Chris Riccobono ’01: Fashionable Friar
It was a problem so ubiquitous, so simple, that no one had thought to solve it: a typical men’s shirt is either too baggy or too long to wear untucked.
Enter Chris Riccobono ’01, a PC finance major and tennis player who went on to dream up UNTUCKit. The clothing brand is known for creating shirts that are the perfect length to wear (obviously) untucked. What started out as a staple for “regular guys” has grown into a full line of clothing and accessories available at more than 80 stores nationwide.
That just-right fit has landed Riccobono and his business partner, Aaron Sanandres, on the pages of The New York Times and GQ — and in the closets of casually stylish people everywhere. Riccobono met Sanandres as MBA students at Columbia Business School and had pitched him dozens of ideas before. But when he pitched UNTUCKit, they both knew they were on to something.
“You might launch five businesses and fail, but you just need one,” Riccobono said. “Once you launch your first company, you feel like you can launch hundreds of them.”
Riccobono developed that sense of persistence and resilience not only through launching and failing, but also through learning to cope with his own depression and anxiety. He recalls stopping his first post-grad-school job interview because the interviewer could hear Riccobono’s heart beating.
“At the time (when I was younger), you didn’t speak openly about it. You hid it, your parents hid it. I think we’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go,” said Riccobono.
To help current students develop and refine their own coping skills, Riccobono and his wife, Amy Parrillo ’03, whom he met at PC, established Riccobono Academic Resilience Faculty Fellowship Mini-Grants Program.
The program supports faculty members wishing to incorporate mental health elements and strategies into their courses and raise awareness and understanding of the challenges posed by anxiety and depression. Through enhancing student mental well-being, the program aims to improve academic resilience — the ability to perform well academically despite challenging life experiences and stress — and help students flourish.
As it turns out, fashion and flourishing have a lot in common.
“You’re always told that the best idea is the one that solves your problem,” he told The New York Times about launching UNTUCKIT. “I used to think, ‘What do I need?’”