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Robin Moraetes, spent 17 years at one of the top talent and sports agencies – Creative Artists Agency (CAA), before embarking on the entrepreneur journey with co-founder Rachel Zoe in the wildly popular luxe blowout salons DreamDry, a next generation blowdry experience. Since opening their first location back in February 2013 in Manhattan‘s Flatiron neighborhood, the strategic marketing expert and maj top stylist duo, have grown their brand and now their second Chicago location is open and ready to beautify guests in the gold coast neighborhood. At the new salon, inside the Waldorf Astoria, we met up with Robin who was dressed in head to toe black with a chic black cape jacket, and we talked about growth plans are in the works for the brand, our dream to one day land a coveted invite to the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference and Robin lets us in on a little secret that they are working on.
SociaLifeChicago: Why did you pick this location in the Gold Coast?
Robin Moraetes: The Waldorf Astoria epitomises luxury and we knew we wanted to be a part of it. Since we opened our first location, we were always looking at the Gold Coast but for us it was always about finding the perfect location and this is the perfect collaboration between the two brands.
SLC: There used to be a time hotels used to be the place to be for everything from when you woke up to when you went back to sleep; you eat, entertain/party there, and you get everything done there. Not a lot of hotels do that anymore
RM: I still do that (laughs). I feel like that’s the direction that everyone is going, from what we see and what we do. I travel all the time and people are looking for more of an experience instead of all of these a la carte things at different locations. We live in a world of convenience and everybody wants some kind of surprise and delight convenience, whether it’s in your room, a service in the hotel or a service that the hotel provides such as a car service somewhere. You want it to be easy but luxurious at the same time. That’s what I want and I think that a lot of people that come to dreamry are looking for; not vanilla but everything kind of has to have a different personality.
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SLC: What sets the gold coast location apart from the Lincoln Park location?
RM: Lincoln park is definitely more of a residential location and our clients at Lincoln Park are coming in and out, they live close to the lincoln park location or they go to school close to that location. This location is going to attract tourists, visitors, hotel guests and people who are in the gold coast area shopping for the day. As well as the residents of the Waldorf Astoria Chicago and we’ve already have some residents come in. Its the same service and the same experience, just a different kind of client.
SLC:What would you say are some of the challenges of building a beauty business?
RM: Running both a beauty and service business is very very challenging because A) you’re dealing with people and product and you want your team, your people and your product, to be consistent and to be above and beyond your competitors. You are constantly on top of making sure everything is the best it can be and everyone is the best they can be and it doesn’t stop.It’s all the time and it can always get better.
SLC: Sometimes a woman will come in looking very blasé and then they leave and they are all like, a new person. How do you hope Dreamdry contributes to that effect
RM: Thats part of the reason why we started Dreamdry, it was this instant feeling about looking and feeling good from the inside and the outside. For us we are trying to tell people it’s not just about the special occasion. Its exactly just that, coming in for a quick 40 minute pick me up and you’re a new person. Just like the person coming in, in her gym clothes, she walked in wearing a ponytail when she walks out of here there’s going to be a skip in her step she’s going to look fabulous and she’s going to do whatever she’s doing for the rest of her day probably better happier and with a little attitude and she’s going to be great!
SLC: You currently have Dreamdry branded hair dryers but you use Oribe styling products. Is that something down the line that you are looking to go into, products?
RM: Yes we are and its something we are working on. It takes time to develop the right products for our brand and our brand is very special and very elevated; we love using Oribe and we are exclusively orbe at this location and we will be at our lincoln park location as well. Oribe understands our brand and understands the needs that we have with all the styles that we do.
SLC: Can you give more of a hint besides that?
RM: No not yet but it will be fabulous and focused on what we do here. So styling and blowdrying. Things that they can take home and also purchase on our website.
SLC: Someone with natural hair or has extensions might be reticent to come in and get a blow dry, so demystify that misconception
RM: Our staff is trained to do everything. They go through an intense academy, the dream dry academy, its fun but its intense and they are trained to do all textures, all length,s all types of hair, you name it; that’s why we added shorter hairstyles to our menu a few months ago. Come to me with something more challenging please, extensions put them in and come back with your extensions next time.
SLC: How many more locations in Chicago would you like to open?
RM: I’m not sure yet. I think we are really excited to have the same amount of locations in chicago that we have in new york that says a lot. We are very committed to the Chicago market and we love our chicago women, they are great clients. We are going to see. We’ll see how this one does in the new neighborhood and we are always looking.
SLC: Are you perhaps maybe thinking of the suburbs
RM: Always looking.
SLC: Are you thinking internationally
RM: Absolutely, always looking.
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SLC: Idealy in a perfect world where would your first location outside of the states be?
RM: We love metropolitan markets that understand fashion/beauty/design so the obvious markets would be London, Paris, Milan those types of cities. They understand what a blow out is, why it works, there’s already a few that have opened in London and Paris so those types of markets make a lot of sense for us.
SLC: You and Rachel Zoe started this and run the business along with a team; you bring the marketing and branding and she brings the style, plus the rachel zoe brand, what advice would you give to people that are starting (or looking to start) their own venture, would you advise them to go the partnership route? how do you guys work together?
RM: First of all starting a business is really scary for anyone: women, men, anyone. Coming from having a career for 17 years at the same company, leaving to start your own business is scary no matter who your partner is. When you find that right partner, some of those things fall into place but it’s a business so the most important thing to do is trust yourself, you got this no matter what. When you don’t know something ask for help its totally ok to ask for help there’s nothing wrong with it. You know what you know and when you don’t know, you ask someone for help or you hire someone. Thats the third thing, always surround yourself with good people. if you can surround yourself with the right people, people who can do the things that you may not be an expert at, thats how you’re going to be successfully.
SLC: When did you decide to start your own venture? When did you say, “Rachel you sold me lets do it!”?
RM: We were talking about it and we both had the same vision and we both got more and more excited as we talked about all the things we could do. We both had very similar design taste; we both loved gold and black, it just made sense.
SLC: A lot of people might look at this and think oh you have Rachel Zoe as your business partner, you can fund this but did you actually go through any fundraising for this? Did you do a friends/family round, go the whole VC route or did you bootstrap?
RM: All of the above. Obviously you start with friends and family and that’s pretty much how we did it. It really teaches you to go out there and network which we all already know but you’re really networking, talking to the right people, meeting the right people asking the right questions. Learning about people’s interests and how to get people interested in what you’re doing; they are coming on board not only because of the idea but also the people involved in the idea and how they are executing and what they are going to do. I do everything everything 199%, you only live once, so do it. You make mistakes, but you can learn from your mistakes. If you don’t make mistakes you’ll never learn how to excel.
SLC: What’s the best branding advice that you can give?
RM: Be true to your brand. Know what your brand is and continually define your brand and be true to your brand. Don’t try to do too much at once; less is more. Go very deep into what your brand is and you’ll be successful.
image credits: eonline; dreamdry instagram; guest of a guest
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