We're proud to introduce Sophie Sellu, founder of Grain & Knot, as part of our new Champions of Change series celebrating entrepreneurs making a positive impact.
Designer Sophie Sellu creates captivating hand carved objects for the home, made from sustainable and reclaimed timber. She founded Grain & Knot in 2014 after discovering a love of woodwork inspired by nature. Her vases, brushes and kitchenware are as much useful utensils as they are pieces of art to decorate the interior. From her home studio in London, Sophie finds purpose in each creation and just launched a new collection of beautifully tactile and fully functional objects.
Why did you decide to start Grain & Knot?
I started my business about eight years ago as a place to document my creativity. I was stuck in a really corporate design world and I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. I could see the impact that this large business was having and it didn’t really sit right with me and I wanted to work on a much smaller, concise scale. I started going on various one-day workshops just to learn lots of different skills and meet different people. One of the workshops I went to was a wood carving workshop so I spent a day in the woods making wood utensils out of a storm fallen timber and it was just the best day ever. I learnt so much about nature and found out that I wanted to work with my hands. From there it’s been an eight or nine year journey to get to this stage and there’s been lots of ups and downs. I’ve managed to create a business I’m really happy with and I’m happy to still be working on a small scale and ultimately creating pieces that are loved for a lifetime.
How do you balance work and life?
My workshop is in my home so I find the balance of work and life quite tricky. I tend to always be working or not at all but eventually it does work itself out. One of the nice things about being your own boss is that you can take the time out when you don’t feel the creativity. What I found about creativity in the last few years is that, if it’s not there, I can’t force it but on the days where it is there, because I work at home, I can work really late and get loads of work done and be really happy with the work that I’ve created and then roll straight into bed.
Where did you choose to make your impact?
When I first started creating objects, I only had access to reclaimed timber so I would go to reclamation yards, I would use broken pieces of furniture and anything I could find from building sites and house renovations. As I moved into making my business more of a full time venture, I realised that it was actually really important to create objects that would last you a lifetime from materials that have been deemed at waste. It didn’t make sense to me to chop down a tree just for the purpose of making an object. So being able to give this life to a piece of wood from a tree that could have potentially grown for hundreds of years is so special to me and I wanted that to continue being at the forefront of my business.
What does success look like to you?
Often people see success as how much money is in their bank account but success to me looks more like spending the time doing something that I love in my own way, at my own pace, and being able to spend as much time as possible outdoors.
What impact would you like to have in the next five years?
As a business, we have signed up to Ecologi. It’s an organisation that helps to reduce your carbon footprint, plant trees across the world and helps to stop deforestation. Having a woodland through that and being able to contribute each month to these projects is important to us. In the future, I would like to have a Grain & Knot woodland where people could come visit, we would physically plant the trees ourselves, people could learn about nature and give back to our local communities.