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A valuable investment

Zé Pedro Mira | Shoemaker‘s Apprentice

José Pedro Luís Mira Nunes (aged 23) was raised in a family of artisans. His creative side was stimulated from a very early age through handicraft, drawing and painting and, although his educational background was in Science, he always dedicated his spare time to creative activities, based mainly on what nature had to offer.

His family have been engaged in the art of making shoes by hand in Monchique since the nineteenth century. Everything started with his great-great-grandfather, José Francisco, who handed the trade on to his son, José Andrés Mira, his great-grandfather, who gave this business its first great impetus. The family story reached its peak in the 1960s with the opening of a factory that employed 35 shoemakers, all working by hand. But the great industrial boom in the north of the country towards the end of the decade led to the gradual disappearance of the craft-based manufacture of shoes in these Algarve hills.

Zé Pedro’s father still maintains the family business with a shoe shop in the town. ECO123 went to speak to Zé Pedro, who is currently training as a shoemaker in Schrems, in Austria. For three years, he will learn how to manufacture shoes at the prestigious GEA company.

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You graduated in Biotechnology from the University of Évora. Why didn’t you apply straightaway to Monsanto or Bayer?

I didn’t do this because I looked around and saw people putting science and knowledge to the wrong sort of use. There are so many possibilities in the world of science and people take the easiest option: chemistry, pollution and toxics. A factory that produces pesticides or genetically modified seeds promotes the wrong path for solving agricultural problems. It makes no sense.

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