Brazilian writer Ferréz on entrepreneurship, literature from the periphery and criminal justice system

Brazilian writer Ferréz on entrepreneurship, literature from the periphery and criminal justice system

“I went to a meeting of startups the other day and one of the people there said: if you want to build a startup, the first thing you have to do is the math. You have to have money to get it started, to make an investment and profit from it. If don’t have it, don’t do it. If I were to think like that, I’d never have done anything in my life.” In addition to being a writer, an entrepreneur and a pioneer in the reinvention of the culture from the outskirts, the São Paulo native Ferréz is also the author of controversial phrases. He visited CIVI-CO – social impact businesses hub where Humanitas360 is based – to join a conversation on his trajectory and experience with entrepreneurship, literature and clothing stores.

Despite being best known for his books – his biggest hit was with “Capão Pecado”, which takes place in his neighborhood, Capão Redondo, in the outskirts of São Paulo, and which inaugurated the marginal literature movement after the 2000s – Ferréz is also an entrepreneur, and with a lot to teach. “I understood from the start that the book were not going to pay my bills. What was going to help me were the clothes. And I started to understand  that the community had a passion for branding,” he recalls. When he did the first prints for caps, stickers and shirts, no one from Capão Redondo wanted to buy them. “They wanted clothes from well-known brands, but I said it was a community brand, made by ourselves.” They contested, but “one out of ten was with me,” he remembers.

Thus, he structured the brand 1 da Sul. More than that, his work was also partially responsible for a change on how the neighborhood was perceived – it stopped being seen as one of the most dangerous of São Paulo to become one of the main cultural spots of the city, home to several musicians, artists, writers and designers.

Although he does not like the term, Ferréz is an entrepreneur in the best sense of the word – in addition to structuring his business, he managed to help promote a change in the values ​​and in the way the community saw itself. When asked about the work carried out with the support of Humanitas360, which promotes social entrepreneurship for people in prison, he expressed a realistic view: “Where projects like these are not welcomed, there’s a void. And where there’s a void, the other side comes in [referring to criminal factions like Primeiro Comando da Capital]. The system is designed just for that: keeping poor black and white people in jail. Designed for them to divide themselves into factions, to create their own laws and to kill each other. Meanwhile, the rich enjoy their private properties and live apart. The elite thinks money is only for them to enjoy, but money also comes from below.”

With a keen eye on the country’s social problems, he is concerned about recent changes in labour due to technological advancements. “Everything’s changed. A part of society, the most privileged one, has already realized that. The other part has got to wake up. There won’t be a job market for everyone, the funnel will get thinner and thinner,” he maintains.

Tradução: Andrei Reina