Q&A with Claire Wilkes | Senior Buyer at sofa.com


Sofa.com has been handcrafting and delivering incredible sofas and beds for over a decade now.

Since the very beginning they’ve worked on the ethos that everyone deserves great sofas and excellent service from people who are passionate about interiors, and that is exactly what they provide.

Despite the name, the people at sofa.com also offer beds, dining ranges and accessories to help people achieve their interiors. Ten years after the sale of the first sofa, they continue to create beautifully handcrafted items.

We caught up with Claire Wilkes, a Senior Buyer, to get a behind the scenes view of what it’s like to work there.

What is your background and what drew you to Sofa.com?

My background is in buying upholstery at market leading retailers. I was very aware of sofa.com throughout my career and have always admired their boldness and creativity when it comes to their product range and how it is showcased. It is a friendly yet professional brand that truly puts the customer first. Coming in to an established brand, it is sometimes difficult to put your own style and taste in to product development but the sofa.com customer is bold, brave and trendy, which is every buyer’s dream. We are not a huge company and the size of the teams means everyone gets to work closely so you can understand the detail behind every part of the business and I’m constantly learning.

Sofa.com - Humphrey Munson

Tell us a little about the history of the company, the values and the ethos behind the brand.

It was established by Pat and Rohan in 2006 to deliver a unique online sofa shopping experience. The initial idea has always been upheld but it has evolved. Whilst sofas still remain the core of the business, we have expanded our offering to include beds, dining and accessories in response to customers’ needs. Over the years we have increased our presence on the high street with showrooms across the UK and more recently, concessions within House of Fraser. The main idea behind the product offering is that every customer can create their own unique sofa. With many shapes, sizes and fabrics available customers can truly be part of designing their own sofa. We believe in excellent customer service, being experts in our craft, (opening our very own factory in 2014), and fluent in design.

Sofa.com - Humphrey Munson

Can you describe a typical day for you?

As cliché as it sounds – there aren’t many days the same. I work to a cyclical timeline so seasonally it is the same process but we will always be working on two seasons at a time, one at the early stages of development and one at the final stages. So I can spend an entire day with the buying and merchandising team reviewing the range and creating a strategy for the season to come and the next day can be approving the colour and quality of new fabrics and products that will launch imminently. The main part of my job is product development, liaising with all teams across the business to launch product on time but there are other smaller projects and collaborations that will always arise.

Sofa.com - Humphrey Munson

When it comes to choosing a sofa, what would you say is more important: colour or texture? 

That’s a good question, as choosing a sofa is much more complex than customers initially think. My advice is to think about comfort first. Remember, you will sit on this sofa almost every day so think about how you sit. You should expect to be completely comfortable and supported by the best luxurious cushions and seat fillers. Back height and seat depth play a role too, as a practical consideration. Once you know what style and shape you want, consider the quality of your sofa. This is a big investment so where possible, choose sofas that are hand-made by skilled craftsmen. Our solid beechwood frames are built to last a lifetime and paired with fabrics sourced from the finest mills in Italy and Belgium it is an investment you will enjoy for years to come.

Between colour and texture, I would say choose your colour first as quite often the sofa is the main piece of furniture in the room and will probably stay around for the longest time so you should love it. You may want your sofa to be a contrasting pop of colour or prefer it to sit tonally with the colour on your walls, flooring and accessories but remember it is always easier to change accessories when you want to switch up your room rather than having to change your sofa. Texture, is of course important also, some people like luxuriously soft velvet and some will want leather. Our customers tend to have an idea of the kind of texture they want and luckily we offer such a wide range of cotton, linens, viscose’s blends that there will always be something for everyone but factors such as where in the home the sofa will be and if there are kids and pet to consider all come into play.

Sofa.com - Humphrey Munson

What is your favourite part of the role?

My favourite part of the role is definitely product development. I love identifying a trend or some detail that I know our customer will love. I then take that seed of an idea and work with the development team in our factory to produce and perfect a sample of what was originally just an image in my head. It’s really thrilling to know you’ve created something people will love and use for years.

Sofa.com - Humphrey Munson

What does 2020 hold for sofa.com?

New and exciting products and projects such as expanding in to new product areas (soon to be revealed!). We launched our contract collection last year and its really taking off so I’m excited to see how that evolves this year as we are involved in more exciting commercial projects with some great interior designers. We’ve always loved collaborating with other brands to be able to offer even more choice and variety and we’ll see this continue to develop even further for 2020.

Images: Sofa.com

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