Passion for design and a desire to find a space in Europe to reach new clients brought couple Gréthel Signamarcheix and Sergio Castro to Portugal. The two founders of design and digital marketing agency Unika, which started in Bali, Indonesia, in 2015, ended up opening their second office in Lisbon.
Sergio is a Colombian graphic designer and art director, and Gréthel is a French fashion designer and marketing director, and together they swapped the East for a West of opportunities and quality of life.
“We wanted more visibility for the company, and we have always wanted to live by the beach, near the surfing scene. Portugal seemed the perfect spot – a half-way point – in Europe, but with almost everything we had in Bali”, says Sergio. Aged 34, the Frenchwoman who has been living in Portugal for three years shares Sergio’s positive vision of the country which has welcomed them.
“What I like about Lisbon is its simple lifestyle. The people are really open and hospitable, everything runs smoothly. It is a capital, but you feel you are in a village, it still has a human scale”, says Gréthel.
Lisbon as a bridge to new clients
Sergio and Gréthel are the face of a new business that has landed in the bustling life of the Portuguese capital. In the country for three years, they set up a new studio of the Unika agency they founded in Bali a few years earlier. “We do branding, storytelling, digital marketing, websites, design. We create brands and help them grow”, Gréthel describes.
Having grown so quickly, they wanted to give more visibility to the success they were having. “At one point we decided to set up a second office in a European country, to reach new markets”, Gréthel recalls. At that time, “everybody was talking about Lisbon, it was the fashionable place to go, everything was really easy. So, we set up the business, one day, during our holidays”.
Based on their experience living and working in Portugal, their recommendation is more than positive. “Opening an office here was good for us, but also for the company to grow. If you are in Lisbon, which is where you should be right now, this is very good”, Gréthel considers.
Sergio is also a fan of his new workplace and home. “I love Portugal, I love Portuguese culture. I love that the Portuguese are so relaxed about so many things, and that Lisbon is almost like a small city, even though it is actually a capital. I don’t think you can find this anywhere else in Europe. I think it is the last capital that is still like this.”