Trader Profile-Sophia Elouise
This month we’ve got a double feature for you! We caught up with our Suitcase Trader Sophia Elouise and Frome shopkeeper Dan from Frome Hardware – you can find Sophia near Dan’s shop on Catherine Hill on market days, and if you miss The Frome Independent, Sophia’s exquisite objects can also be found for sale in Frome Hardware, or at Black Swan Arts, where she recently opened her new studio.
Sophia, tell us a bit about you and your business…
I have always loved working with my hands whether its woodwork, sculpture, stone carving or textiles. I am Fine Art trained and after completing my degree, went on to learn fine woodwork with Temper Studio. My practice revolves around natural materials and minimal design. Although I work on creating beautiful objects, their functionality is the foundation of the design process. Working with natural materials to manifest simple utilitarian objects is something I believe is an instinctive human exploration.
My business practices aim to be as low waste and minimal impact as possible, my woodwork recycles offcuts from other furniture makers which would otherwise be burnt and keeps wood chips from wood turning jobs to package up postage orders. My textile offcuts are used as packaging to wrap my woodwork in, and all items are made in small batches to ensure attention to detail and minimal wastage.
Where do you get your inspiration – what motivates you to do what you do?
The material always acts as an inspiration. Something beautiful in woodworking is that as you carve into the wood, you reveal its individual grain and markings which have developed with the tree’s growth. Although you can assume from the tree species what to expect, you are never underwhelmed with the material’s natural individuality.
Something else that is a massive motivator and inspiration is other makers. I have had the privilege to work alongside some amazingly hard working and skilful crafts people. I am always striving to learn new techniques and practices and this keeps me and my practice evolving and changing.
Why did you choose to come and trade at The Frome Independent?
I moved to Frome just before the first lockdown, so I was completely unaware the market existed for the first year and a half I lived here! Once I had seen it in full swing after the pandemic, I couldn’t help but apply and now I have done a few, I never want to stop.
There is nothing better than chatting with customers and other makers face to face and after the lows of the lockdowns, I think we were all craving some face-to-face contact. It’s such a fantastic accumulation of brilliant crafts people and artisan trades – I cant get enough of it!
What do you like about market trading – why not just sell online or through retail outlets?
I love meeting customers face to face. It’s a completely different experience to selling through other retail outlets or online. It gives you the opportunity to answer questions and really talk them through the process or give them a bit of knowledge about the woods used or choices of materials. It also is great for meeting other makers who I otherwise would never have met, as well as meeting other businesses for collaboration or new retail outlets.
Tell us about your own favourite or best-selling product. How much work goes into creating it, why do you think this is your strongest product?
My best sellers at the minute are my Shaving Brushes. They are a vegan bristle shaving brush with an English Ash handle which is finished using shou sugi ban. This technique of charring the wood keeps the handle durable and waterproof. This technique gives a striking effect and turns the wood an inky black which once oiled, almost looks like silk. It is one of my favourite products to make because of this finishing process.
I think my shaving brushes are a popular product because they are quite a unique style of shaving brush. They are made with a cuboid handle which is a deviation from the traditional looking, intricately turned handles you usually find.
What is your favourite Frome shop, or stall to visit at The Frome Independent?
Because I’m usually working the market, I haven’t yet explored everyone’s pitches fully but I love Emma Chapman’s pottery and Mokko Design always have a fantastic stall. One of my favourite food stalls at the minute is My Greek Fat Wraps – they do the best halloumi wrap and it’s a staple on any market day.
And finally, some quick fire questions…
‘Geometrical Psychology’ – an analysis of Benjamin Betts papers and diagrams on consciousness.
Describe your dream day off.
A swim (fresh water or sea), a bit of bouldering, some good food and some beers with my partner and whoever is about.
What are you listening to right now?
Loving the artist Ondara at the minute.
What are you cooking/ eating / drinking at the moment?
8 Stony Street’s pizza is a staple part of my diet. But when we are eating in, my partner makes the best Mexican bean soup.
Read on for Dan from Frome Hardware’s shopkeeper profile!