Leila sells vintage clothes, accessories and other finds, from Portugal. She runs Black Cat Called Pedro Etsy shop.

Tell us your story

There is an old Arab proverb that says “A strong person falls 100 times and gets up 101 times”.

I fell way more than 100 times in my life, and sometimes it took time to get up to my feet again, but I am still standing.

The great fall in my life happened in the mid 2015. I am a single mother to a 6 year old (she was 4 at the time), and a “mother” to 4 pets: 2 dogs and 2 cats. I live in a foreign (to me) country, which is Portugal, having no family around whatsoever.

In 2015, my business partner in a company I've owned took a move that resulted with me losing all my clients and entering into a deep depression, both financially and mentally. Every morning, I would get up, take my daughter to school, climb a hill and sit there for hours, while my dogs played. I sat there, thinking what I should do with my life.

While browsing some web pages on my mobile, I came across Etsy, and saw an interview they did with someone who lost his job and started making and selling ceramics. That guy also had a big dog; I suppose that was what made me feel that we were alike. So, after that, I spent my time browsing and reading all Etsy articles and thinking about my new idea. I wanted to make and sell wedding cake toppers. And wedding confetti. And print my own t-shirts…

All that was tried and archived, and what I discovered, was that what I really loved and was willing to spend all my days at was selling vintage. So, I sourced all my pieces one by one, photographed them, and opened a shop in the early 2016. Soon, I had 100 items for sale, then 300 items and now I am at 600+.

That was no easy road. I made mistakes. The first order was sent to a wrong address and the second order was sent in a wrong color. Luckily I am not a needy person that needs to have their hand held all the time, so I learned from them, corrected them and moved on. Mistakes I made, I never repeated them, and soon I felt like the business was moving quite smoothly. After a year, I felt that I know what I need to be selling, what sells and what does not. Importantly, I could see a vintage piece and know what “key words” apply to it immediately. And at times, I would see an item for sale and wonder if I should get it for my shop but know instinctively that I have no idea what are the good search words for it would be, so I would leave it.

I don’t buy wholesale, because I want my pieces to be of the certain style. I made a mistake of buying all that was vintage at the start, before I figured out what style I wanted to follow. I want all my pieces to be colorful, preferably in natural fibers, comfortable and unique. I have very few black and gray items and not too many conservative items.

I also know well the home décor area, when it comes to the Portuguese vintage. Oftentimes, I find great vintage porcelain items that I can´t pass by, so I buy them. Unfortunately, many times I can´t part with them, so they stay in my house, until I am ready to put them for sale. Also, I am in love with vintage rubber animals, and I can´t resist buying them. And when I sell them, I many time miss them!

How did you come up with a name for your store?

“Black Cat Called Pedro” is actually my black cat, and he is called Pedro.

What’s your process from an idea to a finished product?

I get my supplies, which are rolls of natural beige and chocolate brown cork string, and a selection of various charms, and start experimenting with different types of knots. Some knots look better with thicker cord and chunkier charms, some look better with lighter colored cork, others with darker. Then, when I am happy with the result, a new design is born. Recently I experimented with chunky metal chains and a suede string, and came up with super chunky chain bracelets, which I made in many colors. (image attached)

Where and when do you find yourself most creatively inspired?

Every morning I take my daughter to the school and spend an hour walking my dogs in the valley. The nature, the silence and the nature give me an inspiration. Also, old vintage magazines help with ideas.