Interview – Sophie Kent
Sophie Kent, Designer and Director of Peony & Rose, an online luxury wedding stationery company based in Hampshire, has been making headlines in the wedding industry and shares with us the secret behind her success.
I?ve led quite a varied career; following University I worked for a small advertising agency as their Junior Creative. I worked on initial ideas for briefs, roughly drawing up my ideas and presenting them to the Creative Director. It gave me a better insight into the world of advertising and I gradually began to realise it wasn?t the path I wanted to follow. After taking a year out to travel around Australia, I came back home uncertain how I was going to use my degree. I spent the next few years working in various contract roles, from Marketing and Administration to Customer Services to fund more travel. I had the travel bug and couldn?t settle. I was hoping at some point I would ?find myself? and suddenly know what to do career wise, but it didn?t happen. Eventually, I made the decision to come home with the intentions of staying put this time! All my friends were beginning to settle down and I was still skipping from one country to the next. In 2004 I landed a job as an Administrative Assistant at a pharmaceutical company in Berkshire where I ended up spending the next 7 years and eventually working as a Drug Safety Associate. I sat alongside pharmacists and physicians writing up reports of patients who had experienced adverse reactions to any of the company?s products. While I enjoyed this role, and made some lifelong friends, I still missed the creativity that the world of advertising had brought me.
I fell into the wedding industry with a big thump! It was on my own honeymoon that the idea of starting my own business was prompted by my husband. He knew how I missed designing and since we had both noticed a gap in the market for well-designed wedding stationery when we had been looking, it seemed the perfect idea. Following on from my honeymoon and the idea to start my own wedding stationery business, I set about researching the industry. I decided if I was going to do it, I was going to do it properly and give it 100% of my time. So with some savings to support me, I set about visiting wedding fairs, museums and galleries, and gradually immersing myself back into the world of design that I had been away from for so long. A world that I had missed immensely. It was daunting at first, as design seemed to have moved on so much. Classmates from university were now well established designers and I was starting out all over again. To add to this, I was also stepping into an industry that I knew very little about. Eventually I began to find my feet and started designing a range of wedding stationery collections. ?Cabaret? was one of the first designs I worked on and it has proved a real success. When it was launched in 2012 it was featured in a number of national wedding magazines and is still a firm favourite with clients.
With a huge range of colours, envelopes and cards to choose from and each client adding their own personal touch, no two designs are ever the same.
Peony & Rose, named after the two flowers in my own wedding bouquet, was the initial inspiration behind my designs. All of my current wedding stationery collections are available to order from www.peonyandrose.co.uk and can be completely personalised for each client. While I don?t offer a bespoke service, I?m very flexible with my stationery collections. I?m happy to incorporate elements from one of my designs and mix it up with another to create something totally unique. With a huge range of colours, envelopes and cards to choose from and each client adding their own personal touch, no two designs are ever the same.
I design all aspects of wedding stationery from save the date cards and invitations, to all of the ?on the day? stationery, such as table plans, orders of service and place cards. My designs are a blend of vintage and classic styling.
Who inspires me? My husband. He has encouraged me throughout the whole journey of setting up Peony & Rose. He works as an Art Director for a London advertising agency and is always keen to give his critique on my designs, whether it?s wanted or not! Is there a particular designer that I follow? I love the work of Vera Wang for her clean lines and simple understated detail. In contrast, I love the intricate floral patterns created by William Morris. However, there is no one particular designer that I follow, design is all around and I take interest in it all. From architecture and fashion to home furnishings and printed work. I bought some vintage postcards from an antique stall by the Notre-Dame Cathedral. They looked gorgeously romantic in black and white, handwritten in faded black ink. My ?Victoria? collection is a nod to this. I use a beautiful script font and finish each invitation off with delicate French lace.
I?m always keeping in touch with the wider world of weddings via magazines and pinterest. I like to see what?s popular and trending with regards to fashion, in particular wedding dresses, flowers and colour schemes. This ensures my designs are relevant to what people are looking for, whilst always staying true to my style. I occasionally take myself off to London to see what?s new. I love looking around Liberty at the fabrics and stationery section. I also enjoy the Victoria & Albert museum. It could be something as simple as looking at an old manuscript that triggers an idea.
I think you need vision, to be adaptable and be patient to succeed in this industry. I am still learning each day. Couples can be overwhelmed by all the decisions that are thrown at them in the lead up to their wedding day. I need to be able to understand their ideas, adapt my designs to fit those ideas and have the patience when they change their mind and the design process starts all over again! It?s important that I work with my clients to get everything just right. Their wedding invitations are the first introduction to their guests of their wedding, so the invitations should set the tone and style that the couple are aiming for and start the journey to their perfect day.
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