Meet Fipe Preuss: artist, entrepreneur and co-founder of Living Koko. This socially-conscious, sustainable chocolate business collaborates with Samoan village communities supporting village economies through food sovereignty and a shared value approach.
Fipe grew up surrounded by cacao. Not only is Koko Samoa the national drink (a kind of bitter, hot chocolate), but Fipe also comes from a family with a rich history of working in the industry. Through this, Fipe absorbed an archive of knowledge on all-things cacao and can readily and meticulously explain the entire harvesting process that begins with the germination of the cacao seed through to fermentation, drying and eventual consumption.
Despite this history and knowledge, Fipe didn't always plan to enter the cacao business. But in 2016, she and her partner Glen Reiss realised this might be worth pursuing, both of them keen to give back to the community in Samoa and to Pacific farmers.
At its heart, Living Koko is all about combining sustainability, food sovereignty, indigenous cultivation of land, cultural education, and chocolate. The pair have worked hard to ensure that these values are upheld and enacted. The Living Koko product lines are vegan, gluten-free and allergy-safe, making it accessible to almost every dietary requirement without compromising on flavour. Now, the business proudly supports over 130 domestic, independent farms primarily in Samoa, including small enterprises run by women.
In their Melbourne factory, Living Koko also employs a group of Global Indigenous women, after many years of Fipe largely operating the business by herself.
Fipe says ‘a typical day at work is filled with laughter, sharing culture and food. It feels like being back home — it doesn't feel like work’.
Somehow, Fipe manages to fit in Living Koko alongside being a Polynesian dancer and teacher, a consultant, and running another business that supports emerging and established artists, as well as other projects such as the recent ‘Transitioning Cultural Seeds’ project she began with Stefany Brajanovski (Academic in Social Work & Aboriginal Studies) during the pandemic!
We are in awe of Fipe and what she has already accomplished, and Living Koko's products are pure heaven!
To see the full range and learn more about Living Koko, visit livingkoko.com