[Casavva Chats] A monthly series capturing our eclectic conversations with interesting people about work, play, style and more.
Chris Tiutan & Nate Leung - Reimagining Sweatpants on the Side.
This month we chatted with Chris and Nate, co-founders of sweatpants company Natoma. We’ve learned much from each other’s teams on starting and building a brand. Here we get a few personal details on their story.
Guys, give us a few introductory sentences about yourselves.
Chris: I spent my formative years in a suburb of Los Angeles where I grew up playing soccer and way too many hours of Counter-Strike. In 2013, I decided to take a leap of faith, move to San Francisco and help grow Optimizely, then an up-and-coming a/b testing startup. It turns out, startups are a great place to meet co-founders and it’s where Nate, Wes and I first started dreaming of making the perfect pair of men’s sweatpants. Today, I’m a product marketing manager at Facebook working on their video products.
Nate: I grew up in Silicon Valley, CA right in the heat of the first bubble and also saw it collapse. I’ve always had the entrepreneurial bug, so I went out east to get some corporate and VC experience before returning to SF to pursue a career in tech. Now, I am back in the investing world at a VC firm, Industry Ventures.
What were you doing the moment you came up Natoma?
The name was inspired by Natoma St., which was a street we always used to walk by as we were dreaming up our side venture, so I guess we were walking when we came up with the name and concept!
What is the funniest story in your time doing the company?
Chris: For me it was the whole experience of shooting our kickstarter video. We didn’t have a great plan, a tight timeline and just jumped right into it. The video was shot in my tiny apartment and it was interesting having strangers rolling around on my bed as part of some of the scenes.
Nate: The amount of inventory we still have on hand. The responsiveness of our first designer partner...funny...until we realized they weren’t able to support our needs.
We understand that Natoma was founded while both of you were doing a full-time job, how did you find time to work on it?
Chris: We got creative! It helped that we all had the same day job. The three of us would make time to meet right after work during the week and on Sundays.
Nate: We had to make time for it as a passion project, so it didn’t really feel like work.
What advice do you guys have for those working at an established company but wanting to do a company on the side as well?
Chris: I think everyone has a method for optimizing their time/resources when doing a side project. What worked for us was to set a recurring weekly meeting. It really helped in keeping each other accountable and surfacing any issues that we could fix as a group.
Nate: Make sure your colleagues support your project and know that your day job is still your top priority.
Recommend us a good pair of shoes to go with Natoma sweats.
Chris: My pairing-of-choice is the Midnight Blue Saturday Sweatpants with my favorite pair of boots, the Redwing Heritage Beckman in Black Cherry Featherstone.
Nate: Tod’s brown moccasin drivers.
What are your favorite places to shop clothes in general?
Chris: Uniqlo, Everlane, Wool & Prince, Tom Bihn
Nate: Uniqlo, Rag & Bone, Scoop NYC, Jeffrey’s
What is the one fashion trend we’ll look back and laugh at 10 years down the road?
Chris: Anchor bracelets for men. I don’t get it.
Nate: Athleisure ;) Lumbersexual fashion, I hope.
We think there’s an opportunity to combine our love for technology and men’s clothing. Stay tuned!