It’s the little things in life that make us smile. It might be that extra sprinkle of chocolate on your morning cappuccino, the fragrant scent of spring flowers starting to bloom or perhaps purchasing an unnecessarily funky pair of socks. Small business ‘Sbri’ had exactly this in mind when coming into fruition and pride themselves in ‘celebrating the extra things in life’. After all, the proof is in the name; ‘Sbri’ means fun in Welsh.

The company create lovingly hand-crafted leather accessories; from coin purses to cardholders, handbags and keyrings, everything personalised just for the customer – whether it’s adding initials, a secret message, or a special photo. Their entire production line takes place in the UK, and they create each made-to-order product in their factory in Ringwood.

Business owner and entrepreneur Emily Carr, is originally from Wales and is unsurprisingly the mind behind the name, being fluent in Welsh as well as English, her mother tongue.

Great British Life: Emily loves the lifestyle living on the south coast bringsEmily loves the lifestyle living on the south coast brings (Image: Mattea McKinnon)

She shares: ‘I’m originally from a little town in south Wales, right near the beach. I went to a Welsh school and speak fluent Welsh. I took all my GCSEs in Welsh apart from English and Science, speaking Welsh was a big part of my upbringing and something I’m super proud of. It was a really beautiful place to grow up, and like many things, you don’t appreciate it often until you leave. I spent a lot of my childhood outside. The street I grew up on had a lot of other children, so we were always playing in trees and riding bikes, back in the late 80s and early 90s.’

Emily was a naturally creative child and remembers ‘creating magazines and collages all the time’ and ‘playing on the keyboard’. She says: ‘I used to think I might end up being a magazine editor. As I got older, I became more interested in science and that was more of a feasible job option in the country at the time. This was pre-internet, pre-online shopping – there wasn’t much scope for a creative job in south Wales. I knew in the back of my mind I definitely wanted to be a business owner one day, but I never knew quite what I wanted to do.’

Emily went on to study pharmaceuticals at the University of Portsmouth, where she met her husband Tony back in 2003. Now, they live with their two children, Evelyn (9) and Griff (7) in the picturesque harbour town of Christchurch in Dorset.

She remembers: ‘During my degree I lived in Portsmouth for four years and got my masters there – a time in my life I have very fond memories of. I ended up becoming a locum pharmacist as I loved the freedom of being self-employed. When we moved to Christchurch, which is where Tony is from, I thought it might be temporary, but I ended up loving the area and we’re still here now!’

Great British Life: The leopard print coin purse which inspired Emily's side business, SbriThe leopard print coin purse which inspired Emily's side business, Sbri (Image: Mattea McKinnon)

She continues: ‘After a while, I felt like my creative side was being suppressed so I started creating different things alongside my job as a pharmacist. Tony and I started making little wooden and leather gifts for friends and family in our garden shed way back in 2013 and it just grew from there’.

The business would eventually come to be known as Create Gift Love, now one of the UK’s fastest growing gift companies with a strong presence on online site, Not On The High Street. Sister company, Sbri was birthed after the production of a new creation; a small, leopard-print coin purse.

Emily explains: ‘At the time I had a lot of black and darker accessories, and this little purse was such a pop of colour and I just loved it. It just felt like me. So joyful, colourful accessories became Sbri. That leopard print purse is still one of my favourite products. In the purses you can put a secret message on the inside, and I put a little affirmation in there.’

Sbri is all about bringing a bit of joy, a pop of colour, a bit of happiness and meaning into your day. Whether it’s a bookmark engraved with your child’s birth date, or a ring-holder dog collar for your pooch to be your assistant on your engagement or wedding day.

Despite their success, Tony and Emily remain humble and are clearly passionate about remaining as sustainable as possible.

Great British Life: Personalised leather phone pouch £69Personalised leather phone pouch £69 (Image: Mattea McKinnon)

‘We still make absolutely everything in house and every item is made to order – we have full control over our productions and the quality of our products. We also try to eliminate as much waste as possible, always trying to think of new and innovative ways to use material cut-offs and waste products for other means. It may seem impossible to make and create everything in the UK for businesses these days, but it’s not and we are a testament to that.’

Tony stresses that another important part of their ethos is to ‘create a culture of teamwork and trust that everyone works together for each other’, saying: ‘We want our team to be a proud of what they are a part of.’

Emily agrees: ‘We have an amazing team. It’s an inspiring place to work as we are all on the same page. Some people have been here since the start - Angela has been with us since the very beginning, she came to help back in 2013 and now she’s Head of Dispatch and Chief of Quality Control. Tony’s Dad used to help us all the time when it was super busy in the early days and now, he’s an integral part of production.’

Like any business, there are ups and downs as Tony explains: ‘It has been a challenge to get a consistent stream of work as we are a very seasonal business. We have to make sure we have enough work for our staff throughout the year. This can involve designs for evergreen occasions for christenings, birthdays, weddings – that sort of thing, to keep everyone happy and engaged.’

Great British Life: Brightly coloured leather goods are Sbri's forteBrightly coloured leather goods are Sbri's forte (Image: Mattea McKinnon)

Family time is of great importance to the couple, who prioritise spending time with their children.

Emily smiles: ‘We are so fortunate to work together – we strive for a balance so we can spend as much time as possible with our kids. We know as they get older, they might not want to spend as much time with us so we’re trying to make the most of that now.’

Emily admits she can be a bit of perfectionist in life, saying: ‘I’m trying to be more fluid and let things go if something is too much or if I can’t achieve everything. It’s just a balance that is always ongoing, it’s tricky but I try to bring it back to being playful. To not take things too seriously.’

When they’re not busy in their factory, the Carr’s can usually be found walking in the Forest or at the beach. Emily says: ‘We are so lucky to be living where we are, near the New Forest and sea. There is always adventures to be had. It’s so nice to be able to bring some of my childhood into what my own children are experiencing. Being together, being outside.’

Great British Life: Personalised leather glasses case £39Personalised leather glasses case £39 (Image: Mattea McKinnon)

She laughs: ‘One January we were all in our wetsuits in a forest stream – we got some funny looks as it was freezing but the kids still remember days like that now and the fun we had. We try to do lots of things like that while still running a business.’

One of their favourite places to visit is Rhinefield, as Emily explains: ‘We love the tall trees, it’s such a beautiful place. Another place we go to a lot is Burley – there is a great pub there called the White Buck. There are just so many places to stop with little streams and rivers in the New Forest where you are secluded from everybody. The children have also started surfing little waves around the coast which is great to see.’

For the rest of 2024, Emily and Tony plan to collaborate with more illustrators and freelancers on new designs and patterns. The brand recently embarked on a collaboration with the Arts University in Bournemouth and a budding designer created a print for Sbri.

Emily shares: ‘We really enjoyed partnering up with AUB – the students’ design will be in our summer collection, which is exciting. This year, we also hope to collaborate with some more illustrators to give a fresh perspective and generate new ideas. We are also working closer to our goal to be completely carbon neutral – watch this space!’