It’s a little bit thrilling to be in the presence of a real entrepreneur – one with a portfolio of businesses, who gets new ideas in the shower and with a desire to do good.

Meet Fiona Burrage, a young business woman with an eye for style and a passion for Norfolk. We meet at Studio Inn – the co-working space on King Street Norwich that she and her husband set up just before the pandemic. It’s a calm, beautiful environment with creatives busy working, heads down in their clutter free spaces.

Originally from Essex, Fiona moved to Norwich as a teen and has fallen in love with what Norfolk has to offer. She lists just some of these as the community, beautiful spaces and the buzz of a culturally exciting city without the crowded anonymity of London. All her businesses reflect this love for the county. Back in 2019, Fiona and husband, Bobby, who she met whilst working at his design consultancy The Click, renovated and decorated a beautiful holiday rental in Repps with Bastwick.

Great British Life: Fiona Burrage. Fiona Burrage. (Image: Fiona Burrage)

'It’s not necessarily the well known part of the Broads,' says Fiona, 'that’s the charm, it’s not the obvious choice destination.' The Water Cabin has been lovingly decorated, mindful of the feeling that Norfolk brings to Fiona and her family which she wants to share with her guests.

'We loved travel and being inspired by places, many have a perception of the Broads as a place for a boating holiday but I wanted to showcase a slower approach and a different way of presenting them'.

Featured in magazines such as Elle Decoration, the cabin reflects a slower pace of life, a haven in which to unwind and enjoy an aesthetic simplicity. This in turn has led to another of her business ideas and the creation of the gorgeous body/haircare brand Sop. She tells me that when The Water Cabin was completed that it didn’t smell how it looked.

'It had the fresh smell of paint and felt kind of new, I wanted to create a scent that fits for this kind of property.'

Designing for the senses is a whole area often studied in product design, but Fiona’s background in graphic design means she approached this from a brand new perspective. Sop, an abbreviation of "Scents of place" is all about embodying a sense of Norfolk and each of the product lines is named after a word from the Norfolk dialect.

Great British Life: The Water Cabin. The Water Cabin. (Image: Fiona Burrage)

'There are some really beautiful words and I want to embrace this. I want to celebrate the heritage part of Norfolk as there are some negative connotations associated with colloquialism and this gives it the beauty it deserves.'

Fiona goes on to tell me about the lovely relationship she had with her late grandmother-in-law,

'Bobby’s Nanny loved Norfolk words, and I felt relaxed in her company. It’s quite nice to have a legacy from my interactions with her and keeping that sense of who she was.'

All the products are vegan and cruelty free as well as being made in and shipped from Norfolk. She admits that this business is very much a journey as she has launched hair and bodycare ranges, but the idea of home scents that were the initial inspiration for the brand are still in development due to the focus being on servicing, hospitality and leisure.

Fiona’s understanding of the product development process and learning from trial and error is impressive. She cites having developed this from an earlier childrenswear brand she created when her son was first born.

Great British Life: A selection of Sop products.A selection of Sop products. (Image: Fiona Burrage)

Fiona’s greatest luxury is enjoying a shower. it’s a ritual where she can decompress daily, giving this busy creative a little bit of child and work free time.

So, did she test her own products whilst in the shower? In fact it was her son, now 10 years old who was the ‘scent tester’. When they were developing the products Fiona would wash his hair with the samples so she could see how the scent developed and lingered and in turn how it made him feel. He is still very proud of being part of this and enjoys being part of the family business, often making suggestions for new product lines – another entrepreneur in the making!

'We don’t exist just for profit, but for being able to support the local economy and environment,' says Fiona. It is clear that she is an ideas person and loves the thrill of coming up with new ones rather than being motivated by money. The growth of Sop enables her to support a number of charitable projects and she is delighted to be able to make donations to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust as well as the Sugi rewilding project who are planting biodiverse pockets of forest in urban landscapes globally. Fiona also donates Sop products to ShowerBox in London; a charity who provide safe and free showers to the homeless. Fiona has also organised a monthly beach cleanup at Sea Palling called Conservation x Conversation. She’s hoping to find the time to do more of these and extend the beaches they visit. All waste collected is recycled or redistributed if possible.

'That’s how I want to grow Sop, grow the products and grow the team. I’d love to do a rewilding project in Norfolk as well,' says Fiona of her many ambitions for the coming year. Extending Sop’s range will enable her to build on her already impressive amount of charitable work and there are plans for a second co-working space and a coffee roastery. Fiona takes all this work in her stride with a smile and ties up our lovely chat by once again stating how ‘Norfolk is a place of amazing people’. She sees it reflected in the ‘community of people at the Studio Inn’ and in the ’green space, coast and vibrant city’ that makes Norfolk.

Great British Life: Studio Inn. Studio Inn. (Image: Fiona Burrage)