Design and homeware store
1191 Dundas St. West, Toronto
My teachers would write letters to my mother asking where she bought my clothes – she always came with a suitcase full of clothes for me. And the teachers sometimes would ask: “Where is Portugal?” And I would be furious – Nancy Fernandes.
The design and homeware store Saudade, in Toronto’s Little Portugal, caters to both nostalgic immigrants and sophisticated Canadian shoppers. Launched by Nancy Fernandes and Connie Freitas in 2015, Saudade has attracted a great deal of attention from Canadian mainstream media, which has been drawn to its mix of traditional and modern Portuguese design.
The design, accessories, and home decor store Saudade was launched by Nancy Fernandes and Connie Freitas in May 2015, in Toronto’s Little Portugal neighbourhood. Nancy, a teacher at Central Technical School in Toronto, and Connie, a will and estate lawyer, grew up in Toronto’s Portuguese community. Both visited Portugal frequently growing up and maintained a strong connection with their cultural heritage. In 2017, Fátima Santos became a partner with Nancy.
Nancy, whose mother is from the Baixo Alentejo region in southern mainland and her father from the northern mainland region of Minho, spent most of her summers in Portugal, during which she travelled across the country to stay with her grandparents. Her attachment to, knowledge of, and appreciation for Portuguese aesthetics, know-how, and products was formed during these visits. Nancy would sometimes visit factories and workshops with her style-conscious mother as she sourced items of clothing and home decoration for herself and her family. As she wore them in Toronto, they sometimes prompted compliments from Canadian acquaintances, who were often surprise to discover that these products had been made in Portugal.
The sense of pride and validation in having Portuguese products being recognized for their quality was something that Nancy found to be empowering at a time when most Canadians knew little about her heritage, or worse, held negative stereotypes about it. Her knowledge and pride in her heritage and her community in Toronto, combined with her awareness about the systemic discrimination experienced by working-class Portuguese-Canadian students in the school system, where their rates of school dropout were high and post-secondary education was low. This motivated Nancy to become a high school teacher, where she continues to be inspired by social justice issues, including diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The Saudade store also came out of this desire to increase Portuguese representation in Canadian society, educate the public about the rich design and craftsmanship of heritage and people, and promote small suppliers and manufacturers from Portugal as a counterpoint to the sameness of mass produced goods. Nancy had initially envisioned a store dedicated to products from Lusophone countries, but was overwhelmed by the scope of their cultural offerings and abandoned the project. Then one day she visited the store A Vida Portuguesa, a retail chain of retro and vintage Portuguese products founded by Catarina Portas in Lisbon in 2007, and decided to open a similar business in Toronto.
Its success was immediate among both the Portuguese community and the larger Canadian public. Soon after its launch, multiple mainstream media outlets featured Saudade in their shows and publications, including the Globe & Mail, Toronto Life, Designlines, Canadian House & Home, Cityline, and Breakfast Television. In 2020, Saudade opened a second store in Toronto’s Union station.
Hora dos Portugueses
Short description: Benamõr face cream
Place of origin: Lisbon, Portugal
Description: Package and tube of facial creme Benamôr manufactured in Lisbon, Portugal, and sold at the Saudade store.
Short description: Lavanda cologne bottle
Place of origin: Porto, Portugal
Description: Bottle of cologne Lavanda, manufactured by Ach Brito in Porto, Portugal, and sold at the Saudade store.
Short description: Alcofa wicker basket.
Place of origin: Portugal
Short description: Beach chair
Place of origin: Portugal
Description: Wooden folding beach chair with blue and white stripped fabric typical of beach towns in Portugal.
Short description: Platter
Creator: Brunno Jahara & Vista Alegre
Place of origin: Ílhavo, Portugal
Description: Handcrafted porcelain platter with blue and white botanical tiles motif. Part of Vista Alegre’s Transatlântica dinnerware collection designed by Brunno Jahara, which alludes to the cultural ties between Portugal and Brazil.