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Uni Arte: Cooperative generates work and income with the support of Pro Bono Vaz de Almeida

Uni Arte: sewing and handicraft cooperative located in Indaiatuba creates job opportunities and generates income with the support of Pro Bono Vaz de Almeida. How a creative economy experiment has transformed the lives of a group of women and their families through upcycling seat belts, airbags, and automotive fabrics into fashion and art pieces.

Paulo Reganin, editor.
From the Comunication Department.
Portuguese >

About Us.
Since 2016, the office has been collaborating with Uni Arte, a creative economy initiative driven by a group of artisans and seamstresses from Indaiatuba, in order to create job opportunities and generate income by designing and producing a range of fashionable and artistic pieces, including backpacks, purses, bags, notebook holders, and wine holders. Currently set up under the legal form of a cooperative, without public bonds or funding, Uni Arte was introduced to the office’s founding partner, Caio Vaz de Almeida, by the directors of an old client, the Stolle Machinery Company, quickly gaining the admiration that led the office to commit to its legal support.
«Uni Arte strives to provide employment opportunities for women who may not be engaged in the formal job market but play a significant role in supporting their families financially, thanks to their efforts and talents in transforming seat belts, airbags, and automotive fabrics into handbags and other amazing fashion pieces», explains Judite Fernanda Simionato, 56, president of the institution. «Moreover, it is known that when women bring in income through their work, the fundamental necessities of the household are likely to be fulfilled, the children are well-taken care of, and the primary needs of the family are met.».

A History of Connections

Based in Campinas, Vaz de Almeida Advogados has extensive experience working with clients in the automotive, equipment, and technology industries, which are prevalent in the region. Thus, many of the firm’s clients, such as Stolle Machinery, are located in the area between Campinas and Indaiatuba, connected by the Viracopos Airport and the Bandeirantes highway. So, when Stolle Machinery introduced the firm to Uni Arte, it immediately recognized the missing piece of the puzzle: «We have the privilege to be connected to Uni Arte and, by supporting it, acknowledge ourselves as part of an ecosystem for which we are responsible as well», stated Mr. Caio, while viewing the video prepared by our Communication Center.
Toyota do Brasil Foundation

Toyota has been a key partner of Uni Arte since 2011, supporting the cooperative through its ReTomar initiative under the Toyota do Brasil Foundation. According to Luciana Kamimura, the coordinator of planning, projects, and institutional partnerships of Toyota Foundation «Over these years, more than 81,000 items have already been produced, and more than 7 tons of waste that stopped being discarded were reused in the upcycling process». In the ReTomar project, Toyota plants donate the waste, and the Toyota Foundation of Brazil invests in the training of artisans and seamstresses, buys the produced pieces to gift them and makes them available for direct sale through the Internet, exclusively for the benefit of the cooperative.

«I’ve always believed that lawyers have a social responsibility to fulfill», explains Caio Vaz de Almeida, founder of the law firm, referring to the firm’s pro bono program. According to Caio, «contributing, as pro bono, to an institution like Uni Arte, that plays such positive and influential role in the community where it’s located, gives our work a deeper sense of purpose». For law firm’s founder, «Uni Arte has a crucial Journey to follow, and the legal support of our lawyers meets the needs of the cooperative as it becomes more and more professional.».

When referring to Uni Arte’s management and financial model, Judite Simionato states «maintaining fairness and transparency in Uni Arte’s management and financial model is crucial for the sustainability of our creative economy project». This explains the solidity of the connections that has been built along the way. After all, besides the partnerships with Stolle Machinery, Toyota do Brasil Foundation, and Vaz de Almeida Advogados, as with Azul Linhas Aéreas, Saint Gobain, Concessionária Rodovias do Tietê, Ibéria Embalagens, Stepan Company, Arneg Brasil, NTN Driveshaft do Brasil, Starrett and Pecval that are also part of Uni Arte’s 16 years of history, of which the first four years were specially supported by the General Motors Institute.

The cooperative’s organization and the quality of their work are truly impressive. Their fashion, art, and decoration pieces are designed with a high level of sophistication and competitiveness, and they mainly produce on demand.

