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  • Writer's pictureSophia Brading

Navigating Life and Business: Sophia’s Journey

Updated: Jul 3

I’m Sophia, Agency Director at Colloco Marketing. I was born and raised on the beautiful Isle of Wight, and my love for this island runs deep. I never get bored of the scenery and the island's natural beauty. My absolute favourite place is Ryde, where I love living and spent my childhood. The town is filled with wonderful people, small businesses, lovely venues to eat and drink, and boutique stores. We also have miles of beautiful sandy beaches – for me, nothing beats sitting on the beach, sinking my feet into the sand whilst watching the world go by or, if I’m feeling adventurous, paddleboarding or canoeing.

My career began as a personal assistant to Prince Charles' (now King Charles!) architect - Peterjohn Smyth at a top architectural firm in Cardiff, called Percy Thomas. While the PA role was really good, it didn’t hold my attention enough – I was very ambitious in my early 20s! I admired a colleague of mine, Wendy, who worked in the office. She was glamorous, smart, and hardworking, and she was in marketing and business development. It seemed very exciting and I wanted to do what she did.

When Wendy offered to mentor me, it really did change my life. She supported me, and the company I worked for sent me to college to study marketing, sparking my lifelong love for the field.

Our team secured multi-million-pound contracts. It was always very fast-paced and exciting working in business development. I moved on to a larger company, Capita, to do the same thing, helping to run nationwide business development teams.

Me and my dog Leia!

After spending years away in Cardiff, Bristol, and London, I returned to my much loved, cherished home, the Isle of Wight, for good in 2018, bringing with me years of experience in marketing, business development, and sales.

I created Colloco Marketing with the help of securing a business development contract with John Rudge, a previous colleague and boss. Since then my business as evolved into marketing - website design, design and social media marketing.

Balancing my professional and personal life is essential to me now. My daughter is turning 18 this year, and as a single mum for 10 years of her life, I worked for myself as much as I could so I could be there for her. I do work long hours, but I mostly do this around family life, ensuring I can support my family while building my business.

One of the most rewarding parts of running my own business is when the wins come in. Knowing that people are buying what I have to offer and valuing my experience is incredibly satisfying. I also really enjoy the freedom to choose how I spend my day (as I need variety) and to be there for my family when needed.

My approach to my work nowadays is extremely personal. I enjoy working intensively with my clients, getting to know them, forming good relationships, and often becoming friends.

When my daughter was a baby, I trained (for fun!) as a life coach because it really interested me – I earned a distinction. I still read personal development books all the time. After struggling with mental health and depression at various times in my life, I find reading personal development reminds me that my life is mine to shape—that my thoughts influence my actions, and my actions shape my reality.

For my work, this background in life coaching has taught me to listen "between the lines", ask the right questions, uncover each client’s unique story, and understand their business goals, helping me bring to the table marketing strategies that truly resonate and make an impact.

Enjoying a sunrise on Priory Bay

For business development, I’ve learned that while the scope and size of work have changed, the principles remain the same. Building relationships, effective communication, prioritising customer needs, and staying persistent have been key in navigating the challenges of winning work for my own business.

Setbacks happen all the time.

We all went through the lockdowns shortly after I’d set up my business, moved into an office, and specialised in hospitality, which quickly turned out to be a poor idea. So, I diversified into other sectors. Then, I was diagnosed with cancer and went through years of related operations and recoveries. None of it has stopped me. When I was down, I studied while recovering, redesigned, reimagined, and came back stronger, continually evolving my business with the times and circumstances.

Thank you for taking the time to get to know me. I look forward to the possibility of working together and making your business dreams a reality.

My Favourites

My Favourite Book:

My favourite book is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. When I first read this inspiring novel years ago, it had quite an impact on me. The story follows a shepherd named Santiago on his journey to fulfill his dream, teaching the importance of following our hearts and pursuing our personal goals. One lesson from the book that really resonated with me is the idea that achieving our destiny and finding happiness and fulfillment doesn’t necessarily require huge goals or ambitions. There's a part in the book that beautifully illustrates that you can reach your destiny and be just as content and fulfilled working in the local supermarket as you would be achieving a big, high-profile dream. Being so ambitious and wanting more all the time, this perspective was eye-opening for me, as it underscores the value of finding joy and purpose in whatever path we choose, no matter how big or small it may seem to others.

My Favourite Movie:

My favourite movie is Mamma Mia!. This film brings me so much joy, and I’ve watched it countless times. The vibrant music and heartwarming story never fail to lift my spirits. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for ABBA, thanks to my Dad being a huge fan. Growing up, our house was often filled with the tunes of ABBA, which created many fond memories. The film’s infectious energy and scenery make it a feel-good escape that I can always turn to when I need a mood boost.

My Favourite Hobbies:

I love reading and am part of a book club. I love the beach and sunshine, spending time with my family and friends, being in nature, walking, and exploring. I also enjoy paddleboarding and sea canoeing, even though I’m not great at either, I still have fun!

My Favourite Music:

I love music with favourite artists including Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, Eva Cassidy, Miley Cyrus, The Cure, Gipsy Kings, Stevie Wonder, UB40, Bob Marley, Etta James, Jack Savoretti, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Walker, and Stereophonics.

My Favourite Food:

I'm a vegetarian and not fussy; I love all vegetarian food. My favourites include Thai salads, lentil roasts, Italian pasta dishes, pizza, and vegetarian lasagna. My partner is a very good cook and cooks everything from scratch.

My Favourite Drinks:

I love coffee! I probably drink way too much of it! I'm often seen out for coffee and love trying local independent cafes. I also love wine, especially a dry white wine.

Favourite Destinations:

I have enjoyed trips to Turkey, Greece, Portugal, Antwerp, Prague, Hong Kong, and China. Although I haven't travelled recently, I plan to change that very soon. Next on my list are a return to Turkey, a visit to Italy, and exploring the beaches in Northern Scotland.

Business Challenges: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your business, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I’ve faced by far in my business was navigating the lockdowns and their impact on small businesses, coupled with being diagnosed with cancer at the same time. The lockdowns brought about such difficulties for many small businesses, including my own. As I was adapting to these changes and trying to support my clients through this turbulent period, I was dealing with my cancer diagnosis and my Dad also passed during this time.

Coping with such emotionally times and health challenges while running a business required immense strength and resilience. I had to undergo several major operations, which meant working around hospital and recovery periods. There were times when I was working right up until being taken down to the operating theatre and then had to get back to business soon after each procedure. It was incredibly demanding both physically and emotionally.

To overcome this period, not really thinking strategically, but at the time I relied heavily on a few key things

1. Self-Care: Balancing work with self-care became crucial. I made sure to listen to my body, rest when necessary, and manage my stress levels.

2. Maintaining Client Relationships: I kept open and honest communication with my clients about my situation. Their understanding and support were invaluable. Also during lockdown times I deepened my client relationships, naturally providing empathy and as much support as possible to help them through their own challenges.

3. Adapting Business Strategies: The lockdowns required a shift in business strategies. I diversified my services, explored new markets, and embraced digital solutions (like zoom!) to stay connected with clients and keep the business running smoothly.

4. Staying Resilient: Throughout this period, I stayed focused on my long-term goals and reminded myself of the importance of perseverance.

Despite the overwhelming difficulties at times, these experiences taught me invaluable lessons about resilience and adaptability. I emerged from this period not only with a stronger business but also with a deeper appreciation for life and the people around me. This journey has shaped me into a more empathetic and determined person, ready to face any future challenges head-on.

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