UK Enterprise Awards 2021

58 | UK Enterprise Awards 2021 Jun21125 Best Bespoke Soft Furnishings Company - Surrey Experienced in the art of creating beautiful spaces, Sophie Sews is a soft furnisher with a difference. We speak to the company’s namesake, Sophie Wickenden, about how it all began and where it’s heading! Sophie Sews is a soft furnisher based in Woking, Surrey, specialising in creating bespoke curtains, blinds and soft furnishings for the home, but also offering a design-led service too. Founded in 2018 by Sophie Wickenden, the company was born out of Sophie’s passion for fabrics, something she has possessed since her childhood days. “I spent every spare moment endlessly redecorating and reorganising my bedroom, and I thrived in the creative subjects at school - art, drama and textiles became my true loves,” Sophie enthuses, speaking about how it all began. “I went on to do a National Diploma in Interior Design before setting my sights on interior design for the residential market.” As previously mentioned, fabrics were of particular interest to Sophie and so she began making her own curtains, blinds and cushions, starting from humble beginnings at her dining room table! As orders began flooding in, Sophie quickly progressed to making items for other designers and she began to realise that her real flair lay not only in the actual sewing, but also in the design. “The product knowledge of which pole will fit where, the fabric colours, designs and textures and putting it all together really interested me and, since 2012, I have been lucky enough to have had a front row seat in homes all over Surrey - big houses, small houses, flats, bungalows and mansions! I have gained so much experience from every window I’ve hung a blind at, to every sofa I’ve designed a cushion for!” Having the presence of a high street shop makes the company stand head and shoulders above its local competitors as it enables Sophie’s clients to visit, look through the fabric books, see it all in situ and gain a little inspiration for their own homes. Despite having to close during Covid-19 lockdowns, Sophie wasn’t deterred and once non-essential retail was allowed to open up again the shop was made bigger, with a new interiors range being launched to boot. “We feel we have a more modern outlook on interiors compared with some of our competitors,” she says. “We are very proud of the products that we have curated together and feel that the array of interiors successfully compliments our core product offering of curtains, blinds and soft furnishings. We have sourced lighting, throws, vases, faux flowers, objet d’art, candles etc… the list is endless!” Along with having accounts with a vast selection of handpicked fabric companies, Sophie is also happy to create unique handmade products from customer’s own fabrics and to work with pre-existing curtains and blinds, or even create a brand-new window dressing from an existing vintage treasure, for a completely unique touch. She also loves making cushions, headboards and pelmets that can accessorise every inch of a client’s space and is able to offer advice on paint accompaniments and furniture too. “We feel really privileged that the fabric companies that we use have really led the way in using sustainable fabrics, marking a new chapter in the world of eco-friendly textiles and products,” she states. “We also have a special partnership with our favourite paint manufacturer - The Little Greene Paint Company - and the full range of samples and colour cards is stocked in our Horsell shop, plus customers can order online through the website too.” A lot of Sophie’s work is done on recommendation, word of mouth and repeat customers, which is something she is very proud of, and she puts a lot of her success down to her remarkable and dedicated team. “I love our little team,” she enthuses. “The main qualities I look for in staff when recruiting are helpfulness and kindness. Good communication is also key and that my wonderful staff think outside the box, which all helps in the success of Sophie Sews.” It’s not all been plain sailing however and currently, with Covid and Brexit taking place, the main challenges that Sophie and the team are experiencing are delays in stock that is coming from abroad. An unexpected benefit has been that with everyone being forced to lockdown and stay home, a lot more house projects and renovations have been taking place, including home office outfits. “With complicated check ins and rules still attached to dining out, lots of people are opting to entertain at home and coupled with the fact that lots of people have not had holidays, they are spending their hard-earned cash on home improvements, like new curtains and blinds,” Sophie elaborates. “We feel there has been a real-life changing switch in people going back to having people in their homes. So, when hosting dinner parties, or just working from home, people are really thinking about how then can improve their surrounds and their environment - which has obviously benefitted the business.” In fact, to compliment her existing shop and services, Sophie took the opportunity during lockdown to launch a new venture – Sophie Sews Direct.