Sarah Landau Is Turning up the Volume—and Your Hairstyle

Perhaps you’ve heard the blow driers whirring at the new Drybar blowout salon in the Miracle Shops at Planet Hollywood? Or maybe you heard the cocktails being shaken at the fully stocked cocktail bar? Or maybe it was the incredible soundtrack behind it all? That last part is Sarah Landau’s doing. Her responsibilities with Drybar have changed throughout her six years with the company, from recruitment to improving employee experiences, but her role as director of team member experience is imperative to keeping the company’s staff happy and patrons excited and coming back for more. This includes curating the company-wide playlist and, now at the Las Vegas location, DJing live in-store.

How did you go from creating the company playlist to DJing in-store?

One of [Drybar’s] values is “always be growing,” and another is “have fun.” I help establish a sonic identity for Drybar, curating our playlist that we like through a company called the Playlist Generation. Something that I took on a few years back was to learn how to DJ. It really started off as a hobby, [but] I’ve always been passionate about music.

How does having a live DJ in-store at Drybar enhance the guest experience?

Bringing a live DJ into the shop is not something we had really thought about. We hired one once for the West Hollywood opening. We definitely noticed the shift in the energy for both team members and customers when there’s a DJ in the shop. I DJ in the shop as often as I can; I do every store opening. For Las Vegas, we have a DJ there every evening and for most of the day on Friday or Saturday. We really felt like it took our concept to the next level. Anyone who is in a room with a great DJ just has more fun, period. That was the idea behind the DJ for our Vegas location.

What do you mean by “sonic identity?”

We have two different energy bubbles. One is for the morning, so basically opening until noon. Then the rest of it is from noon to close. The morning is just a little more easy listening. And from noon on, you’re going to find Top 40, Top 40 remixes, funny throwbacks and definitely female anthems: Rihanna, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift. Songs that we just know the second they come on, you almost can’t help singing to.

Sarah Landau at Drybar.

Sarah Landau at Drybar.

That sounds very empowering for Drybar’s almost entirely female clientele.

We are definitely disciplined about [not playing anything] misogynistic or anything like that. That’s really important to us to do that, thematically and content wise. You would be surprised these days; it can be challenging.

So how do you make sure each song played at any Drybar location is perfect?

We keep it fresh. Songs that have gotten overplayed on the radio, [we] just pull them. Songs that are brand-spanking-new, we add them as soon as possible. I go to great lengths to see if the Playlist Generation can add a song that they don’t already have licensed, because I’m like, “We have to play this in the shop. This remix is amazing, and I saw it on iTunes. Can you guys figure it out?”

Are these playlists reflective of your personal taste in music as well?

I’m just fascinated by finding music that I fall in love with and haven’t heard yet. I don’t care what genre you’re calling it or when it came out, but if you send me a song that has that ‘X factor’ where you just keep going back to it, that’s the most exciting thing for me.

How would you describe Drybar to a gal who’s never been?

I’ve branded our Vegas Drybar as the ultimate girl cave. It’s a beautiful environment. When you walk in, you feel like you’re walking into your best friend’s apartment. We’ll educate you about your hair and blowout, the blow and the style, and it lasting is the most important thing, right? Having good music and spa water is fantastic, but the highlight is the blowout.

And what about the booze?

We had this opportunity with Vegas to really take Drybar to the next level, creating bar experiences with actual alcohol and amazing drinks to our quality standard. I curated our wine list. We had a mixologist [Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits’ J.R. Starkus] create all of those drinks. I tasted through them all, and I am the most picky person when it comes to that stuff—they’re all fantastic.

Whatever we were going to do here had to be aligned with our extremely high standards for everything else, for the brand and for the client. We were like, “If we’re going to open in Vegas, we do need a full bar.” Then it just seemed like having a DJ and the live music makes sense for us because music is already a priority in the shop. It elevates the mood and the experience.