Paulo has a varied career path. In the early years he worked at his parents' shop on Costa Cabral Street. He then worked in his father's factory for ten years as an agent of methods and time management and as a manager of production and quality. The next steps of his route took him to the commercial sphere, where he sold varied products, from clothes to batteries, and even forklifts. He had a management services company for condominiums, gardening and conservation of buildings. In this way, Paul acquired competences that allowed him to form a broader perspective on the clients and the very operation of a business. Maria, in turn, has always been linked to fashion, both in production and marketing.
According to Paulo, it was this joint experience in the garment world that inspired them to create the Don Lopo brand, yet it was still an elusive dream. The situation was never favorable. Whether it was the bills to pay, the taxes, or the initial investment, everything seemed to paddle against them. Oporto's new and exorbitant rents also did not make the process any easier. But it was precisely at this point that the dream took shape. When prospecting for possible spaces, the couple found the former site of the first hospital of Porto, built around 1500, which, because of the extensive works it needed to become operational, was far more affordable.
The couple seized the opportunity and after eleven hard months, on December 1, 2017, the house was ready to open its doors. The name Don Lopo (from the hospital) was maintained for being so easily recognized among the Oporto locals.
The end result is quite impressive, too impressive at times. Let's explain: Some passers-by think that it is necessary to pay to photograph the imposing facade or visit the elegant interior, with sublime lighting that allows for both the original artefacts that decorate the store and the interesting fusion of old and modern building materials. The couple, however, keep the doors invitingly open to every type of audience and this, was also a curious aspect to Paul. It anticipated a very well defined type of customer and, in fact, ended up having a wide variety of national and international visitors. Perhaps this affluence is a consequence of the very concept of the store: the commercialization of high quality products at competitive prices, something that Paulo identifies as lacking in the city of Oporto.
Due to the size of the store, Paulo and Maria also decided to allocate a small area for customized tailoring and another for Trás-os-Montes regional products from Quinta d'Ameã. The big challenge of this type of business is to keep customers loyal and the experience has been positive so far, because those who buy at Don Lopo tend to return.