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My first 100 days as a Product Designer in Portugal

Bruno Duarte
Connecting people and technology through design thinking. Rocking the world with a backpack and Adidas sneakers.
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My first 100 days as a Product Designer in Portugal
Last year I received an offer to join the Farfetch Product Design team. In case you don’t know, Farfetch’s mission is to be the global technology platform for luxury fashion, connecting creators, curators, and customers. It sounds fancy, and it really is. Farfetch.com is the best well-known part of the business, but the engine behind this URL and every partner, shaper, and services connected to this ecosystem are way more comprehensive than just the website.

I’ve had no experience with the fashion industry before. I started my career in advertising agencies in Brazil transitioning to user experience and product design a couple of years later, thus getting the most of my expertise in the design industry from B2B solutions and in the enterprise software market. As you may guess, the fashion industry was a whole new environment and an exciting challenge at the same time.

 Love at first sight

I was located in Lisbon. The vibrant - yet quite small - capital of Portugal. Wonderful place with an exquisite mix of baroque and contemporary architecture. I came with my wife and two kids, and the first thing we noticed as soon as we arrived was that Lisbon is a mixture of several cultures. The cosmopolitan atmosphere you see in the streets is reinforced at every corner with people from several ethnicities talking in different languages. Those from Brazil know that, excluding some cities, we’re not used to having expats in every corner.

Settle in

After getting some rest at the Airbnb - our house during the first month - was time to make Lisbon our new home. Facing the Portuguese bureaucracy was quite stressful at first, especially when you don’t really know what to expect from people and institutions. Hopefully, I got all the support I needed from Farfetch to understand how to handle the paperwork, what should be done first, where to get information, and where to call for help. This was crucial to make our new life in Portugal as fluid as possible.

Finally, after almost six months of planning and busy work in Brazil, I was ready to start.

The D. Luís office is located at Cais do Sodré, a trendy revitalised part of Lisbon. The first two days were just about understanding Farfetch history. How - in just a decade - this company grew from 1-tech/shoe designer guy to almost 3k people working in 13 offices around the world.

 D. Luís, one of the two Farfetch offices in Lisbon and my second home in Portugal.

I was designated to the Platform Product Design team, working alongside another 2 Portuguese designers. The first thing that caught my attention was how experienced they are. Both had experience in tech startups, including leading international teams. Honestly, I’ve never been in touch with the Portuguese design community before, even being part of IxDA for so many years. Those guys - and all the remaining Product Design team located here - proved to me that this community is not only highly specialised but also very active.

Speaking of which…

The Farfetch Product Design and Research Team is composed of around 100 people divided into two main verticals: Platform and Consumer. The Consumer side is responsible for the whole user experience, improvements, and optimisation actions around farfetch.com while the Platform side looks into the B2B side of the business. The whole set of tools and services Farfetch’s clients (brands, boutiques, etc.) and partners have in hand to run their business online. As you might guess, it’s a totally different set of skills from one vertical to another. As a Platform Product Designer, a great part of my responsibility goes around service design tasks. Understand how different stakeholders perform their activities and how extensive this journey is, as well as touchpoints, actors, and the several workarounds involved in this journey is crucial to deliver a relevant product experience.

 Lionesa. The heart of Farfetch in Porto.

The design team is spread around several locations. The Platform side is located mostly in London, with some people in Porto and Lisbon.

The team is top heavy by design. Being one amongst thirty designers, most of them seniors, it can be a bit intimidating at the beginning. When that happens, you can see how valuable it is to keep the company values at hand. Naturally having a distributed team causes some siloed discussions, and eventually, you see yourself interacting more with your closed local peers than the others. Having recurrent ceremonies and in-person events helps to create a bond, also getting the team together is crucial to keep the energy flowing.

 Part of the amazing Platform Product Design team at The Bower in London. Such a small room but full of love and joy that day.

Getting confidence

It’s been around 100 days since my arrival. Understand how the fashion industry works is in itself a huge challenge, furthermore how to design platform-wise products for this same industry. But I feel confident to engage in technical discussions and be more opinionated every day when talking about certain subjects. Obviously, there’s much more ahead of me at Farfetch, and as our fellow Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa once said:

"Life is what we make of it. Travel is the traveler. What we see isn’t what we see but what we are.”

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