As humans, we sometimes forget that life is about much more than just numbers and organised plans. We rarely leave things up to chance because there’s no way to control them - and when we lose control, we feel like we’ve lost...everything. That’s why so many people miss out on the terrifying beauty of serendipity.
But, what exactly is serendipity? To put it simply, it’s the occurrence and development of events by chance. So, basically, serendipity is life itself. Because even in the most well laid-out moments of our lives, serendipity always finds a way.
Now, most entrepreneurs describe themselves as opportunistic. And, while there is some truth in that for me, I’d probably make up a new word: “serendi-pportunistic”, or, opportunistic through the grace of serendipity.
If anyone had asked me about serendipity 3 years ago when I first started this journey, I’d have looked at them with a puzzled look on my face. “Seren-what?”. I had no idea what it meant, and how it could even apply to me. But as infinite things started to happen in my life, there was no longer any room for doubt: serendipity was there. And it’s what allowed me to conquer my dreams.
Christian Busch, author of The Serendipity Mindset, says there are always two ways to react to an event: you either see the positive in whatever is happening, or you remain pessimistic about the situation and its possible outcomes.
There’s a real-life example I really like that can shine some light on this. Imagine you’re walking down the street and you see a $5 note on the ground. Here, the optimist would say “Damn, life is always so good to me!”. Meanwhile, the pessimist would think “God, that’s just a simple $5!” or skip over it altogether. As the optimist takes the note into a café to treat themselves to something nice, they might strike up a conversation with the person standing beside them and exchange business cards: a bright future just waiting to happen. Meanwhile, the pessimist would more than likely stick to himself and miss out on these moments. All this to say that life - and whatever happens during it - is always a matter of perspective and positive action.
With this in mind, I’d probably take some liberties with the definition of the word “serendipity” and develop it just a little bit further. Then, it’d look a little something like this: “Serendipity is the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.”
But how does serendipity play into my life? Well, after I decided to make the effort of exercising my mind to be more optimistic and positive, I added these moments of “chance” to my life vision. This allowed me to understand precisely what I should do with each moment presented to me, and how to string them all together to transform them into what I wanted and needed them to be.
And how does this tie-in with Unreal Fields? Well, I knew I wanted to build a woman-led company that inspired other women to unlock their potential. So every time life presented me with a change, I threw myself into it with eyes closed. Always trusting, always optimistic, always bracing myself for whatever might come.
And, boy, did things come at me quickly.
01. Getting started: My first business was an e-commerce platform that sold luxury “Made in Portugal” items to buyers in Angola. One day, during a conference regarding exports to China - because I was hoping to replicate the model - I met a man called Bo Ji that invited me to an investors’ roadshow. However, his advice was: "If you take this business there, they’ll approach you as a trading company. So why not create your own brand"? I took his idea, rolled with it, and one month later I had a pilot project that I took to China. It was a success.
02. Partnering with others: I was invited to speak at a women entrepreneur’s lunch about fashion, luxury, and the market in China. There, a Portuguese artist who had been showcasing her work there for several years approached me and we struck up a conversation that went on for hours. After that, we decided to partner together to work on the brand creation process before presenting it in China.
03. Finding advisors: While working on a co-work, I heard someone talking on the phone about tourism and I couldn't help but introduce myself since my sister worked in this industry. What I thought could be an interesting contact for her ended up being one of my first Advisory Board Members. Same happened when I went to one of her tours and one women introduced me to her father, an expert in the luxury sector, and he also become part of my advisory board - and that’s how the dream continued to grow. Today, 3 years later, we’re all still connected and working together with one purpose in mind: Unreal Fields.
0.4. Choosing a team: One morning, I was speaking to my sister about my need to understand luxury better and she mentioned that her husband’s friend was coming back to Portugal after working for several years at a big fashion group in Italy. We were quickly introduced to one another as we strolled down Avenida da Liberdade, a main Portuguese avenue, and walked in and out of shops while she explained more to me about fashion. In the end, I had a strong feeling that we should work together. That happened months later and I couldn't be happier.
05. Putting myself out there: A year ago, I traveled to Los Angeles on business in an attempt to visit various stores and introduce myself, and Unreal Fields, to potential
buyers in the US market. Knowing it was very likely they’d be in the shop, I thought to myself: what do I have to lose? So I went in, guns blazing, in my typical “go-big-or-go-home” fashion. That’s how I chose Fred Segal. Once inside, a tall man holding a dog tightly caught my attention. I approached him to ask who I should speak to about presenting Unreal Fields, and his answer knocked me off my feet (nearly). “Yes, I’m the vice-president. You might wanna talk to me…” Uauh! He later connected me with the women’s buyer and, one year on, we’re still selling our shoes there.
0.6. Connecting and creating: I used - and use - Bumble BFF app a lot to connect with and meet interesting people. Swiping here and there, I met a guy and we quickly became friends. He was unemployed back then and feeling quite down working from home, so I offered him the opportunity to work from our office. It was a fun, uplifting, and laid-back work atmosphere that made it almost impossible not to feel better. But, the more he was there, the more he became engaged and involved with Unreal Fields. So, when he offered more substantial help, I asked him to start reaching out to investors and that’s how he became our Investor Relations Manager. Not even a week later he stopped by my desk and said: "What if I invest the money you need?" I couldn't believe it.
This series of (very) fortunate events could have gone awry if I’d decided to react differently. But I didn’t, and they didn’t, and the cards fell into place.
So, was life simply being good to me, or was I finding every occasion to make the most of it? Someone else could’ve made nothing out of these serendipity moments, but I decided to act on them with optimism and watched how they aligned themselves with my life vision.
A brilliant success story composed of random dots that connect and flow like starlight. That’s quite magical, isn’t it? When you choose gratitude and optimism, the rest simply follows.
written by Ines Lebre