Costa Brazil is the brainchild of former Calvin Klein creative director Francisco Costa, who had an idea for a designer wellness brand that was considered and beautifully designed over two years ago. Moving on from the American fashion label gave him the push to proceed with developing the skincare and lifestyle brand, with a strong Brazilian DNA that felt genuine and authentic. Costa’s first trip to the Amazon in the summer of 2016 was life-changing. “I had already been working on this project for a while but I needed to find the find the essence of what this product would be,” he explains. He found the answer in breu, a resin or sap from an almacega tree, discovered while staying with the Yaminawá tribe for 10 days. “They burn it as an incense all day long,” Costa says. “The aroma is meant to open the sixth chakra, and it has incredible antibacterial properties including its use as mosquito repellent and as a healing agent for burns and cuts.” He fell in love with the unique scent (“it feels like you’re in the heart of the forest”) and brought it back to a lab in Rio to have them translate it into a water and an oil.
But he didn’t stop at there. “On my second trip to the Northeast of Brazil, I challenged myself to come up with something else to use in addition,” Costa explains of discovering cacay. The cacay tree boasts beautiful flowers that feature a pod containing a nut that monkeys feed on. These pods are super rich in vitamin E and are referred to as “the gold of the forest.”
“I’m trying to create a different type of beauty and engage a customer on a more wholesome level.”
Then there was kaya, the name Costa created for the protein-packed essence extracted from the pods of the pink-blossomed Sapucaia tree, which exists all over Brazil but had never been harvested before and is, Costa says, “more potent than argan oil.”
The combination of this trio of hydrating and lush ingredients is the basis for Costa Brazil’s initial four unisex product offerings: a body oil, a face oil, a candle, and burnable incense. This spring, the brand will debut a luxurious unisex body cream with many actives along with a lighter lotion. Shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap, body lotion, unisex fragrance, and a body scrub are also in the works. The brand’s debut skincare products are suitable for all skin and body types. When wearing the lighter face oil, “You don’t even need to worry about makeup,” says Costa. Making a unisex collection was important to Costa. “I wanted something that I could use,” he explains. “I had never used a product before. I had no regimen before now. I used to only clean my face with cold water.”
The brand wants to have a lasting social impact and be conscientious about sourcing. In that vein, Costa has collaborated with Conservation International, the organization leading the reforestation effort in the Brazilian Amazon, to plant 10,000 trees in the Amazon. In exchange, the business is able to source raw materials sustainably for its products at a reasonable price. “People were cutting these caycay trees down for no reason,” he says. “Now there is a commercial value for this product derived from this tree so the industry is more regulated and protected.”
Packaging-wise, Costa wanted the product to be appreciated as an object and have a life after the contents are used. The vessels (especially the incense and candle) are inspired by Piero Manzoni’s 1961 work Artist’s Shit comprised of 90 sealed tins. “You can plant something in it or use it to hold jewelry when it’s finished,” he says. “It’s a nice reminder that things aren’t so disposable. Right now, Costa is eager to control the narrative by launching first with Costa Brazil’s own website and e-commerce, but down the road he’s open to wholesale partners. “I’m trying to create a different type of beauty and engage a customer on a more wholesome level.”