How did a bunch of self-described “working stiffs” from Orange County, California turn homemade hair wax into an international DIY success story? With the help of friends and lots of ganas. ?
Brothers Pete and Tony Adame, along with their buddy J-Bird, went from giving away homemade batches of their Suavecito hair pomade to building a business that stands FIRME.
Hair pomade company Suavecito (@suavecitopomade) had very humble beginnings. “We started the company with a Dell that was missing the letter C and the number 9, and a cracked first generation iPhone,” said CEO Pete Adame. Oh, and they used MySpace as a stand-in for a website. (?: @wendyfrink ?: @ralphli) #EntrepreneurFaces #?
Credit: @entrepeneur / Instagram
It started because they liked the good stuff, but it was too expensive. So they made their own.
If you’re a Mexican-American from Southern California, there’s a pretty good chance you know someone who puts Three Flowers pomade on their dome. It’s great if you’re on a budget. Well, Pete Adame really liked a product out of Japan called Cool Grease, but at over $20 a can, it was too pricey. He and his buddy J-Bird were like forget that. They grabbed some five-gallon buckets from Home Depot and started experimenting with ingredients to come up with their own concoction.
Eventually, Suavecito hair pomade was born.
The smooth name came from a friend’s mom, who told the guys they “were looking all suavecito” as they left her house one day.
Wanna see how it’s made?
Credit: Suavecito Pomade/YouTube
They brew it up, refrigerate it, hand label it, pack it up and send it out.
Give it away, give it away, give it away…
After brewing up buckets of homemade pomade, they started giving it away to friends. “I thought … if there’s a way I could figure out to make it, I can just give it away to all of my friends and where they don’t have to buy it – cool. I’m happy with that,” recalls Pete.
Their friends loved it because it wasn’t sticky. And barbers around Southern California started to notice.
When their friends would go to barber shops, barbers would notice the distinctive smelling, water-soluble pomade with a wax-like hold. It was a lot like Three Flowers, but bettah, so they wanted to know more about it.
The intent was never to become a business.
“Run lean until you can't anymore.” — J-Bird. @suavecitopomade prides themselves on never borrowing money. They didn't pay themselves for years and sold some of their stuff to stay afloat. One of their biggest milestones was paying all their bills and still having money left in their accounts. (?: @wendyfrink ?: @ralphli) #EntrepreneurFaces #?
When the demand for the product grew outside of the freebies they were giving to friends, J-Bird started bringing up the business possibilities. At first Pete was all chale and resisted selling the pomade because, according to him, “It was never a business. We just got this gnarly kick out of it. We were just working stiffs.” But people want what they want and you can only resist for so long.
Believe it or not, the Great Recession was kind of great.
Credit: @suavecito / Instagram
Pete had been working as a machinist, but in 2009 he lost his job because of the Great Recession. He and J-Bird, who worked as a cook, wanted to open up a hot dog restaurant. Well, they couldn’t get a loan, so instead, Pete took his severance pay ($1,000) and invested it in their pomade production gig.
They had built up quite the underground following…then sh*t got serious.
It's time for another contest! Can you guess how many Suavecito Pomade cans there are in this picture? Whoever is closest will win a can of: @mr_rhythm @tiptopbarbershop @greaser_g13. You have until 8am tomorrow (PST) and you can only guess ONCE. Only on Instagram. #suavecitopomade #getithombre #suavecito #pomade
They were only gonna sell enough pomade to maybe open up a restaurant with the earnings, but they sold out of their first 4,000 cans – como si nada.
Suavecito Inc. grew and they brought in more employees.
Pete’s brother Tony came on board early on and since then, two more Adame brothers are part of the Suavecito staff that boasts employees in the double digits.
They now have fans and customers all over the world. Including baseball superstar Bryce Harper…
Credit: Patrick Smith / Getty
As well as Mexican soccer stars Carlos Vela, Miguel Layún and Giovani Dos Santos.
Credit: @suavecitopomade / Instagram
The ladies wanted to be smooth and firme, too. So the Suavecito guys hooked them up.
Ladies were also using the Suavecito products, but wanted a little sumthin’ sumthin; for themselves. In 2014, Suavecita, a line for women, was launched.
It’s now more than pomade.
Sure the success of the company started with pomade, but it has grown into a “cultural phenomenon” with an ever-increasing line of products such as beard serum and switchblade combs.
They will never forget their humble beginnings.
Now that Suavecito has built a huge fan base, they could probably charge more money for their products. But they won’t. According to Tony Adame, “We want kids from our neighborhood to have the chance of looking good. We want to keep our pomade and clothing so affordable that even we could have afforded it when we were kids.”
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