Meet Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley, aka superfood sister act HEMSLEY + HEMSLEY
For the uninitiated: Please tell us who are you and what do you do.
We’ve always loved food and early on realized the relationship between food and good health. The more we really tuned into our bodies, the more we felt the impact the food we ate had on how we felt. Five years ago, HEMSLEY + HEMSLEY was born as a bespoke service aimed at helping people with their digestion and relationship with food. We were cooking for clients, clearing out their cupboards, filling up their fridges and freezers and showing them how to cook our recipes. 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 created The Art of Eating Well as go-to guide for people to use as the foundation of eating and feeling well by championing good food.
What were you both working on before you started working together?
Jasmine: I have been cooking for the family since she was nine years old and worked as a model from the age of 16. Modelling is a profession that makes you very aware of your health and looking after yourself.
Melissa: I travelled the world as a footwear brand manager and then worked in marketing and promotions for gastro pubs and bars.
Long hours, late nights and trying to eat on the go were challenges for both of us as we didn’t want to eat the ‘fake foods’ on offer commercially and were constantly craving nourishing, home-cooked food.
How did you decide the time was right to turn your shared love of food into a career?
Whilst travelling through Asia and Australasia, Jasmine experienced a new approach to eating focused on natural food and provenance. Upon her return, friends of friends started to get in touch after hearing about these simple, tasty home-cooked food lessons. Before long we were taking private clients right back to basics and re-educating them about all their preconceived and often misinformed ideas about food. From there, we launched our catering service and launched a blog as a way of documenting and sharing our recipes amongst family and friends.
Why do you think your approach to cooking and wellness has been so popular?
Our society is just beginning to acknowledge the ill effects of high-sugar, high-gluten, overly processed and chemical-laden foods in our diet. These foods have become so much a part of mainstream eating that we can be forgiven for being completely confused about how to eat a balanced, nutritious diet. Our philosophy is to keep things simple and as close to nature as possible. In essence, this means that we eat meat and vegetables, taking the best ingredients and foods from the animal and plant kingdoms as humans have always done. Our recipes are free from grain, gluten and refined sugar and focus on nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods, good fats and bone broth. We aren’t trained chefs and don’t have fancy knife skills. Once our clients start eating our food they instantly start to feel healthier and more energised. It’s simple, fuss-free, nutritious food to help you to feel more energized.
How do you balance your respective strengths and split your workload?
We work closely together, every day is different - meeting clients, consulting, running the kitchen, demoing, experimenting and researching, Jasmine tends to do the sweet recipes and Melissa the savory. Nick, Jasmine’s boyfriend, works with us and is king of the juices and smoothies, as well as our photographer.
What did you learn about work from your parents?
Our parents always taught us to go the extra mile and to reach for the stars. When we were younger, Mum always encouraged us to eat our vegetables as she wanted us to be doctors and she taught us the knack of making something out of leftovers!
I'm sure there's no 'average day' in your working lives, but what aspects of your personal/professional routines remain constant?
We are so lucky to be able to spend every day focusing on what we love and are passionate about. No matter how busy we are with written projects, deadline and shoots, we cook every day. Recipe testing is a huge part of our world and allows us to perfect flavours and nutritional balance for upcoming projects. If we’re not recipe testing, we’ll be cooking for clients or ourselves. There’s never a dull moment in the kitchen, that’s for sure.
In the digital age, things like social media never sleep so when we’re not in a meeting, on a shoot or cooking, we like to engage with our audiences on social media. So much of the work we do and recipes we develop are heavily influenced by requests from our friends, family, clients and the broader community. We love receiving recipe requests, seeing images of people cooking our recipes and enjoying our food. Social media is such a beautiful way to share a mutual love of food with others!
We’re very big believers in balance and finding time to look after ourselves and our bodies so that we are equipped to take each day as it comes, to calm our nervous systems and to reset. We both practise meditation at least 6 times a week for at least 20 minutes. Meditation allows us to feel relaxed, calm and focused. It’s clearing and clarifying and an important tool in looking after the mind and allowing it to regenerate. We also make sure we get out heart rate up and sweat for at least 20 minutes every day. Whether is be jogging or walking or practicing yoga.
What's the least enjoyable aspect of your work? And the most?
One of the most rewarding aspects of our work is getting people back into the kitchen and seeing them enjoy a delicious, nutritious home cooked meal especially when they’ve been fearful of doing so or are worried they’re not good cooks. Food is simple and we set out to design recipes that are fuss free, big on taste and full of nourishment that celebrate quality ingredients. We love every aspect of our jobs! We’re lucky to be doing something that is so varied and enjoyable. As we’re a tiny company though, we can work long hours and we don’t get to have much time off- so when we do we really enjoy them and make sure we find the time to meditate and exercise.
What's been your proudest achievement to date?
The past few years have been such an incredible and opportune time for us. We are so humbled to be able to work with such incredible people every day. We could never have imagined that our first book The Art of Eating Well (now published in The UK, The USA, AUS and NZ and being translated into 4 other languages!) would top Amazon and other best seller lists since its publication in summer 2014. Receiving feedback every day via social media from people cooking and enjoying our recipes is incredibly rewarding.
How can hardworking girls use nutrition to optimize their energy levels? Please share your tips and tricks!
Our book includes a list of ‘10 things to do today’ that will help you to feel better immediately. Things such as starting your day with a glass of warm water and lemon to stimulate the digestive system. dry body brushing before showering to stimulate circulation and remove toxins, and taking an extra 10 minutes at lunch to focus on your food and chew properly.
What's next for Hemsley + Hemsley?
We’re thrilled to have launched the book in America, Canada, UK and Australia and New Zealand are excited to travel around Europe in the spring for the launch of some European editions. We’re looking forward to travelling to these countries to share our philosophy with others in making food and lifestyle decisions that best suit them. After all, the stomach is the way to the heart! We’re currently working on a TV show and our own line of products - first up is the HEMSLEY+HEMSLEY SPIRALIZER available for purchase on our website in January.