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THE AFRICAN TALE OF EYWA

 @eywaskincare

WITH ITS LINE OF NATURAL SKINCARE COSMETICS, EYWA BRING TO EUROPE THE VERY ESSENCE OF AFRICA. LUCA MALASPINA, EYWA’S FOUNDER, TAKES US ON A TRAVEL AROUND THE WORLD OF THE BRAND. 

Words By Lina Prencipe

Eywa was founded in 2016 as a Benefit Company, meaning that the attention to the societal and environmental impact of its operations are at the core of the initiative. We felt inspired by Eywa’s story and value and we decided to interview its founder Luca Malaspina – an Italian musician, educator, and entrepreneur, who embarked on this journey of exploration and valorization of Africa. Twenty years ago, lured by the authenticity of its tribal music, Luca fell in love with Burkina Faso. He then established a strong bond with the territory and the rural communities, learning to adapt to the practices of the locals and appreciate their sense of collectivity.

@eywaskincare

What is the meaning of the name of your brand? 

“The full name of the company is “Eywa Hard Fun”, even though as a brand we present ourselves as Eywa. The inspiration came from Avatar, the animated movie by James Cameron. Eywa is there represented as Mother Heart, it is the name of the sacred force of Pandora. It is what keeps the equilibrium of the planet through the connection of the souls of all the living beings. I was so fascinated by this concept of genuine coexistence and interdependence between souls, that I decided to give its name to the newborn company. “Hard Fun” is linked to the idea of the game as something that has the power to absorb totally the players, altering their perception of time, challenging and rearranging their priorities and values. This is what we want to transmit to our community: a new dimension of work, not a heavy burden but a passion, connected to the awareness of contributing to a bigger cause.”

From Eywa Nature

What is the story behind your company, how and when did it combine with yours?

“We started Eywa as a Benefit Company, the impact on the communities in Burkina Faso is indivisible from the entrepreneurial scope. Other than being an entrepreneur I am primarily an educator and a musician. Music brought me to Africa when I was a young student, I went there to learn the art of percussion in the places where it has its roots. I was inspired by the ideal of collectivity of those communities, I had to give back for the invaluable knowledge I received from them. This way, 20 years ago, my story intertwined with Africa. After a while, from those processes of sharing and giving back, I had the inspiration to found Eywa as an enterprise for social benefit, producing soaps and giving employment to women in the soap of Dinderessò. After further research and analysis of potential new products we shifted the focus on skincare products from essential and natural oils.”

What are Eywa’s main inspirations and values?

“What drives us is the ideal of incorporating coherent sustainable values in people’s daily lives. These values move us to undertake every new project with the same or even higher energy. It is important to keep moving, but not necessarily fast. In order to grow strong and healthy, you need to have solid roots, and for this you need to learn patience and practice perseverance. Too often we hear of business exponentially growing in a blink of an eye, and we are getting accustomed to this as normality. It might seem an old and backwards-looking ideal, but I still believe in the power of slow and well-founded business.“

“In order to grow strong and healthy, you need to have solid roots, and for this, you need to learn patience and practice perseverance.”

@eywaskincare

What is the extent of Eywa’s social impact in Burkina Faso and on what levels it developed?

“Cohesion and trust between people is crucial in those areas. It is impossible to simply export the Western and European way of doing business to Africa with the presumption of getting value without giving it back. Business relations, as all the human ones, take time and patience, especially where trust is built with continuous, personal, and valuable sharing. It is relatively easy to export raw materials from Africa, a completely different story is to establish an activity there, to have a real impact on the life of workers, to enhance and promote the territory. It takes time and effort, but the personal satisfaction you experience is immeasurable. The human ties linking the members of the community are what counts the most for me. With all the activities related to the production, Eywa is able to generate a domino effect of welfare and wellbeing in the community that goes further than the mere payment to suppliers. We give to the workers a purpose, we have an impact on a whole network of families, they gain expertise and we learn every day something new from them.”

Which were the main difficulties that you encountered, how were you able to leverage on them?

“Launching a startup is always an arduous journey, there is no one that can guide you through unexplored roads, no professor will have the answers to all of your doubts. Starting Eywa and bringing our products to Europe we felt like pioneers, the first bringing into this market date and baobab oils. This was both the strength and the weakness of Eywa, because on one side we did not have competitors, on the other we found ourselves in unexplored lands, with no standards and benchmarks, any point of reference for orientations. In these challenges we learned to be like water, and this is something that Africa and its rural communities taught us. Fluidity means to adapt and learn to leverage on the obstacles encountered, acquiring new shapes without interrupting the run and without losing its true essence.”

What can we expect from Eywa in the future? 

“Our main objective for the coming years is to keep growing sustainably and to be able to find the right positioning for our company. We will keep transmitting stories through our products, we want to give the right visibility to areas with high potential and at the same time fascinating problems. I love this kind of contradictions, this being the reason why Eywa’s second line will be the Blue Sardinia.
We want to create something that is able to highlight the extraordinary but too often unknown peculiarities of these territories, in order to generate positive impact for communities and the planet and to spread the word about the treasures we have.”