Having joined her family business, HemingwayDesign in 2009 after graduating from UCL, Tilly Hemingway divides her time between working on various urban, interior and products design projects for the company and making functional ceramics for her own business, Tilly Hemingway Ceramics.
The brains behind the newly revamped Dreamland on Margate seafront (well worth a trip, if you haven’t already been), HemingwayDesign has worked on a number of exciting projects and collaborations including Coca Cola, Beano and Royal Doulton. With a degree in Urban Studies and a creative family background (her parents also co-founded fashion label Red or Dead in the early 80s), Tilly now counts Goodhood, Nook Shop and most recently Obonjan Island as key Tilly Hemingway Ceramics stockists. We wanted to find out how the young British designer successfully juggles a busy work life whilst maintaining her own business and looking after her gorgeous puppy, Mo.
“In 2014, after designing a range of ceramics for Royal Doulton, I decided to give pottery a go. I wanted to really understand the process and after a couple of attempts on the wheel, I was well and truly hooked. A few months later, I found a shared ceramics studio in North London and consequently established Tilly Hemingway Ceramics. I now spend evenings and weekends (not all, I need to make sure I still have a life outside of work) making functional ceramic pieces for a number of independent retailers across the UK.
Since getting a puppy earlier this year, my mornings involve being woken up at 6am, quite literally, by a dog sitting on my head.
I’m not one for an extensive beauty regime, I like to get up, sit on the sofa and wake myself up with a cup of English breakfast tea or stove-top coffee. I’ve never been in to fruit or herbal teas. Give me a real builder’s brew, please. I’ll then jump in the shower, get dressed and my partner and I will take our Mo (said dog) for a walk before work.
I usually arrive at work at 8.30am, unless I need to be elsewhere for meetings. The first thing I do is read and answer emails before grabbing a bite to eat at my desk and commencing the working day.
My weekday and weekend breakfasts differ drastically. During the week, breakfasts are usually a cereal bar and coffee or slice of avocado on toast if I have time. On the weekend, I enjoy spending my mornings in the kitchen making a proper brunch. A favourite is sweetcorn fritters with smashed avocado and balsamic tomatoes. If I’m heading to the studio I’ll try and have something substantial like this in the morning as I tend to get carried away with making, and may not eat again until I get home.
My five most essential breakfast items are: good Coffee (my current favorite is Coleman Coffee Roasters), sourdough bread (on weekend mornings we take Mo for a walk on Hampstead Heath and we’ll grab a fresh loaf from Karma, a small bakery in Hampstead village, on the way home), ripe avocados, lemon and chilli.
Exercise helps me wake up and feel good. A walk with the dog or a run helps me clear my head and ensures I am in the right frame of mind to throw on the pottery wheel. I’ve run the London Marathon a couple of times. During training and on race day I woke up extra early to make quinoa porridge. It’s essential that you get enough energy when running long distances without feeling too heavy from the foods you have eaten. Quinoa with banana and maple syrup is perfect for this.
I’ve been vegan for nearly 7 years so not sure how indulgent you can be at breakfast once you take away fatty meats and cream but I do occasionally like a plateful of homemade pancakes with caramelised nuts, banana and lashings of maple syrup. Which probably isn’t that indulgent really! I’m not a fan of overly greasy or sweet foods. I like to feel good after eating, but I’d quite happily sit and devour a whole loaf of fresh bread with smashed avocado and lashings of olive oil.
Some of the best breakfast’s I’ve had was when travelling India with my family ten years ago. When we first arrived I turned my nose up at eating curry for breakfast but by the end of the trip I couldn’t get enough! In London my favourite breakfast is the Avocado toast at Violet’s on Wilton Way, Hackney. That may seem a boring choice but they get it spot on, you’d be surprised how many cafes don’t!
Since establishing my ceramics brand, I’ve struggled to get as much running in as I would like. For me running isn’t about keeping slim, running helps me clear my mind, focus, be more productive and makes me a happier person. The fitter I am the less sleep I tend to need too.
My perfect morning would entail; waking up on my own accord around 7.30/8am. Sitting on the sofa in the flat I share with my other half (Dan) with a coffee. Throwing on some comfortable clothes and heading out for a 2 hour walk on Hampstead Heath with Dan and Mo. On route home we’d pick up fresh ingredients for Brunch and spend a good hour cooking / eating upon our return.
I travel a lot for work with HemingwayDesign. We have clients, projects and collaborators all over the UK. Sometimes I may have a 9am meeting in Liverpool or Belfast which means setting my alarm for 4.30 in the morning. This can be a struggle. As much as I don’t like lie-ins, I do like 7/8 hours sleep a night. When I’m travelling, I try to have a good home cooked meal and not eat too late as this always affects how I feel in the morning. Making sure I have my bag packed and clothes ready if leaving the house early in the morning also helps me relax and get a good night’s sleep knowing all I need to do in the morning is wake up and shower. I also try to prepare or buy snacks for my travels, especially if I know I’m likely to struggle getting anything vegan friendly.
The latest I’ve ever woken up is probably 10am due to being sick. I’m not good at lie-ins, for some reason I feel guilty about staying in bed much past 8am. I always think there is something I should be getting on with, whether it’s cleaning the flat, answering emails, sketching new ideas or just sitting listening to music. It’s also impossible to stay in bed late when you have a young energetic dog. Mo will stand by the bed (or on top of us) begging us to take her for a walk.
The best place I've ever woken up is in an old airstream in the Morongo Valley. My partner and I travelled through California last summer and spent one night in the airstream. Waking up there was incredible. At dawn the light made the surrounding mountains look super imposed. Such a beautiful landscape and so peaceful.
The first thing I see every morning and the last thing I see at night is Mo’s face; I’m not obsessed, it just happens.
My best piece of morning advice would be: Allow yourself time. If there is one thing I’ve learnt from juggling two jobs it is not to rush and give yourself enough time for personal activities. Whether it be a quick run, walk, bike ride or just a 15 minute sit down with a brew. Time with yourself and your loved ones is never time wasted. “
Follow Tilly (and her dog, lets face it) @tilly_hemingway_ceramics, for general life inspiration, and the odd piece of pottery porn.