“The reality of writing is it doesn’t really pay very much at all. I have four books, and people must think you earn so much, but you don’t. So, I write for other people too. But the stuff I enjoy most is putting out recipes. I think I’m just a giver! I’m a Virgo: I love options and plans. So, whenever I think of anything like, “I’m going to make this soup with fennel, pea and potato, because that’s what’s in my fridge.” I think someone else is thinking about eating more vegetables, someone else wants to clear the fridge and not put more waste into landfill and save money, and I’m going to share it. So, I’m a sharer.
“The problem is, I don’t know how to describe myself. So I just do what I love!”
How did this all start for you?
“My sister, Jasmine, and I had been private cheffing. We didn’t have a company name, we didn’t have anything. But we didn’t need anything actually. It was a nice simple time where we didn’t have a website, Instagram didn’t exist, Linktree didn’t even exist. Twitter was then where people ranted, and Facebook was where you found your first love. We went to the market, went to the local veg shop, cooked food, fed our clients, who were bands and actors and really exciting creative people. Just like us, they wanted delicious food that boosted their mood and gave them energy so they could do their jobs better.
“I only learned to cook when I was in my early twenties, and then we started the company when I was 24. That’s something that I’m really trying to show on social media. Cooking is the one of the most basic, probably the most important skill ever. We have to eat, feeding ourselves is something that everybody used to do. But we’ve outsourced that to high streets and deliveries.
“It was bizarre when we finally had to set up a blog and a company name – Hemsley and Hemsley, which is our surnames, and took us literally a year to come up with! I remember Googling, ‘how do you use that up a blog?’ Then I asked every single person I knew for about six months, “Does anyone know anyone at Vogue?”. Eight years ago, Vogue to my knowledge, were the only magazine that had an online presence. We finally found somebody whose girlfriend had just got a job in the fashion department, and we begged her to tell us the name of the food editor of Vogue. She was like – there isn’t one!
“In the end, we got the beauty editor, who we begged and wooed her to get her to give us a chance. We posted a recipe and it did well and they asked for the next. We’re like, “Oh my God. We’ve got a Vogue column.” Then long story short, almost quite innocently we were starting to get offered book deals. I really listened to my gut and we said no because it didn’t feel like the right time. A year later when we had really understood the book we wanted to write, we pitched it and found the right publishers.”