With a great passion in both strategy and sustainability, Beto Bina co-founded FARFARM, a company that creates products from Agroforestry, an innovative land management system. In short – they are growing natural fibers and dyeing plants in an Agroforestry system, where they can exchange nutrients through roots, or balancing sun, shade and wind through the tree tops. Coming from a family of artists, he sees creativity as a pillar to his process.
What led you to do the work you are doing now? How do the dots connect to now?
As a surfer and a rock climber, I’ve always been passionate about nature and sustainability. Back in the early 2000s, in the south of Brazil, there was nothing related with the topic at the university. So I studied business and started my career in the creative industry. When I turned 30, I did a revision of my Personal Strategic Plan, and decided two things: 1) I couldn’t separate professional from personal anymore, I really wanted to blend them as one ‘Beto’. 2) Sustainability should be part of it. So I dived deep in the studies, got 5 certifications at Coursera.org, and after 2 years I had the courage the quit my job as a Strategy Director in NYC to start FARFARM.
A lot of your personal projects explore this common theme of connection, often times between strangers – can you share a story about a time you connected with someone unexpected?
My partner, Felipe, has been studying Agroforestry for while. We were introduced by a really close friend. It was an instant connection with a shared vision. So we started to create the company together. However, we have never met personally. We are both always traveling with busy schedules. When we were at the same city, something happens and we couldn’t meet. Most recently, he was suppose to be in the Amazon with me, but something happened with his boat in Indonesia and he missed the flight. I’ve met Felipe’s family, he has met mine. But we never seen each other face to face. It’s a different type of connection, but maybe that’s the way it should be…
Coming from a family of artists, you have a list of projects with your mother, twin brother, and your wife. What are some creative ideas you’ve been thinking of but have yet to start?
Being a twin is such an insightful experience. The paradox of being the same from the outside, but different internally is a constant and have generated many ideas. A project that we were never able to finish was to spend some time eating exactly the same thing, checking the result in the bathroom (disgusting?), and connecting with our personal life experiences. Our gut is so powerful, and it might be one of the most authentic expressions of our feelings. I’ve also started to play with natural dye and would love to test different raw materials. I’m questioning if there’s any part of our bodies, that carries our DNA, and that can be used for dyeing fibers. I have yet to find.
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Describe your creative process for us. What steps do you go through when you’re working through a project?
I’m very disciplined and organized. But creative processes have to also be serendipitous. The way I approach this is to put myself in vulnerable situations. Taking different routes, setting bold deadlines, commit to unhealthy projects. FARFARM was created this way, I left my job and got unemployed, so I had to create a business. Actually, right now I’m starving but I’m set to finish answering these questions before I eat. I’m an advocate of the indigenous knowledge where from the pain is where we find cure, and how strong winds are what makes our roots stronger.
Tell us a story that showed you where you want to be in 5 years.
Before I created FARFARM, I was always anxious, looking for what to do next and setting up a 5 years vision. Right now I’m in a stage where I stopped searching, it’s less about ‘why’ and ‘what’ and more about ‘how’ to do things. My 5 years vision is to be present.
You said that “sustainability has become vulgarized, and needs more reflection.” Can you share a little more about your journey with sustainability? How did it become a core reflection for you?
I was motivated by anger to work with sustainability. I get mad when I see brands communicating that they are sustainable, when they are just doing a little less harm than the benchmark. Using bamboo as raw materials requires a lot of chemicals to extract the fiber, and that’s not sustainable. Using 20% recycled materials but growing the business 30% (like Unilever does) is not sustainable. Paying $3 a yard for an organic cotton is not sustainable, because someone else is paying the price in the supply chain, and it’s more likely to be women in developing countries. Our consumption is outpacing our sustainable improvements and people’s pride overrules guilt when we consume ‘sustainable’ products. We are blindfolded and running in the wrong direction.
What is the relationship you have with your clothes?
I hate when people give me clothes. It’s such an intimate product, it touches and protects you, I like to choose really carefully what I’m wearing. It’s funny how clothes became the most acceptable gift you can give to someone. I accepted MATTER pants because it has values and design behind it, but I had to think twice. I’m also a creative upcycler. One of my favorite t-shirts is my wife’s EVERLANE dress that shrunk. My favourite shorts are an old pair of pants with true worn out marks.
If you want to change the world, start with your community. I believe textiles have the values and processes to inspire every other industry to become climate positive.
What is one thing you stand for and believe in, and why?
Collaboration. I’m not really good at anything, I’m a connector, bringing people together to collaborate. And a good collaboration requires transparency, ethics and the elegance to jump into the uncertainty first, in order to inspire others to do something.
We are inspired by Beto’s authenticity and empathy and are proud to have him as Fieldtesters, a group of inspiring individuals that test MATTER products in their everyday journeys of passion, to help us improve durability and design. Beto is wearing the The Easy Dhoti + Rana in Size 1.