For SAOR Boutique owners Julio and Angie Montenegro, their new skate shop, Showroom 11, is a family affair.
Barely two years after opening their first business, SAOR Boutique, in the Village Center, Baldwin Park residents Julio and Angie Montenegro are branching out again.
The pair recently opened their newest venture, Showroom 11, on Corrine Drive in the Audubon Park area. Inspired by the interests of their sons, Miles and Julio Jr., the Montenegros’ new business is a skate shop that sells anything from casual apparel and skateboards to shoes and funky finds.
Although the Montenegros have wanted to expand and open another shop for a while, they weren’t sure what it would look like. That became clear when their oldest son, Miles, started sixth grade at Glenridge Middle School this year and became interested in skateboarding.
Around Super Bowl weekend, Angie Montenegro took Miles and his friend, Mason Moses, to a hotel for a weekend getaway. There, Miles and Mason collaborated to design and launch their own T-shirt brand, Sk8 Life.
“We both started skating in sixth grade, and we both needed some cash for our skateboards, so we just wanted to make a skateboard line,” Miles says.
The Montenegros realized this really was their son’s passion. While the process for planning SAOR Boutique, its logistics and its opening took two years, Showroom 11 was born in a matter of days.
“Showroom 11 was a great opportunity, a great neighborhood — we love Audubon Park — and really the kids got into it,” Angie Montenegro says. “It was the quickest turnaround, the quickest business plan that we had. It honestly really stemmed from the kids and the things they like. The opportunity came about, and we jumped.
“Usually, everything is long-term thought out, but with the way things are changing and our kids are going from little boys to preteens — they’re getting a lot older and (we’re) just realizing that they’re not our babies anymore, they’re going to be teenage boys soon — we were already looking for another business,” she says, “We’ve constantly looked and we’re ready to expand from SAOR Boutique, so that’s how it all started.”
Julio Montenegro came up with the name Showroom 11 — the number 11 represents how old Miles was when he and Mason founded Sk8 Life. He loved how they took their passion and ran with it, taking initiative at just 11 years old. He also realized his sons’ styles were much like his — casual, funky and fun.
When the opportunity to lease their spot in a retail plaza along Corrine Drive came about, the opportunity was too great to pass by. Showroom 11 was born.
“This definitely reflects more of our personality (and) it reflects us on a regular basis — jeans and T-shirts and just fun things, a fun environment, music and games and a cool place to be,” Angie Montenegro says. “It’s what the kids want and the kids like, and we’re blessed in the sense that we’re able to do something for them that’s going to end up being the long term — something they can keep.
At Showroom 11, shoppers can find skateboards, casual clothes, skate shoes, socks, funky flip-flops, and fun trinkets and accessories. What’s more, the shop also will feature Miles’ and Mason’s T-shirt line, as well as Julio Jr.’s sporting goods-style face masks.
For Sk8 Life T-shirts, Miles and Mason have been learning how to do everything from designing using the Canva program to sublimation.
“We put it on sublimation paper, and then we have this heat press to put it on the shirt, press it at 400 degrees for like 45 seconds, and then it just comes onto the shirt,” Miles says. “It’s ink on a piece of paper, and then you heat it on.”
Showroom 11 is open with limited, temporary hours during the COVID-19 pandemic, which already had slowed down the timeline traction of opening. The original idea was to open in April, but COVID-19 forced a delay of a little more than a month.
"It’s what the kids want and the kids like, and we’re blessed in the sense that we’re able to do something for them that’s going to end up being the long term — something they can keep.” — Angie Montenegro
“Overall, COVID-19 affected us opening, but it also affected some of the brands, because they’re delayed in shipment,” Julio Montenegro says. “Some of the brands don’t have them yet, because they typically buy from overseas or from other vendors. It’s a trickle effect.”
And although Showroom 11 is the newest member of the Montenegro family, SAOR Boutique isn’t going anywhere. Employees will work at both stores, and the Montenegros hope to be able to pass the reins of Showroom 11 onto their sons when they’re old enough to take over.
“We want them to be part of our family business, and if it takes modeling a store or whatever business after something they genuinely like, they’ll stay connected,” Angie Montenegro says.
“They’ll grow with us in this business, they’ll pick merchandise, they already have an opinion at this point. … Hopefully we bring something great to the community that they may not have had.”