Local skincare brand features ingredients sourced in their purest forms.
Growing up in Brazil, Bruna Valente never imagined living in Minnesota, let alone starting a business here. From her Maple Grove home overlooking Central Park, Valente tells us about a recent adventure. She and her husband, Dago Darezzo, traveled back to Brazil to visit the Amazon rainforest. They stayed within the Indigenous communities and experienced the richness of this lush area of the world.
They wanted a firsthand look at the source of ingredients Valente was using to make body lotion as part of her business, Terrain Brazilian Botanicals. “I felt so connected with how potent and simple the formulations were. I wanted to see where they came from,” she says.
“Even though I grew up in Brazil, I didn’t know anyone who had been to the rainforest,” she says. Brazil is similar in land size to the United States, and half of that area is rainforest.
They flew to Belém, Brazil—a large city known as the “city of mango trees.” It’s a busy and significant port where the Amazon River meets the sea. But within a five-minute drive, Valente and Darezzo left the city behind and were on a boat heading into the depths of the Amazon.
“It was a trip into the unknown,” Valente says. The couple stayed with locals and ventured into raw and undeveloped areas. “It was magical to see where the ingredients were growing and visiting parts of the forest that could only be reached by boat.”
They saw the beautiful trees that bear fruits and nuts like buriti and copaiba. Buriti is a bright orange fruit that’s naturally high beta carotene, which helps protect the skin from UV damage. Valente uses it in her face oil.
Copaiba oil is extracted from the copaiba tree by making a hole in the trunk allowing the resin to flow—similar to tapping a maple tree for syrup. Valente uses the copaiba oil in the CALMA soothing lotion bar.
She makes emollient and nourishing lotion bars by making butter similar to shea butter from nuts like the edible murumuru seed from a native palm tree and the seed from the ucuuba (butter tree) fruit.
“I was fortunate to meet a woman engaged with the local co-ops to source ingredients in a way that supports the community and the rainforest,” Valente says. The co-ops meet the certifications for European and U.S. standards, including U.S. Department of Agriculture Certified Organic, B-Corp and United Nations Global Compact Certified partners.
Valente not only met these women, but stayed in their homes, which flowered into a partnership and a way to source ingredients directly from the rainforest. “I know exactly where the ingredients come from and that it supports the local people,” Valente says.
In Maple Grove, from the same living room where Valente watches her kids play, she receives shipments of botanicals directly from the Amazon rainforest.
The Journey to Wellness
Maple Grove is not only where she and her husband are raising a family but where she started and operates Terrain Brazilian Botanicals.
Valente grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil—its capital city. She moved to the U.S. 14 years ago to attend the University of South Carolina-Aiken with her husband. After graduation, work led them north, where Valente received an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison before moving to Maple Grove.
Valente was diagnosed with cancer when she was pregnant with her second child. Her cancer experience led her to dive deep into wellness. “It started from healing myself,” she says. “From a place of wellness, I just let myself be. I left my corporate job not knowing what I was going to do next.”
She searched for better-for-you products and was disappointed in what she found: A lack of transparency, questionable ingredients and wasteful packaging. She immersed herself in what she cared about, taking classes in organic skin care at Formula Botanica. “I did this for myself, Valente says. “I didn’t know there was a business coming.”
Creating nurturing body lotions and face oils with pure ingredients from Brazil flourished from Valente’s desire to heal and find something she could connect with.
Valente is guided by her strong ethos and doing what’s good for all. She creates products with ingredients that support small communities of the rainforest and are responsibly foraged. Everything is authentic and created with purpose and intention, from the pressed oils to product packaging, she says.
“I wanted to see more products that were not only clean inside but were clean in the way they were packaged—and their impact on the planet and the people behind making those products,” Valente says.
Many body lotions and facial products contain additives and preservatives, but nothing artificial is added to Terrain Brazilian Botanicals products. “There’s no need to add any additives or synthetics because oils can be combined with a natural preservative like vitamin E derived from plants,” Valente says.
A small jar of concentrated ingredients goes a long way. And Valente appreciates that concentrated portions means less packaging. All of the packaging is either recyclable or compostable. Even the cloth wrapped around the lotion bar is from sustainable plant fabric.
Through a journey of trial and error, looking for a suitable container to hold the lotion bars, Valente came across artisans—members of the Mumbuca community in the Jalapão region—who are known for the art of weaving golden grass.
“The women who make the baskets for Terrain are the ones whose ancestors started the art of using golden grass. It’s their livelihood,” Valente says. The grass is abundant in the region—and because it’s the main source of income—it’s highly protected and can only be exported as a finished product.
For the women in this remote Indigenous community, Terrain Brazilian Botanicals is their biggest customer, ordering up to 400 baskets at a time. The baskets are beautiful and designed to be used as decorative storage for years.
Terrain Brazilian Botanicals currently has four products: Two lotion bars and two facial oils (available on terrain brazil.com). Valente is looking for retailers to sell her products and is involved with several business accelerator programs to develop wholesale partnerships.
As a rising entrepreneur, she is a member of ModernWell and was accepted into three development programs in 2023: Nest Artisan Sustainability Accelerator Cohort, Target ProBono Program and Lunar Startups Accelerator Cohort.
With her connections to a country so rich in healthful natural resources, Valente is thinking about the next product she can handcraft from her Maple Grove home with ingredients from her native Brazil.