Credit to all photos: Paula Franco, Luz Editions
I have known Paula Franco for many years and watched her trust in her creative instincts grow.
When she launched her first collection under her brand Luz Editions, I knew she had created something special. I have been a superfan from the start, purchasing her products for myself and gifts for those I love.
I knew she had great potential but I could see from the outside she was missing some of the key components that would take her where she wanted to go so I was delighted when she joined my original Walls of Love program in 2021, I have had the joy to get to know Paula and her products and to help her fill in the missing pieces and I am delighted to share where she is now and how she achieved it.
The name Luz means light and in this precise case highlights Portuguese heritage and know-how. Because Portugal is still rooted in its tradition but is currently experiencing strong changes, it is necessary to remember its history, to value its simplicity, and to embrace it.
Our desire to create small, limited collections is dictated by the human side of handmade and rarity. Each collection will have a specific theme and will be limited in quantities. They will not be reissued.
— Paula Franco on Luz Editions
What motivated you to open your shop and what was your vision for your work?
I was born in France to Portuguese parents so my heart belongs to both cultures. I wanted to create a collection of pieces whose storytelling is rooted in my origins.
Each piece we create invites you to travel in the traditions and know-how of Portuguese craftsmanship.
Everything was ready to launch Luz at the beginning of January 2020. I had done my first photoshoot in February to be able to prepare a catalog and the site. And suddenly, in March, Covid arrived and stopped the world. At the time, I was already comparing designers’ quotes to launch my online store. So, as it was impossible for me to have direct contact with merchants and customers, I started to work alone on my website. At that time, I saw no other possible way out for the development of my brand.
My vision has always been to be as visible as possible, to give people the opportunity to buy when there are no physical stores close to them.
Where were you when you started the course?
When I started the course, I had just built my website for my brand and was almost at the starting point. A year before, I had done the Yes, Yes, Yes course and I had come to the conclusion that, even if I loved photography, I would certainly never live from it. At the end of this course, thanks to the introspection of the course, I had another project in mind… and I started to develop “Luz Editions,” my brand of decorative pieces for the home, based in artisanat.
A few months later, when Carla launched her Walls of Love course, I didn’t immediately join because I thought it was only for photographers. It was by speaking with participants and questioning Carla directly that I understood all the potential that I could draw from it.
What did you want to achieve?
I was looking for guidance and advice, sharing and, above all, group motivation because the loneliness of entrepreneurship weighed on me. In the beginning, I didn’t have many expectations but as soon as I discovered the content of the program, I was very motivated.
In the program, I was able to find a lot of resources, details that mattered but that I hadn’t taken into account and above all I could share my ideas on future launches and get effective and honest feedback from the whole group.
I found in Carla a great inspiration, a mentor who is always very frank and caring at the same time. She shares each time so much of her own experience… that it is very motivating. You understand that if you put in the hard work, you can be successful too!
What was a block that held you back and how did you overcome it?
The most obvious blockage in general is that of success. We always want it but to what extent? The point of not knowing how to say no? The point of paying yourself last, if you pay yourself? The point of working more hours than when you were an employee? Then comes the subject of freedom. We all want to be entrepreneurs to be more “free” but in truth, it doesn’t really happen like that because we are everywhere and nowhere. Lack of organization or procrastination is also our worst enemy. All these points, I managed to overcome them thanks to the program. Not that it never happens to me again, but today, I am able to identify where not to put my energy and on the contrary, where to put more effort. And thanks to that, I can say that success came gradually but surely.
Where are you now? What has changed? Prizes, big orders, books published, new product lines, sales, etc.
Almost three years after the launch of Luz and one year after the end of the program, I can say that I live my business with more serenity and confidence. My turnover has tripled and the growth is increasing month after month.
I followed the advice of the Walls of Love program which notably highlighted the need to surround yourself and delegate.
For me, everything accelerated from the moment I started working with a logistics platform.
Now I save my time for my genius areas and delegate tasks like managing inventory, preparing shipments, and shipping. Despite my apprehension at the start, I realized that the logistics center costs much less than renting a warehouse and paying an employee.
And now, with the time I save, I focus more on the development and launch of new products, visits to craftsmen, and customer acquisition.
What have been some of the surprises and joys (possibly how you have grown, the relationships you have started with incredible people, companies, galleries, shops, publishers, etc.)
My greatest surprise – outside of sales – is the relationship I’ve developed with many people. First with craftsmen who help me to give life to my vision and to the products I design. I love how we find solutions and have open discussions. Right after them come the customers and the owners of physical stores that sell the brand.
Regarding customers, I have very moving messages about the purchase of certain products. Regarding the shops, a great respect and a good collaboration have been established with many of the owners. We work hand in hand to make every launch a success. I listen to their praise, their expectations, their disappointments too; I feel that the message I wanted to convey is understood. I feel that there is a real transmission and for me, this project would not make sense without this human part and all that it brings.
How would you describe your relationship with what you have created and your long term view for continuing your work?
Today when I think back to my initial idea and the evolution that the brand has taken, I feel proud. First of all because my vision paid off and it was above all to meet consumers who, like me, are looking for decorative pieces with meaning.
The starting point was to maintain and make known to the world traditional Portuguese knowledge such as soenga, a talented photographer like Artur Pastor, and to push the work of traditional craftsmen on a small scale.
Now, I have the feeling that the more I advance, the more I refine the products that I create. My message is clearer each time and contributes to building a small loving community in the Luz Editions universe.
Actually, I can see me running my little brand for 10 years more and pass it to someone who has the same vision but who will come with new ideas. It would be like passing the torch to the next generation.
What would you say has been a habit, behaviour, or anything that has attributed to your success?
Contacting people, knocking on doors, canvassing even if it requires effort and overcoming a certain shyness. Because I really believe in my products. I also learned to accept that not everyone might be interested in selling them (shops know their ideal client). But the more I refine my research, the more I contact real future partners. The shops were essential for my visibility. Now, each time I travel, I always take products with me in case I see a shop that can be a good match.
Of course, this “sales” work is also a big part of the program because knocking on doors also corresponds to writing emails and newsletters. And to insist sometimes too… I have a lot of shops that read my emails but didn’t contact me but, seeing my success grow, they came to me. This is often the case with the flagship stores, they are the ones who come to you and not the other way around.
What’s your next big dream…or where do you see Luz in 5 years?
I keep the dream of opening at least one shop. But it has to be a specific place full of beauty, history, meaning… and given the real estate prices today in Lisbon, maybe it won’t happen but I’m still hopeful. Who knows, maybe someone will read this interview and contact me?! You have to dream… always!
Huge thanks to Paula for sharing her story and for continuing to bring to life original objects with local artisans. Having the courage to follow your heart and take action means the world is a better place thanks to Paula.
You can check out her shop here: luzeditions.com