If there is one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us is that humans need to be more conscious of the choices they make and reflect on how their actions impact the environment and Mother Earth. On World Earth Day, we bring to you a company that is doing its bit to stay sustainable and create products with minimal effect on nature. Desserto, a Mexican brand creates vegan, sustainable leather using cactus as a raw material. We got talking to the brains behind the brand, Adrián López Velarde, Vice President of Desserto, on how he came up with this idea with his co-founder Marte Cázarez.
Velarde and Cázarez, who have worked extensively in the fashion, automotive and furniture industries, often wondered why environmentally friendly alternatives were rarely incorporated into major productions lines. “We found out that the main reason was due to the lack of technical performance of such materials. So, we decided to jump into our own research and development to create the world's first cactus vegan leather (Desserto) aiming for it to be resistant, durable and versatile while being highly sustainable,” he says. The duo selected cactus as the raw material to create leather as it is grown extensively in Mexico, is resistant and efficient. It also requires less water and has a long shelf life. “We wanted to work with nature and not against it,” he adds.
But the journey wasn't so easy. The Desserto team spent two years analysing several cactus species native to Mexico and running trials with many different formulations to get the right one. They now have a ranch in Zacatecas, Mexico, where they grow cactus and use it to create vegan leather out of it.
Explaining the process in detail, Velarde says, "At the ranch, we select and cut only the mature leaves of the plant without damaging the cactus itself, so every 6-8 months we have a new harvest. After cutting the mature leaves, we dry them under the sun for three days until we achieve the exact humidity levels that we seek. So, there's no oven or additional energy used (like gas) in this drying process. Then we process the organic raw material to make it a part of our patented formula which allows us to make the cactus vegan leather which we call Desserto.”