Sophie’s choice

04.02.19

Success isn’t handed down the generations, it’s earned through hard work and dedication. Paul Barton spoke to businesswoman extraordinaire, Sophie Conran, to find out what home-spun traits she attributes to her staying-power career.

From a young age, Sophie Conran had a name that was known across the nation. Thanks to the esteemed reputation of her designer and restaurateur father Sir Terence Conran, success has always been a driver.

Her siblings too have made waves in their respective industries – with older brother Jasper, storming the fashion world and Tom following in his father’s footsteps and embracing life as a restaurateur. But Sophie quickly proved herself to be something of a serial entrepreneur, forging successful careers across fashion, interior design and culinary fields thanks to her energy, enthusiasm, focus and talent.

She credits her family for her creative spirit and drive to succeed, but, she stresses, has never struggled with the expectation to do so from them. “Growing up, all they ever wanted was for me to be happy,” she explains. “It was inspiring living in such a supportive environment, embracing life skills from cooking and gardening to interior design and photography. My family has always been my biggest influence. They’ve taught me to appreciate different viewpoints and to be confident in my own skin.”

Her ever expanding career has certainly brought with it a plethora of opportunities. Working her way up from a fashion apprentice for a couture milliner to collaborating with Jasper and buying for some of the biggest fashion brands on the market, she also forged her way into the culinary arts with her launch of Sophie Conran Pies - which scooped numerous awards – not to mention launching a highly successful supper club and going on to publish a series of best-selling cookbooks.

As for her interiors career, she’s now also taking the digital world by storm with sophieconran.com, a site that’s the perfect blend of store and ‘Look Book’, evoking a sense of class, elegance and comfort all at the same time.

“Designing, building and running my site has been a huge sense of pride for me in recent years,” she says. “There are so many different projects within it, from product development and homepage layout to company branding and e-marketing.

It’s all consuming - there’s always something going on.” She admits, however, that it takes discipline to ensure a solid balance between personal life and working matters, especially as a mother. “It’s important to focus on wherever you are and whatever you’re doing and give it 100% at that time. If you try to be in more than one place, you’re constantly playing catch-up.”

Past endeavours, she reflects, remain a source of experience to draw from: “I opened my first shop when I was 25 – Wong Singh Jones on All Saints Road,” she explains. “It was nicknamed the corner shop of the world and showcased cultural classics and consumer icons. Now that I’ve built up my brand, I’d love to open a shop for my website. I understand what makes my customer base tick, and I’d approach it in a completely different way.”

As for the future, there’s no rest in sight as the next start-up chapter is always just around the corner. “Tastes are forever changing,” she adds. “I go to many designer shows and I’m always blown away by the incredible amount of talent coming through colleges and universities.”

With all hands on deck, working on a new collection inspired by the block-printed textiles, hand painted ceramics and metal-works she sourced from India, a book is also in the offing.

She adds: “Writing is such a therapeutic experience. I’d love to put one together on entertaining, featuring everything from cherished recipes to tips on how to dress the perfect table. It’s such an exciting time right now, so watch this space.”

www.sophieconran.com

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