Spotlight on Sophie Robinson
As the Queen of Colour, this lady needs absolutely no introduction. We all loved her on Great Interior Design Challenge #GIDC and more recently on DIY SOS, but for me personally it is her unashamed use of colour, her self-confessed addiction to cushions which resonates with me completely, because that is me too!
So, I'm ecstatic, to welcome Sophie Robinson to my blog so we can see her gorgeous home, love the incredible use of pattern and texture and COLOUR, but also hear a little bit about how she got started on the path that led her to be the TV star and interior go to person she is today and the things she finds challenging and interesting about her job.
I’m Sophie Robinson, and I’m bonkers for colour, and own far too many cushions! I’ve been lucky enough to eat-sleep-breath all things interior design for over 20 years; working across magazines, TV and some of the top retailers in the country.
It sounds glamorous, but more often than not its very hard work. Nevertheless it’s a great fun job and I get to work with the most inspiring and creative people in the business.
So, how did I get into this business? I studied BA Hons 3D Design at Brighton University with early aspirations to be a designer-maker or furniture designer. I learnt woodwork, jewellery, ceramics and metalwork before majoring in plastics, so I have an all round understanding and appreciation of the handmade and continue to be passionate about the design process and nurturing creativity through experimentation. I also love to champion designers, artists and craftspeople as they are what keep this business interesting.
My Interior Design career kicked off as a stylist in 2000 at BBC Good Homes magazine were I cut my teeth as a journalist and benefited an editorial training within one of the worlds most prestigious broadcasting and publishing institutions. Since going freelance I work across many popular titles as well as working on leading UK TV shows including BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel 5.
Aside from my day job, I’m wife to Tom who runs a thriving building business, in our home town of Brighton. I’m also Mum to five year old Arthur and our mini bull terrier Lucy, and being a Mum, the wife of an entrepreneur, and a homemaker is a big part of who I am.
We have recently moved to our dream home in the countryside but have our own Grand Designs on our hands. Its the perfect marriage of both mine and my husbands skills and you can find out more here MyHouseInTheWoods.
My own home is a *random* collection of things I love, which, through experience, I’ve managed to make “hang together”. The result is a home that’s unique and authentic.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
It was very organic, like every stage in my career. I studied 3D design, but soon found that career quite lonely. I supplemented my income at the time by being an interior stylist’s assistant and quickly realised this was a career path that I wanted to pursue. Since then I have fallen into working in TV at different points of my career- but it’s all been a happy accident.
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
It’s very easy for me to work anywhere. Typically, I work from home, but currently I have a room within my husband’s business offices which is nice, as I sometimes want to keep home and work life separate
3. How did you fund your business?
I’m a sole trader so I have no overheads. I provide a service for which I get paid.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
My industry is driven by contacts. So, you have to be patient and slowly build up your little black book and work hard to network.
5. What help was missing for you?
There was no career advice on how to be an interior stylist. It was by luck I found it as a career option. However, I have found all the people in the industry really helpful and supportive.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
Being self-employed is tough and when I left my staff job at the BBC to go freelance I was full of fear and apprehension about paying the rent. However, I have faith and it’s always been ok even through the peaks and troughs.
7. What have you learnt?
That I love to work for myself. I feel in power of my own destiny.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
Make sure you are genuinely passionate about what you do or the service you provide. In this saturated market place, true authenticity shines out. And it’s hard work so you might as well enjoy it!
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
That no two days are ever the same.
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
5/10. After 20 years in the industry I’m very much in my flow. I move with the times. For example, I no longer work in print, but earn my way through my social media campaigns and brand collaborations. You need to keep moving with the times and never rest on your laurels.
In addition to her TV work, social media and brand and product collaborations, Sophie runs different workshops which you can read about below, and find more details of, on her website.
I’m thrilled to be working with Fiona Humberstone, the esteemed Brand Stylist and best selling author and together we bring you this creative, inspirational and exclusive event exploring the power of Colour Psychology and how this can be used to invigorate your design process.
Interior Design Course.
There is a fantastic opportunity to join me, and my Great Interior Design Challenge (#GIDC) colleague Daniel Hopwood for a Masterclass in Interior Design. The intention of the interior design course is to impart our extensive advice and knowledge to a design thirsty group to help you to design and style your home. Its designed as a fun and creative day- with groups no larger than 14 people, so we all have a chance to meet and mingle and share ideas. There’s a heap of drool-worthy pictures to look at and discuss (want to know what Dan designs for his super rich clients?) and we put on a yummy lunch too. We like to think its a great day for everyone, no matter where you are in your design journey. Previous guests have included home owners, renovators, renters, DIYers, design students, bloggers and professionals.
I’ve devised a creative and fun workshop to explore the properties of colour to help you up your Interior Design game. I’m a self proclaimed colour lover and I adore the impact and effects you can create by harmonising or clashing different colours together. In my 20 years of working within interior design I’ve never become bored of dreaming up new colour combinations. I understand that people fall into two camps, those who love and embrace colour and those who fear it. Whichever team you’re on this workshop is for totally for you.
The Girl with The Green Sofa
Nicola says: Sophie's business is all about networking and making contacts, therefore her overheads are small, meaning she has contracts for work before spending money on projects, all though as she says, finding work can be hard at times if you are starting out.
The interesting point for me, that comes through Sophie's comments, is the way in which the industry has moved away from traditional marketing and press to social media and its use in creating brand awareness and the marketing of products, which means the small creative businesses that i show case on here, have just as much chance as the bigger brands togged their products out there, especially if they can use the help of influencers.
Sophie, thanks so much of sharing your history with me.
The Girl with the Green Sofa