Where did you find your inspiration for Bombas? Can you tell us a little about the story behind the name?
My co-founder and I read a quote in a press release from the Salvation Army in 2011 that said that socks are the most requested clothing item at homeless shelters in the U.S. That really stuck with us, and it was the inspiration that started it all. From there, we spent two years on research and development, knowing that in order to donate a lot of socks, we’d have to sell a lot of socks, and to do that, we’d have to create something different and better than any other sock on the market.
The name Bombas is derived from the Latin word for bumblebee. Bees work together to make their hive a better place. We liked that and felt that it really fit what we were trying to do, which is why our logo is a bee, and our mantra is bee better. We think of bee better as inspiration to create a better product, to do more in the community, to push harder at athletic pursuits—it’s inspiration for everyday life.
What has been the most challenging aspect of being an entrepreneur in a very niche market with strong competitors in the athletic industry?
I would say the biggest challenge is patience and focus. There is a lot we want to do with this brand, but we are really focused on socks right now: getting socks on the feet of those in need and creating an incredibly comfortable product. As much as we know, there is so much more we can do, we constantly remind ourselves to focus on what we do best.
Social Entrepreneurship is a trend that we have been seeing in the last few years. How would you say your Georgetown experience helped shape your outlook on turning your personal success into a benefit serving the common good?
A big part of my Georgetown experience was balance. The balance between working hard and having a great time. Between the campus and the city of D.C. Between the independence of being on your own for the first time and the structure of the university. And that idea has carried through to how I live my life and to the culture of Bombas. We have a really tight group of coworkers. Everyone works hard, but we have unlimited vacation days, we subsidize exercise classes, do giving events together every month, and go on a retreat together every year.
Georgetown was also a place where I met people from all over the world that came together to form a community. That focus on community is still a big part of my life and a huge part of Bombas. We started our business to help solve a problem in our own community. The sock part came second. My co-founder and I didn’t grow up dreaming to be in the sock business. But we did want to make a difference, and a lot of that for me came from my time Georgetown.
Those two ideas—balance and community—were fostered at Georgetown and remain a big part of my work and life
What’s a phrase, motto, or quote that you find most inspirational?
Bee Better has become a mantra, both for our brand and for me as an individual. We mean it as a way of approaching every day—a reminder to push yourself harder in your athletic and philanthropic pursuits, a way to approach personal relationships, and a reminder that a better world starts with a simple gesture.
What’s next for Bombas?
For the immediate future, we will focus on what we do best, continuing to expand our assortment within the sock category and seeking new ways to help support the homeless community.
What is your Netflix queue?
I feel like most Netflix queues are filled with the movies you kind of want to watch but never get around to actually watching. So here are some things I’ve watched recently: The Kid Stays In The Picture, The Great Beauty, Breaking Away, Midnight Run, The Third Man, Royal Tenenbaums, Out Of Sight, Get Shorty, Roger Dodger, Frances Ha, The American Friend, Lebowski, Girls, House of Cards, Brooklyn, and that new Godfather cut with all those crazy added scenes.
Any parting words of wisdom for your fellow Hoyas?
Most likely, you will not end up where you think you are going to end up, even in the short term—which is a good thing. Go with it. I majored in finance and never worked a day on Wall Street. My career has been in branding/advertising, and now I’ve started my own sock business. You never know. Keep your eyes open for great opportunities in unlikely places. Keep yourself surrounded by smart, interesting people. Understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. Live a life that’s worth retelling someday. Also, adding ketchup to a Chicken Madness at Wisey’s changes everything (in a good way).