We’re more than a little obsessed with this sister duo. It’s not hard to fall for the very charming Melissa and Jasmine, aka Hemsley + Hemsley: They are the glowing faces of healthy living in London, have introduced the world to the art of “spiralizing” and besides being gorgeous and having built a fan base that will travel miles for their pop up dinners and events, they are also incredibly kind and down to earth. We were so curious to know their story and how they’ve created a business that resonates so deeply with women all over the UK (and beyond) so we tracked them down and asked them. Below, our chat:
We’d love to know your “origin story”: What were you both up to before starting up Hemsley + Hemsley together?
Jasmine: I worked full-time as a model from the age of 19, which is how I became fascinated by the many different ideas surrounding health and nutrition, from paleo to low-fat, juice cleansing and many others ideologies, and began to develop and grow the Hemsley + Hemsley way of eating through research, study and self-practice whilst sharing tips and tricks with friends and family.
Melissa: My first job after leaving school was working for a shoe brand so I travelled often to places like Milan and Las Vegas for meetings and shoe conventions. I later worked in marketing and promotion for gastropubs and bars: One of them being Paradise in West London where we’ve just finished a run of 10 nights of summer supper clubs which were so much fun.
When did you know you could quit your jobs and put all your time into Hemsley + Hemsley?
Jasmine: The modelling work was going really well but my hobby on the side turned full time pretty quickly and since I was so passionate about it it was an easy transition to make. Over the years I had developed a way of eating that made me feel energised and toned and I found that natural, easy to digest and nutrient dense foods were what truly counted despite whatever ‘fads’ were being hailed by the media. Looking further into the science of nutrition rather than the latest ideas confirmed that natural foods such as animal fat, which we had grown up eating though it has been vilified for the past 60 or so years, were actually good for us. I was soon sharing tips and tricks with friends and family. Mel caught the bug and helped spread the word! People said I was crazy to move away from the modelling when it was going so well and it has been exceptionally hard work setting up a business but being able to make a difference is so worth it.
Melissa: The real turning point came after a trip to Australia where we, along with Jasmine’s boyfriend Nick, were determined more than ever to bring that holiday feeling of sunshine and vitality back to our hectic London lives. We jokingly said – wouldn’t it be great to have a family business making the food we all want to eat, food that keeps us happy and energised without struggling and be able to share it with everybody? With no concrete plans but plenty of passion and willingness to continue learning and work hard here we are today!
What was the original vision for the business and has that changed at all over the years?
We didn’t intentionally launch the business so really our only vision initially was to help people who wanted to feel better! Meanwhile it has grown slowly and organically into the business it is today. We were cooking for clients, clearing out their cupboards, filling up their fridges and freezers and showing them how to cook our recipes and feel better – happier, healthier and more energized. Back then, we didn’t have a name, our clients called us their ‘food fairies’! Within two weeks of launching our own blog, we were asked to contribute recipes to vogue.co.uk and became the London based editors of sousstyle.com. We then developed our book The Art of Eating Well as a go-to guide for people to use as the foundation of eating and feeling well by championing good food. Since then we have launched our hugely successful Hemsley Spiralizer and will be releasing our second book, Good + Simple in February 2015.
You’ve done so much already, becoming one of the foremost authorities on healthy living in London, with one incredibly successful cookbook out (and one to come), what’s the vision for the next few years?
To keep spreading our message and hopefully continue to have a positive impact on the food industry. We’ll be giving lots more cooking classes and demos and would love to teach more school kids how to have fun in the kitchen. We’ll be focusing on the launch of our second book Good + Simple and enjoying travelling to places such as New York for the US launch. We’d also love to host another Mind Body Reset www.mindbodyreset.com: An urban retreat over a weekend in london which took place last year with our dear friend and fashionista Yasmin Sewell and meditation expert Gary Gorrow.
If there’s anyone in London with a following, it’s the two of you. Do you have any tips on building a faithful audience on social media?
Ensuring that you’re involved in conversations is important for your readers to know that they can share their opinions, ideas and forays into spiralizing and be noticed. We love scrolling through our hashtags like #theartofeatingwell to see what our followers are up to and regramming our favourite snaps of recipes they have recreated.
As sisters, what qualities do you each bring to Hemsley + Hemsley?
As with all small businesses, you have to roll up your sleeves and get involved. The business has evolved naturally and we now work in areas that we love the most. Luckily everyday is different at H+H – cooking, meetings, recipe development, lots of room for creativity and also plenty of time to work alone and remotely from laptops so we aren’t on each others space the whole time! And when it comes back to just being family we find it remarkably easy to switch off!
Do you both actually meditate every day?
Yes, 20 minutes of meditation daily is one of our non-negotiables and keeps us feeling our best. We also both love yoga and if we can’t get to a yoga class, we go online and follow something like Tara Stiles You Tube videos. They’re usually around 10 mins long so it’s hard to have an excuse not to get on with one.
We mentioned it briefly above, but the Mind Body Reset was an urban retreat which we created by putting our heads and hearts together with the ever inspiring Yasmin Sewell and Gary Gorrow. It allowed guests to decompress and provided them with the tools to not just deal with the demand of city living but thrive! The main part of this was through vedic meditation, which focus on mindfulness practices that promote higher consciousness in daily life.
Your days seem incredibly busy with meetings, appearances, events, not to mention writing recipes, keeping up the blog, etc: Any advice for structuring time?
Go with the flow! Keep organised and listen to your gut – you can feel when something is worth doing and spending your energy on. Do the things you’re good at and work with people who are good at other things so that all together, it works!
Is it still just the two of you? Even if they’re not officially affiliated, who are the people you couldn’t have made it happen without?
Nick, Jasmine’s other half and the third leg of the H + H tripod! He’s the man behind the scenes taking all the pics and running the back end of the business. This year we’ve also hired a few amazing people; we’re very lucky and feel as though we have so much to look forward to!