COCO SALVAJE was created in 2015 by Jose and Anastasia when they met in Colombia's magical city of Cartagena on the Caribbean coast. Jose, an actor, had spent 15 years living in cold and hectic Bogota, trying to make a living playing in theater, movies and soap operas. At some point, he felt lost and unfulfilled, so he decided to embark on a journey to Europe and ended up in Bali, Indonesia, where he reconnected with himself, reassessed his values and dreams. As a result of this journey, he developed the idea to start his coconut oil business – COCO SALVAJE. He also decided to prioritize his well-being and his passion for surfing and moved to the sunny and vibrant city of Cartagena.
This is where Jose met Anastasia, the love of his life, and his business partner. Anastasia is from Russia, and at that time, she was traveling around Central and South America. They met through a mutual friend, walked countless hours around Cartagena, surfed together, danced salsa, traveled for a bit, and then decided to stick together and help each other with their business ideas. They were broke but full of love and dreams, and that gave them energy to pursue those dreams and never give up.
“When I was traveling, I discovered the benefits of coconut oil and fell in love with this super product. I saw how people were ripping it off the shelves in the stores, but back in Colombia in 2015, it was almost impossible to buy coconut oil. I could not understand why my own country with so many coconut farms and so many unemployed people was not producing coconut oil that the rest of the world was hyping about? This is how I came up with a business idea,” said Jose Luis Garcia, the founder.
With a little bit of encouragement from Anastasia, Jose borrowed 1,000,000 Colombian pesos (about $350) from a friend and invested it in the very first bottles and a first batch of coconut oil. In the first two years, they were buying coconut oil from a group of women who were producing it in the jungle and packaging it in their bottles in a spare room of their apartment.
"When we met, Jose showed me all the research he had done, his very ambitious business plan, and even a logo, but he didn’t have money to start. I convinced him to overcome his fears and just start the business with something very small so he could gain insight and experience.
In 2018, they decided to leave behind a hectic city life and move to a remote area to be closer to nature and coconut sources. It was their dream to raise kids surrounded by nature, create products that change people’s lives for the better, and create jobs in rural areas. They say that it was the best decision of their lives because nothing compares to being lulled by the sound of waves every night, waking up to the rooster, walking barefoot on the grass, watching sunrises every day with their first cup of coffee, and taking a dip into the sea during their lunch break.
This is the little house where they started their first production of coconut oil. It was tiny, just one room with a stainless steel table and another room for storage. By that time, the Colombian market was flooded with coconut oil, which appeared in all the big stores imported from Mexico and Southeast Asia, and Colombian companies were emerging like mushrooms too. It seems like a good idea never comes to just one person jeje. So Jose and Anastasia decided to shift their focus to natural skincare created with their purest coconut oil. Soon, they had a whole range of products – lip balm, sunscreen, creamy deodorant, Q10 serum, and artisan soaps. All the products they produce and develop come from their own needs as consumers looking for clean, natural and sustainable skincare product that really work.
By 2020 this tiny wooden house was stuffed from top to bottom, and there was no more room left for another box. It was time to move to a new space. This is when they decided to partner up with their close friend who had always supported and guided them. They bought land nearby. It is curious that they always adored this piece of property; it has giant old trees where sloths live and hang out all year round, two private beaches, and a beautiful rock formation in the front. It is very special, and they went there every time they wanted to recharge their batteries, relax, and observe sloths.
"The first thing we started to build was our lab. I was obsessed with an idea to build our lab with SuperAdobe technique. It is more eco-friendly, faster, and cheaper than conventional construction with bricks, rebar, and cement. And it looks super cool."
In August 2022, they were certified by Colombian sanitary authorities, which was another significant milestone that they accomplished. Now they have all the infrastructure in place to create natural, cruelty-free, and eco-friendly skincare products and bring them to people in the USA.
A TOUR OF THE LAB
The layout of the lab is very curious. It consists of two circles united by the space between them. One circle is dedicated to coconut oil production, and another one is all about cosmetics. The architect got inspired by the Museum of Contemporary Art on Niteroi Island in Brazil. He used a hexagon shape inserted in a circular space to create many separate rooms around a hexagon that support the main happening in the center. That way, they were complying with all the rules the sanitary authorities are imposing while also saving a lot of space.
"When people visit the lab, they get very impressed because it feels like being in a spaceship that landed in the jungle," said Anastasia. On the outside, they preserved the shape of earth-filled bags because of their cool look and smoothed the shape on the inside walls, but you can still see the natural curves”.
This ecofriendly construction reflects the values of the brand. We create clean and natural products that really work always thinking about our impact on the environment.