These Flats Are Made for Walking: Here's Josefinas
Intro and Interview by: Holly-Noelle Haworth
All Images by: Josefinas
Headquartered in Braga, Portgual, Josefinas offers stylish, comfortable, and unique shoes for women and children alike. However, they aren’t just any shoes—they’re flat shoes and flat shoes only. Josefinas was founded by Maria Cunha, Filipa Júlio, and Sofia Oliveira with the idea that everything in life should have meaning—even down to the shoes we wear. Additionally, the founders believe that, by helping women, Josefinas contributes to a better world for women by providing high-quality shoes that can be worn every single day. Here, I chat with co-founder Sofia Oliviera where she tells us about the brand and its mission to empower women all over the world. In all, this brand makes us even prouder to be women.
Tell me more about your company, Josefinas.
Josefinas is a shoe brand created to inspire and empower women through flat shoes. When we created Josefinas, we wanted to create a brand with meaning, something that would mean more than just a pretty pair of shoes. It had to be a symbol of empowerment. We only design flat shoes for women, because we believe women don’t need high heels to feel like a better version of themselves. #ProudToBeAWoman.
What inspired you to start this company? Did you always know you wanted to start a business?
One day a woman had a dream, others joined her, and Josefinas were born. In a country in crisis, like Portugal in 2013 where there was little room for dreams, making handmade shoes had a new name: Josefinas. In Portugal, there’s something that has never died: the savoir faire of craftsmen and the passion for an idea. 'Never give up' has always defined Josefinas’ path. The name Josefinas was born in honor of Filipa Júlio’s grandmother, the brand's co-founder.
What piqued your interest in shoes?
When Josefinas started coming to life, it really had the idea that women craved flat shoes as much as they did high heels, so we wanted to create that universe. We had the ballet world around us, so the creation of ballet flats was a very natural step.
Why is a pair of Josefinas unique? Does your company satisfy any unmet consumer needs?
As mentioned, we only create flat shoes for women, because we believe women can be their best selves in flats. A high heel doesn’t define our presence, confidence, respect, or beauty. As a brand, we aren’t against high heels. We just don’t believe in the social construction around them. Our collection of shoes is made of ballet flats, sneakers, mules, boots, and slides.
What materials or fabrics are Josefinas shoes made out of?
The majority of our shoes are handcrafted in genuine leather, although we currently have two vegan options. All of the creations are made in Portugal.
How would you describe Josefinas in three words?
Proud to be a woman (sorry, five).
How do you hope women feel when they’re wearing a pair of your brand’s shoes?
Their best version. Unstoppable. Capable. Worthy.
Does your company have an overall social mission?
Yes! Through our shoes, we’re proud to have helped many women. From female entrepreneurs who need help in the earlier stages of their businesses, to women at risk in Rwanda through Women for Women International, and domestic violence victims through She Is Rising and APAV. In everything we do, our mission is to create a better and more just world for women.
What sets your company apart from its competitors?
Not only the quality of our products, but also our purpose.
As female founders, what does your day-to-day look like? Do you still play a large role in the company today?
It’s never the same and we’re a small team. I’m responsible for Marketing and Communications.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your business?
A clearer vision about financials, and the money it takes to grow a business.
What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome as a business owner? What about the greatest reward?
The greatest reward is seeing the #ProudToBeAWoman movement grow, without a doubt. The biggest challenge takes a bit more of reflection. As an individual, maybe finding the balance between my business and personal life.
As business owners, we know it’s difficult to maintain balance? How do you achieve balance and take time to care for yourself?
For me at least, it is hard to find balance, but I’m working on it. Daily meditation and yoga are now part of my routine.
Do you believe a woman can “have it all”? How do you measure success?
I was recently doing some reading on Estée Lauder. She worked very hard, sometimes even seven days a week. Her social agenda was also very demanding. The only thing more important to Estée than the company was her family, which was always her priority. And even with a hectic agenda, Estée always made sure to remember birthdays and to hand out her favorite chocolate-covered marshmallows as little gifts to family and friends. When we think that having everything is impossible, there are great women that remind us that although it may be hard, it is also possible. The definition of success is something very personal. For me, it’s waking up each morning and making sure I’m doing something purposeful.
How have you integrated your business with your personal lives?
Sometimes it’s hard to define a line, but it’s important to have a personal life. We all need to have ‘me time’. Without mental and emotional strength, we really can’t function.
Best girl’s night out essential? Whatever makes you feel 200%
Favorite type of cuisine? Italian!
Favorite beach on Earth? I do dream about the French Polynesia beaches.
I never leave home without my… iPhone (how original!)
Favorite girl power song you can’t stop singing in the shower? "Run the World (Girls)" by Beyoncé
If you could get coffee with any woman in the world, who would it be and why? Frida Kahlo, because when I read something she wrote or see something she painted, it sparks emotion in me.