Nowadays, the name Doutor da Borracha is synonymous with quality handmade products, made with natural materials, in a sustainable way, and full of Brazilian spirit. However, this success story began much earlier, at a time when he was still a rubber tapper among hundreds of others working at the heart of the Amazon jungle.
Few people know that José Rodrigues de Araújo was just one of the many poor working people extracting latex in the forests of the municipality of Assis Brasil, in the state of Acre, before earning the nickname Dr. da Borracha (Doctor Rubber). Accompanying his father and grandfather since the age of 10, José developed in the following decades the respect for the woods and intimacy with rubber that would influence his decision later on to change course and become a craftsman.
The seeds of that change were planted in 2004 after attending a course given by the staff of the Laboratory of Chemical Technology (Lateq) at the University of Brasília, where he learned the technique created by them of working the rubber called Folha Semiartefato (FSA). Based on the use of special coagulants (which dispensed with the painful hours of smoking the sap), José realized the potential of the new technique and immediately began to create objects such as shoes and bags, which were soon accepted by his relatives and acquaintances, encouraging him to continue with the production.
After 14 years, Dr. da Borracha works today in Epitaciolândia, in the community of Nova Esperança, and manufactures more than 400 pieces per month. One of Acre’s most recognized craftsmen, he also represents an example of a sustainable relationship with nature and the power of craftsmanship to change lives. From the first colored rubber shoe made for his 3-year-old son, several different color models and formats were born – feminine, masculine and unissex – even gaining the right to be exhibited at a design fair in Italy in 2014.