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New Generation: Estela Novais

21 Nov 2023

Stories New Generation: Estela Novais
Estela sees herself as a "newcomer” to the world of footwear. Until 2020, her universe revolved around dance. But today it’s at Penha Footwear Factory that she swaps from dance to classic shoes.

What’s your academic background?
I come from the world of dance! I started classical ballet at the age of four and never stopped! I have experienced several dance styles, from musical jazz and contemporary to ballroom dancing and oriental dance… I’ve done a lot of training both here in Portugal and in London, where I lived and studied dance.

How did you make the decision to work in the company?
After 20 years of teaching dance, tiredness struck! In addition to decades of dancing, motherhood came along, and it became increasingly difficult to reconcile family life with working hours. That’s when I felt I had to do something. I mustered up the courage and spoke to my father, who had always encouraged me to live the "dance dream”, and his reaction couldn’t have been better!

So, I’d say that my change of area wasn’t so much a decision as a necessity. My father suggested that I start going to the company to get an idea of the pace of work. And so it went… until I ended up staying! I closed the dance school I had in Guimarães, swapping my dance sneakers for classic shoes.
It was the end of one cycle and the beginning of another! Dance is still a part of my life and always will be, but now in a much happier way! As dance should be!

What have been the biggest challenges?
The company’s biggest challenge is to stay true to our essence – classic, quality men’s footwear! In addition, it’s important that we manage to reach the "niche markets” that consume our type of product, without ever neglecting the close and special relationship we have with each of our customers!
I am sure that for me and my cousins, the biggest challenge of all will be to continue the work of my grandfather, João Novais, and my father, Armindo Novais!

What advice would you give to a young person starting out?
I am quite emotional and I don’t think my emotions and intuition have got in the way of my professional life, quite de opposite. That’s why I’d say it’s essential to fall in love with what you’re doing! It’s essential to put a bit of your soul into the little things of everyday life!
All companies are the result of a whole; from suppliers to big or small customers, without forgetting the employees.
Naturally, there will be good times and bad times, as in all professions, and we will often have to "stop” and readjust or even start again! But the most important thing is never to give up... to learn to rest, not to focus on the problem, but on the solution, even when it doesn’t seem to exist!
I was very lucky to find a mentor who completely understands the field, so if you have the privilege of learning from someone more experienced, take it all in... everything! And I think that’s everything... love for your work, respect for others, a smile on your face and lots and lots of energy!

Penha Footwear makes its debut at MICAM

It’s the first time you have taken part in MICAM. Why did you decide to do it?
Although our market is diverse and spread across several continents, my father thought that Milan would be the best showcase, and at the right time, to show and make known the quality of our product.
Milan is the "centre” of footwear, a launch pad to other markets. With the growing instability in Europe, the war, and as the third generation started to enter the company founded by my grandfather, João Novais, my father thought it was the ideal time to open some windows for our future and that of the company!

What were the goals of this participation?
The goal was to show the quality of our product. We’re not looking for anything immediate, but for something that can grow in the future, so that we can continue the work of my grandfather and father!

Penha Footwear Factory works with classic footwear. What are the biggest challenges?
We have always manufactured classic men’s shoes in Blake and Goodyear construction.
It’s not by chance that we make this type of shoe. It’s because it’s what we do best and because it has always been the company’s strategy to win over the "niches” of the market that consume it, even against all market trends!
And I think that’s the biggest challenge, staying true to our product, getting it to the consumer and building customer loyalty!

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