We had the good fortune of connecting with Vanessa & Gabe Montiel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vanessa & Gabe, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Vanessa: We have always been intrigued by vintage style and the rockabilly subculture, which has been something that we have been able to bond over as siblings. Several struggles lead to the birth of Swank ‘N Jive Pomade. One being the struggle to find quality hair products with natural ingredients at a good value, for both men and women. The other being the stress that was put on our family’s existing business. Gabe is kind of a mad genius when he is feeling creative. One day he pretty much got a whim to make a pomade and went with it. Surprisingly, he got the recipe down rather quickly!
What should our readers know about your business?
Vanessa: Gabe was the one to formulate the idea and dive into figuring it out head first. After learning to style my hair in vintage styles, I quickly realized that there really wasn’t a good product for what I needed. I always saw men’s pomade, but where was this option for women? I needed something that was meant for these kinds of hairstyles but it always felt like I was reaching for the stars with it. Until that fateful day when Gabe just happened to get the recipe right. We combined our ideas creatively and created Swank ‘N Jive Pomade.
Gabe: Research and development was definitely the most exciting and challenging part of this journey. After learning how pomade is made, I was determined to master the recipe. I had to learn a lot of chemistry to get the formula to work the way we needed it to. My sister and I both agreed that natural ingredients are always better, but we wanted to make it beneficial for hair as well. I wouldn’t say the process was easy or difficult either way. If anything the venture felt natural to me. Plus it was something I knew Vanessa and I would both get into and have fun with. Right now we are working on finalizing some new shiny products that we think people will love!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We are very open-minded individuals who love to try new food, see new things, and meet new people. Spare time is always well spent at Mercado San Agustin. Grabbing a coffee at Presta, then an empanada at La Estrella, then trying to decide where to eat from the couple of restaurants is always a good day. Fourth Avenue and Downtown Tucson normally have plenty to stimulate your mind. Grab a haircut, tattoo, or get your eyebrows done at El Dorado Barber & Tattoo. El Dorado is one of the coolest barber shops you will see in Tucson and the atmosphere is so fun! Or book a shoot at Flash in the Past Studio so you can channel those fierce pin-up vibes that you may have been suppressing. Once you’re done with your modeling, head down to Fourth Ave to eat some fantastic Italian food at Caruso’s. We grew up going to Caruso’s, it has been a Tucson staple since 1938. If you’re not in the mood for Italian just head down to South Tucson. Mexican food galore!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Good ol’ Mom and Dad! We are a pretty tight knit family that loves to talk business and brainstorm new ideas. Our dad started a business in 1988 that is still going strong to this day. We grew up in business and have a passion for innovation. Our faith and family support is our driving force. Along with our friends, we have a very strong support system and a never-ending supply of people willing to test our new products.
We would also love to recognize our local business partners. The teams at El Dorado Barber & Tattoo and Flash in the Past Studio have provided priceless input and support. We hope these partnerships will enhance our products and services for our shared demographic and passion for providing a quality, vintage experience.