AF: When did you start the brand and what inspired it?
SO: Josefinas came to life at the end of 2013 in Portugal. It was born from a dream. In a country in crisis, where there was little room for dreams, making handmade shoes gained a new name: Josefinas. In Portugal, there is something that has never died: the savoir-faire of craftsmen and the passion for an idea. ‘Never give up’ has always defined Josefinas’ path. The name Josefinas was born in honor of Filipa Júlio’s grandmother, one of the brand’s co-founders. The inspiration was ballet and what ballet meant symbolically: an elegant and feminine shoe, and the perseverance, tenacity and sometimes struggles to achieve ones goals.
AF: Did you have any history in the industry beforehand?
SO: No, we knew nothing about shoes. But I believe that was a good thing: it made us look at the industry with a new and fresh pair of eyes.
AF: What were the main challenges for you in the early days?
SO: Finding the right shoemaker, for sure!
AF: Describe a typical day for you.
SO: My day tends to start the same, but never really ends the same. First thing, of course, is checking emails to see what the priorities are for the day. I always prioritize my colleague’s tasks that in some way need my attention. That way they are ‘free’ to continue and I’m ‘free’ to focus on my one tasks.
AF: Tell us about some of charities/initiatives you have worked with.
SP: Josefinas is very linked to women’s issues. We’re a #ProudToBeAWoman brand. Besides working with other businesses or projects led by women (like the Hazel Cat collaboration with New York designer Patricia Chang, or the Cheshire Cat website page created in association illustrator Fiona W.), we also create partnerships with organizations like Women for Women International or She Is Rising. Our latest association was with She Is Rising aiming to fight domestic violence through a sneaker line and more recently a t-shirt line. We want to talk about domestic violence, create awareness around it, and most importantly tell these victims that there is a way out. Proceeds of sales goes towards She Is Rising to support women victims of domestic violence and give them the tools to start a life without abuse.