otiblog

Express sourcing in Lisboa

The new leather bag collection #Woura has to be delivered to my pre-order customers before mid-August, which is also prior to the official launching of the collection on the website. 

There’s a lot going on : settling in Portugal, how to handle the production at a distance, and we were also in full planning mode for our wedding in Thailand on the 25th August. I know you will ask “why Thailand?”. The fact is that my husband is half French, half New Zealander, and his family and friends are mostly between England and NZ/ Australia. My family and friends are mostly in Gabon and France. We got engaged in Thailand last year, and it seemed for us like a good meeting point half-way between everywhere, where we could host our most cherished people to celebrate with us in a very special place.

So yes, a lot was going on. One bit of good news is that we finally found an apartment in Lisbon, after 2 weeks in 2 different Air bnbs, so now we have our dog Lola* back with us after a stay in the dog hotel, and we can start our new life in Lisbon.

And as for the production? 

Samir is still searching for the dark brown leather, and up until now, the samples he has sent me through WhatsApp are too bright, too caramel... 

The others colours needed for the production (black and white) have been delivered at the atelier. So we can at least start with the embroideries on the black leather. 


To construct the bags we also need the metallic accessories, the buckles, the snap buttons etc. I sourced some Italian brass accessories in Graulhet, in the south of France while visiting family. But now, we are in Portugal and I need to send them to Morocco.

There is no travelling to France planned so let’s try to find these metallic accessories in Portugal, and find a way to send them to Morocco from here. 

After a bit of research on the web (translating from French to Portuguese then English to Portuguese to find the correct definition of what I was looking for), I finally found what seemed to be some good options.

Carrying the samples in my bag, my first stop was in Martim Moniz. This area is multicultural, I love it. From the subway you access directly to the Commercial Center Mouraria where you will find Indian and Asian shops offering mobile phones, prayer carpets, plantains and hair relaxer to name a few. Great feeling. I think I have found the #allmix #allfabulous neighborhood of Lisbon.

 Photo extract from :  https://ocorvo.pt/centro-comercial-da-mouraria-esta-para-durar-indiferente-a-uma-cidade-em-transformacao/

Photo extract from : https://ocorvo.pt/centro-comercial-da-mouraria-esta-para-durar-indiferente-a-uma-cidade-em-transformacao/

Out in this central zone of Lisbon, with a view on the Castle St. Georges up on the hill, there is this tiny paved street with an open door. Inside is an old leather craft atelier with wooden shelves on every wall, stacked with leathers and accessories. In the back there are some industrial sewing machines. The man behind his wooden counter doesn’t speak a word of English or French or Spanish and he doesn’t want to make any effort. So I showed him the pieces I needed and the quantity. He had only 2 pieces in golden brass and nothing in silver brass.

By chance there was a friendly young Portuguese photographer in the shop that came to replace the leather string on his Camera, and noticing my struggle to communicate, he decided to help me. He invited me to follow him to a nearby designers’ space, to see if anyone there could help me. I immediately accepted his offer and followed him to this great creative open space, a few climbing streets behind. I met there two amazing women designers. One is founder of eco swimwears made from regenerated ocean waste (https://wearbaeis.com), and the other one creates intelligent backpacks (https://birdwalkdesign.com). These two lovely women were very attentive to my needs, and gave me the name and the address of an atelier that seemed to offer what I was looking for. 

Now let’s find this place !

*I will tell you her story later.

{post} - otinguema