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Viori's social mission in Longsheng is to partner with the Red Yao on projects they believe will help their communities thrive. They have always been our heroes, we're here to simply play a supportive role in helping them accomplish their goals.

We do this by working with the Red Yao directly to initiate projects they believe aim to bring about economic prosperity, ecological harmony, cultural preservation, and community well-being for their tribe. We call this our 'Beautiful Reason,' Viori's reason for existence, and your reason to feel good and to feel beautiful as you buy and use Viori's beauty products.

We recognize that our existence and mission as a company are inextricably tied to the extraordinary Red Yao people, forever. We are fully committed to respecting this relationship by playing a supportive role in helping preserve this unique culture. We do this by (a) paying a fair and sustainable premium for all Longsheng rice and products we purchase from the tribe and (b) reserving a minimum of at least 5% of profits for initiatives that go directly back to Red Yao communities. Taking on such a role comes with great responsibility. It requires sensitivity, patience, curiosity, and above all, a mindset that keeps the well-being of the Red Yao people at its core.

In 2023, we have budgeted $200,000 towards the Red Yao Beautiful Reaon Initiatives. This is a 25% increase compared to 2022! To stay up-to-date on how projects unfold, please follow our blog below titled 'Local Updates'.

To date, we have spent the following amounts on Beautiful Reason Initiatives:

Year 2021 = $100,000
Year 2022 = $150,000
TOTAL = $250,000

*Year 2023 Planned = $200,000

To read more about our projects, how the money is used, and the impact these funds create, please see our blog below titled 'Local Updates'.

Keep up to date with what's going on in the Yao communities today.

Improving Healthcare Access: Traditional Chinese Medicine Comes to Longsheng

Every month Viori's sustainability team visits Longsheng to spend time with our friends in the village and get an update...

BRI: Supporting Longsheng's Education - Upgrade to the School's Playground

Every month Viori's sustainability team visits Longsheng to spend time with our friends in the village and get an update...

Longsheng Visit (Dec 2022): PCR Tests, Gift Bags & Gratitude

Here is a recap of the trip we made to Longsheng to visit the Red Yao in December 2022.

Interview with Viori's Local Ambassador: Pan Qi Yun

In the SPOTLIGHT: Viori's Local Ambassador: Pan Qi Yun. Every month Viori's sustainability team visits Longsheng for our local Beautiful...

Can I visit the Longsheng area and meet the Yao women?

Absolutely. In fact, the local community has repeatedly expressed their willingness to welcome more visitors into their community and teach them about the Red Yao culture. In the near future Viori will be answering that call, by facilitating exclusive travel experiences to the Red Yao communities. Our role will be to ensure that local interactions don't disrupt the local culture, while at the same time providing a once-in-a-lifetime experience for travelers.

What’s your relationship with the Red Yao people like?

We work directly with the Red Yao to purchase their ancient rice, at a premium, in order to create a long term, sustainable partnership. We also partner together with the Red Yao in projects they believe will help preserve their culture for generations to come. The relationship we have with the Red Yao tribe resembles that of close family and friends. Our team members on the ground visit these villages on a monthly basis. Not just for work related matters, but also as friends enjoying each other’s company. They welcome us into their house. They teach us about their culture. We learn from them. We welcome them into our houses in the nearby city of Guilin. They invite us to weddings (and funerals). The list can go on and on...

We aren’t engaged in a one-time transactional relationship with the Red Yao people, but are committed to building a long-term partnership with them. We enjoy doing this, and so do they. 

Do you compensate villagers for marketing content that involves them?

Any marketing content we’ve posted has been done through the consent of the person in question and with appropriate compensation given. Moreover, during our monthly visits to the village we also share relevant posts with them and sometimes even go over the comments. This often creates fun conversations and lots of laughter as they are thrilled to have outsiders know more about them. Important to understand is that we aren’t engaged in a one-time transactional relationship with the villagers (ie model & agency type of relationship), but more of one which resembles one big family. This distinction matters as it means we are expected to treat each other as family which is a much deeper commitment than simply paying someone for a photo you took (see previous question).

Why do you use Chinese steamers as soap holders and is your soap pressed like a Chinese mooncake?

Our team is a mix of Chinese and Western individuals who all played a role in designing our product. We decided the current design was innovative, practical, environmentally friendly, aesthetically appealing, and not offending in any way. We promise you'll like it!

How much does Viori give back to the community?

Viori reserves 5% of its profit for the Red Yao community. This sounds little but goes a long way in rural China. Moreover, responsibly allocating funds back into the community is a delicate and serious undertaking which requires us to measure our impact from different angles (environmental, economic, cultural, social). We are a young company and want to take this step-by-step. Once we feel confident our local projects are creating a positive impact, improving harmony, and are empowering the local community, we will gradually increase this percentage.

Is this a harmful form of cultural appropriation?

We kindly ask people to be their own judge. Viori personally knows the local community, cares about their well-being and is actively working together with them to improve their future wherever this is asked from us. We are happy to answer any questions people might have about this matter. To stay up-to-date on our local initiatives please follow our Social Responsibility page.

Are the Red Yao’s resources being depleted?

1. Buying all-natural Longsheng rice at a fair and healthy premium and
2. Reserving a minimum of a least 5% of profits for initiatives that go directly back to Red Yao communities.

Whatever we do though, we make sure that our presence positively contributes to the sustainable development of the community instead of harming it in any way. With regard to the question of depleting resources, here’s some background information which will hopefully help answer your question:

Strict government regulations exist as to how much land can be used for rice-cultivation and how much should remain wilderness. This means that inherently resources are being protected from exploitation.

Viori is a small company meaning our demand of Longsheng rice is a very, very small percentage of what’s produced in total (our rough estimate of our purchase quantity is even less than 0.01% of their total farming output). Also, even if we grow into a much bigger company our demand would still be a fraction of what’s available.

We only buy local products that are grown using all-natural farming practices (currently: rice and tea). What this means in terms of your question is that through encouraging farmers to grow in all-natural ways, we are in fact actively protecting the health of the overall ecosystem, and thus the resources of the local community

We believe that these factors create a sustainable set-up in which resources aren’t depleted and where the natural environment retains (and hopefully even improves!) its beauty and strength.

Please reach out if you’re interested in hearing any more about our Social Responsibility work in Longsheng!

What does your average work day consist of when you visit Longsheng?

Here is the approach we take when interacting and engaging with the Yao communities:

CONNECT - When we arrive, we remember what's most important: friendship & connection. What this means is that we drop our agenda, our assumptions, and simply spend time with the tribe in a natural and curious manner. This might mean drinking tea and talking about life; or helping them out with urgent farm-work; or suddenly participating in a village celebration, etc etc. Whatever the moment presents itself. Connection with the local people is fundamental.

SHARE - Once we're settled in and the moment is right we switch to more work related interactions. We share the latest on Viori as a company and in particular comments and questions from customers related to the Red Yao. This type of transparency is important to us, and the locals are extremely proud when reading such messages from customers.

RESEARCH - This is about Information gathering to guide our Beautiful Reason projects. This is mostly done through 1-1 meetings with locals where we try to understand the local realities better and identify the local needs. It also involves staying informed on local government policies. Deploying resources comes with great responsibility and therefore requires informed decision making.

ACTION - The previous 3 steps are all in preparation for this last step: action. This is where ideas or projects discussed get put into action. Think of: hosting workshops on natural-farming; supporting the local co-op; implement a business plan for local artisans; etc.

IMPORTANT: We only take action if this is asked from us. In fact, in all the work we do, we make sure we hold the right attitude: we are in Longsheng to play a supportive role, not a directive one.


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