FK talks to Sophie Cooper, from her Sydney based label Scoops Design
Can you tell us about how Scoops Design began?
The name Scoops Design comes from my nick name Sophie Cooper = Scooper = Scoops. Towards the end of 2005, I started making brooches as presents for friends and I also found it was a nice way of relaxing from a stressful day job. Strangers started coming up to me in the street and asking about my brooches, so I approached a few Sydney stores, sent a press release to magazines and it grew from there. The National Gallery of Victoria was one of my first major stockists in 2006 and since then they have commissioned me to make exclusive ranges for major exhibitions such as Art Deco 1910-1939, Salvador Dali and Rupert Bunny.
What is your background and how has it lead to where you are today?
I graduated with first class honours from Visual Communication at UTS in 1997 and started working at Foxtel in my third year as a broadcast designer. I stayed there for four years and then worked for a number of different post production houses as a senior design before starting my own broadcast design business in 2001, called Fifty 3 Creative. During this time, I designed title packages and channel branding for Channel 7, 9, and 10, The Lifestyle Channel, National Geographic and Discovery Channel in America. In December 2004, I was offered the job of Network Art Director for Channel 7, which involved designing and overseeing the on-air look of the network. I accepted the offer and closed Fifty 3 Creative- I seemed to be spending most of my time chasing money rather than designing. At Channel 7, my role grew as the number of channels expanded, but I felt I had reached quickly as high as I could go as a designer. I started an MBA in 2008 thinking it would help me career wise and quickly realised that it was creativity I was missing, not management skills.
On my birthday last year, I made a life changing decision to leave my job and follow my passion for creating brightly coloured and cute things and concentrate on making Scoops Design a success. It took six months to make my dream a reality, including selling my apartment and leaving my well paying full time job! Since the start of this year, I have been concentrating on Scoops Design and I now have 30 stockists around Australia. I haven’t looked back since then-I should have done it sooner!
Your label has evolved greatly over the past year with more children based products. What was the reason for this change, and how has it all been going?
There are a number of reasons for the shift- time, competition, market research and trying new things! When I first started making Perspex brooches in 2005 there was only one other brand called Allira in Melbourne making them, but that changed very quickly and they are every where now! I realised I had to expand my range or start to think about other things I could make to keeps Scoops Design alive. I started making Baby clothes in 2007, when I couldn’t find any cute clothes to give to my pregnant friends. Most of the stores were selling pale pink or blue clothing that just seemed so boring! I really love bright colours and cute shapes so I decided to make my own. Since January, I’ve had the time to spend creating new products such as mobiles and cushions and I realised that my designs are more suited to children or big children like myself. I loose hours during the day designing and creating new things. I had a stand at the trade fair called Life Instyle this year, both in Sydney and Melbourne. I found that buyers were really drawn to my brightly coloured products so it has given me faith that I have chosen the right direction for Scoops! At the moment, I am snowed under with orders- that’s a good thing! My apartment has turned into a warehouse and I will have to start thinking about expansion plans and staff next year.
Where do you go to get inspiration for your super cute illustrations?
I grew up with Miffy, Meg and Mog and Marimekko… lots of M’s! I think these have been a huge influence on my sense of colour and love for simple, brightly coloured design. I have been drawing the same characters and illustration style since I was little so I tend to go back to my childhood for inspiration. Of course there are so many amazing blogs- my favourites are: printpattern.blogspot.com and www.poppytalk.blogspot.com
What do you find most rewarding and most challenging about selling your wares at design markets?
One of the things I love is getting to meet my customers and hearing about how they wear my brooches or seeing little kids wearing my t-shirts. I still get a kick out of seeing strangers wearing something I have made! Design markets are so inspiring- there are many amazing Australian designers selling gorgeous things. I have made some really good friends and I really like meeting new and like-minded people. One of the most challenging things is estimating how much to make for the market. I always run out!!! The two weeks before a market, I start getting all the products ready and I don’t get much sleep till its over.
What aspirations do you have for Scoops Design?
I would really like to open a store with my mother in the next few years once she retires. We are going to call it “Scoops and Mrs. C” and stock beautiful limited edition Australian products. I also have plans to expand my baby range of clothing to include all over patterns and design a fabric range. I think hiring staff will be one of the first things and moving into an office with space to grow. I have so many ideas… I just need to find the time! My tag line is “Colour your World!” so I would eventually like to see Scoops Design products and clothing everywhere.