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New Generation: Isabel Henriques da Silva and José Maria Reffoios

06 Oct 2021

Stories New Generation: Isabel Henriques da Silva and José Maria Reffoios
Isabel Henriques da Silva and José Maria Reffoios are the faces behind JAK Shoes. Founders of the Officina Lisboa project, the duo launched in 2014 a unisex and sustainable brand. After Porto, the brand opened a new physical space in Lisbon.

How was this project born?
JAK was born in 2014. It was a natural process because we already had some knowledge of the industry. We launched a footwear brand in 2012, the OFFICINA Lisbon, of classic shoes, with more traditional collections, for both men and women. As time went by, the need to create another brand arose, JAK, although with an entirely different business model than the one we had with OFFICINA Lisboa.  We chose to create a mono-product, unisex and sustainable from the very beginning, without resorting to biannual collections, as it is usually done. Instead, we are doing periodic releases of a model at a time, intended to be classic and timeless in the first place.

Was the footwear sector a natural choice?
Yes, it was, as we already knew the industry. Because we had another footwear brand, it turned out to be natural and easier to launch a new brand within the same sector, despite having an altogether different concept, business model and product.

What are the biggest challenges?
Currently, we think the biggest challenge is transversal to most brands with our size and business model: overcome the difficulties inherent to the ongoing pandemic. Nevertheless, despite all difficulties, JAK kept growing during the year and a half, which is great.

The opening of the store is the latest news. Why bet on physical spaces?
JAK has been betting on the online since the beginning. However, we believe that having physical spaces that convey the brand’s concept is important for our growth and to nurture the close relationship we wish to have with our customers.

In our stores, as well as online, we make a point of providing a very personalized customer service, where he feels a part of the spirit and concept of the brand, helping us, in turn, to develop and grow.

Both the store we have in Porto since 2019, as the new one in Lisbon, inaugurated this year, were created in partnership with the architect Tiago Silva Dias, who started from a pair of JAK shoes to develop the projects. This way, the spaces reflect perfectly our brand’s philosophy and products where,   just as we do with our shoes, the materials used, the minimalist design, but with personality, are always concerned with durability, quality and sustainability. Thus, we believe that all features and experiences that the customer has in the brand are very well integrated, whether through digital channels or physically in the store.

How does JAK stand out in the market?
We believe JAK distinguishes itself for its quality, construction, timelessness and minimalist design. However, in line with these principles, we are a brand that believes and strives for transparency while communicating with our customers. So, as mentioned above, we attempt to integrate the customer into the spirit and development of the brand.
We aim to create products in which the clients can trust, knowing they are making a long-term safe investment, that will age well and never go out of style. We are a direct-to-consumer brand. Therefore we manage to offer the fairer price for the best possible quality in sneakers made from the best materials.

What are the plans for the brand’s future? What can we hope for?
Our plans for the future are to continue working on the online growth and to integrate our customers into the brand through the experience they have in-store and online; and, as everything normalizes after this turbulent period over the pandemic, return to plan store openings in some European capitals, where we believe it makes more sense to further the relationship with customers we already have in these countries thanks to the online store or because they have already visited us in our stores in Porto and Lisbon.

What advice would you give to a young person just starting in the industry?
We would say that it is worth taking a chance and that with a lot of work it is possible to reach all goals and overcome complicated phases. It takes being resilient and have some stubbornness.