Catarina Portas

Journalist and entrepreneur, Catarina Portas, identified a gap in the market for a shop dedicated to the sale of nostalgic Portuguese arts, crafts and brands. Occupying an old perfume warehouse (David & David) in the trendy Chiado district, A Vida Portuguesa has ensured the survival of many a Portuguese tradition. Over 1,000 originally packaged products including candy, tea, coffee, sardine tins, biscuits, soaps, pencils, mugs, jewelry, toothpaste, ceramics from the Bordalo Pinheiro Factory and traditional woollen blankets from Alentejo.

Catarina was chosen in 2009 by Monocle magazine as one of the 20 people in the world that deserve a bigger stage, and in 2011 she was in the list of trendsetters of Wallpaper magazine.

She was kind enough to answer a few questions for us, so we can share her view on the city she loves most, Lisbon:

Secret location?

The 9 de Abril garden, next to the Ancient Art Museum. Since the times when I played Hopscotch it’s been one of my favourite places.

Best view? 

The view from the São Pedro de Alcântara viewpoint over Lisbon. It’s one of the most beautiful things there is.

A guilty pleasure?

Just a pleasure, no guilt: the auctions and archives of Portuguese factories – you’ll find the coolest stuff there.

A weird talent? Or what’s the weirdest thing you’ve /experienced in Lisbon?
I never thought I’d become an entrepreneur, but nowadays I find that life is most charming on top of a ladder (while remodeling our Chiado store).

Where can we find you on a Saturday afternoon?
Around A Vida Portuguesa. Or one of my Quiosques do Refresco. When you love what you do so much, you almost forget it’s the weekend.

A perfect day with the family?
In Vila Viçosa, between oranges and tiles. Having bread with bacon at breakfast or soup in a cauldron later in the day. But the best part is always to catch up with the family.

A trend for Lisbon’s future?
Lisbonites loving and enjoying their city more. The life outdoors, the public areas and an increasingly young, revived and absolutely unique Lisbon. Beautiful.

Favorite drink in the city? Coolest place to have a drink.
A lemonade at one of the Quiosques do Refresco. I know of no better invention to fight the summer heat.

Favourite place to shop? 

My heart is torn between Feira da Ladra and the Mercado de Barcelos. And between so many other markets where you can still find precious handmade things my the country’s artisans.

What can you do here & nowhere else?
Be (and exist) a Lisbonite.

Favorite book/band/movie?
Movie: “Les Amants du Pont.Neuf” by Leos Carax with Juliette Binoche and Denis Lavant.
Book: Anything by Clarice Lispector.
Music: That could be a whole other questionnaire!

The most famous person to have shopped at A Vida Portuguesa?
So many! I remember Susan Sarandon visited once, Fanny Ardant bought a swallow, and PJ Harvey took home a slingshot – which I thought was adorable!

What is your best seller item?
The Regina chocolate umbrellas and the Bordalo Pinheiro swallows are always on top of our sales list.

Something you cannot resist?
A good story. They also exist behind brands, products and techniques. They’re a priceless heritage.

Someone to take out for dinner?
Who I’m taking out right now.

Someone NOT to be stuck on an elevator with?
Someone with an elevator phobia.