Interview with PomadeShop founder Stan Soldan about pomade, wet shaving and the cult brand "Dapper Dan"
October 3, 2017
Dear Stan, since when is Pomade making it’s comeback?
I dare to say since I have opened online shop named PomadeShop in 2008. Before, on a global scale there was nothing, maybe a vintage shop or an afro shop, with often a disastrous photo and one-liners, that's it.
I was, you can say so, first to define pomade, studied the ingredients, researched the career of pomade and its famous users and emerged the pros and cons. I had made the first categorization of pomades concerning the degree of hardness in soft, medium-weight, heavy and very heavy and provided specific guidance for customers. With me as a model, because I did not find anyone who wanted to use pomade in his hair then. This has definitely changed.
Traditional Pomade is based on petrolatum, modern pomade on water. We offer the world's largest selection of pomades.
Why did you find pomade in afro shops?
Many people with black skin have frizzy hair. To get a handle on them, you need tough, super strong pomade, for example the "Murray's Superior Hair Dressing Pomade". As I started to learn about pomade, I wondered why I did not get the material out of the can and why I was unable to wash it out for a week (laughs).
What can you tell me- in a nutshell - about the history of pomade?
The triumph of pomade began with the discovery of petrolatum in 1870. The hightime of pomade was in the 1920s and 1930s. From the 1950s hair cream became modern, later hair spray and gel became popular. From the 1970s on, when men wore their hair longer, pomade declined to a niche product. Many brands disappeared completely.
How did you get all the information to build PomadeShop?
That was a big detective game. I tried to get old products, old books and old advertisement. I did research like hell on the net. Nobody had the knowledge and information was limited. There was no specific guidance, no description of the merits and shortcomings of pomade. Indeed no one seemed interested, there were no instructions, no description of the advantages and disadvantages. Even among the hairdressers pomade has been forgotten.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of pomade?
Pomade is perfect for men who prefer a stable hair dressing all day long, for instance professional helmet wearers such as soldiers and policemen, cyclists and bikers, or businessmen who regularly are on a journey, even cooks and operating doctors. Pomade gives the hair hold and you are still still able to comb it.
In addition, traditional pomade is completely free of modern chemistry. However, the stronger a pomade is, the harder it is to wash it out of the hair. That was back in the 1930s when a pomade had the same price like a haircut. Today when needed special shampoos help to rinse the pomade out.
The main feature of pomade was also the reason why pomade has disappeared for decades. Because pomade gives the hair a light to oily sheen - particularly in the 1920-50s strong hair shine a must-have for men. And that's what made the pomade less and less popular from the 1960s on. The men preferred dry looking hair. Though pomade is not suitable for long hair as a hair styling product, since that usually looks greasy. As for hair care, of any hair length there is no better product than pomade.
„Many men enjoy using shaving soap“
In 2015, you opened a brick and mortar shop in Munich…
My fiancée Monika had the idea. One evening she told me: „You have to do that, to present the idea PomadeShop in real life.“ I stayed awake the entire night, searching for a shop. Fortunately, I found the shop in central Munich, which had been occupied for 40 years.
In cooperation with the designer Jochen Königshausen we designed the just 12 square metres of selling space. The till is an antique from Bavaria and the heating is built after French plans from 1870. The whole team worked day and night to make the dream come true. It was an incredible team achievement.
Interviewer’s remark: In July 2017 PomadeShop opened it’s second brick and mortar shop located in Cologne.
What is the background that PomadeShop stands on the Barbicide glasses?
We and others face many enquiries by hairdressers and barbers about products, the equipment and the decoration of the rooms. Barbicide, who manufactures cleaning devices for hairdressers and barbers since 1947, allowed us as the only company worldwide to write our name on their products. This right has been denied even to huge global hairdressing chains. We distribute approximately 30 brands and build them up in Germany and Europe as well. The owners of these brands appreciate that a lot. Sometimes we even have deeper knowledge than them. That convinced Barbicide.
Since 2008 we have been working with the online shop and since 2015 with the brick and mortar shop in Munich to distribute pomade and other products with excellent service and to inform customers well.
The pomade „Dapper Dan“ has a cult standing among pomade lovers. What is the story behind this?
There is a movie which pomade lovers adore a lot. The movie takes place in 1937. In one scene, the protagonist asks in a country store for a pomade called „Dapper Dan“ and then complains when they don’t have it on store not to get one. This had inspired me. I was able to register the trade mark "Dapper Dan" in Germany, in most other countries I had to choose another name. There the brand is named "Don Draper" and is just as good. As a joke, I introduced the "FOP" pomade, which the main actor furiously rejects in the movie. Although it was a joke, the customers love it and me as well.
In the brick and mortar shop you sell not only pomade but also any kind of care product for men…
A lot of our costumers have a beard and buy beard oil, beard wax, beard brush or a beard shampoo. We have a broad selection and it becomes bigger and bigger. Apart from pomade classic shaving products are very popular, especially the after shave of Dapper Dan, razor and shaving soap. At the beginning men enjoy it a lot to produce the shaving lather themselves.
Stan, many thanks for this exciting interview!
Dear Christian, it was my pleasure!