Sophie Cornish is the co-founder and Executive Director of notonthehighstreet.com a website dedicated to hunting out the most original items from the best creative small businesses, and bringing them together in one place, making it easy for people to browse and buy. Sophie, together with Holly Tucker, founded notonthehighstreet.com from a kitchen table in 2006 and since then it has grown to a team of over 120 passionate people and outgrown offices, at the last count, five times!
This week we get to know what drives Sophie and how she keeps her life bursting with positivity whilst spreading the love for small and unique businesses.
One word that describes you?
In your own words, what do you do?
At notonthehighstreet.com, we believe in a life less ordinary. For our customers that means offering them the chance to discover and own beautiful, out of the ordinary things – when it matters to them. For our partners – our sellers – it means giving them the chance to determine their own future by doing something they love, working on their own terms – perhaps for the first time in their lives.
Who is your greatest influence in your career/life?
My father, Paul Vincenzi. He was an inventor, a writer, a businessman and a pioneer who died four years ago. He taught me to be liberal and tolerant when it wasn’t fashionable as much as when it was, to hold out for getting something just right – our critics might call us perfectionists – and that modesty, pragmatism and realism are great allies in this imperfect world.
What is your favourite part of your job?
When our customers tell us we got it right. They email us with personal stories and anecdotes about how one of our products has become part of their lives, their family, or their relationship. I get very sentimental about it all!
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Every day brings a new set of challenges, expected and otherwise – but that’s the beauty of it. It’s why the business grows, evolves and improves constantly.
What is your greatest achievement?
My family. They’re what it’s all about: my husband Simon and teenagers Ollie and Honor.
What was your Plan B?
There never was a Plan B. Being an entrepreneur means believing unshakingly in your vision and your plan. Plans B-Z were always just ways of making sure we pulled off Plan A.
What is your most prized possession?
My dog Rufus. A Hungarian Vizsla. I’m ridiculous about him but you would be too – he’s such an eager and loyal friend, excellent running companion and impressive performer of tricks.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
That the most important thing to say in business is, ‘What do you think?’
Please complete the sentence…
I could not live without… tea and lists.
If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
My closest friends and my family.
Do you support a charity or cause?
I’m involved with Cancer Research UK on their soon-to-be-launched Women of Influence Board. As well as helping to drive fundraising, one of our main objectives is to support the leading women scientists in this country who are working tirelessly towards new treatments and cures for cancer. I’m going to run the London Marathon for them in 2014 – I’m a little scared!
What’s on your Xmas wish-list?
The gold and black quartz earrings from Chupi are perfect accessories to any New Year party dress so they are top of my list. And as a serious stationery addict I am hoping to be treated (every month, excitingly) to this Monthly Stationery Gift Set from The Green Gables: each little package includes decorative tape, notebooks and greeting cards to keep me well supplied through the whole year ahead.
What is your personal luxury?
My giant two-tier wardrobe, with clothes sorted by item and then by colour. I’m a bit obsessive like that!
What steps do you take to make your life more positive?
Remembering the importance of that simple thing, kindness. I read a speech recently by the American writer George Saunders who articulates this far better than I can. He says he has almost no regrets, except for one important kind: ‘What I regret most in life are failures of kindness… It’s a little facile, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: try to be kinder.’