“Mrs. E, is my drawing okay?”
“Yes, my dear, it is very expressive. I really like your idea of painting the moon to brighten up the classroom.”
“There could be night classes. We could have more fun!”
“Oh, yes! It would be fun! So, the stars are missing. “
“Yes, and you’ll be a star.”
“So good, this little treat!”
“Elisabeth, still the same doubt?”
“I don’t know, Vanessa, I don’t think I can do this. I’m not going anywhere here. I can’t implement the business, neither here nor in Portugal. I’ll leave. I’m going to teach again. My son is homesick, for his brother and his friends. This town is a beautiful village with friendly inhabitants but with no sun, no sea, no life on the streets, just a smile and a «Good day!». I feel alone and frustrated!”
“Elisabeth, my dear friend, you may feel frustrated, but you’re not alone. Me, Marília and Isabel, we are with you! You’re going to stay here with your husband and your son, we’ll help you.”
“Thank you, Vanessa. You’re giving me a treat. It’s so important!”
> Hello, my friend! So, how is Luxembourg city? You’re looking good!
> Hello, Cris! Yeh, looking good… despite the lack of sun and lots of work.
> Good news? We haven’t talked for months…
> Let’s see if I can explain everything to you…
I came to Luxembourg, which is the capital of the country with the same name. It’s one of the richest cities in Europe, which hosts several institutions of the European Union. The small Luxembourg country, drawn by hills and forests, is a Grand Duchy surrounded by Belgium to the west, France to the south and Germany to the east. It was in this important financial and administrative center that my husband Luís found a new job, well paid, suitable to his qualifications, after being dismissed – sudden death style – in Portugal. I was only able to meet him here seven months after his arrival, in my vacations from school.
I liked the city, where you can meet people from all over the world, new ideas, different concepts, diverse gastronomy. It’s that village-town that knows you. People on the street greet you. But it is advisable to walk early in the streets, the shops and services close early. Some, like doctors’ offices only open if you book consultations. The exception in my area is that of a Portuguese general practice doctor, who does morning care. She’s always with people!
Here, it’s all very quiet, with little cultural or artistic excitement, despite being a multicultural town. Like my youngest son school, the European School. This school knows how to promote one of our flags in Portuguese schools: the integration of foreign students. Not all schools in Luxembourg are so integrating and confluent. The way in which he was accepted, the flexible and European-level curricular offer, and the promotion of the taste for learning and teaching, which is not very obedient to bureaucracies or inefficient service, motivated his adaptation to a circumstance which he first rejected.
The rest of the city, however, doesn’t follow this example in terms of really promoting the integration and development of personal and professional potential. And it has problems when it comes to paper…
> If it’s a financial center, do they have problems with paper?
> Not with that paper, but with papers! They are very bureaucratic. They didn’t follow our Portuguese simplex wave, for sure.
I began to realize this some time ago, when my son needed the criminal record required by the driving school. Three possible versions: version 1, version 2 or version 3. We could have spared the payment of two versions if we had a way to fake numbers. It was the only thing we had to change, to have the right document: the right number!
And they don’t cross data. At the entrance of several public services, a sign should be placed in the form of a warning: Computer system out of service! Proof given before doesn’t prove anything here. Find out the necessary documentation and facilitate our services. Merci. Danke.
A Brazilian friend was able to open a catering company for children’s events. But only when she realized this invisible warning and got tired of being treated like a ping-pong ball. She even hired the services of an economist, when she decided to mark the decisive point: cancel his services, take the form for the constitution of her business from the internet, fill it, send it and, surprise!, business was created. Félicitatiounen!
I felt the same difficulties of accomplishing my goal when I decided to develop the brand that I started to create in Portugal. From bracelets, I went for earrings that I offered to friends. More and more friends became interested in my objects, to offer to their friends, family, and neighbors. And, already with the prospect of coming to Luxembourg, I was the first customer of a Communication Design group at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Porto, achieving the branding I desired. I did my first flight to Luxembourg already full of cards, labels, bags and packaging with the logo É Mimo É.
The brand reflects the way I relate to others and how my pieces of costume jewelry, backpacks and customizable dolls, and my artistic and original sweets are made with passion. The problem was not creating the brand…
“Mrs. E, do you think I can paint the stars with turquoise color?”
“The stars are usually represented by the golden color. Why turquoise? “
“So the blue sky could be mirrored on the ocean. When I feel sad, I think of the ocean. “
“The ocean makes you happy?”
