Jess Householder was always posting photos and checking in on Facebook at the latest hot yoga and obstacle courses, in between her work as a VIP party host at the Prohibition Supper Club & Bar and bartending at the Noble Rot Wine Bar.
Never underestimate the power of social media.
“One of the Bacardi brand ambassadors is a Facebook friend of mine,” says Householder. “Through different status updates and him seeing all of the ridiculously active things that I do, he actually just plucked me up off Facebook, gave me a call. I said yes right away.”
Now, Householder is one of eight Houston area bartenders getting ready to compete in the Bartender Boxing competition, the finals of which will take place at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail. Believe it or not, she doesn’t consider herself competitive. “I haven't boxed before,” she says. “This is actually the first competitive sport I have ever played. I'm definitely not a competitive person, but not going to lie; some crazy emotions have come out so far in the ring. It's nice to awaken that part of me.”
It was important to Householder to choose a fighting name that referenced her hometown. She went with Jess Swishahouseholda. “Swishahouse records are a local Houston record label,” she says. “Houston rap is very near and dear to my heart. I really wanted to choose a name that pays homage to Houston, so I tried to put my hometown somewhere in my fighting name to stay repping.”
Householder has been in the hospitality industry in Houston for the last eight years, and she’s been bartending for the last two. “I’m the bartender that likes to be everyone's friend,” she says. “The bartender that doesn't mind staying late for you to get that last drink if you need it that day.”
For her, the best thing about the job is the relationships she gets to build with co-workers, patrons and the whole community of bartenders in the area. “I think that the bartending community in Houston is very strong. Sometimes different businesses can see each other as competition, but I feel like with Houston our main goal is to make sure that everyone's bar is being highlighted and recognized. It's a very family-like atmosphere. We're all friendly with each other.”
As a server, she was envious of the time a bartender got to spend with patrons. “I definitely wouldn't describe myself as the creative bartender that has pairings and awesome recipes in their head. But while, as a bartender, a lot of your job is making drinks and creating menus and taking care of inventory, what really drew me to it was the higher amount of interaction with people. At my bar, always the person on the right end and the person at the left end of the bar are going to end up friends.”
Householder has a hunch that some of her bartending skills will transfer well to boxing. “Being a good bartender and a good boxer, we kind of have to have our next move already planned out,” she says. “Sometimes our next five moves, be it your next punching combo or the order of the next five drinks that you have to pop out. I think that definitely the multi-tasking aspect is something that comes into play both with bartending and boxing.”
She’s also aware that boxing might have a positive effect on her bartending. “Working around a lot of people that can sometimes be over-served, having a lay of the land as far as physical defense goes is something that never hurt anyone,” she says. “I think that they go hand-in-hand together, both will benefit from each other.” Even after the competition, Householder plans to continue her boxing training.