Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley became household names seven years ago thanks to their wellness blog, now they have become the latest ambassadors for Swiss watch brand Oris. We find out more…
Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley, Oris Ambassadors
Given how much the wellness landscape has changed in the past few years, it seems amazing that the Hemsley sisters have been encouraging us all to eat better for seven years now. It was back in 2010 that the two sisters, Jasmine and Melissa, set up launching their family-run wellness business for people who want to live healthier, happier lives.
It was obviously a way of thinking and eating that struck a chord because, within two weeks of setting up the blog, they were asked to contribute to Vogue.co.uk.
That was just the start of a whirlwind of success. Next up was their first cookbook The Art of Eating Well that introduced the world to the wonders of bone broth, which was swiftly followed by a second book – Good + Simple – a café in Selfridges and a television series.
This year has seen the sisters pursue solo projects and in between all their other projects, the two sisters have become ambassadors for Swiss watch brand Oris – a move which will certainly introduce the brand to similarly confident, modern women who, like Hemsley + Hemsley know that, with watches as with people, it’s what’s inside that counts.
Where did your interest in food come from and how did it develop into the business you set up in 2010?
Jasmine: I worked full-time as a model from the age of 19. Fascinated by the many different attitudes towards nutrition that surrounded me, I was inspired to research and experiment in improving my health. I soon began to develop a way of eating that made me feel energised and through this I realised that natural, easy-to-digest and nutrient-dense foods were what truly counted. I soon began to share this knowledge – with friends and family too.
Melissa: I worked as a footwear brand manager and later in marketing and promotion for gastropubs and bars. With such a full work life and plenty of travel I soon began to feel burnt out. Jasmine would share her interest in health and wellness with me along with the tips and tricks she developed along the way. Enjoying feeling my best, I helped to spread the word and before we knew it we had our first full-time client!
You talk about the importance of gut health – what does that mean exactly and why is having a healthy gut important?
We believe that a healthy gut and good digestion leads to a healthy body and mind. The key to our philosophy is gut health and good digestion – it’s not just what you eat, it’s what you digest that counts. Without a healthy gut lining, your body will not be able to efficiently digest and absorb vital minerals and nutrients, so even if you are eating nourishing foods, you may not be getting all their benefits.
How did you find writing a cookbook? Was it something that came easily or was it a bit of a challenge?
We found it came very naturally to us as we had already been blogging for Vogue and sharing recipes and inspiration on social media, so we felt like we had a lot to say. It was really fun getting friends and publishers to test our recipes in order for us to decide which ones would make it into the books. We developed our first 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. Good + Simple, our second book, sees us strip everything back to make starting a healthy lifestyle, unintimidating, intuitive and easy to maintain with simple tips, meal plans, shopping lists and more.
And how did you find the television show? I ask because cooking on TV while talking is apparently really difficult to do and a reason why some cook’s programmes are so awkward to watch. Not an issue you had, obviously, but did it come naturally?
Luckily we’d had a bit of practice with live TV stints, such as Saturday Kitchen and Sunday Brunch. We’ve also done lots of cooking demos, as well as teaching our private clients to cook, so preparing a meal and chatting wasn’t too much of an issue for us! Our hearts and souls went into creating the 10-episode series and we really wanted to show viewers our just what “feel-good food” means to us. It’s different to lots of other cooking shows because as well as showing off our favourite recipes, we explore and explain how important eating real food and cooking with real ingredients is, whether that’s by visiting an urban beehive in the heart of London, or an Essex-based quinoa farm.
Oris has an intiative called #CraftingCulture, how does your personality and culture (i.e. who you are) inspire your culinary expression?
We grew up in army barracks in Germany so the notion of being frugal and cooking with what you have was embedded in us from a young age. We would watch our mother cook with such care and attention and this is something that has definitely been instilled in us, as well as our love for real, home-cooked food. In this sense, we see similarities between our craft and passion for cooking, as Oris do with the creation of their watches. We’ve got to truly experience the Oris philosophy and see the craftsmanship and dedication that goes into each watch – it’s been insightful and inspiring! Their values match our own; striving to have a genuinely positive impact and celebrating a conscientious approach to living.
2017 has seen you explore different projects – can you tell us a bit about them and why they are important to you?
It’s been a fantastic seven years for H+H; last year’s success with our second cookbook Good + Simple, the tv series and celebrating a year and counting with our London cafe at Selfridges. Just like Oris, we value how precious time is, so we’ve been exploring our own individual passion projects and what makes us, which has been really fun.
Jasmine: I’m continuing to explore 360 degree wellness with Sound Sebastien, a pop-up for London sound baths [a healing therapy that uses sound to induce a mediative state] and my new cookbook East by West: Simple Ayurvedic recipes for Ultimate Mind-Body Balance is out now.
Melissa: I’ve become involved with the global campaign Cook For Syria [which uses the promotion of Syrian food through events and supper clubs as a way of raising for the humanitarian crisis there]. I’m is also a proud judge for YBFs (Young British Foodies) and will release my first solo cookbook in January, Eat Happy: 30 Minute Feelgood Food.
We recently travelled to beautiful Basel for a taste of a Swiss summer, where we hosted an event at the Maison Oris flagship, visited the incredible factory where every watch is born and put on a breakfast with the team in Zurich.
How is it being siblings and working so closely together – do you ever have any major disagreements or are your personalities such that you complement rather than antagonise each other?
Jasmine: Everyone’s favourite question! Of course it’s not always plain sailing as it would be with anyone you work with all the time. As sisters what works really well for us is being able to cut to the chase and because we know each other so well we get stuff done really quickly. 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.
Melissa: Luckily our work is so varied – we have weeks where we work remotely, speaking via email, phone and Skype and other weeks where we are constantly together travelling. Last year we did England, Ireland, Scotland, Sydney, Dubai, New York, Germany, Holland and Belgium together! With cooking, meetings and recipe developments there is 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. The good thing is when it comes back to just being family we find it remarkably easy to switch off!
You’ve also become ambassadors for Oris – your watch choices for the campaign are very different. Why did you choose those particular styles and what do you think they say about your individual personalities?
Melissa: I loved the moon design and the navy strap on my Artelier Grande Lune. I tend to wear a lot of dresses so wanted a watch that would suit a feminine silhouette and be so comfortable that I forget I’m wearing it.
Jasmine: I really liked my Aquis as it’s quite a statement in itself being sporty (it’s a diver’s watch). More often than not I’m wearing bright colours so having a neutral, silver watch meant I could avoid clashing too much.
On the subject of time, if you found yourselves with a spare hour in the day what would you do with it?
Jasmine: Yoga or the great outdoors for a nature fix to balance out the day.
Melissa: Get outside for some fresh air and I’d probably take my dog Nelly with me too.