One question that comes up a lot from visitors to Rio is “What is a nice gift that I can buy here to take home?”. The usual list of suggested presents/mementos goes like this: Havaianas, cachaça, coffee. That’s it.
Well, actually of course that’s not it – there are other imaginative suggestions like pão de queijo mix (both my parents have been the lucky recipients of this Brazilian treat), hammocks (my sister) and giant bird-head masks (my friends):
All of these gift ideas (with the possible exception of the bird-head masks) are pretty good, but if you’ve been to Brazil before, then you’ll probably have bought all of these already (again, not the bird-heads).
So where can you go if you’re looking for something a little more creative and original? Well, there’s a very nice shop that I discovered recently right here in Santa Teresa: Tucum.
Tucum’s motto is Arte Indígena – Design Sustentável (Indigenous Art – Sustainable Design) which pretty well sums them up. They are a collective of indigenous groups, researchers, designers and artists that have come together to support sustainable Brazilian arts and crafts and build a supply chain that can benefit indigenous communities.
They stock a wide range of arts and crafts items, ranging from bracelets, necklaces and other items of jewellery through to baskets, hammocks and works of art.
Not all the items they stock are made by indigenous people. Sustainability is a big part of their ethos and so they’re happy to support projects like Óculos Zerezes. This rather charming video tells you all you need to know:
So, while I’m definitely not knocking Havaianas as a great gift to cram into your suitcase, perhaps through Tucum you’ll find something more memorable and certainly more original.
If you’re not lucky enough to be in Rio, but are interested in buying products that have been responsibly sourced from Brazilian artisans, take a look at Gift Brazil.
Gift Brazil was set up by Angelica Mari, a Brazilian technology journalist and crafter, because of a common problem she encountered when entertaining business guests:
Every time Angelica [showed] business and leisure visitors around Brazil, there was always a last-minute, rushed request to find interesting gifts that they could take home to friends and family. But those visitors would invariably resort to the gifts of t-shirts and decorative items that often bear the clichéd toucans, parrots, the famous Rio tourist spots…but the worst thing of all is that those items are, quite frequently, made in countries other than Brazil.
Gift Brazil take a similarly responsible, supportive attitude to their collective of artists and what’s more, they deliver internationally. A good deal for you and a good deal for the artists!