Australia … so far, yet so close.jpg

Australia … so far, yet so close

CATHERINE AND Jonathan Wickham are, this year, celebrating the fourth anniversary since the opening of their business OZ Shade, located on the EN125 between Mexilhoeira Grande and Odiáxere (near Lagos). According to the couple, “these four years have been a rollercoaster of a journey!”

Jonathan met Australian-born Catherine in Lagos and the couple got married seven years ago. They worked in Lagos for two-and-a-half years before deciding to move to Australia, as Catherine always felt she wanted to be back home and Jonathan always had a dream of living there.

Literally within an hour of arriving in Australia, they saw a Shade Sail on the side of a house and Jonathan immediately said to Catherine: “This would be great for the Algarve …” Catherine reminded him, equally quickly, that, “we have only just arrived!” Eight months later, missing their good friends in the Algarve and the great Portuguese way of life, the couple decided to return to Lagos.

But before they left Australia, they researched into the Shade Sails product, which led them to Ian Bowden, who shared all his knowledge, experience and know-how with them, to help them get started.

The first ever advertisement to promote their business was with The Resident and Rob, our design director, helped to put them on the right track. In fact, according to Catherine, it was to be one of their best moves, as they obtained five jobs from the advert alone! Shade Sails was a new, innovative product in Portugal, quickly attracting people’s interest.

In the first year of OZ Shade, the Shade Sails were custom-made in Australia and shipped over by Ian. This was obviously very slow and expensive, but, at that early stage, the couple had to wait to see how things would turn out. Sadly, Ian died in a plane crash soon after retiring and is sorely missed by Catherine and Jonathan, who regard him as their mentor and inspiration.

This could be a very long story of the ups and downs of getting a business established, but, limited for space, they both state that the reason for their success story has been the people they work, and have worked, with. Catherine commented sensitively: “Jonathan and I both hope the young team will be retiring with us!”

Oz Shade are now Europe’s leading manufacturer and supplier of Shade Sails and, this year alone, have opened agencies in Greece, the UK, Holland and Madeira, with France and Spain coming soon.

They have recently had the honour of completing work for Lagos Câmara (at the newly refurbished fish market), Adega do Cantor (Cliff Richard’s vineyard, where some of the largest shades in Europe have been used), Cabo Verde Resort, Vale D’Oliveiras, the new five-star resort in Carvoeiro, and Vila Vita Park, the world renowned five-star resort hotel.

Their success from day one has been down to two things: superior quality and customer service, and on these they will not compromise. These are the fundamentals that drive their business on and genuinely add those special ‘ingredients’ for their long-term future.

To find out more about the products available at OZ Shade, call Catherine on 282 968 322 or 914 950 111. You can also check out their website: