Q&A: Heirloom Baby Clothes Brand, Tierno
We sat down with Joana Andrade Nunes, founder of Tierno, a Portuguese luxury baby clothes brand shares her story on starting a clothing brand that is an ode to Portuguese craftsmanship, quickly finding fame amongst it-moms around the world, and why you need to wear flats on Portuguese calçada
Q: Tell us about Tierno, what's your story? Do you have a physical shop?
A: Tierno, "tenderness" in Latin, was founded in 2017 by me and was born from my motherly love.
My first child, Francisco, had/has skin allergies and he only could wear clothes made from 100 % organic cotton. At that time, I couldn’t find baby’s outfits with high quality that both protected his sensitive skin and that could tell our family story. I started searching for the best organic cotton materials - only the best organic cotton yarns and fabrics are used to create Tierno’s pieces - top quality Valenciennes lace, mother-of-pearl logo buttons and designed Francisco’s layette, always with attention to small details to assure that your baby will always be comfy and happy in Tierno (did you know that our care labels are in the diaper area to assure that your baby will always be comfy?), all handmade in Portugal.
When I started Tierno, I had no connections - I don't have a fashion background; I had no money; I had no name recognition; but I had a dream straight from my heart, which was to create unique babies’ clothes that closely protect their skin as a priceless treasure; a family’s heirloom to be handed down from generation to generation. At that time I thought, “why not share my dream with other parents? Portuguese savoir-faire must be treasured and I really want to show to the world how amazing our pieces are!”
I’ve always loved Portuguese craftsmanship - our artisans are fabulous and their savoir-faire is unique. Tierno is an ode to Portuguese savoir-faire and highlights the excellence of our craftsmanship to create an unforgettable experience. Even Tierno’s signature box and Tierno’s gold ribbon are handmade in Portugal!
You can find Tierno’s pieces at www.tiernoportugal.com and we ship them worldwide, from Portugal to your doorstep with love.
Q: What are some of your favorite projects since launching?
A: Every single day is a new day full of challenges and special projects here. Only a few months after launching Tierno’s first collection, all it-moms around the world became crazy in love with Tierno! Aya Kanai, Leanda Cohen, Louise Roe, Natalia Bonifacci, Petta Chua, Sophie Paterson, Paola Alberdi, Patricia Chang love Tierno and I feel honored and grateful for their support. Being featured by British Vogue was, of course, special too.However, all unknown #tiernolovers around the world are special for us. I’m always touched when I receive pictures from our clients with their babies and toddlers in Tierno: it means that something I created from my heart, for my own babies, is already all over the world! I’m always thankful for that!
Q: Who are the artisans that make your beautiful baby clothes? Is there a particular artisan tradition in the region where you are based in Guarda?
A: Tierno’s artisans are Portuguese women with lots of years of know-how and a true passion for their work. Each Tierno’s piece is always touched by two different artisans that are based in Portugal miles away from each other! The first step is the creation of each Tierno’s piece by our seamstresses and knitters; after that, our embroiders will embroider entirely by hand our logo - “T” - in every single Tierno’s piece: a teamwork runned by love and care. That's why Tierno’s pieces have an unparalleled magic and are so special: each one is a one-of-a-kind piece, individually handmade by expert craftsmen based in Portugal.
Q: You are based in Sabugal, Guarda. Is there a reason for your HQ being there? What are some hidden gems?
A: Sabugal is my hometown; however, I moved to Lisbon, 12 years ago, to Law School. Before founding Tierno, I knew that it had to be something with meaning and soul. It might seem like a “small detail” but, for me, it’s a tribute to my hometown and treasure the most talented hands from there too.
Q: Where are your favorite places to visit around Guarda and Lisbon?
A: In Guarda District, you must visit Casa das Penhas Douradas - a boutique hotel in the heart of the Serra da Estrela - and their Burel Factory (wool factory): a magic and cozy place to relax! During the winter season, you can experience some snow there: absolutely breathtaking.
In Lisbon, “Belcanto” (the first restaurant in Lisbon to be awarded 2 Michelin Stars), “Bairro do Avillez” and “Cantinho do Avillez” from Chef Avillez and “O Talho” and “O Watt” from Chef Kiko Martins are my favorite!
Q: What should one pack when visiting Portugal?
A: Flat shoes (sneakers, ballerinas, boots)! “Calçada Portuguesa” (Portuguese sidewalks) are not easy to walk on: without regular treatment, it is lethally slippy when wet.
Q: Do you have a favorite Portuguese craft? Tell us about it.
A: I’m obsessed with Portuguese embroidery. There’s something unique about a piece that was created and embroidered entirely by hand. Unfortunately, Portuguese embroidery art is almost extinct. That's why we are proud to treasure its unparalleled magic: each Tierno item has our logo delicately embroidered by hand and our exclusive monogrammed service is entirely hand embroidered too!
Q: What should someone bring home that is quintessential Portuguese?
A: That’s a hard question to answer! From handcrafted garments, bags, and shoes to handmade soaps, wine, green tea or olive oil, there’s a huge range of Portuguese “quintessential” that you must bring home, perfect to gift and to keepsake! And, of course, an album from Mariza or Cristina Branco - my favorite “Fado” singers.
Q: What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
A: Coffee! I’m a coffee addict! There’s something special about the aroma of coffee that helps me relax (yes, that’s true!). Any coffee lover that has traveled to Portugal knows that our “café” (coffee) is the best in the world!
Q: What Instagram accounts /websites do you follow/read regularly?
A: I have always been an early bird person: every morning before I get up and while both kids are still sleeping, I read “The Business of Fashion”, “The New York Times” and “The Economist” to stay informed. Throughout the day, I check a few IG accounts from Design and Architecture (Sophie Paterson, Charlotte Green and Fernando Guerra IG are always at the top of the list) to Fashion/Art (I love Alex Eagle’s IG!).
You can follow Tierno on Instagram @tiernoportugal or visit the website: www.tiernoportugal.com
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.