Fiona Burrage had every intention of launching her Norfolk-made bodycare brand in April, and so she did – lockdown or no lockdown. Here she talks about how leading a minimalist lifestyle works for her and her family
I’m a mother, a wife, a friend and a creative. Right now I feel immensely grateful for my life. I have fallen in love all over again with our city and our county. But conversely I’ve never felt more under pressure (being self-employed) and more worried for the future (for my son). I’ve learnt a lot more about myself, I’ve switched my diet and I practise meditation. Life, for me, definitely looks and feels a lot different to how it did six months ago.
I’d been working on Sop for about a year and had every intention of launching in April (when I did) but the hope was I’d continue to maintain other revenue streams (photography/consultancy) so I didn’t have all on my eggs in one basket. But, as 2020 unfolded, wellbeing and the importance of taking care of yourself became even more relevant. Sop is a bodycare brand that has been inspired by our landscape and language and made with essential oils. Each scent reflects a place or feeling. Allowing for a virtual holiday or escapism. So the timings, in many respects, felt more appropriate.
Launching soon after we went into lockdown came with its challenges – supply chains have been held up tremendously. Prices for ingredients are very volatile and some parts of the chain shut down entirely. Not being able to have face to face meetings has been difficult. And trying to home school a little person alongside calls and the challenges has been difficult.
As a family, we have realised how resilient we are. Both Bobby and I previously worked 40 hours a week, working day and often evening – and grandparents bridged the gap. We lost that overnight and still don’t have any support. However challenging it’s been I’m so proud we’ve made it as a three. I’ve also learnt that my friends are even more brilliant and more of a lifeline than I could ever have imagined.
It was non-negotiable that the Sop range is natural, vegan, cruelty-free and locally made. Sop has to be a sustainable brand. I’m not just thinking about today, it’s my responsibility to think about the future and every decision I take has an impact on that.
Leading a minimalist lifestyle works for me – and us. I apply these principles from a design perspective: less clutter equals greater clarity. But also from my values and approach in life. I’m not driven by things and possessions. Lockdown has demonstrated how precious life is, so I work so we can enjoy time as a family, whether that be a trip to the beach or drinks with friends in a beer garden. These are the things I place real importance on in life.
I have lots of ambitious plans for Sop. A dream would be to have a multi-use space, with a hotel, bar and life store. But I’ve also spoken with various investors about launching other holiday lets. We have a cabin in the Norfolk Broads and that has been really popular with restrictions being eased and I get immense pleasure from hearing that guests have had a lovely peaceful getaway.