Sophie Powell’s career history ranges from secondary school teaching to balloon decorating and TV prop design. As Principal of McQueen’s Flower School and part of the family for 12 years, nurturing her students and passing on her love of art and floristry has been a passion. Lockdown has brought with it some new opportunities to expand her creativity and spread the love.
What does your lockdown life look like at the moment?
The beginning Lockdown Life was pretty grim, the flower school at McQueens has been shut for months and whilst I am still working (which is great) it’s from home on a computer which really isn’t something that has come naturally to me. I very much miss the buzz and energy of a classroom full of students and flowers – I absolutely hate computers LOL! I’ve been kept busy though as I redesigned the new McQueens Flower School Career Course curriculum and have been building an online learning platform, which is all super exciting…
If I’m honest I’ve been quite down and feeling a bit lost without that creative element to my day to day, so I’ve been out decorating parts of London with balloons! I was a balloon decorator before I found flowers and thought I’d get out there (safely) and spread some colour and fun!
I’ve set up a little side project called Laundrette Studio which kind of showcases my alter ego, ha ha ha – so alongside the balloons I’ve been selling customised flowers through Etsy, which were a sell out, so I am going to be doing some for Mother’s Day as well. I’ve attached some photos of what I’ve been doing just in case you fancy having a browse.
So at the beginning I guess I was very much tied to my computer, I am now quite busy pottering away in my magical colourful world of Laundrette Studio.
What have you found the most challenging about the lockdown?
My head space has been a bit all over the place, it’s been so hard on all of us, and that has most definitely affected my mental health to the point where weeks have gone past and I haven’t noticed them that much. Looking back it saddens me that I haven’t used the time to its fullest, but since getting out there and getting creative again I have felt more motivated and happy. I’m so used to being around lots of people in a high energy environment, sitting on the computer all day with the dog (although he has saved me this past year – shout out to all the pets!!) has been really tough, so much so that I think I’ve forgotten how to socialise.
I guess trying to not have a G and T before 12 has been a challenge as well!!
How has your business/work been affected by lockdown life?
Unfortunately McQueens Flower School has been closed so I’ve not been in the classroom and have been WFH….
But…. Laundrette Studio has been born and has also been keeping me really busy. Anything that can be purchased online and delivered is booming, so that is brilliant!!
Do you have a go-to lockdown meal at the moment?
Pizza!!!! Although lockdown or no lockdown it’s always pizza! Ha ha ha I just can’t get enough of it. I absolutely hate to cook so if it’s my turn I get pizza! Please don’t judge me LOL!
What have you been doing to relax during this time – have you found anything really effective?
Thats a really tough one, I do find WFH can be difficult to switch off from as I haven’t learnt to call it a day, so relaxing has been hard – but I do like a trashy TV show…. sad but true! I absolutely love Married at First Sight Australia! I wish I had something more for you but I am a telly addict and it relaxes me. I also have a gorgeous little dog and we have been able to really hang out and go for long walks and cuddles on the sofa, so he definitely relaxes me – I love you ORBI xx
Have you read any interesting books or articles, or watched any great films or TV series you’d recommend?
Obviously Married at First Sight…… I love any type of documentary but especially crime and there have been some belters released
American Murder: The family Next Door
Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez
But I must admit the best has been Dont F**k With Cats
I also loved Long Shot
Have there been any silver linings for you during this period?
I have been so lucky during this past year, I have been supported by friends and family and given opportunities that might not have come around if it wasn’t for lockdown.
Will you be making any changes to your life moving forward in a post-lockdown world?
I will make more of an effort to say yes to things. Looking back I had got to a point where I was just going home and not bothering to do much other than work and sitting on the sofa. I really want to take more opportunities when they come my way.
Any words of wisdom or support for anyone particularly struggling right now?
Reach out. Something amazing that has come from this past year is Mental Health Awareness. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety from a young age. It’s also in my family and we’ve always been reasonably open about it so I have been fortunate, but I know that this is not the case for everyone. In the past year it’s been a topic that has been brought out of the closet and people are talking about it more and more and that can only be a good thing. It is now ‘ok to not be ok’ and that’s f**king awesome. Please don’t suffer by yourself – there are so many people out there wanting to talk and help xx
How have you stayed engaged with your East London community during this time?
So I live in Hackney and so I am very much ‘in it to win it’! Just by walking the dog everyday I have witnessed all the magic that East London has to bring. My favourite is when people are having a clear out and they leave treasures on the pavement for you to take!! I have found so many awesome vases and books and also dog toys – It’s brilliant here!
New Years Day has always been such a rubbish day for me, I have always struggled with the concept of it being the first day of the year and I have to do the year all over again (pretty depressing but true) normally I hide in bed and wait for it to pass. This year, I thought I’m going to make something happen that I can share with my neighbours, so I made a smiley face colourful balloon garland on the side of the house and I got some smiles and selfies from it which was an awesome feeling.
I’ve also just done a Valentines balloon installation at The Old Bank Vault on Hackney Road which featured in a few peoples stories and I think it may have raised a smile or two.
Do you have any favourite East London businesses doing great things that you’d like to shout about?
Obviously mine LOL ha ha ha ha only joking! I love The Hackney Mosaic Project, they’re based at Hackney Downs and have been making a beautiful new mosaic for the unsung heroes of Hackney, as well as amazing dog mosaics.
Please share any exciting projects you’ve been working on during this time, as well as information on how readers can support you and your work right now.
My new little business is called Laundrette Studio – it’s on Instagram @laundrettestudio, but readers can also find me on @sophiepebble. I’m also building a website where hopefully people will be able to order Blooms and Loons, including large scale floral and balloon work which is laundrettestudio.com
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