Erinn Moss doesn’t think twice before canceling a meeting or rearranging her schedule to do what she needs for her family while also running two Drybar® shops in Michigan.
Sick kid? Check. Doctor appointment? Done. Kids’ weekend hockey tournament? No sweat, she’s got that, too.
Such is the life for the mother-of-four mompreneur. Moss has worked hard the last several years to make this dream a reality, and it wasn’t without help from others around her. Being a mother and a small business owner has taught her balance, empathy and how to empower other women she employs.
Kicking Off Her Career
Before she met her husband, Dave, Moss already had worked as a hair stylist for 15 years. She also did a stint as a contestant on the reality show “Survivor.” But she gave up her career to travel with her husband for his career.
Dave Moss played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes from 2005 through 2016. He then played in Europe for a year before deciding to retire and enter the corporate world. But he wasn’t happy there.
“We were really thinking, ‘OK, there has to be a life after a career in sports, and what does it look like?’” Erinn Moss recalls. “Obviously, we weren’t going to be retired at 34. We were just starting to have kids.”
Her initial life plan was coming together, until it didn’t.
“I always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. That was 100% what I knew I wanted in my life. This was what I was going to do – until I did it,” she says, laughing. “Wait a minute, this is not what I signed up for.”
Erinn didn’t necessarily want to go back to hairstyling, but that’s what she knew. She contemplated working at a Drybar shop, but there wasn’t one close to her home. But that gave her an idea, she says. “Maybe I could make this my job on a grander scale.”
When she first contacted the Drybar brand, she was a relatively new mother with a 2-month-old and a 15-month-old. She says, “Everyone, especially my mother-in-law, just told me, ‘You’re crazy, you’re crazy, you’re crazy. You’re having babies. You can’t do this. This is not the time. Wait until they are in school. Don’t, don’t, don’t.’”
She kept thinking that with enough help from friends, family and the nanny they hired, they could manage. Her husband also wanted to spend this time with the children since his career had come first for so many years.
He took a job in sports apparel, where he had flexible hours and could devote time to the children while he worked, and she pursued her business.
“My thought was, ‘It doesn’t need to be me,’” Erinn says. “They need to have someone. We need a village, someone around them to help and love them. They are never going to remember I was not around when they were this young. But when they get to be a little older, it needs to be me.”
It’s taken four years, but they are now in a place where they can each prioritize time with their family alongside their growing businesses.
“We waited until the end of Dave’s career to start a family. His whole thing was, I don’t want to miss it,” she says of their children’s early years. “Now the joke is on him, because for three years I was effectively gone. He did everything when it came to our kids, and all the while was building a successful business of his own.”
During a 4 1/2-year span, she gave birth to four children and opened two Drybar shops. But now, laying the early groundwork for her Drybar shops is paying off with increased flexibility.
Living the Family Business
Erinn is now at the point where she has the personnel and leadership in place so she can walk away from her shops and know that everything will be OK. But it took work, including building a team and learning how to manage a business, to get to that point.
Much of what she has learned about dealing with employees and managers, she attributes to the empathy she learned as a working mother. She understands children are going to get sick and emergencies are going to happen, and she has put backup plans in place for those times.
In recent months, she began setting boundaries for her scheduling and empowering her leadership team to make decisions about the business.
“If my kid has a hockey tournament, that whole weekend is my time off. Whatever my team needs, I will always take the call and I will always help them through it,” she says. “But those weren’t boundaries I set for myself until recently. I would drop everything to put out fires.”
Erinn wants her employees to take initiative. Allowing the team to take leadership and problem-solve is setting them up for success.
Moss learned a lot about herself, business and her family through this entrepreneurial journey. She also has learned the importance of her husband’s role and the part he plays both at home and as a business partner.
“It’s really, really important to have a partner who is equally invested in what you are doing,” Erinn says. “You need to have a partner who is on board with this. In order to run a franchise the right way, you have to be very involved. Not forever, but in the early stages. You need your team to be invested in you, and the only way to do that is to be invested in them.”
When she opened her first location outside Detroit, Drybar Birmingham, her desk was in the basement of the shop. Next to it was a Pack ‘n Play. When she needed to do work in the shop, her husband would watch the baby in the office and do his work.
“He would come and work from the basement and hang out with the baby, come up, have a coffee and talk to all the ladies while they were getting their hair done,” she says, laughing. “That was great. If you want to have a successful business, bring a baby and a handsome man to talk to a bunch of 35- to 50-year-old women.”
She has had ups and downs, faced a pandemic and overcome obstacles that she never thought to contemplate. But with the help of her husband, family, nannies and her employees, her two Drybar shops are successful.
“I know it sounds cheesy, but it truly takes everyone,” she says. “I am glad we stuck it out.”
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