Alejandro Pinto: THE ALMA STUDIO
Meet Alejandro from The Alma Studio. I met him at a market a couple of years ago and have shared a stand in markets ever since. I'm utterly and completely in love with his craftsmanship, sense of humor, humbleness and all around great vibes. His work is impecable and gives a modern twist to wood working. He uses wood that has been reclaimed from the depths of the Panama's lakes and gives it a new life in the homes of the country's elite.
From personalised cutting boards to amazing raw edged tables and naturally impermeable wood flooring, his creations are a call to appreciate the raw beauty hidden in the deepest parts of nature.
Where are you from and where is Alma Studio based out of?
My mom is Panamanian and my dad's Costa Rican. I was born and raised in Costa Rica but have been living in Panama since 2010. The Alma Studio is based out of our Casco Viejo studio in Panama City, Panama.
Tell us about Alma Studio
Alma Studio is a wood brand. We're a boutique-styled workshop specializing in custom made furniture and products. We work with indigenous hard woods cut and dived from a submerged underwater forest in Panama.
Why did you launch Alma Studio?
This was purely out of joy. Woodworking presented itself as an art that meets craft, design, nature and engineering. This came at a time where I was in a constant search for a deeper sense of purpose through my daily practice. Once I began making furniture, one order followed the next. The need for more durable and sustainably met furniture makes this an ongoing task to provide homeowners and businesses with products that compliment their lifestyle.
What was your background before Alma?
Growing up involved helping out my dad at his plant nursery business in Costa Rica. Building green houses and garden beds were summers well spent. This taught me a great deal about nature’s way and learning how to use power tools.
I graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in Industrial Engineering and a minor in business. After college, I was unsure of my career path. I found myself in Panama where I stumbled into a job that entailed logistics and distribution of mass consumed products for international food and beverage brands. All these experiences coupled together naturally as experience that will eventually help me grow Alma Studio.
What inspires your creations and what does your process look like?
Alma is Spanish for soul, and we believe trees have a soul. Our brand's philosophy is guided by the inherent beauty of wood. We design unique pieces with distinctive personalities inspired by the surrounding tropical beauty. We are inspired by full-bodied mountain ranges, by sunlight glistening on the sea and by timeless sustainable design.
Our Live Edge tables for example, begin as a tree sunk 20 ft. underwater. These are dived by the local Indian community and floated to surface. A powerful boat hauls them to the shore where they are dimensioned and dried at industrial ovens. This exotic and ready to use wood is then crafted into tables, desks, beds, credenzas and chopping boards.
When was Alma Studio born and how long after was your first sale ?
February 2016 at my apartment building's rooftop located in El Cangrejo, Panama City. I needed a workshop and this seemed like the right spot with vast open areas. Only caveat were the 8 floors in between... it was good exercise, nonetheless. Starting Alma Studio was a gradual process backed up by already existing clients and orders. Friends and family immediately met my first sales.
What advice do you give to other entrepreneurs or those who wish to start their own business?
Starting you own business is not as scary, as difficult or as risky as we make ourselves believe. Keep your day job and start investing time into your passions or skills. Use friends, family and social media to promote your work. Find a job that you love and you'll never work a day in your life. Most of the learning is taught along the way.
Every business has high and low points, what keeps you going during the low points?
For one, always keep a grip on your savings. Never run out of money because that just halts your ability to grow. Stay focused as to why you started and what message you wish to carry through your work.
Which Alma Studio product is your #musthave?
Our engraved chopping boards crafted from solid teak and Guayacan hardwoods. They make kitchen life more enjoyable.
Where can we find you?
Our workshop is located in Casco Viejo, right before Tomillo Restaurant (Waze it). You can always reach us by phone (Whatsapp) at + (507) 6617-8077. On Instagram find us @thealmastudio. Check out our portfolio at thealmastudio.com
And finally, what's your favourite NATIVO product and why? ;)
Nativo's After Shave has magical scent that leaves you feeling like a classic gentleman.
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This is a new blog series where I'll feature amazing inspiring #tribunativo entrepreneurs from Panama and the world in the hopes to inspire you to take the leap and follow your dreams like I did! For more inspiration, join the tribe @nativoskincare