We sat down with Sophie Platts, the founder of Floks and spoke to her about her brand and what inspires her.
How did you start out in this industry?
At university, I studied industrial product design, so I’ve always been interested in what makes a great product. I was always fascinated by the research side. I enjoyed listening to the customer and hearing what they wanted as well as selling in my ideas.
I have buying and selling experience in design-led companies like Joseph Joseph but I’ve always wanted to start my own business so naturally I’ve had loads of ideas but never felt particularly strongly about them.
I’ve never been a great sleeper and have always invested in products to help me sleep better. I realised I had a wool blanket that was always on the end of my bed, and if I woke up in the night, I would pull it over me which would help me to get back to sleep. I then started looking into weighted blankets and realised this market has exploded over the last few years but unfortunately the blankets tend to be made quite cheaply with synthetic materials. I started looking at weighted wool blankets (which is something I’ll get on to doing one of these days!) but I saw that there was a much bigger problem – bedding.
Everyone needs bedding and the vast majority are synthetic and unsustainable. These man-made materials simply do not create the ideal microclimate to sleep under. It’s scientifically proven that if you sleep on or under wool it increases and improves your restorative sleep. So, I started looking into that and the wool bedding market which has its own issues – particularly with farmers not being paid properly. I realised I could develop a fully British based duvet organically made with 100% British wool.
I wanted to be the best in the market. I wanted to build an aspirational brand. And so Floks was born!
We’ve hit the market at an opportune time and Floks has flown. We’re now looking at how we can sell the products outside of our own platform. It’s just been a really lovely journey so far.
Could you tell me about someone who inspires you in everyday life?
I am inspired by my family and friends. While Floks is incredibly exciting, my number one job right now is raising my two young boys, so I look to my parents who both juggled their own businesses while raising my sister and I. I grew up in a hardworking family, but I feel my parents found a balance between work and play. I also look to my Mummy friends – not just those working in demanding jobs, but also those who are full time Mums. They all work tirelessly and face varying challenges yet are brilliant role models to their kids. I think I surround myself with friends who are tenacious and work hard in whatever they set their mind to. It’s so important to be able to find the work-life balance and I look to people who are setting their minds to that for inspiration.
I have many hats, so it would be impossible for me to be inspired by just one person… but I do take inspiration from stories. Bex Wilson who founded the charity Zarach for example. She’s a headteacher in a Leeds school and realised that some of her pupils didn’t have beds, so she quite literally started delivering beds on a weekend to families in need… I love this ‘act now’ attitude and this charity is really gaining traction on a national level.
Are there any particular challenges of being a woman in your industry?
The juggle is definitely real. I am a big self-critic and I think I’ve had to accept that I cannot excel in every part of my life. Particularly when you’ve just founded a business and you really need to try and earn as well. There wasn’t an option for me to not have an income whilst trying to get a business off the ground.
All I can do is my best and almost surrender when it all gets too much and just focus on the most important thing that day. An example of this is if the kids are sick, my work must wait OR if I have an important job to complete, on goes the TV for them for an hour. I always prioritise sleep and aim to get a minimum of 8 hours a night and I recognise that I need exercise for the good of my mental wellbeing as well as my physical health. If it’s an hour-long spin class or just a 20-minute dog walk, I try and fit it in as it helps me to focus and increases my productivity. I only discovered this about myself in the last year since launching Floks.
If you could give one piece of advice to women starting out in this industry, what would it be? Be led by your passion but be realistic about what this could mean for you and your family. Be true to yourself in terms of what you’re prepared to sacrifice, especially at the start.
Also never beat yourself up when you can’t do it all… tomorrow is a new day.
Other than your own, what is your favourite company/small business?
I love a local brand called Hello Plewsy. They do a range of sustainable, British greeting cards and stationery. They are clearly passionate, and design led and it’s so nice to see them go from strength to strength. I also LOVE sending cards and letters to friends as an alternative to emails or texts, so I use them a lot! I also love British knitwear brands YanTan Revolution, Herdwear and Navy Grey who are waving the flag for British Wool and UK manufacturing.