When Ali Ryan started her career in cosmetology, never did she ever think she’d own a salon in the South.
Years after making her rounds as a hairstylist in studios around New Jersey and New York, Ryan caught wind of the hottest hair trends gaining attention on both coasts and decided to make the trek south of the Mason-Dixon to create her own entity called The Dry House. Opening its doors up for blowouts and braids, Ryan hopes to revive the days of generations before where the salon transformed into a haven for gossip galore and lighthearted therapy sessions.
“It’s weird because we’re kind of revamping a very old tradition of your grandmother going to the salon once a week to get a roller set. The blowout is taking over the roller setting where they would sit under the dryer for an hour and it was a social thing to do on the weekends. We’ve made it more generational—younger generational,” Ryan explained to Sounds Like Nashville during a recent chat.
Starting from scratch on clients like college students primping for nights out, Ryan built up her list of devoted customers through the word-of-mouth wave. Soon enough, The Dry House began taking in some of the top names in country music, like Thomas Rhett, Jake Owen, Kacey Musgraves. Ryan quickly bonded with them as they let their authentic selves show when they plopped in the chair.
“I feel like everyone has their own story, and everyone is unique and cool in their own way. That celebrity clientele base, they just have a farther reach on stories. Their stories are just a little bit more out of the water. Everybody really does have such a strange story down here, which is really cool,” Ryan admitted.
Ryan established deeper connections with many of her loyal clientele through the unique principles of The Dry House. Rules like encouraging profanity and no allowance of self-deprecation gave life to the facility and brought more folks in the door. But Ryan swears that her closest clients are the ones she spends more time outside of work with, and boy do they get into some shenanigans if they aren’t careful.
“They’re friends,” Ryan told SLN. “We have house parties. Me and Miranda [Lambert] have talked about getting wigs before so we can go out, but we’re both like, ‘I think we’re a little too old. Let’s just hang out on the porch and drink wine.’ A lot of them have come and gone. Beauty in this industry, it’s interesting, the hot new thing that comes to town, everybody wants to try. I’ve built up relationships as far as friendships go. I’m like, ‘It’s your money. You can spend it wherever you want to. I wish you would spend it at The Dry House. If you don’t, I don’t mind.’ With that being said, I probably hang out with them more outside than actually all the time in the salon.”
Although Ryan has become a part of the country music community with famous faces walking in and out of The Dry House on a steady basis, she still can’t get over the fact that her methodical magic of hair styling makes the lives of so many that much happier. With all of the red carpets and celebrity perks, Ryan would give it all up as long as she could continue the tight-knit relationships with her closest clients one head of hair at a time.
“You’re part of their family forever. It’s really cool to be able to be that person for somebody. It just makes them feel better. I have clients who come in—and it could be traffic, it could be a light, it could be their snotty-nosed kid, it could be anything that’s pissing them off—as soon as I’m done doing their hair, you can see a wash. I’m not saying that it takes away everything. I’m not claiming that it does. Things are just a little bit better. You have a little bit of a glow. Your pep in your step—I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is, but there’s something.”
The Dry House Nashville is located in the Green Hills neighborhood and is open seven days a week for appointments. Blowouts are $40 and braids are $25.