People

A Conversation with Gabriela Bordabehere

Gucci’s regenerative farming partner, part of NATIVA™ Regenerative Agriculture Program, shares a story of preservation and community

“We have inherited this land from our ancestors, and we have to pass it on to our children in the same way.”

So begins an intimate conversation with Gabriela Bordabehere on the eve of winning The Climate Action Award with Marco Bizzarri, Gucci’s President and CEO, at the 2022 CNMI Sustainable Fashion Awards for their commitment to regenerative agriculture.

Her story starts deep in the Uruguayan countryside, in the land of the legendary gaucho. Here lies a farm called La Soledad, managed by Gabriela, a woman defying the traditional prejudices linked to sheep farming. Farmer and entrepreneur, Gabriela took the reins of the farm, previously managed by her husband, at the age of 40, determined to lead it into the future. La Soledad has since become a model farm, optimizing the benefits of regenerative agriculture, not only for the region but also for the local communities.

Gucci’s own journey with Gabriela began when La Soledad, together with 9 other agricultural companies, was selected to be part of the NATIVA™ Regenerative Agriculture Program, a collaboration launched by Gucci in Uruguay in collaboration with Chargeurs Luxury Fibers. The wool produced at her farm follows regenerative practices, perfectly aligning with Gucci’s commitment to source regenerative raw materials for its collections under its nature-positive approach. Over the next seasons, Gabriela’s wool will literally be woven into Gucci’s creative story for the future.

What does it feel like to be in Milan for the CNMI Sustainable Fashion Awards and to win an award?

I feel great emotion, pride, and gratitude.

Emotion to be rewarded for my journey, for my work, for my life story.

Proud to represent my country, especially women, and to be able to show the world and important brands, our work at the origin, which is carried out with a lot of responsibility, commitment, and passion.

I am grateful to NATIVA™ for inviting me to be part of this program which goes in line with the path I consider to be the correct one, and to Gucci for having set its eyes on my life story and my job.

The vastitudes in Uruguay, the Pampa must be such a different world. How would you describe it?

It’s a world of wonderful opportunities, of peace, of daily contact with nature; with its simplicity, its people, with their moral and ethical values.

The countryside is my place in the world, where I feel happy, where I choose to live every day of my life, enjoying the small gifts of nature: its smells, the rain, its sunsets and sunrises, the starry nights, the moon.

I just give thanks every day to be able to work and live in such a wonderful place.

Animal herding in South America, is traditionally a male job, the land of the gauchos. Were you easily accepted? Did you bring a different point of view to your work?

Yes, it is traditionally a male job, but now there are more and more women who choose this lifestyle, with a commitment to improving the environment; we have achieved very high respect and recognition. I am fortunate to have been easily accepted and trusted from day one to fulfill this role on the farm. I gathered my employees four days after Alejandro passed away and I remember saying, “Can I count on you?” They all agreed to work together, and then I told them “we have to create a solid work team where we respect each other, help each other and we have to value that we have an incredible job in contact with nature, appreciate and enjoy it. We are going to spend many more hours together than with our own family. To those who decide to stay, I promise to help you grow and feel at home”. I think that strengthened our bond and from that moment on we began to grow together, and we managed to grow the company in the same way.

What does sustainability mean for you?

The word “sustainability” for me, means caring for the environment, the land, animal welfare, and caring for our water resources, but above all, just as I inherit the land from my ancestors, in the same way, I have to give it to my children. Sustainability means taking care of the people who work with me and in the company, in all aspects of their lives, helping them to grow personally, in their education, and in their quality of life, that is what sustainability means to me.

How do you imagine the future of your land?

With the NATIVA™ Regenerative Agriculture Program and Gucci, we reaffirm our path. This helps us as we put into practice what we were already doing but with greater knowledge as they teach us how to improve our path; and there are more and more Uruguayan producers who have joined, those who really value what it really means to travel the path of sustainability. How do I imagine this path? With more and more people taking care of the environment and our people can become an example in the world, a reference to follow as a country, as farmers, as committed women.

“The word sustainability for me means caring for the environment, the land, animal welfare, and caring for our water resources…it means taking care of the people who work with me and in the company, in all aspects of their lives, helping them to grow personally, in their education, and in their quality of life…”

Thanks to the collaboration with Gucci and Chargeurs Luxury Fibers, the NATIVA™ Regenerative Agriculture Program supports farmers, just like Gabriela, with funds that are critical to these farmers during the period needed to transition to regenerative practices. This support extends outward into the rural communities involved in the project, providing better access to education, increased use of renewable energy, support for women in the community, and re-introducing native forests in Uruguay. A positive impact will be created for years to come.

Through this initiative alone, the financial provisions will benefit 150 agricultural workers and their families, with a direct impact on 200 people and an indirect impact on 450.

Through Gucci’s nature-positive approach the House has initiated other projects not just in Uruguay, but globally, committing itself to champion agricultural practices that increase soil health, restore and promote biodiversity, store carbon from the atmosphere, support animal welfare, with positive outcomes for local communities overall.

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