Portugal Manual is today not only an important community of craftsmen, artists and designers who elevate Portugal but also a return to tradition through transmission, with a new vision. But who better than Filipa Belo, the founder, can tell us about it?
Filipa, can you tell me how this all started?
I am an enthusiast of entrepreneurship, sustainable consumption, sharing and circular economy. With motherhood, I started to have huge concerns about the world I wanted to leave for my children and that preoccupation became a life motto. The search for organic, sustainable products, far from mass production, took me to start researching and discovering a movement that was being implemented in Portugal with great force already in 2012.
In August 2017, my husband and I came to Brazil for professional reasons and this change gave me time to structure and to search what I wanted to do. At that time I had already known that it would be with the New Portuguese artisans. Knowing the stories and challenges that new artisans face daily, made me have a huge desire to promote these projects that are from people to people. With my moving to Brazil, I brought everyone in my heart and I started to think of a way to promote these works that, due to logistical and/or financial reasons, cannot go that far. I studied and researched a lot about this movement between design and craftsmanship. From this passion and search, Portugal Manual was born.
From the beginning, what are the main purposes of Portugal Manual?
My first objective, as founder and curator of Portugal Manual, is to tell the stories of these new artisans who dare to return to the handmade works. I have observed over the past few years that when you buy a piece of craft, you buy the story that goes with it. The customer is increasingly looking for an economy of affection, a concept developed by the Brazilian creative Jackson Araújo, where much more than a piece, the buyer is looking for something that is in tune with their individuality. I think that this dimension of affection, of history, of wanting to connect to something, leads us to crafts.
Besides that, one of the problems that I have identified was the loneliness of these entrepreneurs. They are the ones in charge with the production, the marketing department, the communication strategies, the bureaucracy of the accounting issues and, at the end of the day, they need to be creative, productive and above all they need to promote themselves, create value to their work and sell it.
So, I decided to build a community of people who share all of these challenges to support each other, and most of the time that is so simple as to talk with someone who has the same questions and feelings everyday.
Based on community principals, Portugal Manual also negotiated with several partners focused on the better solutions for all the projects who are part of our network.
We also promote events to show their works to new clients and markets. To make connections.
And also to promote Creative Tourism in Portugal in partnership with Visit Portugal. Portugal Manual - Curated Cultural Experiences is an immersive project that promotes a return to the manual through a curatorship of authorial and artistic experiences in mainland Portugal and islands. Because, at the end of day we want to show this new production and this new Portuguese image to everyone who wants to visit us.
We choose whatsApp as the main tool to have easy daily and direct contact with each other. A place where they can ask something and get answers really fast (sometimes not that fast) or just to share an opinion or an exhibition or a new collection.
The themes can be very diverse but all go around the difficulties and the business issues that they all shared. For example: how to make a communication strategy? How can I sell my products to stores? How should I introduce my work to others? How did I calculate the correct price of my work? How can I improve the design of my products?
Based on four pillars - Hear, See, Feel ,Be - Portugal Manual Curated Cultural Experiences is a unique and immersive experience that can be lived from the comfort of home or directly in Portugal.
Hear Portugal - First Portuguese podcast entirely dedicated to new artisans and artists who dared to return to the Manual. Weekly episodes every Friday at 6pm on podcast platforms: spotify, apple podcast and google podcast;
See Portugal - 15 mini documentaries, produced by Director Graça Castanheira, which take us on a journey through the universe and the creation process; Photographs by Pedro Sadio;
Feel Portugal, Be Portugal - An invitation to be part of these experiences, from home or on a visit to Portugal.
Feel invited to a new experience. Meet who redesigns the Portuguese tradition of innovation. Stay up to date with the latest in the sector.
Since the launch of Portugal Manual, what are the milestones you have reached?
Contrary to the movements created by fast fashion, there is a niche that looks for products with soul. Questioning price less and questioning history more. New generations of buyers, who were born in a fully digital era and who, due to this lack of identity and sense of belonging, demand differentiated products that have an increased cultural sense. I believe that the demand for handmade products, much more than a trend, is a way of life!