Joshua Onysko, the 29-year-old founder and CEO of Pangea Organics, wasn’t always set on transforming the world’s business practices. Earlier in life he dropped out of junior high school, attempted an acting career, and roamed the globe. Along the way, he discovered yoga and meditation; gradually he became inspired to find a better way to do business, one that benefits everyone involved. Five years ago, he started a business based on soap he concocted in his mother’s kitchen from oatmeal, olives, coconuts, hemp, soy, and essential oils. Pangea now sells 39 handcrafted organic body and skincare products.
“Everything we do is global,” says Onysko, whose company supports some 35,000 acres of organically farmed agricultural land around the world. “If you buy one lotion, it affects 14 cooperatives in different countries.” He’s also passionate about his nonprofit Pangea Institute, whose mission is to educate other corporations about sustainable business practices.
Onysko studied yoga in an ashram in India in 2000, and now his daily meditation practice and once-weekly asana sessions help him honor the interconnection of all life. Pangea tries to leave only a positive footprint. The facilities are 100 percent wind powered, and the company conducts an annual environmental audit to measure its carbon usage, which will be offset by planting trees on several continents. All employees get a living wage (a minimum of $12.50 per hour), full health coverage, and, when their garden is producing, a fresh organic lunch daily.
Onysko also has his eye on the future; he’s building a soap factory in the Amazon, working to bring fair trade into the cosmetics industry by partnering with larger cosmetics firms to create a demand for natural ingredients, and helping to set standards for organic body care. Although Onysko knows that big change comes slowly, his spirit is buoyed by a rise in consciousness he sees in people around the world. “In the end,” Onysko says, “a visionary is only as good as the people who are watching the vision.”