Immigrant Women Entrepreneurs Europe

We are Women Migrentrepreneurs. Finding our place, making our mark.

The heArt of the Street: an interview with Ana and Shaun

About a year ago, I was wandering through a market in the streets of Porto’s old town, when all of a sudden I was transported to the streets of South Africa.   I had spotted a stall with the familiar colourful and intricate beadwork figures that could only be from there…  And this is how I met Ana and Shaun, the crafty couple behind Street Beadz.  Today I’d like to introduce you to them too!

images courtesy of Street Beadz

How did you get started with Street Beadz?
During our stay in South Africa and being located in Knysna, we had the privilege of seeing amazing artists at work and we fell in love with it.  Knowing that we’d shortly be returning to Portugal, we decided to join our love of art and the basic need of making a living and to start doing it here.

What would you say are the challenges you face in your work?
The first challenge was learning how to do this from scratch and the fact that the work itself is very time-consuming.  Other than that, every new day and new project present challenges in themselves; and as the seasons change we try and change our projects. As we sell mainly at markets and mostly outdoors, the weather is a big factor, then the location and the people –  you can never predict the outcome of the day. These are the challenges, but it’s also the pleasure in doing what we do.

Shaun at work!

Where do you get your inspiration?
Africa!  Mainly… But being a team as well, we draw inspiration from each other (brain storming!).  A lot of inspiration comes from developing of our skills and our abilities – this way we can create more and think bigger, outside the box!  Also the constant urge to want to improve and do something better helps.  Right now we are very inspired by home decor and our new winter line.

a window on both worlds

Street Beadz is a unique find here – the beat of Africa in the heart of Porto.  Thanks, Ana and Shaun!  ~ d*


Filed under: Creating Opportunities, Crossing Borders, Cultural Capital, , ,

Cultural Capital: A Confession of Culture Shock

One of the things aren’t usually highlighted in “you-can-do-it” books, websites about women being able to do what they want is the struggle some of the women are still actually going through. Not many either talk about the specific struggles immigrant or expat women deal with. At first, I didn’t want to focus on that either because, I thought, it was more important to be inspired by success stories than read someone’s difficulties. But I do believe that we can learn more hearing “challenge” stories and help support each other more. (That’s what this blog is for too!)

So, I confess. I think I may have been suffering from culture shock. I hadn’t thought of it until someone mentioned it to me. I didn’t want to admit it at first. How could I suffer from it? I have travelled a lot, lived in different cities, studied abroad and worked in an international environment for several years. If anything, I thought I am the most cultural-diversity-aware person.

Culture Shock is said to be a personal disorientation that happens when one is immersed in an unfamiliar way of life. It is said to be an anxiety that results from losing familiar symbols and social cues. For me, it’s being lost in the new set of rules and structures and not being able to or not knowing how to react when the environment does not respond to my actions the way I expect it to or have been used to.

So there is a feeling of helplessness, lack of control, frustration (not to mention feeling stupid for not being able to communicate simple things!). And so the usual immediate effects are rejection of the current environment and regression.

I’m glad it’s only a phase.

It is said to have different phases: Honeymoon, where all new things are seen in a romanticized way; Negotiation, where the differences (language, social structures, etc.) are now causing frustrations and anxiety, making dealing with day to day life seem harder; Adjustment, where one gets accustomed and accepts the differences and learns to live with it; Finally, the Mastery Phase where one is able to “participate fully and comfortable” in the host culture.

Here is a Cultural Adjustment Curve I found via Pryor Adventures

It was important for me to realize and admit that I may have Culture Shock. I’ve been racking my brains on what has been holding me back from moving my business, business ideas forward? I had all that I need, which wasn’t much. I just needed to start contacting people and getting out there.

So what now? Admitting to have Culture Shock may be the first step to get over it. The next step is to take conscious steps to get me through the curves.

Tell us, what do you think of Culture Shock? Have you experienced it?

Filed under: Crossing Borders, Cultural Capital, , , ,

Cultural Capital: Culture Anchored Design

Creative Roots is one of my favorite websites. It’s a blog that features art and design that are influenced or related to a country’s culture and history.  I find most of the work featured here a cool blend of mainstream design and cultural diversity.

If you are looking for a way to carve your own niche in design, adding a touch of your culture to it may just be the answer.

If your work already reflects your culture and you want to share it with the world, go, visit their blog and click on the submit button on the upper part of the site.


Culture Chocolate of Vietnam


New fonts from ancient writings


Invite the world to walk in your “shoe.”

Filed under: Cultural Capital, , , , ,

Cultural Capital: Balance of uniqueness and market acceptance

One of my ventures is the 7100 Islands. It’s a home deco and fashion accessories business whose heart is that of traditional crafts of my home country. Our goal, my partner and I, is to present the work of the Philippine artisans to the world. Being not yet very well known, we felt that we have a niche and a uniqueness that will allow us to stand out in the market. Great, right? But on the other hand, not being known or being new has its downside too. The  public was not quite sure where to peg us. We needed to balance being unique but being acceptable and understandable to the market too. While we are working on introducing more our craft, we have also come up with forms and functions that are more familiar, giving ideas on how our creations can be used and incorporated in a home or daily life.

If you’re working with products that have cultural references, how do you maintain balance of not only limiting yourself to those who are familiar with it?

Filed under: Cultural Capital, , , , ,

Balancing here/there

One of the biggest challenges of being a migrant, I think, is the precarious balancing act between here and there.  Walking the line (sometimes a bridge, sometimes a tightrope) with one’s feet in more than one world could mean juggling time zones and seasons; maintaining diverse cultures, customs and codes; speaking in-between languages (I even dream in English, Afrikaans and Portuguese by now!); and managing relationships and connections that stretch across continents…

(not) the same sky


(not) the same sea

It could also hold the possibility of fusion, of mixing and creating anew; of finding common places and making different communities; noticing the familiar in the strange and vice versa – in an angled world, we can always have changing perspectives, after all.

How do you balance life t/here?  

What do you find demanding and/ or rewarding?  

How does this influence your business ventures?

We would love to hear from you! ~ d*

Filed under: Creating Opportunities, Crossing Borders, Cultural Capital, Roots&Routes, , ,

Reinvent to Reinvent



It’s been said that the only thing constant is change. And as Charles Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” So, as we think and work towards reinventing ourselves, it might be a good idea to also reinvent ourselves in order to continuosly reinvent. This means developing a personal or a company culture of change and adaptability. Here are some quick links around the web on becoming adaptable.

Cultivating business flexibility for success.

Anticipate and be conscious of change and act!

Becoming culturally adaptable

Tips on embracing change.

Do you have tips on becoming more adaptable? We’d love to hear them.

Filed under: Cultural Capital, , , , ,

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