The Cuipo lifestyle brand and organization has just debuted in Berlin within the Dream Universe event held from 8 to 10 July 2014.
The Cuipo organization - which name comes from an endangered tree from tropical rainforests in Central America, in the Panama area - is dedicated to preserve rainforests around the globe.
The organization was born from an idea by Californian natives Gus Hurst and Tom Murray. While operating in private real estate funds in Panama, they witnessed the impact of deforestation firsthand. With their experience in real estate, Hurst and Murray knew that the only way to preserve the rainforest was to purchase the land, and set it aside for permanent preservation. Rather than inspiring millionaires to buy the land or convincing the Panamanian government to protect the land with policy, they decided that they would buy the land themselves and allow people to save it in very small increments. For this they started raising awareness about the rainforest and deforestation and operating brand activation and product licensing through green education. As a result, Cuipo was born in 2007.
Shortly thereafter they began purchasing swaths of primary rainforest land in Panama, donating 100% of land preserved to its nonprofit foundation One Meter at a Time, whose responsibility is to protect, preserve and educate saving the tropical rainforest. Through its preservation efforts, Cuipo has already acquired 13,354.600 square meters of rainforest in Panama in Chepo, close to the Darien National Preserve. This land will be gifted to the One Meter at a Time foundation to be preserved in perpetuity.
In 2010 Hurst shared Cuipo’s mission with his longtime friend John Oswald, cofounder of the Paul Frank brand and member of the U.S. Green Building Council with a passion for sustainable design. After learning about the magnitude of deforestation, he also joined and became Cuipo’s third co-founder. With his expertise in the apparel and licensing industries, Oswald expanded the company’s vision to include an eco-friendly product line and licensee program. The licensee program gives like-minded companies the opportunity to participate in Cuipo’s cause and add purpose to their products. Every Cuipo product sold, whether a t-shirt, bracelet or reusable water bottle, saves one square meter of rainforest. Only condition for products joining the Cuipo series of initiatives has to be sustainable, eco-friendly or ethic minded – be it t-shirts made from organic cotton, bottles made from recycled PET or other products inspired by a similar philosophy. One the partner already involved, for intance, is Sigg, the well-known metal water bottle company.
In the EMEA area, the Cuipo Initiative is executed by Ivan Herjavec, CEO of Cuipo EMEA GMBH based in Berlin. Herjavec joined Cuipo in fall 2013 after previous experiences in companies such as US corporation Levy Apparel Europe, and Canadian brands including French Dressing Jeans (a licensee of Justin Timberlake’s denim brand) and Moose Knuckles, luxury Canadian parka brand.
The apparel business is expected to play a significant part in Cuipo’s European mission according to Herjavec: “We estimate apparel will be around 35% of total licensing business in Europe although we are licensing a wide range of products including water, video game and baby's pacifiers. We are also working on corporate branding partnerships where corporations are going to be involved in our rainforest preservation, giving their clients square meters of rainforest land if they are going to buy or use their services.”