The story of Surya Brasil began with a trip to India. Clelia Angelon, the company’s president and founder, traveled to Asia in 1974, where she discovered the wonders of henna based dye colours. She set out to introduce it to the Brazilian market and along the way met an Indian man, fell in love, got married and had a daughter.
Clelia’s green views began early at age 18. Motivated by her father’s health issues, she researched natural living and began preparing her own food. “I went from macrobiotic, to whole foods, to vegetarian, to raw food. Today I’m vegan. My company is vegan,” says Clelia.
She and her daughter Wanda Malhotra also felt connections to India and Ayurveda principles of respect for individuality, the pursuit of well-being and both emotional and physical balance. It was these shared values that inspired the company vision early on.
“We were animal lovers and protectors, and we were doing social work. We wanted to do something we believed in. Not just a business to make money. So, we created a company that cared about sustainability, about society, about animals. And the most important thing: with respect for the consumer. We didn’t want to just put out a product that would give clients a quick result while, damaging their health and the environment in the mid to long term,” explains Clelia.
“The beginnings were hard because everything that is different to the conventional brings up obstacles. When we started, the process of hiring staff, looking for financial support and developing a formula with great performance and without aggressive ingredients were all difficult challenges,” says Clelia.
Surya Brasil was launched in 1995, infusing Eastern philosophy with the entrepreneur’s passion for all things natural and respectful of nature. Today it is a vegan and cruelty-free company and a member of both PETA and Vegan Action. The company formulates much of its products with imported raw material from different countries, mainly the United States, India, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
Surya Henna Powder was the company’s premier product, formulated with raw materials imported from India. Soon it led the industry’s henna hair-coloring segment, and still ranks first today. Success continued with the release of Surya Henna Cream, a high-performance cream, containing a sophisticated blend of beneficial botanical ingredients from both India and Brazil. The first hair coloring with organic ingredients, it is a company best seller.
Success of Surya Brasil products quickly led to a booming export business and eventually the opening in 2001 of an office in New York. The company launched new lines and products while it consolidated operations on the Brazilian and international markets. In 2005, it opened another office, this time in India.
Amazonia Preciosa, Sapien Men, Exotic Animals and more
Today, Surya Brasil offers unique body care products including natural hair color and organic body care with sustainable Amazonian plants, innovative manufacturing techniques and environmentally friendly packaging. It sells its line in 40 countries, with offices in Sao Paulo, USA and India. The main export market is the United States where products are sold at retail chains such as Whole Foods Market.
Clelia’s personal favourite line, Amazonia Preciosa for skin and hair care, is enriched with ingredients from the Amazon forest. This line received organic certification (Ecocert) in 2007 and uses biodegradable packaging made of coconut fiber and green plastic. “You can just throw it in the earth and after 6 to 8 months, it’s gone,” says Clelia.
The company also launched Sapien Men, the first men’s cosmetics line in Brazil with organic certification. The feminine counterpart, Sapien Women, has succeeded beyond expectations, especially the Body Moisturizer, rich in exotic organic Amazonian ingredients like cupuaçu and murumuru butters, pracaxi and açaí oils, amaranth protein, vitamin E and aloe vera; coconut & mango essential oils.
Exotic Animals Nail Polish Collection is the newest line (still being finalized in the factory at time of print) – inspired by colors in nature and dedicated to a variety of animals worldwide. The polish is free of aggressive chemicals such as camphor, DBP, formaldehyde, parabens and toluene. It includes an organic certified nail polish remover that contains renewable solvents as well as organic oils for nail and cuticle hydration.
Surya Solidarity, Zero Waste and sustainable practices
In keeping with her philosophy of giving more than we take from society and the planet, Clelia created a company social division called Surya Solidarity. Since 2009 it has sponsored an independent project funded entirely by the brand, which teaches arts, crafts, gardening and vegan baking to children and adolescents.
The Zero Waste project aims to reduce waste, losses and damages within the production chain of Surya Brasil. The idea is to raise awareness and sensitivity to habits of consumption, minimize waste generation, and encourage the reuse of materials and recycling.
Currently, Surya Brasil has about 80 employees at the factory in Sao Paulo and 20 workers at its office in Long Island, NY. Growth in 2014 was 30% higher than in 2013, above the industry average in the same period. For 2015, Clelia expects a 50% growth compared to 2014, with plans to reinforce market participation all over Europe.
Surya Brasil will exhibit at BIOFACH 2015 (February 11-14th) in Germany, with a sustainable booth made of Buriti branches, a type of palm tree, which grows in and nearswamps and other wet lands in tropical South America. It will also be present at Expo West 2015 (March 4-8th), in California; and N&OPE 2015 (April 19-20th), in London. In Brazil, they will be at BIOFACH (Jun 10-13th) and Beauty Fair (September). For distribution opportunities please contact email@example.com