A Day In The Life Of: Jasmine Hemsley
From chef to sustainability champion, Jasmine Hemsley is Instagram’s woman of the moment. Whether it’s shooting a style edit abroad or showcasing independent businesses, she is certainly proving her sustainable sartorial credentials. Plus, she’s just written her latest cookbook East by West, a recipe collection to achieve mind-body balance. We caught up with her during Positive Week to discover how the Positive Influencer fits it all in…
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF IN APPROXIMATELY THREE SENTENCES…
I’m an author, cook and entrepreneur, and passionate about spreading the word on Ayurveda, a 5,000-year-old science from India. I love nature AND urban living and, as you’ll come to see why, my mum calls me a jack-of all trades. Through my work across the food, fashion and beauty industries my aim is to encourage people to be more conscious about their consumption whilst encouraging creativity and design.
WHAT TIME DOES YOUR ALARM GO OFF, AND WHAT’S THE FIRST THING YOU DO WHEN YOU WAKE UP?
You’ve caught me after a crazy 3 months of travel so the alarm clock is much needed while my body clock resets between trips! But usually I wake up before an alarm as the sun comes up. I always wear an eye mask and blackout blinds to block out most of the light (especially as I have a street lamp outside my window) but just enough natural light creeps in to wake me up gently. In the summer it might be as early as 5am, in the winter more like 7am.
I tongue scrape as soon as I’m up. Though it will sound strange to many in the West, tongue scraping is an ancient Eastern practice whereby you use a thin metal (copper or stainless steel) curved tool to literally (but also very gently!) scrape your tongue. Overnight your body is cleaning and clearing — hence a fuzzy mouth when you wake up. In the West we’re satisfied with brushing our teeth, but in India children learn to clean their tongue as well as their teeth from an early age. Dentists here sell tongue scrapers but the plastic type, which is less effective (and not so positive for the environment!). Looked after properly my Tongue Tingler is for life.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORKING WARDROBE? WHAT ARE YOUR FASHION STAPLES – THE PIECES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN ACHIEVE ANYTHING?
I love fashion and I also love being comfortable, so a happy mix between the two is where I usually sit. I work from home so you’ll usually find me in active wear or something equally as easy to throw on in the morning. I definitely feel the cold, so most of the year (I’m in the UK after all) you’ll find me in jeans, a t-shirt and a cosy jumper (and maybe even some thermals underneath) and in the summer I make the most of the warmer weather by working through my wardrobe of vintage dresses (something I seem to unofficially ‘collect’) of which I’ve amassed quite a collection!
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
With so many hats, so many ideas and so many interests, my schedule is always varied, but I make a conscious effort to make time for my rituals. Over the years I’ve realised that that they are key to keeping me grounded in a fast-paced world. I start the day with 5-10 minutes of sun salutations, take my three dogs for a walk and practice Vedic meditation to get me into the right mindset for the day ahead. Then I nurture my digestive fire (Agni, in Ayurveda) with a warm breakfast and enjoy herbal teas and hot water throughout the day. The rest of the day, can be made up of anything from talks, meetings, filming and events to a quieter day working from home. I always aim for lunch to be the biggest meal of my day and it’s a constant battle to make that a sacred time. When I get the chance to spend the evening at home, I always opt for a lighter, easy-to-digest meal, and jump into bed at the first opportunity in order to get a deep, restful night’s sleep. I don’t have a TV, and would love to say that I read every night instead, but usually by then I’ve spent all day reading emails on my laptop or phone and writing articles, I’m not in the mood to read anymore. To wind down, I usually take my dogs for a last walk before bed or spend some time looking after my jungle of houseplants. For those who can’t meditate, don’t have dogs or houseplant “pets,” I really recommend lying on the floor and practicing gratitude and deep belly breathing or, if that still feels like a stretch, making a mundane activity a mindful one — even if it’s just taking time over the washing up and finding joy in every task instead of rushing it so it’s over.
HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY IN YOUR CAREER?
Blood, sweat and tears! It won’t always have looked like it from the shiny outside but I grafted. I didn’t originally plan on doing this for my career, it just rollercoaster-ed and at quite a speed which meant that the highs and lows were pretty epic. My other half Nick is a partner in Hemsley+Hemsley, and my partner in East by West, and we run all of our businesses from our home so there is no escape! I’ve spent the last 10 years championing the things that I’m passionate about and for the next 10 years I plan on doing the same. This time around, having learnt from experience, I make myself a priority and am taking the time to design my life so that I can continue to focus on what I value most, and avoid getting caught up in the illusion of success.
WHICH ACHIEVEMENT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
I think it’s important to celebrate your achievements however big or small; a bit of gratitude for where you are and what you’ve got, I find, is key to happiness. When our (my sister Mel and my partner Nick’s) first cookbook The Art of Eating Well was nominated as “cookbook of the year” back in 2014 just a month or so after it was published, we couldn’t believe it! At the time I had to fight to get the words “gut health” into the book and it’s something I’m so glad I pushed for and achieved. More recently, I’m incredibly proud of what I have contributed so far to raising the profile of Ayurveda in our Western world. I’m also grateful to be able to practise what I preach, from creating magical sound baths to promoting ethical fashion and making old-school, home-cooked food into something that people are inspired to cook and eat.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST WORK CHALLENGE TO DATE?
When you’re running your own company, it’s very hard to switch off. When your lifestyle is your work it means work runs into everything and so holidays are not really holidays. I think Nick and I are on a constant mission to book onto a technology-free hiking adventure in the middle of nowhere where we can get some rejuvenating downtime together. The speed of technology and the power of social media means opportunities are on every corner, so being disciplined about what you focus your time on has been a real learning curve for me. I have a love/hate relationship with technology — it can be a means to an end but also an end to all meaning!
IF YOU WEREN’T IN YOUR CURRENT PROFESSION, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
Something creative. I studied furniture and product design at uni and art at school. I also worked as a scenic artist and a model before working with food and health. I live to be hands-on and I like to be involved in the whole process. I am lucky that what I’m doing now brings in so many creative elements — from writing, exploring, consulting, cooking, researching, styling and teaching to the more yin side of life by creating beautiful sound baths to help myself and others relax.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN LOOKING TO GET INTO YOUR INDUSTRY?
- Fake it till you make it but remember people can sniff out in-authenticity a mile off, so make sure it’s really what you love to do rather than what you think will bring you gains, or perhaps what someone else expects of you/wants you to do!
- Make time to meet people and don’t burn any bridges. You never know who you’ll face on the way up — or the way down! And talking about your business/product is a great way of gauging a reaction and determining where what you do fits in the market.
- Strive for what you want but a) don’t be pushy b) make sure it is what you want and value and c) don’t be afraid to change your mind if you get the feeling that it’s not right for you. We are ever changing and ever evolving, that’s the only given. I love the saying by Confucius, “The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.”
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE?
One of them, which seems fitting for this Q&A, is, “you are entirely up to you.” To me that means ditch your expectations of others and expectations of yourself from others and go do what you need to do. Our thoughts, words, focus and imagination shape our life, so use that power to your advantage.
East by West by Jasmine Hemsley is published by Bluebird, price £25
Photographs by Nicholas Cooper