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New Generation: meet Teresa Bettencourt

13 Jan 2022

Stories New Generation: meet Teresa Bettencourt

Teresa Bettencourt, Manjerica

She has a degree in Fashion Design from the University of Architecture of Lisbon. With the memories of the Azores serving as inspiration, she created, in 2012, the Manjerica. The timeless handbags brand distinguishes itself by the conscious design, the careful choice of raw materials and the connection with the traditional production. 

Meet Teresa Bettencourt, Manjerica’s founder.

How did Manjerica come about?
I have always felt a great interest in fashion bags and accessories. They are a vehicle of expression a little different from clothing because, in addition to being functional, they add balance and accentuate the look’s personality. They enhance the power of the message its wearer wishes to convey, besides fostering a close relationship with the customers for having such an important function. In 2012, after concluding an internship at Alexandre Moura’s atelier and taking part in a handbag’s collection, I found myself even more in love with them and decided this would be my path. Thus, this project was born with the collaboration of my husband, Carlos Elavai, who assists with the strategic development of the brand.

What features distinguish the brand?
Manjerica stands out for its unique design, quality, values and history. The inspiration came from the memories lived in the Azores, its intense nature and the insular environment so contrasting with the modern world. These characteristics are visible in the use of strong colours and contrasts, in the organic and undulant shapes, in the leather-lined buckle, in the stories behind each bag and its motto. We want to forge a connection with our customers to make them feel the same as us, sharing our most beautiful memories and experiences in an artistic way.  
Quality is also very important because we want our products to last for generations, carrying on the legacy of Portuguese design and production in the future.
We have always intended to create something that could contribute to developing the Portuguese fashion industry; therefore, we have made the point from the very beginning to produce in national solo. For us, it is imperative to know that our partners working conditions are adequate and to support local production, making the brand even more sustainable.
Bottom line, Manjerica offers a unique experience with a distinct design, a heartfelt history, high-quality standards and a close relationship with the customer.

What fascinates you the most about the leather goods sector?
Something that fascinates me is the opportunity to combine the know-how of tradition with new techniques and design. When we bring together different generations, who love to think and work with the leather, sharing the same passion, the result is very rewarding. In addition to learning and valuing manual skills and ancient techniques, we carry on the knowledge while working on a new vision of design. The sharing and synergy with different generations enrich our sector and honour the reason why we work on it. Tradition is still very important; I believe it is an asset for Portugal to hold on, but always combined with new ways of looking into the sector. 

What do you think this new generation entering now into the sector has to offer?
This generation has new energy and a vision for the future. On one hand, it is far developed regarding design and branding and, on the other hand, it is more aware and informed about social and environmental issues. If given the opportunity of exploring new grounds, and with the support of the leather goods sector, I believe they will bring a lot of value to Portugal.

What advice would you give to a young person starting in the industry?
Persistence, global vision and genuine voice. Those starting a new project must remind themselves that it is normal to face difficulties and challenges. It may become frustrating not to get the expected results right away, which are often affected by external factors out of our control. At such a difficult time as this, when we are still being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be resilient and, above all, fall in love with a process.  
Living in a global world, young people must learn the most relevant socio-economic trends, which marketing strategies to implement and be aware of the need to constantly improve them (especially on digital), get to know and understand their audience in-depth, to be able to reach an expressive competitive level. Studying and staying informed and updated is also a very positive principle.

It is also important to find the differentiating factor of the brand. With so many new brands emerging in the world daily, how are we going to make our brand special? Why is my product more interesting than another? How is it that what I transmit and communicate is more appealing? How will I create a relationship with my customer? Creating a unique concept can sometimes seem difficult because the product is not enough, the concept must be transversal to the entire brand and, especially, be genuine. Trying to figure out what to say to the world, what our roots are, our biggest talents, where our creativity lies, these are all important issues when creating a new project. In addition to connecting to the brand, it is the only way to conceive something new and differentiating, which can really contribute to the world.

Bottom-line, I advise young people to question themselves about the reasons for their decisions, what they want to say to the world, to hold on to their energy and motivation, be confident and humble and not to forget that a legacy must always be something to look back with proud.