We delve into the foodie's fashion past, talk women in business and discuss the rise of the concious consumers. Proving her modeling skills are still sharp, Jasmine styles our new SS17 range at the Maiyet pop-up store in London. Featuring Mara Hoffman, Fillipa K, Maiyet and AIAYU.
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You are best known for your work in the culinary sphere, but some people might not know that you have a fashion background. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience and what led to your career in food?
I was 15 when Select Model Management scouted me – I had a metal mouth of braces and was wearing wide-legged, high-waisted short trousers and a vintage midriff t-shirt with a skateboarding smurf on it! As a more commercial model I didn’t have to conform to certain height or weight measurements, but of course I needed to look after myself, and that’s where the interest in food for health started.
I thought there must be more to being healthy than counting calories, depriving yourself of tasty food and thrashing yourself in the gym every day. I noticed how the foods that were labelled ‘bad’ – e.g butter, egg yolks and the fat on the steak actually made me feel good. Before I knew it I was coaching, giving cooking lessons and restocking people’s kitchens and generally helping people build a better relationship with food!
What flaws did you see in the fashion industry, and how do you think these can be addressed going forward?
The not-so-secret secret is that everything is manipulated – the clothes we see advertised are often ill-fitting, cheaply made and then pressed, pinned and photoshopped to within an inch of their life! Fast fashion is exhausting – both for the people that produce it and the environment. I’d love to see a return to the fashion of the 60’s and 70’s where you bought or made key pieces.
I think we’re now seeing a rebellion to fast fashion. Just like fast and highly processed food, we want to understand where our clothes come from. For most of us, this means baby steps in the right direction. It’s thanks to platforms like Rêve En Vert that make sustainable living inspirational and aspirational.
As an entrepreneur and a woman, what has been your experience as a woman in business, both negative and positive?
I have to say, in both career paths I have been very fortunate to have never felt that I have come up against a barrier on account of my gender. If anything, modelling is an industry where women not only outnumber men but massively out earn them, and the wellness world nowadays is dominated by forward thinking women. Having said that, Hemsley + Hemsley and my newest venture ‘East by West’ would not have happened without the man in my life! My partner Nick Hopper helped me to create the philosophies which we live together, build the businesses and all the beautiful photography that surrounds them.
How would you define health? To you, is it as straightforward as eating well?
Ah no.. food is an important part, but not the whole 360! Food is obviously a fantastic starting point as each meal is an opportunity to either fortify your body or to take from it. If you’re loading up on processed foods devoid of nutrients which only act to irritate you are just adding to your body’s to do list.
We’re seeing a real shift in lifestyle in the wellness world today. We are seeing a wave of meditation, old fashioned mindfulness, green home living and chemical free skincare for a reason. Modern life and the work-hard-play-hard attitude has lost it’s appeal. We are starting to get the picture that it’s a holistic approach that works best.
Having worked in both food and fashion, what do you see as the parallels (if any) between the two industries?
The term ‘consciousness’ is something we’re hearing more and more of. We’re seeing a shift towards brands demonstrating and conveying ways to consume ‘consciously’. At the same time, the wellness industry focuses on consciousness as a means of balancing the chaotic lives we lead. Many of us are quite literally worn out by the daily sensory overload and the perceived need to fill every single second of our days doing something, and doing it at high speed! Like food, fashion need not be fast.
What advice would you give to budding female entrepreneurs?
Grab your dream with both hands and go for it, but make sure that you take time to reflect and re-evaluate often on what it is that you want. Don’t be afraid to change your mind or direction. One of my favourite quotes by the Dalai Lama goes ‘Man sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.” I think that goes for women too! As a female I’d say, don’t be afraid to be soft as well as powerful. Many incredible women before us have worked hard to prove that we can be equal to men – now we can safely prove that we don’t have to act like a man to be noticed or get ahead.
We spoke a bit about an upcoming project of yours to do with bowl healing. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
The power of sound has always fascinated me. A couple of years ago my partner, Nick, and I started learning tuning forks sound therapy. Last year on a course I met Toni Dicks, a yogi and wellness practitioner who studies live blood. We got along like a house on fire and knew we’d work together someday.
That day happened really quickly with Sound Sebastien - playing relaxing sound baths with beautiful crystal gemstone singing bowls to small groups while they kick back under cosy blankets. We find the sound of the singing bowls so therapeutic and nurturing that we wanted to share it with others.
Favourite restaurant in London?
I love Riverford at the Duke of Cambridge, and nearby Trullo for Tuscan style, charcoal grilled food in Islington. My latest find is ‘The Frog’ in East London.
Of course, my Hemsley + Hemsley cafe in Selfridges is the regular. Last year I lived in my Ayurveda inspired cafe, ‘East by West’ on Conduit Street which popped up for the Winter, on delicious bowls of dahl with chickpea rotis and my signature Golden Spoons.
The new Mercato Metropolitano has an industrial feel food hall behind the Ministry of Sound. My favourite stop off is Tiny Leaf – an organic, zero waste vegetarian stand.
Who is your fashion icon?
This chameleon has a few! Audrey Hepburn – feminine and timeless, Yasmin Sewell – super stylish and effortlessly chic and relaxed. Chloe Sevigny for her experimental, care-free-attitude and Livia Firth for her work in green fashion – she has a hard job on her hands but slowly and surely it’s happening.
What’s your favourite pick from your Rêve En Vert shoot?
The Mara Hoffman stripy pant suit! The shoot took place on a wintery wet day in London and this outfit brought some sunshine to the set. It’s so relaxed and easy to wear and yet super stylish. It’s also great with flats – my favourite kind of outfit!
Who would you most like to work with? From food and/or fashion?
One day I’d love to work with people like Livia Firth and brands like Edun, Maiyet and Stella Mccartney, as well projects with my friends in India who are supporting the return of artisans and the skills that have almost been lost in this speedy consumer led world.
I’m currently writing a cookbook inspired by Ayurveda after the success of my Mayfair pop-up cafe, where I collaborated with fantastic brands like Maiyet, Tata Harper and Tom Dixon. In the future, I would love to launch an accessible food range and more cafes along with designing ethical and eco-friendly fashion, homeware and natural beauty lines – I’m passionate about it all! In the meantime, I’ll continue to champion the eco brands that I discover including Reve En Vert as a destination for your future wardrobe!
Visit Jasmine’s website here to discover her fabulous collection of delicious and healthy recipes.
Photo credit to the wonderful Roo Lewis – visit his website here
Semi Wrap Dress
Geneve Top in light pink
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