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Pangea Founder Joshua Onysko

Conrad Founder Alex McAfee sat down with Entrepreneur Joshua Onysko of Pangea Organics to explore the role of adventure and spiritual practice on his life. 


I met Joshua on the first day of school at Naropa University. On his head he had a brown scarf wrapped around as a turban, he wore rose-tinted glasses, and had his trademark smile that said, “I probably just did something fun, and I’m about to say something really absurd.” At the time, he had just returned from an extended stay in Asia, and was making soap out of his garage in old beer kegs. He was a hippy Tyler Durden. The soap company was called Pangea, which has since grown to a full organic skincare line available all over the world. Joshua is still irreverent and mischievous, and remains one of my best friends. I sat down with him at the TOMS Flagship store in Venice Beach for this interview.


Alex: How do you define adventure?

Joshua: My definition of adventure is when you leave with no agenda—meaning you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know how you’re getting there, and you don’t have a lot of people around you that also have an agenda. In that way you open yourself up to creating a situation where anything can happen all the time, which, you know, arguably is what’s happening all the time anyway. But, I find that so much of our experience is tethered to the types of situations that we schedule what, “an adventure could be,” limiting the true potential of craziness.


A: Do you have a spiritual practice?

J: The idea of spirituality is pretty ambiguous, especially now in late 2014 as we are right now. I think that even when people say they don’t have spirituality in their life, of course they do, everyone does, but how we associate with it, and how we use it as part of our identity is, I guess, the contrast between different people. I believe in a spirit, but I wouldn’t say it’s part of my daily practice. My daily practice is just trying to be truthful and honest and spreading as much love as I possibly can without deflating myself. (Laughs)


A: You’ve traveled all over the world in many different ways. You’ve done the motorcycle trip down in Africa, you’ve trekked all over Asia, Europe… Is there any particular adventure that’s been the most memorable or life-changing?

J: I would say definitely from a guttural experience, India has been my favorite experience thus far. I was twenty-two when I got there and I had never been to anything quite like India. It kind of blew my expectations away around what kind of experiences you could have in a country, and the types of people, and the cultural shift. I think at that point in my life I was ready for a major shift, and so it happened.


A: Was there one wake up or aha moment in your life that really changed the way that you think or the way that you live your life?

J: I realized I wasn’t a woman (Laughs)… I would say, that the big aha moment in my life was when I was 9 years old, and I truly realized that anything was possible.


A: In what way?

J: In the way that if you set your mind to something, and that you really want to achieve something, you don’t see the negativity and you focus on the positive side and the ability to achieve that thing--you can get there, no matter what it is.


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