KELLY HOPPEN has gone from meeting clients around the world to being in self-isolation with partner John in her six-bedroom converted warehouse in central London. While that might not sound too awful for some, running a global business from home hasn’t exactly been without its challenges. Through working with clients and suppliers in Asia, the interior designer had to understand the potential challenges for coronavirus early, and six weeks ago, converted her home to a connected hub to run both her business and survive boredom in self-isolation. And that still means getting up at 5.50am and keeping in touch with her team of 60 staff. While running her business, she has found time for cooking, doing jigsaw puzzles and finally working out how to use the washing machine properly…
How did you first take to self-isolation?
I think it is practical, it’s a pandemic and not a choice. I’m in a fortunate position to have a lovely home. My biggest upset is not seeing my family. It’s not going to be easy for anyone. It hasn’t impacted my wellbeing but I’m getting up every morning thinking it’s normal and then reality sets in. Sometimes I cuddle John and think [the situation] is hardcore. It’s the most extraordinary thing I’ve lived through in my whole life.
What have you been doing to keep busy?
Mostly, I am continuing to work but I train a lot. I train in the morning like I normally do, and have another session in the evening. I have a tripod for my iPad and get live sessions from my fitness trainer. Exercise is crucial and you only need a small space in your home. It has exhausted me physically but it’s good as I can relax and watch TV in the evening. I can’t believe it but we’ve actually just ordered a jigsaw puzzle — it’s not even particularly nice but it was the last one. Then, there is obviously the cleaning and trying to figure out how a washing machine actually works. I had to look it up on Google. It’s not like you just open it and put the washing powder in.
What else have you learnt?
I’m very lucky in that my partner thinks I’m actually a great cook, but I’m not. I think he must have lost his taste buds! My daughter [Natasha Corrett] is a great chef — her new book is aptly named Family Kitchen — and I’m doing her recipes. I’m having a baking day once a week and trying to be as housewifey as I possibly can.
What have been your cooking successes and failures so far?
I think the oat cookies were the biggest success, they went down a treat. I like the success of food being enjoyed, but after five minutes, John has eaten them all. Nothing has gone too wrong, yet, as I have Natasha on the end of the line to guide me through.
How are you staying sane in self-isolation?
I’m trying to put a positive spin on those things that I never get round to. I’m getting through books that I thought I would never read. I’m going to go through the cupboard in the laundry room next. If you’re not careful, you sit and do nothing and get depressed and down. I’ve been having really weird dreams and they are recurring. Last night, I thought I had a sore throat but I didn’t. I normally dream about designs and music so these are slightly more unsettling.
How has your working week changed?
Nothing has changed for me, apart from not having the design studio. I work 9am to 6.30pm every day, and do my international emails early in the morning.
What positives do you hope to get from what is happening?
What I would like is for us to live on a stronger, more sustainable planet. We can run businesses from a desk and we can travel less. I will do that 100 per cent from now on. We don’t need to fly all over the world for meetings. Time can be managed better; we can spend less money and achieve what we want. I hope everyone will be kind and gracious to those who have lost their jobs and we are conscious of what we have been through.’
Five things I couldn’t do without
■ My telephone, because I can keep in touch with my family, friends and the studio
■ Water. You are conscious that you might be rationed so use things more sparingly
■ TV. The Morning Show is brilliant
■ Backgammon. I used to love it and I think I’m going to get back into it
■ Coffee. I don’t drink much alcohol, but you never know after all this!