TUMBAO | Student Business Spotlight


In January of 2019 the project of Tumbao was born. Our team sat for a meeting at Segovia’s Fab Lab to work towards creating an environmentally friendly wallet – made in Spain. But throughout the process something did not quite fit, so we decided to readjust our goals and gave our project a new life.

We decided that Mexico would be the ideal place to manufacture our product. This decision emerged from a variety of considerations. First, Mexico, with its rich and lively culture, seemed like the ideal place to draw from when creating our designs. And second, with its warm and vivacious people, Mexico in many ways embodies the allure which characterises the name of our company.

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From the outset, the goal of Tumbao has been to create affordable environmentally friendly accessories that allow consumers to transition into a more sustainable lifestyle. We discussed a number of ways to do this throughout multiple months and in multiple meetings; the big result of these discussions was our aim to use a material that allowed us to produce high quality products and to do so in an ethical way.

Pineapple leather, fruit leather and mushroom leather were a number of options we considered since these alternative materials would, in one way or another help us fulfil our two goals. Along the way we developed a number of unique designs for our wallets which would help us stand out once we found an appropriate material. After a long process we found a material that not only fulfilled our production standards, but that would also give us an opportunity to celebrate an iconic plant from Mexico.

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Cactus bio-leather became our material of choice; It exceeded our expectations both in terms of feel and its positive impact on the planet. Once the material was settled on, the team worked tirelessly to flesh out the identity of Tumbao as an ethical company that seeks to make sustainability affordable and desirable for the average consumer. It was at this point that our founder Nicolas Saye chose to take his exchange semester in Mexico City. He did this in part to get acquainted with the local culture, but primarily to set the wheels in motion when it came to the production process.

It was during Nick’s time in Mexico that the COVID-19 pandemic struck, making an already difficult process even more challenging. But through it all, the hope of Tumbao persevered. In the coming months we established a relationship with the manufacturers of the cactus leather as well as local craftsmen and suppliers. During this process, it must be noted we were keenly aware of our environmental impact, consequently, our efforts made the supply chain now use as small and as local as possible.

With the contacts established and the designs ready the past few months have been spent perfecting prototypes, figuring out how to ship our products, and importantly the construction of the kickstarter campaign. We see an immense amount of potential in alternative and sustainable products. Tumbao generally, and the kickstarter campaign specifically, both hope to show that small actions can go a long way when it comes to creating sustained and positive change. The kickstarter campaign is, in a way, an invitation for people to participate in ameliorating the state of our planet, while at the same time purchasing an exquisitely designed product.

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In our campaign our internal funding goal is 50,000 EUR, with several milestones in the kickstarter making new varieties of our product available when reached (5.000, 10.000 and 15.000 EUR). With these funds we seek to incorporate as a limited liability company in Spain, fund the first run of our line, and to begin developing new and improved products for consumers to continue purchasing.

Our short term goal is to make our wallets completely biodegradable, thereby making one of the first fully biodegradable accessories on the market. Furthermore the hope is to branch out into a number of other accessories, from shoes to backpacks, in hopes that we can make a line of products that does not make consumers choose between style and sustainability.

Long term, we hope to have a round of investment which would allow us to expand the project to new countries, with new materials and new designs. This would not only allow us to highlight the beauty that can be found in the various countries around the world, but also to give exposure to a variety of eco friendly alternative materials that can and should be used more often.

When something has Tumbao it has an allure that captures the attention of all those around it. It is in the spirit of Tumbao that we create unique designs in hopes of making both the product, and the goal of an environmentally sustainable planet, a force to be reckoned with.

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