Dry & Fly sets the beauty bar high on Wicklow Street

New Traders: ‘Fast beauty’ on the go is making its mark in this trendy start-up

We dry, you fly: Stylist Michelle Larkin (left) with owners Geoff Walker and Andrew O’Neill, and manager-creative director Susie Redmond. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Beauty is big business and getting bigger all the time. As on trend as it sounds, Dry & Fly, a recently opened blow-dry beauty bar, is the result of a pooling of ideas, aesthetics and beauty business nous by friends Andrew O'Neill and Geoff Walker.

The venture is fortunate to have a third wheel in Susie Redmond, the salon's manager and creative director with 15 years' experience working on hair and beauty in the TV and film industry.

Dry & Fly occupies the first floor of 15 Wicklow Street in Dublin’s city centre. With the help of Millimetre Design, O’Neill put a lot of work into getting the bright, newly opened-up 100sq m space just right for the kind of fast service they specialise in: “The layout allows people to face one another as they get their hair or beauty treatment.”

An exposed brick wall sets the mood in what is a loft-like space, all in tones of copper, gold and white. What was once a “cramped, dark, dated and very sad” space has become, after the removal of many tonnes of rubble, a light-filled space with high ceilings and large windows onto Wicklow Street. It’s relaxing and cheerfully welcoming.


Evening out

“Fast beauty is very popular in the UK and the US,” O’Neill says. “It’s a social concept, the idea being that customers can come here in groups, friends can come together. We’re different to a regular hairdresser’s in that people come to us a couple of times a week for blow drys.”

A Dry & Fly beauty treatment can happen anytime between 7am and 10pm, most days. “We aim to be a first stop for clients on an evening out,” he says. It is also open on Sunday from 10am to 5pm.

The salon makes blow-drys and beauty treatment sociable and fun. Good coffee and complimentary drinks are part of the visit, with Glendalough Gin and an orange and rosemary tonic made in Wexford top of the menu. Prosecco is also on offer.

Susie Redmond’s experience is invaluable, as was her aesthetic sense when she drew up the Dry & Fly’s “notebook of styles”. As many as 10 stylists can be at work at any one time; services, as well as the obvious blow-drys, include nail and facial treatments.

The entrepreneurs “did a lot of research and drew up a comprehensive business plan” before setting up, O’Neill says. His partner adds that they “found this place one day when walking by, and had confirmed the lease with Savills before we’d even got a website up and going”. They funded the venture between them and agree that “AIB was really helpful and great to deal with”.

Instagram influences

Long before Dry & Fly, Walker and O’Neill met in San Diego while in the US on J1 visas. O’Neill, with a degree in history and politics, subsequently worked in “the super-yacht industry”. Walker, who played hockey for Ireland, has run hockey camps, Mount Anvil Hockey Club and language schools in France and Spain. He describes himself as a “numbers guy”.

O’Neill says he has “always been interested in the service industry and beauty in particular” and “could see the beauty industry’s growth and influences on Instagram”. He did the research and called on his friend.

“That was late last year. I really liked his idea for a fast beauty place and we signed up as partners.” He credits Walker with giving him “the confidence to get it all up and going”.

Wicklow Street is just a beginning, O’Neill says. “We plan to launch in other Dublin locations in the future, to focus on the corporate market, set up in places like Hatch Street, Grand Canal Dock, the IFC and more. Branding is important and we’ve built the foundations in a way that will allow us expand.”

Walker agrees: now that they have the blueprint, it will be a lot quicker next time. The venture has taught them how to manage costs “and that time is important to lots of people. A client can come in here, get nails and face done at the same time and be out in half an hour.” A Dry & Fly basic (no hair washing) takes 20 minutes and costs €18. The salon’s “signature style blow-dry” is €28.

The partners also have ambitions to hire out the premises as an “event space for the launch of products and such”. Their own official launch will take place once they have start-up “kinks” sorted out, which should be in the very near future.