«We visited the factory floor of our clients in the Automotive Industry, we were thoroughly impressed with the stringent protocols they follow for maintaining quality, safety, and sustainability. However, what happens with the leftovers when they are unavoidable? Uni Arte plays a crucial role in enabling our partners to fulfill their socio-environmental commitments and uphold ESG metric», as Mauricio Ortega Vieira, a partner of our firm in the Automotive Sector Relations Area, explains, «These materials would typically be discarded, but in the right hands, they can extend the value chain, provide income for families, and positively impact the community».
Dona Beth, 66 years old:
to share needs
to share the meaning of life

During a recent visit to the Uni Arte, located in the Jardim Oliveira Camargo neighborhood, we had coffee and cake at the invitation of our hosts and got to know a little bit about Mrs. Elizabeth Torresilhas e Sousa’s story, 66 years old, dedicated to the cooperative for 12 years, «Look… For me, Uni Arte represents a lot. It has improved my life, far beyond the financial benefits, like my self-esteem and relationships with others…». About the bonds of friendship and the importance of the relationships that she built through the cooperative, Ms. Beth emphasized that «the pandemic was an extremely difficult time for my family and me. Within a span of five days, I lost two loved ones at home. However, the support of the girls helped me weather the storm. I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without what we found here.».
Ibéria Packaging

Ibéria Packaging has forged a recent partnership with Uni Arte cooperative. Their support for the project has been evident since last year (2021), with the purchase of 1,200 gifts already made. Ellen Cassiano, who leads the communication and social responsibility initiatives of the company, believes that the support to Uni Arte aligns with the culture and values of Ibéria, both for its commitment to sustainability and for the social commitment «in contributing to the income of the cooperative, which works in a very organized way, with integrity and com quality in all of its endeavors.».
Pro Bono Vaz de Almeida

On our website’s People section, we have a social responsibility statement where we state that «we may not be able to solve all the problems faced by those we assist through our small social gestures». Nevertheless, «we can’t ignore our hearts’ desire to share life with others». For us, «doing good can range from simple acts like smiling, listening attentively, staying quiet, expressing sincere affection, or giving a bit of our time», but we also believe that «pursuing our work with passion is a powerful way to contribute positively to society and create a lasting social legacy.».
2030 Agenda

Vaz de Almeida Advogados has made a commitment to focus their pro bono efforts towards supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) recommended by the United Nations 2030 Agenda. Specifically, they are dedicated to promoting gender equality (SDG n.5) and supporting labor and economic development (SDG n.8).

Agenda 2030: Reasons to Transform the World >
Vaz de Almeida is a Signatory of the HeForShe Global Commitment >
The panel of ESG initiatives >

By Paulo Reganin, with contributions from Luciana Kamimura (Toyota do Brasil Foundation), Ellen Cassiano (Ibéria Packaging), Caio Vaz de Almeida (founding partner of VAA), Judite Fernanda Simionato (president of Uni Arte), Mauricio Ortega Vieira (VAA Automotive Sector Relations). Research, testimonials, and video: Raya3, with support from Cláudia Castilho.

ReTornar Project, by Toyota Foundation: an exhibition of Uni Arte’s work and other social initiatives >

Institutions mentioned:

Arneg Brasil
Azul Linhas Aéreas
Concessionária Rodovias do Tietê
Fundação Toyota do Brasil
Ibéria Embalagens
Instituto General Motors
NTN Driveshaft do Brasil
Saint Gobain
Stepan Company
Stolle Machinery

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Focussing on what really matters ― We are an independent law firm, dedicated to providing legal support for the international operations and investments of foreign companies in Brazil and the internationalization of Brazilian companies, from preparation to support in the destination countries. Our Purpose is to identify and catalyze the best business opportunities, clearing the barriers that compromise our Clients’ time and energy, so that they can focus on the work that really matters: exceeding the expectations of their shareholders. We are not just lawyers. We are business consultants and strategists. Our ambition is to make the world a better place through our work and contribute to the improvement of the Brazilian business environment, positively influencing the leaders we deal with, as well as balancing, in a consistent and sustainable way, the creation of value for our clients with the creation of value for our professionals and the community.

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VAZ DE ALMEIDA ADVOGADOS is an independent Law Firm, dedicated exclusively to giving Legal Support for foreign companies in Brazil, as well as for Brazilian companies operating in the country and abroad. We specialize in unblocking the barriers that compromise executives' time and energy, so that they can focus on the work that really matters: exceeding their shareholders' expectations.