I’m very excited that next up for a S.H.I.T. interview is the very successful British homewares designer, Sophie Allport.
Sophie Allport Limited is now an international business, selling a wide range of products from hand decorated fine bone china tableware to stationery and umbrellas. The fabric collection includes practical oven gloves and tea towels for the kitchen, ironing board covers and peg bags for your laundry, and a stylish collection of bags for all occasions.
Many of Sophie’s designs are inspired by her love of nature and the countryside so, to be fair, Sophie isn’t strictly S.H.I.T.
She moved out of London in 2009 and now lives near Stamford in Lincolnshire with her husband, three boys and two dogs. Let’s say she’s mostly S.H.I.C. but she definitely still has a little bit of S.H.I.T. about her.
After she graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University in 1994 with an impressive first class honours degree in Graphic Art & Design, specialising in illustration, she was asked to join a world renowned illustration agency in London where she worked closely with many famous clients producing illustrations for books, magazines and even wine labels.
She was then invited to demonstrate her skills at the Country Living Fair in London and decided to have a few of her illustrations made into cards and limited edition prints. They proved a sell out and she decided to start her own business.
In 2007 Sophie’s brother joined her, and Sophie Allport Limited was born. The business has gone from strength to strength over the past 10 years and the first Sophie Allport high street shop has opened this year in Stamford.
So, over to the lady herself to find out more.
What do you most love about your job?
I love painting and designing and always have. I feel very lucky to be doing a job I really enjoy. To see my designs on lots of different products and on the shelf in a shop is so satisfying.
Describe a typical day in the life of Sophie Allport.
It usually starts off with a brisk walk with the dogs around the garden and fields and then comes the chaos of breakfast with my three boys. Scrabbling around for school bags, PE kit and homework and then pegging it to school. I then either head to the office or return home to some peace and quiet to paint.
Where do you get the inspiration for your designs?
I am constantly inspired by nature and the countryside and everything that surrounds me. I get certain ideas and like to sketch them straight away but it can often take up to a year to see them come to fruition.
Do you have a personal favourite of your designs and if so, why?
How do you manage to juggle your work around your three boys and two dogs?
With difficulty! … and I constantly feel guilty as I can’t make every sports match, assembly and performance. I’m very proud of what I do and hope the boys understand one day why Mummy wasn’t always around. The dogs are wonderful companions and are very understanding on the days I don’t manage to give them a long walk!
Who would you most in the world like to see wearing a Sophie Allport apron?
Oooo… I’d love to see Mary Berry cooking up a storm in a Sophie Allport apron. She’s such an inspiration.
On a desert island, what are the three luxury items you couldn’t do without?
Dark chocolate, white wine and my watercolours and paper (is that four!?)
Stuck on a broken down train sitting next to Terence Conran, Terence Trent D’Arby or Terry (from Terry & June)?
I’d find it fascinating to chat to Terence Conran but I did love that 80’s classic ‘Sign YOUR name!’
What advice would you give someone wanting to go into the homewares design business?
I think anyone that sets up their own business has to be ready for a lot of hard work. I love what I do and have always been passionate about design and homewares so it was the perfect fit. I think if you enjoy what you do and you’re willing to work seriously hard, then go for it!
You’re in your studio having a break, with a Nescafe on the go and a Hobnob, what five people (dead or alive) would you like to pop up to join you for a chat?
Chris Martin, Anton du Beke (I’ve met him at the Chelsea Flower Show and he’s such a charming man!), The Queen, Roger Federer and my amazing Dad who we lost nearly ten years ago.
Random fact about yourself.
I used to play County tennis for Lincolnshire!
Old man’s pub or trendy bar?
That’s a hard one as I love a local traditional pub but I’d probably go for a glass of fizz in a trendy bar (as I never get the opportunity and it would be a novelty) but I love an old man’s pub with my two doggies by the fire!
And finally, what makes you S.H.I.T. (when you are in town)?
I love the buzz of a city, people watching and the accessibility of everything, oh and the shops!!
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