Sonnaz Nooranvary, The Repair Shop’s expert upholsterer, takes on the Random 19

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Sonnaz Nooranvary is a British-Iranian upholsterer who lives near Wimborne, best known as the resident upholstery expert on BBC One’s The Repair Shop.

Sonnaz Nooranvary from The Repair Shop takes on the Random 19 Questions

At the age of 17, Sonnaz Nooranvary became the first female apprentice at Sunseeker Yachts, where she developed her eye for detail and exacting craftsmanship standards. At 25 she started her own business, which has since grown into a bespoke interiors studio and workshop which includes interior design and restoration.

Her new brand ‘House of Sonnaz’ has just launched – she hopes to ‘rewrite what it means to be a manufacturer and purveyor of home products’, creating furniture that will last a lifetime and bring joy, using processes that will not harm the environment. 

Sonnaz is passionate about manufacturing in the UK, and, from her own experience, she believes deeply in apprenticeships. 

And so, to the questions …

1. What’s your relationship with Dorset?

I came to Dorset because I applied for an apprenticeship at Sunseeker Yachts, and they wouldn’t accept me unless I lived in the area (I lived in Hampshire at the time and I didn’t drive). So I moved to Dorset for that, and have been here ever since! I’ve had the opportunity to move away, but I do love Dorset.

2. What was the last song you sang out loud in your car?

I Am Woman. Who’s the artist? No idea. But it was I Am Woman – what a great song, very empowering!

(I Am Woman by Emmy Meli, not the 1972 Helen Reddy one)

3. The last film you watched? It was The Luckiest Girl Alive. I saw it on Netflix – and I totally recommend it. It was pretty profound, there were lots of twists and turns and I thought the ending was genius.

4. It’s Friday night – you have the house to yourself, and no work is allowed. What are you going to do?

Pretty much every Friday my set routine is to put on a facemask and re-do the nail polish on my toes. But if I was going all out I would run a bath, light some candles, add some music, a glass of wine – red, probably – and a book (maybe not in the bath with the book, that’s for in bed, later). A party for one!

5. What is your comfort meal?

When we were kids we used to have – it’s really terrible actually – we used to have porridge with sugar and butter in it. Terrible. But if I’m feeling like I need a bit of comfort, that’s my go-to. BUT my other comfort food is a Persian meal called ghormeh sabzi. I absolutely love it. It’s loads of herbs made into a stewy sauce, and you have it with rice. It’s a really unusual taste and it’s one of my favourite meals.

6. What would you like to tell 15 year-old you?

What would I tell me … I’m 15, so I am still at school … I may have been head girl by then – my life was looking up!
I think I would tell myself that everything is going to be all right.

7. The best crisps flavour?

Obviously it’s prawn cocktail.

8. And the best biscuit for dunking?

Again. Obviously. Custard creams.

9. What book did you read recently that stayed with you? 

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I’ve had the book for a long time, but I finally read it and it was heartbreaking. I cried. 

It’s a profoundly affecting story about people in Kabul, following their lives through the war in Afghanistan. 

It was a difficult, emotional read.

10. What’s your secret superpower?

Maybe despite the fact I have so much going on, I tend to always look like everything’s fi-i-i-ne?!

11. Your most annoying trait?

Well that depends who you ask! I’m sure most people would say I’m too loud. I’m quite direct, that can be annoying. I’m a perfectionist, that’s VERY annoying. Hmmm. There’s quite a few, to be honest …

12. What shop can you not pass without going in?

Oh, I love, I LOVE, a good deli! It’s the homemade hummus, the pesto, the interesting crisps and all the other things you can dip into said hummus.
Then there’s the beautiful big fat olives, the sausage rolls – including vegan ones which are usually really good too … Like I said, I love a deli!

13. Your favourite quote? 

I often tell myself ‘if it was that easy everyone would be doing it’. 

I use it to push myself on when things are hard. Things are not always easy, and I just like to remind myself of that.

14. Tell us about one of the best evenings you’ve ever had?

I should probably say my wedding evening, shouldn’t I?
But my girlfriends and I have a thing called ‘Tuesday Night Dinners.’ We all used to go sea swimming on a Tuesday, and then take it in turns to go to each other’s houses. It turned into ‘Tuesday Night Dinners’, even when we didn’t sea swim and it wasn’t a Tuesday. It was a good time in our lives. We were just all girls together. We would share, support, we’re all from really different walks of life, and it was just a really great time. We still do it now, just not every Tuesday. Or even on a Tuesday. I’ve had some amazing evenings with those ladies, too many to pick one.

15. What was the last gift you either gave, or received?

It was for my bookkeeper Louise – I bought her some Dorset handmade soap and one of those things where there’s a nice smelly liquid in a bottle and there’s sticks coming out of it? What are they called? It was from Dorset too, also handmade. Can’t remember what they’re called.
(It’s a reed diffuser. You’re welcome – Ed).

I can’t think of anything I’ve received recently. Hmm. I need to do something about that …

16. Your top three most-visited websites?

Oohhh … I love a bit of Pinterest, very good for inspiration. And I love a bit of AirBnB as well for trip inspiration. The other thing I do is look at Positive News a lot.

17. What in life is frankly a mystery to you?

The fact that when you do clothes washing you lose socks to the deep dark depths of the machine and end up with odd ones.
It’s bizarre. 

And when you have a new tube of toothpaste, it lasts a while, but then when you get to the end, that last bit seems to last as long as the rest of the tube did. I don’t know how that works.

Also light. Travelling from the cosmos. In Swanage they do stargazing events at Durlston Astronomy Centre, and you can go and look at a galaxy that’s like seven billion light years away, it looks like grains of sugar. And the light you’re seeing is seven billion years old. That’s a total mystery to me. Mind bending thoughts.

18. Chip Shop Chips or Home Baked Cake?

Well, both, I would say. Why not have it all?

19. You have the power to pass one law tomorrow, uncontested. What would you do?

I think that it should be law that everyone must have an apprentice – my apprenticeship really changed my life. 

But also … maybe that getting renewable energy fitted to your house should be free? 

Can we squeeze them both into one law?

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