Jackfir Conversations: Chris Galasso and Mike Sard, Founders of Tombolo

written by Charlie Razook, Founder

We sat down with Tombolo co-founders, Chris Galasso and Mike Sard, to discuss lifestyle, fashion, sustainability, and skincare. After years of scheming about leaving their day jobs, these childhood pals decided it was time to turn dreams into reality. These two have been pushing the boundaries of leisurewear, or "Inactivewear," with their unique designs and emphasis on sustainability.

What was your path to founding Tombolo together?

We were childhood pals (since six!) and always scheming together. As adults, we schemed of escaping our day jobs, letting our creativity run wild and starting a business together. At the time, we were both in fields very remote from our current industry. Chris was in crisis PR and Mike was at a political risk consultancy. When we finally took the plunge in our late twenties, we were fortunate that our timing aligned well with the ascendency of Shopify and digital/social advertising, which allowed us to slowly grow the business from our side project to our side hustle to our full-time jobs. 

You often use more sustainable materials like recycled polyester. Is sustainability important to you both?
We’re well aware that the most sustainable thing any clothing brand can do is to not exist in the first place. We approach our material selection and other sustainability efforts from a place of humility, figuring out how we can reduce our negative impact even if we’ll never achieve perfection.
That process often comes down to tough business choices that move us incrementally in the right direction. For example, we came to a fork in the road a few years ago when we were seriously considering pursuing wholesale. At the time, we were deciding whether to transition our Hawaiian shirts from Rayon to Tencel™. Tencel™ is a more sustainable fabric, but it is also more expensive and would preclude us from pursuing wholesale for the foreseeable future unless we raised our prices.

We decided to opt for the more sustainable option and hold prices at a level we thought would continue to delight our customers, foregoing wholesale. Over the long run, I think our customers have rewarded the decision by recognizing the quality and environmentally-friendly properties of our fabrics at our prices.

There are also some impactful steps that the customer can't really touch and see--- steps that we've grown big enough to take. For example, shifting our shipping mix from predominantly air in the beginning to overwhelmingly boat today was a long journey in a positive direction. When we were tiny, fast-growing, and cash-strapped in the early days, we just couldn't afford to pay for product and then sweat it out while it made the long journey across the ocean.

To help offset our impact further, we joined 1% for the Planet a couple of years ago. We love to use our shirts as vehicles to raise money for causes that matter to us and the environment.

Do you have any fitness and/or wellness practices that help you stay in the best physical and mental shape possible?

Exercise is very important to both of us. On top of our personal routines, we do Barry’s Bootcamp together at least once a week. We actually tried to make it a ritual for the entire office, but during that first class with everyone, Chris tripped on the treadmill and brought the class to a halt. Needless to say, the rest of our office hasn’t joined us since, but we still keep it up and enjoy the catharsis of that kind of exercise, usually followed by a clean meal with friends to catch up. Chris also meditates--new Tombolo employees are always shocked to see him doing it in the corner of the office. Their first encounter is a true rite of passage!

Do you have a skincare routine? If so, what is it?

We’re both pretty simple about it: a face wash and then Jackfir’s moisturizer (and Mike uses the eye cream before bed as well). We’ll be honest, we initially bought the moisturizer because [founder] Charlie’s our friend and we felt socially obligated. But it’s become integral to our routines ever since by its own merits.The biggest revelation on skincare has been the importance of consistency and holding to a rhythm so your skin can relax. In our twenties we were all over the place. Mike is still wayyy too all over the place, but at least he has his skin routine in order now.

Which Jackfir product is your favorite and why?

Chris loves the shaving cream. The aroma is refreshing and the quality of the cream gives a really protective, luxurious cushion for a close shave without any irritation. Mike loves The Evergreen Eye Cream; it's the first one he's ever used that didn't just feel great, but also had quick, demonstrable results and became a consistent habit.