SOPHIE SELLU, WOODWORKER
“Christmas can be a time of so much waste, from the single-use plastics in packaging, to even our Christmas trees,” woodworker Sophie Sellu says, sitting in her bright white studio in south London, her wooden creations hanging on the wall behind her. “It’s far nicer to make your own present, and to recycle something in the process.”
She is in the midst of a Christmas rush as she makes 200 items, from spoons to chopping boards, to sell on her website and at fairs. “I think people like the fact that each item is really personal,” she says. “You can’t buy two of the same thing, so no one ever gets the same present.”
For years, all her friends and family received handcrafted wooden gifts as Sellu, who learned woodwork at school, made them as a break from her day job in visual merchandising. Sensing a business opportunity, she quit her job and, supported by a grant from the Prince’s Trust, started a business selling her beautifully carved wooden products.
Now, friends hoping for a Christmas present from Sellu will have to wait until the last postage date has passed and she has fulfilled all her paid-for items, before “I see how much time I have left,” she laughs.
All her timber is sourced from waste, be it a wardrobe in a skip or old panelling on a building site. “It’s nice to give life to something that was thought of as waste,” she says. She spends about four hours a day making – “it’s tough on your hands” – and the rest of the time teaching workshops, including ones for corporate clients such as Appleton Estate Rum and a range of architectural firms. Anyone, she says, can learn to carve. “It just takes time and patience. The longer you take on an item, I find, the prouder you are in the end.” For details on products and workshops, visit grainandknot.com