Living the good life
In 2003, our new life began in the Western Algarve. Dreams of chickens, ducks and homegrown vegetables soon became a reality.
Moving swiftly on to 2022, here I am, running a great business with a great lifestyle to go with it. And a beautiful traditional property, which we renovated in the peace and warmth of the Algarve.
When my husband and I leave Portugal to visit family or to go on vacation, we return to the light of Portugal and know its home.
We first arrived in the Algarve, with a “no-going-back” approach. We sold our home and my Mercedes car, much to the disappointment of my mother (that I sold the car!). When we moved, we could never have considered how our lives were going to change, socially and creatively, and what we did not expect were the great opportunities for business.
Of course, there are learning curves. Who would know that mongoose would scale your chicken pen and kill chickens, or that ducks would need their wings clipping or they fly off? As our Portuguese neighbours looked on, they would knock on the door – “your ducks are on top of my house” or “your ducks are walking down the road”, they would gesture. Getting the ducks back was also quite a good form of free entertainment.
We continue to learn, and we continue the good life. We have scaled down the number of chickens and the ducks did inevitably fly off and, during this time, I discovered business opportunities that I just couldn’t say no to.
Apart from music, which has been a major part of our lives, I set up a small business in 2005 with the distribution rights for a great product used by rental properties for key access. The company established a great database of clients, and some of these clients were asking us if we could source other products, hence Linen-etc.com was formed in 2007, initially supplying the trade with white towels and sheets of all sizes.
I realise that our journey is remarkable. I had never sung before, but I had always dreamt of being on stage. Who would have thought, at the age of 45, I would be singing to audiences of 4,000-5,000 people, representing Portugal at jazz festivals all over Portugal and the Azores, and Spain?
My husband has produced and seen the performance of his musical “Pollen” on stage. When my husband had to have an operation on his jaw, as a woodwind player and band leader that meant the disbanding of our two bands. This could have meant the end of his career but, with the most stunning care and major surgery, Ian was back playing after a year. In the meantime, earning a living meant getting back to business.
I too have had my health challenges after being diagnosed with cancer in 2017, but after great care and treatment, here I am running a much bigger Linen-etc.com and enjoying life.
The opportunities to transfer your skills to Portugal are supported by many business seminars and networking organisations, including the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce.
It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, we are always going to be affected by a global negative influence but, with the support of local people, business and the general public, there has been little closure of businesses in the Algarve.
Linen-etc.com sells in Portugal to both the retail and trade market. We offer a full delivery and fulfilment process including a product labelling service. We have been online for 12 years.
Our growth has happened more recently in leaps and bounds, despite the recent pandemic, and although we have a fantastic product and brilliant organisational procedures, we knew something was missing on the visual appeal front. So, we brought in a branding expert to help give us a solid visual identity so that our showrooms, website, and print collateral could communicate a clear and unique branded message of who we are.
This process started at the design table at the end of 2021, and we are now beginning to roll out the ideas that have been on paper and have the visual appeal that was missing.
Linen-etc business has changed with the needs of customers. New products and services have been introduced, such as our own label of Portuguese products of stunning quality and value. And with a new website, a catalogue and plenty of opportunities, this business has legs!
I have personally found the process of moving from self-employed, to small business to a limited company a smooth process. I have not had to do this alone as there is great support available here in English.
Now, Linen-etc has a great dilemma – managing growth! We are growing at the rate of 80-100% and there are genuinely so many more opportunities to grow this business.
This year, I have to acknowledge, as I reach 64, it’s nearly time to hang up the towel … or, should I say, sell the business?
Linen-etc.com is a great opportunity, well-established, unique route to market, established route to suppliers, with a superb reputation. It has a professional, well-established team capable of working independently.
With a new energy, there is an opportunity to take this business onto the next level, certainly into Europe.
Portugal is a fantastic country, offering opportunities for personal growth, contentment and light.
Karen Carfrae: [email protected]
(+351) 967 870 700