Profile: Mónica Lopes

From military rigour to creative sensitivity…

Words: Catarina Vasques Rito
Photo: Jorge Amaral

“I’m an advocate for being happy with our success, but I won’t ‘linger’ long here at this stage”. Persevering, focused, determined, stubborn and perfectionist are just some of the adjectives that define this woman who has a master’s degree in communication, marketing and advertising and who spent eight years in the Air Force. Her interest in fashion did not emerge until she was an adult when she followed new paths that eventually led to the Russian optics company, Interopticuss, where she was director of marketing and creative director of the group’s house brands. This year, her work as a designer has seen her won one of the most prestigious awards in the world of optics…

It is not unusual for there to be Portuguese people who stand out on the international scene while being completely unknown at home. Some are from the world of science, others from the world of sports, medicine and design. Mónica Lopes is one such person. At university she studied communication, marketing and advertising, going on to interior design before joining the Air Force and working as a model. “Fashion came to me about 15 years ago. I started as a model and then took part in a reality show in TVI, which led me to commercial work, but the media exposure… When I realized that while I loved the business, this was not what I wanted, I began exploring other avenues linked with fashion,” she told Portuguese Soul.

One of these avenues was to create a marketing, design and communication company, which introduced her to prestigious international brands in a number of fields, including the car industry. “It is interesting how life finds its way. Everything that I studied, that I have done in life, the companies I founded; they all led me out of the country. With the knowledge I have, I began working in communications for international clients and became a creative part of the advertising campaigns of these same brands (Lamborghini, Hickmann, etc.),” she said. Some of these foreign clients discovered Mónica also did decoration and design work and started asking her to design the stands they used to exhibit their collections at international fairs. And it was at one of these international fairs some years ago that a friend, Cristina Parii, introduced her to Mehmet Akin, chief executive of the Russian optics group, Opticuss. “Akin saw my work on videoclips and banners and really liked it. Then, about two years ago, the Interopticuss project was launched on the European market, and they invited Benjamin Gonçalves, which whom I have worked in the past, to assume overall management. It was around then Mehmet Akin and Benjamin Gonçalves offered me a job at Interopticuss as director of marketing with creative control of the group’s house brands: Ventoe and Estilo”, she said. She added that the company’s portfolio includes some very well-known brands, including Bolon, Barbie and Fisher-Price.

Her natural curiosity and willingness to surprise have resulted in a constant commitment to training and a continuous search for new challenges. When she embarked on this new adventure, her directors displayed a willingness to show the market that they had a winning product. And Mónica, who is a woman who thrives on challenges, was up for it. “I’m not one to be left behind, and if I am given the green light to find the winning image and creative message, then that is what I will do. To be clear, I knew the bar was set very high, and I knew that I was taking on challenges that were not unknown but which were at the same time new…” The fact is that in less than two years, Mónica Lopes had received one of the Moscow International Optical Fair’s most prestigious awards: Russia’s Best Private Brand 2020. In addition to the creative development of the items, the work required (and requires) demanding and thorough processes. “It took a few months to prepare everything, working very hard in a market that was new to me. I stayed true to my convictions and went for it. There was a lot of competition… After we submitted the project, I carried on putting all my effort into it, without thinking any more about it. I’m an advocate for being happy with our success, but I won’t ‘linger’ long here at this stage. I need to keep working in order to feel I am evolving. Let’s say I got off on the right foot.” She recognizes that it is “always good” to win an award. It is the “recognition of your work and that of the entire team”, without hiding her pride in the fact that when it is international “it has a different flavour”. And now? “Continue working hard, never resting on laurels, because now the expectations are even greater! I’m very proud of being Portuguese, and I’m happy to contribute to getting people out there talking about Portugal.” Mónica Lopes is no stranger to the corridors of international fairs, and has attended MIDO, one of the world’s major optical fairs, for a number of years, where she is known as the “Portuguese woman who speaks Italian”. Many people even mistake her for Italian, on account of her style and posture. But her life is not just about work. She is a mother and a wife and likes to share her interests with her family. One of these interests is radical and semi-radical sports, including bodyboarding, skateboarding, skating and tricking. “I love being in touch with the sea, in the fresh air. It’s where I recharge my creativity, and it is there that I can express myself freely in the context and places that I most like to be. At these moments, I usually say that I am practising my freestyle!”

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