“Yes, a lot. It makes me think that when I grow up I want to do important things. I’m sure that if I train hard, I’ll learn to swim very well. Once, a French swimmer crossed the Atlantic Ocean! “
“Awesome! And you’re not afraid of what can happen to you on the high seas? “
“No. I’m afraid of never trying. For most people this is an impossible adventure. I’m afraid of losing my will. “
“Paint the stars with turquoise if it helps you believe in your dream. Do like this: blue-cyan mixtured with little amount of green … “
> I realized that trying to create and register a business in Luxembourg, which suited my taste and competence, meant having technical training. Three theoretical years followed by three other practical years. That is, a long preparation of six years, and without equivalence to Portuguese higher education. I understood that I wanted to register the business in Portugal. In addition to the possibility of returning, the brand is Portuguese and I intend to expand it in Portugal. I really want to have a space where I can expose my pieces of costume jewelry, for sale and promotion, where I can also create sweets and ice creams and continue to stimulate workshops, for children and parents, regarding the creation of dolls and backpacks.
Between last Christmas and New Year’s Eve, pushed by the Portuguese sun and still smelling cinnamon and lemon in my hands and soul, I went to a Portuguese Professional Institute. At one point in the conversation with the clerk, I became confused: was I a character in a surrealist movie? Was it lack of rationality or mere irony?
“Let’s see if I understand: you would like to start a business and need training in jewelry.”
“Yes, silver is a precious metal. And, according to what I’ve been told, I need to prove training so I can sell.”
“I understand. We have here the Technical Course of Goldsmithing. It has a series of supports: training grant, transportation allowance, food allowance, personal accident insurance, internship in the sector company. Very good, and you would have the professional certification.”
“But … I see … you have to be 9th grade or higher.”
“I have a college degree.”
“It’s too much: you shouldn’t have finished high school. And there is another problem …”
“You’re not an unemployed adult.”
“No, I’m on a long-term unpaid leave.”
“You should be unemployed. You can´t imagine the training and job offers you’d have at your disposal if you were unemployed and wanted to return to Portugal.”
“So many? I thought there was a job shortage.”
“There is, but for people like you, with more qualifications and who want to develop a professional project. Temporary work is the most desired by companies.”
“Well, but I want to start my own business and work on something where I’m competent and proficient. And I’m living in Luxembourg!”
“You should stop being romantic. There are many works, some well paid and with possibility of promotion, at your disposal if you had another perspective. Here are some interesting job offers: for example, technical support for information and communication technology users… floor manager… You could take the course of youth coach, event coaching technician, family support technician and community support technician. They seem to fit well with your profile.”
“My profile? I’m a teacher and I want to start my business!”
“Take it easy! I haven’t finished my search yet. Let’s see … ah, maybe this suits you better: a political party looks for a collaborator. Promotion’s possible. What do you think?”
“What? I can’t believe it! Did you say political party?”
“Yes I did. It seems to me, of all options, the most interesting. It may be that, even with your qualifications, you could get this vacancy.”
“I’d have to belong to the party?”
“Not necessarily. But it could boost your career.”
“I could only cooperate if I believed and supported the ideology and ideas of the party…”
“We can always adapt to the ideologies, we have to look for our life. And ideas … there are plenty of them.”
“But a politician must be someone who, in addition to good education, must know how to influence the way society is governed, in a positive way. He must have personality and strong convictions.”
“Nowadays, people must have great adaptability. Our motto is ‘Candidate who doesn’t adapt can be extinct’. People must learn the power of adaptation.”
“I agree we live times of change, people must be resilient. But I also have to know how to maintain my personality and, at the same time, think about my good and the common good. I have to make a commitment to myself and to society!”
“Is it enough to survive in this world?”
“I begin to understand that, for that job offer, I lack experience.”
“It’s too bad! Otherwise, you could have a long-term job.”
“Surreal!”, I thought. I left the Institute with the conviction that I was right. That I had to be right. I would adapt myself to the rules imposed, in order to achieve my dream, but without losing my personality and my beliefs.
The initial difficulties in registering my brand in Portugal were only overcome in January, and with the help of a friend, a female accountant, who became my tax representative in Portugal. I can make dolls, jewelry, sweets and soups. Authentic gastronomic delicacies that contrast with the food presented at events of the Luxembourgers, reminiscent of the disposable dishes in which they eat. And I’m going to produce pieces with precious materials, in a unique and artistic way, when I get the license to be a jewelry artist. I’m on a jewelry course now. And I even managed to create my company and leave my mark, with lots of Mimo.
“Mrs. E, I’ve finished my drawing. Do you like it?”
“It’s very good. You’ve followed my instructions on how to paint, but the elements of your drawing have colors different from the usual colors … “
“It means I’ll have a worse classification?”
“No, my dear. It means you were original.”
“Then, it’s good?”
“It’s great! I’ll always value originality … and personality. “
This tale was written in July 2017, when Elisabete Lopes, the creator of the É Mimo É brand and the Be God candy, was still in Luxembourg. Today, she’s about to open her first store in Porto and ready to distribute many wonderful MIMO, for the eye … and for the palate.