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New Generation: Eduardo Serzedelo

28 Feb 2024

Stories New Generation: Eduardo Serzedelo
Eduardo Serzedelo holds a law degree from the Catholic University of Portugal and an MBA from INSEAD. His passion for footwear and his pride in the Portuguese industry were the main ingredients behind the creation of Hirundo, a brand of sneakers made in Portugal with important environmental concerns. The brand is carbon-neutral and B Corp certified.

How did the idea for creating Hirundo come about?
I have always been passionate about the world of shoes and sneakers. I enjoyed studying the different construction methods and their impact on durability and comfort. On the other hand, I’ve always been proud of the quality of what we’ve been able to do in the footwear sector in Portugal, and I soon realised that there was a lack of a brand that valued Portuguese know-how in the sector.

Locked up at home during the pandemic, with more time to think, I set out to create a brand that respects not only tradition but also the environment, the people who make it and the best and most sustainable Portuguese materials! We ended up with a pair of sneakers whose components were all made within 50 kilometres of the factory where the shoes were made!

How would you define the brand, and how does it stand out in the market?
On the one hand, the pandemic crisis has widened our horizons in ways we never thought possible! As a society, we began to question our production chains based in Asia. We began to appreciate the local. Every walk in nature became special. In a way, the pandemic helped to define what Hirundo would become.
Hirundo is ostensibly sustainable and Portuguese.

What have been the biggest challenges so far?
The first struggle began with the launch during the pandemic. It wasn’t always possible to see materials, prototypes, or even people in person. Later, still during the pandemic, and as the war in Ukraine intensified, the supply of materials also became more difficult. One bet we made that paid off in a big way was our local supply chain. Being close to the factory and all its components allowed us to adapt very quickly to the problems that arose!

We had a problem with the supply of soles and, together with the supplier, we managed to find an alternative solution in less than 24 hours. It wouldn’t have been possible if we hadn’t taken the risk in the first place.

As a result, we have been able to build a much more agile production with less waste of raw materials from inventory, which has a much smaller impact on our carbon footprint (we are certified as carbon-neutral).

Another great achievement in 2023 was the launch of our shoe repair programme in Portugal. Logistically, we had to overcome some obstacles, but we already have customers asking us to repair their sneakers and the programme is up and running! These initiatives have also earned us the prestigious B Corp certification!

What plans does Hirundo have for the future?
I often say that sustainability is a journey, not an end. We are always identifying areas for improvement and systematically addressing them to make our products more environmentally friendly and our processes more respectful of the communities they affect. We have improved a lot since 2023, and in 2024 we have some projects to improve even more.

As far as the product range is concerned, we want to expand it to complement the current products and to better serve our customers. Finally, by 2024, in terms of sales, we want to expand our points of sale abroad to gain visibility in certain key markets, such as France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

What advice would you give to a young person who is just starting a brand?
"Be careful whose advice you buy…”