We first resonated with Incausa because of their humble origins, attracted to them initially by their name as much as their mantra “In the learning of a home contemplation practice”. We also have a shared love of rituals, especially those related to our Pachamama (mother earth). Offering simple, pure and soulful incenses with a strong focus on giving back, this social enterprise supports indigenous heritage and sovereignty in such a beautiful way and we were so thrilled to collaborate with them.
We’ve partnered with Incausa to offer a truly unique product - the Xingu Hammock. It’s the first time we've explored a product of this nature and we are proud to have committed to this project pro-bono, meaning that after shipping and taxes, all profits go directly to the Amari Woman in Brazil. They are absolutely beautiful, we have one in our studio!
To coincide with our collaboration, we wanted to share more about the good work that Incausa does, and so we’re happy to share the transcript of our chat with Vinicius Vieira, Incausa’s Brooklyn-based co-founder.
Words & Photos: Victoria Aguirre* some images are from Incausa.
Incausa means "to advocate in the cause of", in Latin. Why did you choose this name and what was the journey for you to start your business?
In 2011 I sold everything I had and organised myself into my backpack, leaving my apartment in Brooklyn and heading to the French Alps where I took a sabbatical, hitchhiking and exploring the great outdoors of the old world. During that time of surrender and contemplation, I sought purpose in life and in work. When I returned to NYC 4 months later, Occupy Wall Street was bubbling up. It was there among those spirits of discussion on the motives for capital that I was able to first envision what would become these "studies on purpose-capital".
What do you love about your work?
Apart from the dream of building a social business structure that supports the indigenous artisans and their sovereignty, our team became a family, we go camping together, we share our lives and dream of a better future together. To be a part of these dreams of building a company that reflects our grandest ideals is also a dream come true.
How has your local Brooklyn community embraced your offerings?
We started the business on Bedford Avenue, with just a little folding table - which allowed us to build the most endearing, supportive relationship with the neighborhood and also allowed all of our friends to be agents for our cause. It's a huge fortune to have that local support and we hope to make them proud.
How does Incausa approach social entreprise?
Our work is to develop a sustainable purposeful market placement for indigenous artisanship. To build the infrastructure for logistics, invest in production and facilitate organisation for export, packaging and shipping. Also direction in design that inspires a return to their original heritage instead of modernism or replication. All this work we do as a pro-bono representative, taking no profit shares but thinking continuously on how to leverage more capital and understand deeper the aspirations of each artisan/community while observing sustainable, conscious production processes.
Tell us about the Incausa collection, how do rituals and ceremonies benefit us?
When studying different religions we realised the value of the most simple act of contemplation. The intention is to inspire silence and awareness through deep breathing and listening (incense, soap, singing bowl). To create a line of products that could inspire a self study and ritual practice without words.
For us, this point of practice has to be the first contact with our mission, so that together everyone involved can have a mindful perspective of our purpose.
What can you tell us about your relationship with the indigenous communities with whom you work?
There are more than 300 different indigenous nations in Brazil alone. To be able to connect with a few of these and also in Peru with the Montero and Q'eros is indescribable. There should be no wrong perceptions in seeing the Indigenous as the amiable all-wise romantic figure. They are nations, with artists, storytellers, politicians, mothers and shamans. To try and start a new type of relationship unheard of to them (in the case of the non profit commercial market placement) is of a pleasure not measurable. It's humbling to think of all the seeds we are planting and that this is only the very early beginning. We already feel that we have built lifetime bonds with some of the leadership, which comes with a weight of responsibility and yearning to achieve all our goals.
What would you say is your biggest achievement to date?
To become an operating professional business structure has to be our biggest achievement in my personal point of view :) It was actually my Wife and Co-Founder Carolina who brought proper structure to our company, since I always dreaded bureaucracy, it's been a lifetime fear of mine having to adapt legal systems into the business. And on top of it all to have a hybrid of multinational operations moving rare wood materials and aboriginal artwork from and to all parts of the globe while building a team of close friends... all that, has also been a wild dream come true.
We love our hammock handmade by the Xingu people, what can you tell us about the process of making these, we understand it's a labour of love?
They are made with Buriti fiber. In March we organised an expedition for a photographer to go there and document the whole production process. Soon we will publish this. This plant, buriti, is a palm tree very special to their culture. They have to go deep into the forest, crossing rivers and then transporting the long buriti trunk on their shoulders back through wetlands and riverbeds. Then they strip the leaves into fibrous thread and dry them. All this work is done by the women and the whole process from harvest to delivery can take 30 days. The Yawalapiti hammocks can be found in display at Museums like the Natural History Museum in NYC.
One of our best selling Incausa products is the bath and meditation bundle. I'm completely in love with the soap and the special paper that it’s wrapped n. How do these nepalese papers come into Incausa?
Part of our growth involves forming our production team all of whom come from the Tibetan community in NY and have provided so much inspiration in developing our line of products. The traditional Himalayan handmade Lokta paper has been used for thousands of years to this day to carry sacred teachings to government official notices. We have partnered with a small village enterprise to develop and produce a line of paper that speaks to our aesthetic, motive and quality.
How does the scent of Palo Santo make you feel?
It makes me think of all the stories of the aromatic woods that have become integral parts of spiritual practice of so many different religions, creeds and peoples.
It brings about a peaceful, positive, clean mood.
You speak of 'In the learning of a home contemplation practice', tell us about this mantra.
Meditation and contemplation can improve our experience as a human being to a higher level where there is more peace, compassion and love. We feel it is integral to our needs, this habit of practicing something that takes us beyond our worries and physical experience.
What is Latin culture to you?
In Latin America it could be said that the Latin culture is a clash between the European colonialists and the native nations. There is a melding between the Christian monotheism, the diverse native spiritual practices and also all the African cultural heritage.
How else are you working with the Indigenous communities on sustainable solutions?
Our idea is to help them develop towards their independence and self reliability when building the market and distribution for their artisanship. Things like; how to receive payments using online systems like paypal; how to properly ship/export abroad. How to understand value, wholesale vs retail and all available channels. How to commercialise using photography and free social media communication.
We have set up a base close to the Xingu Indigenous Reserve were our team is working to help plant more Buriti palm trees in the forest, cultivate seedlings and practicing landcare.
*Most images & words are copyright of Pampa, for any kind of use please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for permission.