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Sophie Gilpin – No Idea Is A Stupid Idea!

Hello, name is Sophie. Ever since I was young, I’ve always had a keen interest in design. I believe it started when I used to help my father in the garage building vintage cars. I studied product design throughout school which eventually lead to attending university to study Furniture and Product Design at Nottingham Trent University. Since completing my degree, I’ve gained experience and knowledge by working in the workshop learning traditional joinery methods and in office designing furniture for well-known retailers such as Argos, Dunelm and Wayfair. However, I now work in a high-end furniture company who develop and manufacture bespoke design’s – which is so exciting as you can see the project from start to finish continuously learning and developing as a designer. 

A typical day for me would be working with drawings from Architects and Interior Designers, taking their concepts and developing them for manufacture. I draw up the designs using 2D and 3D software packages. I mainly use Autodesk Inventor, which is a 3D modelling software, by modelling in 3D it allows you to visualize the design easier and specifically helps when the clients ask to see the design.


‘The process is so exciting!’


I have always had a passion in design – there is nothing better than doing what you love and enjoy as your job. It makes it so much easier to get up each morning and be excited for the day to start. My current job allows me to see designs from start to finish with the opportunity to interact with the workshop and understand why things are made the way they are. Everything around you has been designed and knowing the process is so exciting.

One of my biggest challenges was starting my career. I was still studying at university having had one year out as an intern, there was so much to learn that I didn’t yet know. Each day I’d develop and pick-up new skills from carving wood with chisels to meeting with well-known London designers. There are always going to be challenges, but the beauty of working with a team offers years of experienced designers and makers which develop you as a person and helps every problem come to a solution. This is when I learnt how important networking is.

I overcame setbacks by speaking to family, friends, and colleagues. It helps get a wider range of research and perspectives.

An important initiative that I feel passionate about is to be open minded, by listening to others and discussing ideas. This is key as ‘your’ idea may not be the best idea.

I think the drive and determination for success came from being passionate about the industry and always looking for new ways to develop and progress. Having a mixed gender platform in the office is always key, as the dynamics are one of important factors making the workplace enjoyable.

My biggest achievement in life is travelling. I love to travel! It widens your perspective and the way you see the world. It allows you to never take anything for granted as there are so many countries which don’t have the things you have. Every culture use day to day design in different ways which is so interesting.


‘No idea is a stupid idea!’


The biggest lesson I have learnt along the way is that no idea is a stupid idea. From sketching to discussion, everything develops from somewhere. Never discard an idea that you think is feasible as this can easily be developed. I have never felt that my gender has brought unnecessary challenges to your career. I don’t have a mantra I live my life by, I just try to enjoy it all.

My favourite hobbies are travelling, attending design shows and exploring new places such as walking in the Peak District.

The top three tips I would give to young females starting out their careers are to be passionate about what you do. Always ask Questions. Never give up.

The best advice I have ever been given is to not give up. Everything happens for a reason and sometimes you need to reflect on what you are doing and why you are doing it. It’ll all work out eventually as long as you put in the effort.

One woman who has impacted my life is my Mother! She is strong and always there for me when I need her. Knowing that helps as if I ever need advice or support in making my next decision, she’d be my go-to person.

My key motivators are that I am continuously looking to better the way you do things – there’s always a way you can improve and never settle for less.

I don’t think there is enough being done by businesses to address gender imbalance. I think there are still some stigmas which are still there but hopefully in time this will pass.

Some strategies that can help women achieve more prominent roles are just to be passionate and be driven.

One key leadership lesson I have learnt along the way would be to just ask questions, everyone comes from different backgrounds and has unique experience and its often where you develop.


‘Live to work and not work to live’


The best piece of advice I have ever been given would be to enjoy what you do, don’t see it as a job. “Live to work and not work to live” as you’ll be working the majority of your life.

If I could say anything to my 16-year-old self, it would be to just be patient and don’t take anything for granted.