Introducing our latest ‘Wow Woman’, designer, businesswomen and all around creative powerhouse, the lovely Sophie Conran.
The only daughter of designer and restaurateur Sir Terence Conran and food writer Caroline Conran. Sister to fashion designer Jasper, restaurateurs Tom and Ned and product designer Sebastian. Sophia has come from a long line of creatives.
In 2005 Sophie launched ”Sophie Conran Pies” a gourmet collection of handmade, top-quality pies which lead to her debut cookbook ‘Pies’ published in November 2006.
March 2006 saw the launch of Sophie’s hugely successful range with Portmeirion which has won many prestigious awards and is sold in over 55 countries. Today she works with many amazing companies creating stunning, well-known ranges.
In 2014 Sophie launched www.sophieconran.com as a destination to bring all of her collections together along with ranges that she has developed and curated from all over the world. It is now a go-to destination for the whole home.
We sat down with Sophie to ask her some burning questions from design to downward dog…
You come from a family of designers and creators how has that influenced the way you work today
It’s part of my DNA and everyone in my family is a doer, a tinkerer and a potterer. Design is something I grew up with and because we are very close we were able to share and bounce ideas off each other. Like all siblings we are slightly competitive but in a good way as it keeps you going and I also massively appreciate that we are all very different so we each bring a different perspective to things and manage to do so without stepping on each others toes.
What is your earliest design memory?
When I was young my brother Jasper used to draw princesses for me. There are 6 years between us so I would have been 5 or 6, but I remember being mesmerised by the pictures he would draw and I would colour them in. I guess that was the start of his design career.
What was your dream job when you were younger?
In this order; a Mummy, a Princess, a Headmistress.
If you could work on the interiors for any home which would it be and why?
My own home because it gives me freedom. I have done lots of interior design projects but you are always working to someone else’s brief. On my own project I can do things completely for myself so I can design it for the way I want to live in it.
If you were to describe your job in one word, what would they be
You have had amazing career with some incredible projects but which one had been your favourite and why?
This is a tricky question… All the projects I have worked on make up what I do. I love my job because it’s so diverse so choosing a favourite would be impossible. I’m someone who is always moving on to the next thing. I always have new ideas and I need a lot of threads to keep me happy so the more projects I have on the better.
What’s has been the highlight of your career so far?
I am constantly surprised and overjoyed by my career. I feel very lucky to be doing what I am doing.
Most recently my ceramic collection was put into the V&A which is an amazing feeling.
We have also just launched our catalogues which have received an amazing response, so a real high. I am also so grateful when people come up to me and say I have your product and I have been using it for years etc – customer feedback is everything!
What do you love most about your job and why?
The places it takes me.
The lovely comments we get.
How do you ensure you always stay true to your core?
I have made a list of what matters the most to me and I look at it often.
To name a few…
How do you manage to juggle being a mother and a businesswoman?
I have a great team and family and really strong support pillars.
We love your first cook book ‘Pies’. Apart from pie, what is your favourite food and why?
It’s so dependant on where I am. If I am in somewhere like the South of France I want to be eating an amazing salad outside. If it’s a cold winters day I want a hearty stew with dumplings. If I’m in the Alps I want a fondue and cheese raclette. I also have a vegetable garden at home so maybe my favourite food is fresh seasonal vegetables from my garden.
Food is mood and mood is food!
What’s your favourite family meal
One that I cook often when the kids go back or come home from boarding school. A roast chicken with tarragon gravy, my legendary mash, carrots, French beans and broccoli.
Who are your dream 6 dinner party guests?
My husband and my kids, my mum and my two best friends would be lovely and such a laugh.
Cooking or designing?
I need both. I can’t have one without the other but I also want to add gardening in there.
Everyone practices yoga for different reasons. When did you start and why?
I started yoga with my mum when I was 12 or 13. She was going to a class, and I just happened to be at home, so she took me with her and I was surprisingly good. I really enjoyed it and since then I have done it whenever I can. I take myself off on a yoga retreat a coupe of times a year and I have a fantastic Yoga Teacher (Clare Passmore) who comes to teach me at home.
Yoga connects me to my body, it’s like a physical and mental massage. It’s always a challenge and I like it because I am good at it, although I think it is good to work on the things you are not so good at, when you are good at something it is so rewarding
Favourite yoga pose and why?
Long deep stretches and downward dog.
Mindfulness or Meditation?
Meditation twice a day for 20 mins.
What does ‘wellness’ mean to you?
What are five things all women should know to better their health
What do you do in your downtime
Sometimes you have to go inwards and sometimes you have to go outwards, it’s about knowing which one is right for the time.
Where do you go to ground yourself?
Nature! I’m lucky enough to live right next to Hyde Park so exploring in the park is always a great way to switch off.
What are the things you can’t live without?
Family and friends.
What is your quote of the day every day?
It’s not a quote but a beautiful poem called the Desiderata by Max Ehrmann – 1927. I think everyone should read it at least once.
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann – 1927.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Don’t take no for an answer and always chase your dreams. If you expect something big then you are working towards that if it’s small then you are limiting yourself – why limit yourself?
What is your single piece of advice to the next generation of women
‘If you are going through hell- just keep going’ – Winston Churchill
Who is your ‘Wow Woman’?
My mum. She is amazing
If you could only live in one item of Asquith clothing what would it be?
The Divine pants are insanely comfortable, they fit perfectly and I love that they have pockets – I am wearing them right now.