Hi Debbie, how would you describe Sorbet Living?
Sorbet Living is a lifestyle homewares store curating products that are both aesthetically pleasing and functionally useful. We embrace a thoughtful, sustainable way of life where items are chosen carefully, for their colour, provenance and back story.
What inspired the idea of setting up your business?
A love of colour and a passion for homes and interiors. My father was brought up in India and as a child, his influence with colour was a huge feature of my life growing up – we had Habitat everything, with a bright orange, jumbo cord sofa, purple carpets, and outfits to match.
Studying for a degree in the history of art and travelling for work, I fell in love with the colours of Italy – soft pastel shades in off whites, soft pinks and mellow yellows – mixed with the depth of earthy terracotta and warm greens. I finally followed my desire two years ago to establish a homeware company, and the palette I so loved in Italy became the foundations of the idea for Sorbet Living – with all the associations that come with the fun spirit of something so colourful, happy, comforting, and joyful.
What did you do before setting up your business?
I worked as a fashion tailoring buyer, travelling all over Europe sourcing fabrics, and working with clothing factories.
Where do you find creative inspiration?
From the environment around us, including buildings, nature, where I live in the South Downs, and food.
How would you describe your style?
I work in stories and my style changes with each story.
Are there themes or influences that run through your work?
My work is influenced by the seasons and my collections evolve according to the seasons. Soft pastels in the spring and summer, and moodier in the autumn and winter.
Could you tell us a little about your creative process?
I work with like-minded suppliers and makers to produce the items I sell, with some designs exclusive to Sorbet Living. My creative process starts about five months ahead of the season with story ideas taking shape right at the start. I’d like to work further ahead, a year ahead is my goal.
How did you first discover your love for what you do?
I realised I wanted to work with homeware when my children were young. After selling on a well-known platforms for many years, I knew that I had to shape the brand to have a unique focus, and this has begun to take shape in the last few years.
Could you describe a typical working day?
Like most other friends in the industry, my day starts quite early in the morning. I like to check out what is happening on social media. I pick up so many creative ideas at the beginning of the day and this makes it more interesting. Exercise is part of my morning routine, but I am usually back at my desk by 10.30am ready to send out orders, talk to my suppliers and work on my range, often on several seasons at a time.
What is the ethos behind your business?
My business ethos is to be transparent, to value the people I work with and my customers, with a respect for the environment.
Is there an element of your work that you love the most?
I love photoshoot days. Always hard work but so rewarding.
How valuable is the online community to your work?
So valuable. I talk to many like-minded people through social media.
Do you enjoy working as an independent – what are the joys, and what are the challenges?
I love the creative process of working with other freelancers for Sorbet Living, and I love the flexibility of independent working.
What’s one thing people would be surprised you do in your work?
For over eight years I have been mentoring artists and makers, which I do on a professional basis one day a week.
Do you have any creative pastimes or hobbies?
I like making recipes from my library of cookbooks, being in nature for walks, and swimming at the beach with my family.
What does this year hold for you?
Sorbet Living with my supplier, Ist London, provided over 200 pieces of tableware for the current Barbie Movie. And I’m hoping to open an independent shop in the West Country this year when we relocate to Devon.
Books I love: I love interiors books and cook books, or I’ll pick up a textbook on architecture or art to read.
Creative heroes: My creative heroes are the people I meet on my travels and through my work.
Shops I love: Apart from the obvious, I like to discover maker shops of printers and potters, and other skilled crafts.