Five years ago, creator and lead designer Cynthia Tello left her comfortable life as a print designer for the denim brand “7 for all Mankind” in Los Angeles California, to embark on the creation of Joya Da Terra: a sustainable, zero-waste shoe, that draws on the benefits of the coconut tree. "I was shocked by the amount of chemicals used by the fashion industry, my dream career turned into a nightmare" explains the 38 year old designer." I knew deep in my heart there was a better way to make innovative products from what we find in nature, unfortunately that now includes plastic. Through Design thinking I found an alternative material (coconut fiber) better for your foot health than any synthetic product found in the industry, one that moulds to your foot as you wear it, and absorbs moisture protecting you from fungus and unwanted odors.
The commercial success of my designs caught the attention of a French stylist, who called her to reinvent the brand Faith Connexion and relocate to China where as a designer I first came across with the reality of working conditions in the fashion chain. The shock was so significant that it led me to reevaluate my career choice and while continuing to work freelance for other fashion brands such as 7 for all Mankind, Hudson Jeans, etc. I decided to re-engage in my studies and start a master's degree in Organizational leadership with the aim of creating a cleaner and fairer fashion brand.
It was in this process of learning about Design Thinking that Joya da Terra was born, with the intention of creating a more sustainable alternative for the footwear industry by reusing recycled coconut fibres as an insole. After graduating I moved to Brazil to start its project, not only for its affinity with culture, but for the opportunity to start small and for the abundance of the main raw material: the green coconut. Brazil is one of the largest consumers and importers of coconut water, producing almost 1 billion green coconuts per year, the coconut shells are either burn or left to dry on their own where they risk contaminating the soil, as they take about 15 years to decompose on their own. Our mission is to bring value to this amazing raw material to stimulate recycling efforts from our local government agencies, in Rio alone in a summer day, and estimated 92.5 coconuts per second are consumed at our local beaches representing 30% of all our urban waste.
Today, the Joya da Terra brand participates in the Sebrae Sustainable Brand Collective to improve its knowledge of the national market, one that enables Sustainable Fashion brands and the Impacta acceleration program, both managed by Sebrae of the state of Rio de Janeiro. We were selected to participate in some wholesale fairs like VESTE RIO, and Micbr2018 in partnership with Arpex and the Ministry of Culture and finally ECO Fashion Week. We have also been featured in an array of publications, most recently this month's issue of Vogue Brasil, and EVA in Slovakia.