My Life’s Work | Sophie Coller, Managing Director, Kitesgrove
In this weekly series, we meet a senior Walpole member to discover what makes them tick, how they define success, and what keeps them awake at night. This week, Sophie Coller, Managing Director, Kitesgrove.
“Having read History of Art at UCL university, I started out at Bonhams which led on to a stint in art journalism, both at The Art Newspaper and then as Style Editor at ArtReview magazine. This period of my career fuelled my interest in craft and my passion for art & design. I then met the founders of The Rug Company, Chris & Suzanne Sharp, in 2005 and soon became part of ‘the rug family’. During the course of 12 years, I had a myriad of roles (from marketing to franchising) and was lucky to be given the opportunity to play an integral part of the brand’s growth worldwide. The knowledge and exposure this gave me to the luxury design market has stood me in good stead for my current position, heading up Kitesgrove.”
WHAT DOES BRITISH LUXURY MEAN TO YOU?
4 Cs: Crafted, Customised, Creative, Characterful
WHAT’S YOUR VISION FOR KITESGROVE?
To expand our portfolio – we’d love to do more country houses as well as restaurants and hospitality projects…and there are some collaborations on the horizon too – a chance for our talented creative team to turn their hand to new mediums and product.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
Achieving a level of work/life balance – I think any working mother would say the same.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
The realisation of a vision.
WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST EXTRAVAGANCE?
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
Being nosey. We get to see inside some remarkable properties.
Mid-Winter site visits with no heating. It’s not all glamourous!
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST REGRET?
It’s not a regret – life’s too short for those – but a mistake that I’ve learnt from is not to be tempted to cut corners. Don’t compromise. Don’t take the easy route.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Coming across unexpected hidden gems (large and small, home and aboard)… Chiswick House with its wonderful arch by Inigo Jones, Luis Barragan’s studio in Mexico City, the range of curated objects at The New Craftsmen… I could go on and on. Thankfully my job exposes me to inspiring things on a daily basis.
WHAT WAS YOUR BIG BREAK?
Probably meeting the founders of The Rug Company back in 2005 during the brand’s fledgling years and being trusted (at a young age) to drive its evolution from a local London showroom to a renowned luxury brand.
WHATS YOUR GUIDING PRINCIPLE?
Go with your gut. Make good decisions. Get stuff done. And most importantly, look after your team.
WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
There are too many to list. From a professional perspective, Ilse Crawford has to be high on my list with her cerebral yet compassionate approach to design.
WHICH WORDS OR PHRASES DO YOU MOST OVER USE?
WHAT KEEPS YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT?
My busy brain.
WHAT DO YOU MOST VALUE IN YOUR FRIENDS?
Loyalty and a sense of humour. Dinner parties at our house are late and loud!
IN A PARALLEL LIFE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
A writer – I’ve secretly (although not now!) started a children’s book but it’s a long way from finished.
WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE ENTERING THE LUXURY INDUSTRY NOW?
Be individual. There’s no place for cookie cutter brands.