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How do you hold on to this positivity, Monique Cardoso?

The desire to discover brought Monique Dávila Cardoso from Brazil to Europe.
Following her optimistic attitude toward life, Monique used the time during the Covid lockdown wisely and brought her brand to life. Under the names “aconchego“ and “Alfaiata do Olfato“ you can find different cosmetic products following the standard “simple, biodegradable, vegan“. Each product is made by Monique’s own hands and with much love. Monique often spends the weekend at the market in Faro and teaches her customers about the power of herbs. Mindful and aware of the great ecological crisis of our time, she lives in a house on Faro Bech and looks to the future with anticipation.

You are originally from Brazil. Why did you decide to move to Portugal in the first place?

I visited Spain first. I went to Barcelona for one month, but I didn’t have any job because I was only speaking English, Portuguese, and Spanish. However, employers expected Catalan speaking skills as well.
I just wanted to discover new places, so I thought: “Let’s try Porto“. He decided to stay there, I went back to Brazil, sold everything that I had, and then I came to Port again. I lived in the city for five years.


Did you visit Spain already with the intention that you want to emigrate from Brazil and live abroad?


I had this huge desire to discover the world. I was 25 at that time and I asked myself: “Why not?” I had a small business in Brazil, selling snacks and juices. The company was pretty well, but I had to take a decision: Do I want to root myself here or do I want to start over and move to Europe? I was young and lost my father three years ago. So I knew that I could make my prosperity and achieve my goals in Brazil but I could not live with happiness there. I saw a lot of problems outside. There is a lot of insecurity in Brazil.

Of course, there are also amazing places and small cities in Brazil. But I had this thought that I was young and I had time. So why not go abroad? What am I gonna lose? Nothing. I just have more experience in my life. And then I sold everything and started over.


“I had this huge desire to discover the world.“


How did you come to Faro?


I loved Porto but I had the sensation that I need to discover more of Portugal. I had the idea to move to the South. But before I moved, I first went back to Brazil for three months to become clear about the things that I wanted to achieve that year. One reason for moving to the South was that I didn’t want to feel so much cold anymore. The North is more cold and rainy, the climate in the Algarve is better for me. I started to look for a place here in Faro, because I also attend the market in the city on the weekend.


Is there something you miss about Brazil?


I miss a lot of things, but it’s more about the places, the vibe, and the way to live.
Maybe I feel warmer than the Europeans. For example, I met a friend from Austria and her family during Christmas time. When I saw them I hugged and kissed them warmly, as we do in Brazil. This is unusual here. I don’t miss this at all, but I know that it’s different. I’m just maybe learning to appreciate all the differences. I can say anything special that I like from Brazil, for example, açai, but I can buy it in the market. And of course, I miss my family and friends. But now I feel more and more from here, the place that I chose to live in.
Here in Faro I can see a lot of potential to create things that make a small difference. Moreover, security has the highest priority for me. It’s relieving to go out while looking at my phone or wear all the things that I want to wear, because in Brazil you can be scared sometimes.



This factor of security is a huge difference between Europe and South America.


It’s bad in fact. I don’t like to reinforce this idea, but the insecurity for me is the worst there. Other things are good. People are super kind, warm, and easy and there are a lot of amazing places.


What do you especially like about living here in Faro?


I live in this amazing place here at Faro Beach. I love Faro Beach a lot and I think the city has everything it needs. When I leave Faro Beach and go to the city, I feel like I go into another space. The city is small so you have everything near and close. I like this too, like walking in the street and seeing a nice place to have a coffee. You have a lot of nice places to go. Maybe I just need to find more vegan and vegetarian places. That’s why I am thinking that the city needs also something different starting.


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Today you’re the owner of your own brand. What drove you to start your own business?


I think I had the idea to found “aconchego“ a lot of years inside of me. I have a notebook with a lot of ideas written down on how to treat our environment better and also how to take care of yourself. I always liked to buy creams and also I don’t use make up a lot, I always liked these things. And then I realized how much plastic and ingredients there are in beauty products that are not needed at all.

I realized that it is so simple to take care of yourself with vegan products and how much better it is for the environment. I started in April 2020, during the pandemic, to create the brand how I wanted it to be. How it should look and which vibe I wanted it to transmit. I know a lot of brands with natural products, but they don’t communicate it so professionally sometimes. Maybe you have powerful plans but maybe you don’t use the right way to communicate to get closer to people. My goal was to finish the brand during the lockdown because the restaurant that I worked at before would open again in September. So I had five months to build up the brand.


