Golden grass and Favela girls – SHEISFROMTHEJUNGLE empowering women from the slums of Brazil

sheisfromthejungle-socially-conscious-swimwear-brazil

Going a little off the beaten track from our usual indieBerlin fare, but we were so impressed with this we had to let you know about it: the socially conscious, handmade and fairtrade Brazilian organic fashion label called SHEISFROMTHEJUNGLE. One of the main movers is the wonderful Domitila, who we met in Berlin, and she took the time to tell us all about it.

Domitila is a German-Brazilian model and socially conscious business activist. She was born and started life herself in a socially deprived favela in Brazil, in an area known as the shooting line, surrounded by poverty and crime. Her parents before her had started a movement to help street kids in the area called CAMM. The fashion line she eventually set up – selling swimwear sewed and knitted by women in the favelas – and amazing Golden Grass jewellery (more about that later) – also handmade by women – is dedicated to giving (mainly) single women a way to make money, without having to expose themselves to the dangers and uncertainties both inside and outside the slums where they live.

Domitila is all about empowering women, and especially about empowering Brazilian women caught in this vicious cycle. Everyone who works for and with the company is female, she said, from the photographers to the designers to the sellers. All SHEISFROMTHEJUNGLE products are socially conscious, organic and made by hand and with love in Brazil. Ten percent of the profits go to the CAMM steet child project in the “shooting line” in the northeast of Brazil, with mothers and young women in the area involved in the brand.

We believe that everyday consumers can help empower disadvantaged communities by purchasing the ethically sourced goods in the international marketplace. For us it’s very important not only to provide sustainable incomes for the producer-communities, but also to build a place to buy ethically sourced products making economic integration possible. We work with local artisans from Brazil helping the local economy.

Golden Grass comes from northern Brazil, where it is an important source of income for villagers, about 500 families working with the Golden Grass. It’s quite amazing – a rare plant which has the appearance of spun gold and continues to shine after it’s harvested. It is strong, durable and flexible enough to be woven into accessories. It is also very light in weight so that earrings that look like gold are virtually weightless. The conservation management by the Brazilian government (EMBRAPA) also gives its assurance that it is a renewable resource.

Furthermore the Brazilian government prohibits export of the raw grass; only crafted products may be sold outside Tocantins state. The making of handicrafts began in Jalapão, in the Afro-Brazilian community of Mumbuca in the municipality of Mateiros. Indigenous people, probably from the Xerente ethnic group, taught the art to local inhabitants when passing through the region around the 1930s.

For decades the handicrafts were only made by women for household uses and/or sporadic selling. Today, there are at least 12 local community associations. Syngonanthus nitens’ flowering starts in July and seeds are produced from the beginning of September through October.

Domitila says this:

“I love the idea of using sustainable and natural materials.
I am inspired by the women who surround me; they come in all shapes, sizes and ethnicities and I greatly appreciate their transparency and acceptance of themselves. We all have imperfections and different ways to embrace ourselves and I believe that is what makes life, and humans, interesting and beautiful. My hope and philosophy is to design bikinis that make EVERY woman feel comfortable and confident. I want my designs, like the women who wear them, to be diverse. For example some can be worn in two different ways, or can be reversed to expose a different color, or can transition from a bikini to a crop-top.”

Want to wear incredibly cool stuff while helping disadvantaged women and young mothers in Brazil – as well as street kids born without many chances in life? Here’s the SHEISFROMTHEJUNGLE shop and website. And let’s not forget that swim season is just coming up!*

*Although in Germany you never know just WHEN that will be…..!

Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a 'recovering musician', he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.

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