BOSS BABE: SOPHIE BELL
Sophie Bell is the founder of creative agency Peppa Hart that creates websites, branding and digital strategies for businesses and brands. What started originally as a creative outlet for Sophie and a “side-hustle;” has now developed in to her full time business and passion.
Sophie is also a celebrated stylist who lends her signature style to fashion shoots, events, and interior design projects—including, of course, her Mediterranean-style, instagramable farmhouse in Northern NSW. Bell’s enviable style has garnered a cult following on Instagram, and made her one of Australia’s in-demand creative consultants.
A mother of two and and all round Boss Babe, we are so excited to be sharing Sophie’s story, exclusively for ELLE EFFECT.
LET’S GO BACK TO THE START, WHEN DID YOUR CREATIVE OBSESSION BEGIN?
It started very young for me, I remember even laying out clothes for my parents to wear as a young child, I have always been so obsessed with how things look. Table settings for family dinners to fashion to home styling… I have always for as long as I can remember wanted things to look a very specific way. I am sure it drives everyone around me mad but it's just the way I am. I went to boarding school for a while in high school and I even remember styling my space a certain way and using a spare cupboard to set up a beauty salon in the dormitory so I could do hair and makeup for everyone.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR CAREER AND HOW YOU GOT TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY?
I actually started out studying Commerce at uni but quickly felt like I hadn’t found my place, I was wearing wild outfits from Vintage shops and had a bright coloured Mac in a sea of grey HP’s - it was clear I hadn’t found my people after the first week. I changed degrees after the second semester and studied Communications majoring in PR + Advertising which I loved, I especially loved the design and creative subjects. I was fortunate to land a great job straight from university into an AFL Club, being a new team I was there from the very early days which meant I got to learn so many different roles as the company grew and expanded. I got to try a little bit of everything within marketing, TV, sponsorship, digital. I loved my role at that club, I had the world's best boss who pushed me to believe I could do absolutely anything - like produce our LIVE TV show in a packed stadium without any official TV training.
Around that time Instagram came out and I would post photos of my house, dinner parties and how I would style them, little DIY and art projects I would do for fun and then all of a sudden I started getting people contacting me asking me to style their homes like mine, plan their wedding to be like mine, style photoshoots to be like how I shot my content and so on. It really happened so organically and I was so shocked that people wanted to pay me for something I did for fun. It kept growing and I saw a real market for providing my creative vibe for brands in an all-encompassing way, so not only would I design a logo and website for them but I would design their fitout and photoshoots. It was full creative direction across their whole brand.
As I had kids I had to scale back how much face to face work I was doing as I was raising my babies and couldn’t be at shoots all day long. I moved to really focusing on the digital side of my business and working with companies of all shapes and sizes on their branding and digital. That side of my business has grown now to be my main gig and I really mix my hand drawn organic look with traditional digital design so that it's unique.
DID YOU EVEN ASPIRE TO BE YOUR OWN BOSS? HOW DID PEPPA HART COME TO BE?
I was lucky to group up in a family where my parents didn’t have normal jobs, my dad was a professional polo player his whole life, not at all a normal job and very difficult to explain to kids at school what your dad does for work… Ahhh he rides around on a horse hitting a ball….. He made a living doing what he loved and I always aspired for that, he showed me you can make a life that doesn't have to look like everyone else or everyones else’s idea of success.
I think early on I wanted that for myself. It really became crystal clear once I worked in a corporate gig that if I wanted to have kids I didn’t want to be bound to a corporate role. I wanted to still express myself creatively whilst raising my babies but I didn’t want to be in an office all day making someone else successful. I wanted flexibility so that if my kids were sick or teething I could be there for them. We also love to travel and I wanted the freedom that if we wanted to head overseas for a month, I could. I can work from anywhere as long as I have wifi.
I really knew from early on that I would start my own business at some point, I just didn’t know the exact path to getting there. I was so lucky that it all happened organically. I have never advertised my business, I don’t even really ever post on my social media about work, we are so fortunate to have grown through word of mouth.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU’VE LEARNT ALONG THE WAY?
To back yourself! You can literally do anything you put your mind to, it's only excuses we tell ourselves that stops us from achieving what we want. You have to work your ass off, nothing great comes easy but that's a part of the happiness that you feel when you achieve your goals. You know you worked so hard to get there so F**ING celebrate it. I am such a believer in the story we tell ourselves is the story that we make come to fruition.
WHAT DOES YOUR DAY TO DAY INVOLVEMENT LOOK LIKE?
Everyday varies, but usually it involves me getting up early before my kids so I can shower, get dressed, pop some makeup on and enjoy a coffee before they wake up and all the mad rush of the morning starts. I then drop my kiddies off to daycare and get back to my house where my work studio is located, I usually start my working day around 8:30am.
I have some beautiful girls that work alongside me in my business - they work from my studio at the house as well. I don’t like wasting time commuting to an office that is away from my house. I prefer to get as much work done as possible in the day and then switch to mum mode as soon as my kids get home.
My day usually involves Zoom meetings as the majority of my clients are interstate. I then spend a portion of my day designing - painting and hand drawing art for client branding. Lots of time at my computer working on campaign ideas and rolling out content. I also shoot content for my personal brand. My husband picks up the kiddies in the afternoon and they are usually home around 4:30, then it's dinner as a fam - my husband does the cooking and I use that time to have some really quality play with the kids before they are bathed and off to bed. After they go to sleep I usually do some more work while watching a little Netflix.
I am making exercise a bigger priority for me this year as well, I was working way too much last year so trying to squeeze in a few PT’s at my house with my trainer 3 times a week. Feeling so much energy already from getting back into it.
THE MODERN WORLD IS A BUSY ONE! WHAT IS YOUR VERSION OF SELF-CARE?
It sure is a busy world, my biggest treat to myself everyday is looking after my skin. No matter how wild my day gets with kids and work and life I always make sure I start and end the day with skin love - its my moment to just stop for 5 minutes and give some love to myself. No matter how late it is or how tired I am at the end of the day, I always end it with my beauty regime.
WHAT THREE THINGS WOULD WE ALWAYS FIND IN YOUR BEAUTY BAG?
Ow three is hard… I love all things beauty so it's a full bag usually ;) But if I had to pick….. Mecca SPF 50+, lipgloss always - usually Mac Lipglass in colour Lust and Ayu perfume oil in Souq - cannot get enough of that smell.
IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY FIVE WOMEN SITTING AROUND A DINNER TABLE WITH YOU, WHO WOULD THEY BE?
Good question!! And very tricky to answer. I love nothing more than having a long dinner with my best friends, we are like sisters but if it's more famous gals I would probably pick Chrissy Tiegan, Kris Jenner, Gwyneth Paltrow, Michell Obama and Zoe Foster Blake for some Aussie company.
WHAT'S THE LAST SONG YOU LISTENED TO?
Travis Scott, Sicko Mode….. His album is playing in my office as I write this.
PARTING WORDS OF ADVICE FOR BEING A #BOSSBABE IN WORK AND LIFE?
Success looks so different to everyone, success to me is being able to use my brain and creativity in a way that makes me happy and feel good but also being able to be a good mum.
It's a wild juggle and no day will ever be perfect but it's all about celebrating the small wins. Find out what makes you happy and build what success looks like to you based on that happiness, not what everyone else is doing. There is no point working yourself to the bone if it doesn’t make you feel good!