Vintage lighting with a bright future | Sophia Marks
#UnderTheMAGNIFYGlass is our new series talking to extraordinary, yet ordinary women whose passion for life and faith can inspire us all to dream big and dare to fail.
Sometimes we need a light bulb moment: a moment that shows us our path or makes us feel contented in our circumstances. Even as we go on to make mistakes, knowing our path is laid out before us can give us the courage to get back up in the face of misfortune.
Enter Sophia Marks, the owner of boutique and vintage lighting company Ruby Watts, whose journey into the business world came under unique circumstances. She chose to exit the rat-race and find her calling after her own moment of clarity.
‘I took myself out for a year and lived in another country. I felt quite lost and unsure where I was going, but knew I needed to reflect, read books, pray and ask Jesus to help me find a path.’
Her mother and aunt set up Ruby Watts in her absence, but on Sophia’s return to home, they decided to shut up shop.
‘I wanted to take it over and run with the idea, so I did. My background has been in design and interior design but I had never been in lighting particularly, so I just dove in. It meant I had to move home, leaving London and all my friends but it was such a blessing in disguise.
‘I was so blinded before in thinking that my dream had to be in the rat race. I had practised and studied in film and set design and I thought: “That’s my life; that’s where I need to be.” But everything about my job satisfies me: it was never lighting but now I think it will always be lighting.’
After only 16 months in business Sophia says she’s still having to learn a whole new set of skills and work alone in Hurstpierpoint, a small village near the southeast coast of England to keep her new dream alive. She risked her own money into a rebrand but as her lighting fixtures have been featured in Elle Decoration, Grand Designs and Good Homes magazines, it definitely has paid off.
But Sophia sees these risks as challenges to overcome rather than failures, with each one bringing her more courage and strength.
‘When it comes to Ruby Watts or the ‘career ladder’ I just see hurdles of things I will get wrong, and that doesn’t worry me. The more hurdles I pass, the stronger I’ll get. For me life’s about getting more knowledge, getting stronger and being happy.’
In Sophia’s mind, bigger and better is at the heart of her hopes for Ruby Watts after it was chosen by Nectar to be part of their independent businesses video series. Sophia hopes to see them manufacturing fixtures with the help of talented designers.
For her, the future for Ruby Watts is rooted in her faith and not focused on what others esteem as greatness.
‘We want happiness and ultimately we’ll find that in God as he provides joy that comes from deep within. For so many people they get to that salary they’ve worked for their whole life but look back and know they’re not happy. Life’s just not about that.’
INTERVIEW BY Jenny Desborough
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Folaju Oyegbesan