“I think seniors can help balance the job market in many areas”
António Moreira, founder of Love It Portugal


“To be an entrepreneur at this stage required me to be open and willing to learn”, explains António Moreira, who, aged 62, anticipated his retirement to create the Love it Portugal platform.

Love it Portugal is an ecommerce platform 100% dedicated to promoting Portuguese products and which has the particularity of being born from the motivation of an entrepreneur who, despite approaching retirement age, got down to work and decided to embrace a new business challenge. He didn't dominate the digital universe, but it wasn't anything that hindered him. He learned, surrounded himself with the right team and partners and today his platform already reaches the European markets, as well as the United States and Canada.

A year after starting the activity, António Moreira spoke to Link to Leaders of his ambition to make “Love It Portugal known and recognized as a brand that promotes excellent 100% Portuguese products throughout the world”.

What motivated you to create Love It Portugal?

For professional reasons, I've always traveled a lot around the world and, at airports, with travel colleagues, we played the Stop game with brands by country. On these trips, I saw Portugal through the eyes of an outsider and having this perspective something different from our country, I realized that the country's richness was recognized in terms of climate, gastronomy, tradition, values and even living and working conditions, but that Portugal had, at the time, few brands that represented and promoted its products – and we have very high quality raw materials, which are very much ours and which allow us to make differentiated products.

Today, the situation in terms of the country's international projection is, fortunately, very different and we have some sectors that excel worldwide, such as footwear, textiles, ceramics, cork, wines, technology, among others, and there are already several companies who are a great inspiration to me.

And this was the motto for the launch of Love It Portugal. Passionate about the idea and the country, I retired early, aged 62, in order to be able to dedicate myself entirely to this project and, in this way, help to promote national products, not only among the Portuguese, but also among the Portuguese community abroad and with foreigners who have already visited us and enjoyed Portugal.

What is your previous professional experience? Was it linked to this sector of activity?

My professional path has always been mainly linked to logistics, international transport and supply chain, in leading national and multinational companies. I had never been connected to ecommerce, nor had a brand of my own. And, in that sense, Love It Portugal came to challenge me in many areas.

In more than 30 years of career, which I am very proud of, I have taken on several management positions, from customs, contractual logistics, national and international transport, projects, operations, commercial, among others. I also took over the management of the logistics project for Expo'98 in Lisbon, a very intense position, but one that gave me enormous professional and personal satisfaction. I have always been a project person and this personal project has been postponed for various reasons, but it has always been present in me.

What is it like to be an entrepreneur at age 62?

At this age, I have a wide experience and many valid experiences, which allow me to have a concrete vision of what I want and of my own business. But, not being native to the digital generation, there are a number of tools that I wasn't awake to. So, being an entrepreneur at this stage required me to be open and willing to learn.

This is a project that motivates me a lot in terms of knowledge. It has physical products, which imply a careful selection, and is based on online, which implies knowledge in other areas, namely technologies, digital marketing and social networks. And in this matter I had an identified gap: social networks, platforms that I never had and about which I knew I had a lot to learn – from relationships, authorities, engagements, etc. That's why we immediately hired someone to support me in this area.

I took specific training, especially on e-commerce and digital marketing, and watched hundreds of hours of videos on YouTube to update and format myself, both on ecommerce and digital marketing platforms. And I have many more to see.

Love It Portugal forces me to have a holistic view of the various aspects of the business, because they are all very important, and that is a big challenge.

And is it easy to be an entrepreneur in Portugal?

It is not easy in Portugal, as it will not be in many other countries. We are a fantastic country to live in, but relatively small and with a foreign dependent economy and investment difficulties.

In addition, the Web Summit placed Portugal on the radar of new technologies, which fortunately for the country and for professionals in these areas, boosted the requests of these professionals, but for companies that are just starting out, it poses an increased difficulty in attracting and recruitment. And this digital component is central to a project of this nature. Fortunately, the initial phase was well surpassed and, structurally, we have a solid and technologically integrated project.

Of course, we would like to have a larger budget for investment in digital marketing, but if we don't, we have to be more creative to achieve our goals.

Why an online store with only 100% Portuguese products?

Online because that's where everything happens and the option that allows us to fly further, reach a wider audience, even different countries. Of course, having a physical store would make the shopping experience different, but why have a store when you can have a store open 24/7 for everyone? Then the choice was easy and having a physical space would always be a complement, but never the first option.

As for the type of products, the choice was also clear: my idea has always been to promote Portugal through its products, showing our art and quality, which is why they are all completely Portuguese, made with our raw materials and manufactured in our country. We make a careful selection of our partners, taking into account the design and quality of the products, to ensure that we offer the best to customers, avoiding massification. We believe that, in the short term, it may be more difficult, but in the medium term it will have advantages.

What kind of products do you offer?

