training just in blow-drying? No idea how that works.

    @newsouthzach–I’d guess women get a blow-dry mostly for special occasions when they want to look their absolute best. (And many if not most women get their hair cut more frequently than a few times a year–maybe every six weeks on average? Does depend on the cut, though.)

  14. True story: In London many years ago, I found myself without a pen but luckily in front of a stationer’s, who had a window full of all sorts of paper; note paper, invitations, A4 ordinary paper, envelopes, the lot. I went in and tried to find the counter card of ballpoint pens. The proprietor: “May I help you?”
    “Yes, thanks; where are your pens?”
    “Ah, pens. I’m terribly sorry, we don’t do pens. Must be ten people a week come in and ask for pens, but we don’t do pens. So sorry. Could I interest you in a nice notepad?”

  15. And they are “LA’s Premier Blow-dry Bar,” suggesting that there might be more than one such chain.

    This is even better than my plan for a store-front tooth-brushing clinic (“Get called in for a job interview? No time to stop at home to brush? We take the worry our of unscheduled meetings.”).

  16. There is at least two chains, one here in Brentwood and one in Hollywood.

    Blow Drys cost 30+ dollars at regular upscale salons too. I worked at a salon where a lot of older woman would come in to simply have someone wash and blow-dry their hair. It is actually a bit difficult to get a good style going, especially if the client has a weave or very long hair. I imagine the Dry Bar “blowdriers” have special training of some sort. I don’t know. This is no less disturbing than the Pet Hotel in Westlake Village. Rich people need to spend their tax-cut monies on something.

  17. It’s not as if this is a burning issue, but I do think there’s quite a bit of uninformed overreaction here.

    Professional blow-drying is the modern counterpart of professional setting with curlers and comb-out (which is probably still done in some salons). It isn’t something you’d have done if you’re pinching pennies (unless you’re really bad at doing it yourself but absolutely have to look good for a job interview, say), but it isn’t an extravagance of the super-rich, either. It doesn’t even remotely rise to the level of pet hotels.

    The only thing that’s unusual about this chain of salons is that blow-outs are all they do. And presumably they hire stylists who are good at it.

    It’s really no stranger than a nail salon. Used to be that manicures were done in beauty parlors while the client was sitting under the hair dryer. Then somebody had the bright idea to open a salon that did nothing but manicures; now they’re ubiquitous and nobody thinks twice about them.

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