Have you ever known a city which celebrates it’s birthday? Of course not – only São Paulo does, surely! São Paulo is home to 12.2 million people, with a total of 21.6 million living in its metropolitan area – this city defines the meaning of ‘a concrete jungle’! The city celebrated it’s 465th year anniversary on the 25th January with a public holiday boasting a number of events. So I thought I’d be a thoughtful gift to share with you 6 Paulistas (people native to São Paulo) and São Paulo-based influencers who’ve personally helped change my perception of São Paulo – Brazil’s largest city often portrayed as grey, business orientated and ‘very white’… This list just might change your impression too (as they say, never judge a book by it’s cover!)!
Call me bias, but I it wouldn’t be right to create a list such as this without including my best friend, business & life coach Marcos Alvares aka Coach MVA. I arrived in Brazil expecting to received life coaching sessions from him (utilise the friends and family discount benefits!) after hitting a personal low. Though I didn’t receive a single formal session, Coach MVA helped me unleash my inner entrepreneur by using my digital skills to create a website for his business, including a photoshoot session in various locations in São Paulo. My gratitude goes out to Coach MVA and the city of São Paulo for the space to heal – and jump back stronger than ever! Get your daily dose of positive inspiration from Coach MVA on Instagram CLICK HERE
I first met Bianca at PopPlus, and I appreciated that she made an effort to speak to me in English after realising I don’t speak Portuguese (perhaps because I continuously smiled in response to her conversation starter!) Raised in Peruibe, and living in São Paulo since 2012, Bianca is a model and body positive influencer. We met for a coffee and I got to interview her to discovery how she uses her platform to change the often narrow body image of Brazil… Check out a taster of the interview; Why this Body Positive Brazilian model prefers to be called ‘Gorda’ – Fat. To follow Bianca on Instagram CLICK HERE
Boutique da Krioula
Boutique de Krioula were my very first introduction to African-inspired accessories and headwraps in São Paulo. Recommended by my friend Kamila, I reached out to Boutique de Krioula for an interview for this blog, and in return I got so much more – an opportunity to witness the ‘Boutique de Krioula Effect’ first hand when I spent a day at their PopPlus stall! Check out the pics on my Facebook page to see for yourself! Follow Boutique de Krioula in Instagram CLICK HERE
Autoestima – O Projecto
Autoestima – O Projecto (Self-esteem – The Project) is a social project founded by Cintia Cruz, a PhD student researching comparisons between the self-esteem of black Brazilian women, and African America women. The platform was created to be a space for creating and sharing self-esteem content, as well as other themes including self-care, body positive and beauty. I first met Cintia, a Baiana now living and working in São Paulo, at PopPlus and we’ve been almost inseparable since then largely due to our similar interest to provide spaces for marginalised groups. Check out our conversation discussing the Politics of Beauty, and find out more about the project on the brand new website (I’m excited to share that I built it and took all the visual imagery!) www.autoestimaoprojeto.com. Follow Autoestima – O Projecto on Instagram CLICK HERE
Described a an ‘Urban Quilombo‘, Aparelha Luzia is hub for artistic and political expression of blackness was founded by Erica Malunguinho; a politician representing the State of São Paulo, and trans activist. Each day at Aparelha Luzia comes with a new event, performance, talk, open mic or jam night. If you’re looking for a space which showcases ‘blackness’, a safe space for black LGBTQ+ people and allies, and to see the beautiful faces of AfroFuturism in São Paulo – visit Aparelha Luzia! For daily schedule of events follow Aparelha Luzia on Instagram CLICK HERE
I’ve been really impressed with Itaú Cultural’s line-up of events including the recent ‘Ocupação Ilê Aiyê’ and exhibition paying homage to the first Afro Bloco and black empowerment movement. The exhibition recently ended (look out for my review) which included a turban/headwrap workshop lead by Dete Lima, one of the founders of the Afro block, and her daughter Catarina Lima, producer of Ilê.
To mark São Paulo’s 465 years, Itaú Cultutal have curated a series of videos and talks highlighting indigenous voices on their website, including talks about the city of São Paulo and the name – of indigenous origin. Find out more at www.itaucultural.org.br/465-anos-de-sao-paulo. Follow Itaú Cultural on Instagram CLICK HERE
So there you have it, 6 Brazilian influencers who made me feel less of a stranger and more at home than I could have ever expected in São Paulo. Follow them for a more diverse perspective of this concrete jungle! Of course you can also check out my Instagram page where I share portraits from some inspirational people I’ve met in SP and beyond. CLICK HERE to follow me!
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I’m always on the look out for local photographers to collaborate with, and influencers to interview for the blog… Interested? Contact me and let’s get creative!
Great post 😁