Paez Portugal: What You N-E-E-D to Know
Some of you may be thinking “Like Tom’s shoes?”. Yes like Tom’s shoes, but different, very different. And for you Fair Trade fanatics, it’s time to pay very close attention.
Paez has made its way in to the ♥♥♥ of so many Portuguese consumers that I simply couldn’t resist writing about their success story. Not because I have 5 pairs or know the owners, but because the whole concept surrounding the brand and its local corporate culture is truly unique.
I proceeded to contact Carlos Coutinho, one of the local founders, and ask him if he could spare a moment or two and give me a first-hand account of how Paez has progressed during the past 3 years to the point where the entire 2011 summer collection was being sported by more than 75% of the my friends earlier this year…
General Facts and Figures regarding PAEZ
- Paez was founded in 2007 based on the idea of giving a twist to a simple & comfortable shoe used on an everyday basis by the Argentinean people.
- It’s all about “simplicity, comfort & innovation”.
- All of the shoes and merchandise are produced in the Argentinian Paez factory.
- Fair trade is a key factor in the corporate culture.
- The brand is currently present and up and running in 65 countries and sold in over 600 stores.
- Paez currently produces espadrilles, sneakers, boots and accessories such as beach bags.
Upon arriving at the Paez Flagship store which was at the time located at Rua das Janelas Verdes Nº102, I’m greeted by Carlos Coutinho.
He’s been involved in the project since Day 1 but began his career at Paez as a friendly advisor or as he likes to say “moderator”. What do I mean? Carlos wasn’t the one to bring Paez to Portugal. That was Francisco Penim and Ricardo Ortigão Ramos.
Francisco and Ricardo were studying in Argentina when they learnt about the brand in one of their classes and thought the overall concept could be interesting and more importantly, profitable in the Portuguese market.
In other words, they needed clients, retailers and investors. This is where Carlos came in. He started off by setting them up with the key to any business man’s success: A Roladex of clients he had acquired while working as a sales rep for Nike.
How did the boys go about approaching retailers? It was very simple (just like Paez). They bought a suitcase bought at the supermarket, stuffed it with shoes and traveled the country looking for stores interested in selling them.
“We started in Pedras del Rey and tried to find one retailer per area, just to ensure exclusivity.” And the rest is history. Let’s examine some of the key success factors related to this booming trend the three young entrepreneurs created in Portugal.
Balanced Ambition: “Fazemos Isto Por Paixão“
Nonetheless, the boys have done well for themselves in the past three years. Portugal is currently the country in which most Paez are sold (from an Income Per Capita Ratio of course…) It is still pretty impressive. Of course this achievement is linked to a number of other variables that we still need to discuss. So let’s move on.
Cultural Compatibility: Portugal & Argentina
Being a Latino European myself, I can perfectly relate to the very nonchalant, relaxed, everything done at the last moment lifestyle and more importantly business environment.
During the summer we all take as much time off as possible to run off to the beach and bask in the sun. The basking is also usually carried out in esplanadas or any area located in the close proximity of the river/sea:
Why did I go to the trouble of describing this?
This year, summer lasted until the 3rd week of October boasting 30º C temperatures. Beach was therefore a prime time activity leading to the extended high sales rate of seasonal products such as ice-creams, flip-flops, bikinis and Paez. Thankfully the Argentinians are as relaxed about business as we are and were quick enough to realize the potential of casual beach friendly footwear in sun-kissed climates.
FYI: After a year of selling Paez in Portugal, Carlos felt it was time to travel to Argentina and meet the brains and founders of the brand:
Just the way we like to do business.
Fair Trade: The Cherry on top of the Cake vs Key Success Factor
One could argue that this ethically and socially responsible business model bears great fruits among Fair Trade fanatic consumers who purchase coffee exclusively from Starbucks for the greater good of mankind, taking a stand against the trends of the free market. And it probably does.
Carlos is of the opinion that is not that big of a deal to his local consumers:
For now, it remains the cherry on the cake made of many other important ingredients valued by consumers.
This is of course a blatantly obvious success factor.
The important point to be made is that in Portugal as we are a modest 10 million, word-of-mouth is one of the easiest ways of creating awareness simply because we all know each other and when the correct people are approached, it works like a wonder.
Why do Portuguese consumers love PAEZ?
- Design &Variety
- Utility and Authenticity
Because each of the boys spent a great deal of time in the actual flagship store, meeting and greeting customers and selling shoes, they know they market like no other.
And nothing’s better for a brand than daily interaction and feedback from its customers. The personal touch approach, which is considered the most effective from a CRM point of view, ensures enhaced customer satisfaction and capacity for innovation.
The Romantic Vision: A Visão Romântica
As mentioned previously, Paez is a Fair Trade certified brand that seeks to provide proper work conditions to the local Argentinian producers.
Instead of spending unnecessary resources on going to a large advertising company, the boys look for up-and-coming production companies and give them a chance to show the world what they’re made of.
It’s about Team Work and Being Courageous enough to Take and Give a Chance to People with Initiative and Great Ideas:
So to conclude and as we say in Portuguese:
& An Interview with Ricardo Ortigão Ramos
All Photographs are copyright of Paez Portugal.
If you have any questions email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
|C.L.V & Francisco Steinwall|