How did you gain all of the knowledge you need to produce real products?


I took a course with a guardian of ancestral knowledge, Fabi Wan. A woman who founded an online school of carpentry, crochet, sewing and within their curricular program the course I took called “Corpo Casa Manual” (Body Home Manual – a course about how to bring sustainability into your own home while taking into consideration that the environment belongs to all beings). I devoured all modules which would normally take a few months in a week, in April 2020. I am conscious of the negative impact of the pandemic itself, but as life is more about how we react in relation to it than what actually happens, for me, the time or energy that most of us had was a real gift. I found the perfect opportunity to delve into an area that has always enchanted me as a consumer, and do something different but bringing to light a kinder perspective with everything.


“I think the most important step to change is to see what is happening in the world.“


How do you come up with the idea and what are the next steps you take? Do you have any specific place or situation in which you can be the most creative?


Absolutely. In nature. And here where Aconchego is currently located, in Praia de Faro, between the estuary and the sea, also known as the Natural Park of Ria Formosa. I feel really grateful. Being able to work where I live is something that I want to keep. In addition to loving what I do, I see everything as one thing; my mental, physical and spiritual health has to be good to continue making good things for myself and the world while learning new skills and improving my initiatives.
Along with this, and the growth of Aconchego and Alfaiate do Olfato, I feel that I need a studio house (or as I affectionately call it on instagram: “casatelier”) that is broader, not only for my work, but to propose an environment for other projects to gain space as well. And that of course within the pillars of regenerative and vegan culture.


When you look at your products, you can see this connection to nature that you have. How can people be more aware of our environment and the ecological crisis we have?


To be honest, I would like to share for example these videos of cows and pigs which have to suffer under the most horrible conditions. I think the most important step to change is to see what is happening in the world. However, I decided to not go this path, because the people don’t want to see what was happening. Maybe it’s like these types of relationships when you know that the person doesn’t make you feel good, but you don’t want to accept it. You don’t want to see it. If I could choose my way, it would be to show the reality but I chose a more commercial way: Attract by the beauty. Because people follow beauty trends. From this point of view, I decided to communicate lightness and simplicity. I want to say to you that you don’t need a lot of things to be happy. You don’t need a lot of things but some that are simple, good, and qualitative.
I started to communicate in this direction.



Our world is often described as fast-paced and inconsistent. What do you think about that? Is that a trend that alerts you when you look into the future?


I like to believe that everything is going better. I think a lot is already going better, thanks to a lot of people.

But it’s kinda hard to have an opinion on this because there are many factors of what is good and what is bad. People just can do something really nice at one moment and the next day someone else is gonna create something really bad. So I think evolution is like this, it’s not a smooth process. Psychology spoke, the best thing that you can do if you want to make something good, is to forget the bad things. Because bad things don’t give the energy to change.


Slow living is a kind of movement that should oppose our ever-faster-moving world. Would you also give your lifestyle that title?


Yes. And also today, I said to a friend of mine, I like my life now because in the last two years, I worked on my own business and it is going pretty well. It’s good to recognize that the path that I chose was the right one. Because I know it’s just about choosing, you can choose and change every day. But the need has to come from the inside.

However, I also have a lot of desire to grow and I know that it costs a lot of sacrifices to make it grow. I’m sure that I can find the balance and also have more people helping me so I can grow with other people helping me and these people can also grow, making something nice. So I think my slow living will be supported.


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Does it sometimes feel overwhelming to be responsible for everything which is connected with your friend? What’s the most difficult task regarding your job?


Accountability (laughs). It’s so, so boring and takes a lot of time.


How do you feel when people come and talk to you and buy your products?


Always super happy. Always, always, always.


“Bad things don’t give energy to change.“


But it also takes a lot of time to be at the markets.


Yes, yes. And yeah, sometimes it’s super easy. I always like trying to attract my type of clients, because I know who they are. I know that I have some clients that are open to this kind of world. I have other clients that already know everything, and they just choose. They want to know more about the herbs. I’m super happy when clients come to me and are interested in the power of herbs. That’s why, when I have the space for it, I would like to start teaching and giving workshops.


How do you hold on to this positivity?


Sometimes the things I needed just came to me. It’s insane. We are all the time supported by our spiritual guys. We all have them and it doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in this or not. I think it’s true. I think the intentions you have are the most important thing and that comes back to you. Maybe you can make a nice thing, but the intention that you started with is the most important. Why are you doing what you are doing? I think that’s it.



© Photos by Anja Kloss