Currently, we have five categories of products, which are further subdivided: filigree, bags (for men and women), accessories, ceramic flowers and handicrafts. Filigree is the most successful category among our customers, including earrings, necklaces, medals, bracelets and cufflinks. In the bags, we have options in reed, in burel and in cork. These last two materials also embody various accessories, such as purses, pencil cases, shoulder bags and various other bags. We also have a selection of delicate ceramic flowers, all modelled by hand, and some handicrafts, such as the traditional Barcelos roosters, swallows, musicians and the typical sardines, all hand-painted.

Who are your customers?

Customers are, above all, Portuguese, both those who live here and those who have emigrated – but not only. In this first year, that was our focus, because the Portuguese will always be our best ambassadors – they know the products, recognize the quality and are proud to use what is ours.

Even so, we have already taken some steps in international markets. We are having a good acceptance in France and the UK, where our filigree and our ceramic flowers are surrendered, which are true works of art. Right now we are online for all European countries. Outside the European Union, we offer deliveries to Switzerland, UK, Norway, USA and Canada.

In terms of gender and age, most customers are women (75%) and, because we have several categories of products, in a slightly wider age range, from 30 to 50 years old

A year after launch, what has been the receptivity to the project?


The receptivity has been quite interesting. The launch timing was not ideal, as it coincided with the end of the pandemic and people were returning to physical stores again, and soon after, the war in Ukraine began, with all the fears and contractions that we are all familiar with. Therefore, our expectations were moderate, but they have been exceeded.

This first year was, above all, one of analysis and learning: we needed to test the products, ensure that we had the right partners and the ideal products to convey the message we want to pass on to customers. We also had to guarantee the full functionality of our sales and communication channels. In other words, it was year zero, a year that needed to be dedicated to the technical, logistical and product side and not so much to sales. Now, with everything running “on wheels”, we are going to focus more on customers – which we hope to double this year.

Is ecommerce ok and is it recommended?

During the pandemic, ecommerce gained a new life, as we all know, with the impossibility of visiting physical stores. And, on the contrary, with the end of the pandemic, with an enormous desire to leave the house, online commerce has decreased – even so, it is undeniable that we are increasingly digital and that nothing beats the comfort, security and ease that an online store can offer. Therefore, I would say yes, that it is still good and that it is highly recommended, and the proof is in all the physical brands that have digital channels today.

Recently, the distributor DPD launched the e-Shopper barometer for 2022, which expresses precisely that: that the Portuguese are increasingly looking for physical stores, but that they still spend around €1,065/year online, just 5% less compared to 2021 data, pandemic year. The good news for us is that they bet mostly on the fashion segment (61% of purchases) – and that's where we have different, beautiful and versatile options to offer them.

What is Love It Portugal's strategy to gain international traction?

We are very focused on digital, on channels that allow us to have a great reach. Social networks are, without a doubt, a vehicle of excellence for information, but we want to go further: we will soon launch the Etsy platform, a global marketplace geared more towards handicrafts and more visual and creative products. It will work as an extension of our store and will allow us to reach a more specific audience, who like and are looking for this type of product.

The European public, and in particular the French and the British, are currently our priority across borders, but we are not going to stop there and soon we will focus on other markets, namely Switzerland, USA, Canada and Japan. We already have the brand and image registered for the entire European Union, UK and Switzerland and we are in the process of registering in the USA and Japan, so the first step towards the internationalization of Love It Portugal has been taken.

In digital, opening up markets is easy, the difficult part is reaching the public in those markets and digital is now very expensive, especially in terms of marketing and advertising. And, right now, we have to set priorities and we can't bet on everyone, but we'll get there.

What advice can you give to people in your age group who want to embark on entrepreneurship?

Each case is different, but I would say that we have to assess our capabilities as honestly as possible and, after that, do something that gives us pleasure and stimulates us.

In your opinion, what can seniors, whether in pre-retirement or already retired, do to boost business in our country?

Our country has a serious problem, which has to do with the birth rate. The youth/senior ratio is unbalanced – and even a lot when compared to Asian countries. In this scenario, I think that seniors can help to balance the labour market in many areas, where they can bring experience and added value and fill some gaps in the market.

And what can/should the younger ones learn from the older ones about business, companies or leadership?

I think they can learn and progress together. In addition to vitality and new knowledge, younger people bring something extraordinary, which is the ability to dream and idealize. For their part, seniors can contribute experience and past experiences. I believe it was Jack Welch who said that he didn't hire an executive who had never made a mistake, because he knew that mistakes always happen sooner or later. And seniors can perhaps add that vision.

What goals do you want to achieve with Love It Portugal?

The project is structurally solid and allows us to design for new markets. Now, the biggest goal is for Love It Portugal to be known and recognized as a brand that promotes 100% Portuguese products of excellence throughout the world. And for that, every day we take some steps and reach some goals. The path is made by walking and we want to be one step further every day.