Talking to Sophie Conran

A Life Well Lived

As part of our journey to redefine Wealth we are exploring what “A Life Well Lived” means: interviewing artists, entrepreneurs, explorers, and change-makers as they share their stories and ask, “what is my life well lived?” Here we talk to Sophie Conran, celebrated British designer and founder of here eponymous brand, Sophie Conran, about what living well means to her.

In her own words, Sophie Conran is a “A designer, cook, a businesswoman, entrepreneur, mother, gardener and, lover of life.” Having enjoyed an incredibly diverse career from an apprentice to Stephen Jones, the couture milliner, to her own range of handmade pies, Sophie launched her first homeware collection with Portmeirion in 2006 and has since grown to a global business.

On Work

“My business is all about making the home as good as it could be. My philosophy is that if you have a happy home, then it percolates into the rest of your life. And to me, a happy home is the main foundation of a happy life.”

“My business is all about making the home as good as it could be.”

“So my business is all about thinking about that. About how we interact at home, about the little things – like having a cup of tea and what it really means and how you want to feel. I’m very lucky to work with some amazing people – I’m a designer, I do product development and I have an online business, all to do with making happy homes.”

On Key Milestones

“The project that really stands out was working with Portmeirion. I was really lucky. I had a pie business at the time and was writing cookery books, and I was at a dinner party with a friend of mine who did the PR for Portmeirion. She asked whether I would be interested in doing a collaboration with them.”

“That was about 12 years ago now and I’ve just loved it, they’re incredible. We’ve done hundreds of pieces together and we’re always developing new things. I work particularly closely with a chap called Julian, and he comes here, we have lots of cups of tea, tell lots of dirty jokes, and just have lots of fun.”

On Growing up a Conran

“I didn’t know that it was a different family to everybody else, so to me it was just family life. I’ve got loads of siblings, which is great. It was very creative and there were always loads of people around. We had people visiting from all over the world – really inspiring people – and they were just having a lot of fun. My mum is a cookery writer and they really looked after the garden, so we always had fresh vegetables, we even had chickens and pigs.”

“The funny thing is that some people actually want to see you fail, so you have to have done your homework.”

“Being a Conran, people are definitely interested to speak to you. But once you’ve got your foot in the door, you really have to prove yourself. The funny thing is that some people actually want to see you fail, so you have to have done your homework.”

On Being an Entrepreneur

“You just have to be fluid. You have to greet things as they come along and be excited by them. Even if there’s a disaster, even if something goes wrong, you’ve got to try and see it as a learning experience.”

“I think for me, being dyslexic has been an advantage in a way in the business world, because as a dyslexic, when you are asked to do something, you can’t always take the traditional route. The obvious answers don’t necessarily come to you. So you have to circumnavigate the problem in order to arrive to the right place.”

“Ultimately I think you’re very lucky if 30% is great fun and 70% is hard work, and I think you’ve got to remember that. It gives you a huge amount of freedom in lots of ways, but it’s also with you every second of every day, every single day of the year. So it’s a fantastic thing to be able to do but it is entirely your responsibility. And if it’s going to work, then it’s up to you to make it happen.”

On Weath

“Wealth, for me, is an ability to do what I want to do. It’s having great friends, isn’t it? That’s wealth. And interesting conversations. It’s the ability to travel and see things around the world, for work and for pleasure. I think there’s wealth in lots of places, and depending on your state of mind, it’s easier to find, or not.”

On Success

“Success for me is being surrounded by a fantastic team – which I am lucky to have – a fantastic family and of course, really importantly, a happy home life.”

On Fulfilment

“Fulfilment comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s the sun rising in the morning. It’s a quiet moment having a cup of tea. It’s seeing your children giggling. It’s having customers coming to the website and sending letters, saying, this is wonderful. It’s lots of little things.”

You can find out more about Sophie Conran by visiting her website, or following her on Instagram.