20 QUESTIONS, 9 CREATIVES
Hill & Friends Founder: Emma Hill
creative director, entrepreneur, colour lover, baker, OCD label-maker, collector of cartoon paraphernalia, art lover.
It feels very apt to end this Lockdown Tastermaker Series with designer, Emma Hill - as it was started as a bit of fun - a sneak peak into life behind the closed doors of some of my best loved creatives. Emma is certainly one of life's fun loving characters and right now that sense of joy could not be more welcome. Her home that she shares with son Hudson, aged 13 and French Bulldog, Bleeker, sits behind a bubble-gum pink door, modelled on her favourite cartoon character, Barbapapa, who is now sporting googly eyes and a rainbow tongue - in support of our hugely valued NHS. Notorious in her London neighbourhood - the door is a hit amongst passers-by who frequently stop to take photos, or drop kind notes through the door. So who is Emma? Without you necessarily realising she has been the creative force behind the designs of many leading global brands. Having studied fashion design at Ravensbourne College Of Design And Communication, Emma spent 14 years in New York, working for leading design houses including, Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs, before returning to London in 2007 - where she was subsequently credited with turning Mulberry into the most covetable designer handbag brand and awarded a CBE for services to British fashion. Wanting to do things her own way, Emma launched Hill & Friends in 2015, with Georgia Fendley, defining once again a new standard in luxury handbag design – classic styling, but with a generous injection of humour, good value and loyal spirit. Emma maybe about fun, but hard-work is equally high on her agenda - and having experienced the luxury sector from many sides, she is dedicated to shaking things up and doing things differently: no ridiculous-out of your league price tags, and definitely NO compromise on style, quality and craftsmanship. Having bought one of their Hepworth Totes - I couldn't be more delighted, and believe me I searched for the perfect big workbag that would hold my life, for years! When I interviewed Emma for a recent magazine feature, this down to earth, real take on life was genuine - so no surprise to see that this virus pandemic has brought out more goodwill - followers have been invited to nominate their NHS heroes to receive a surprise and the company are about to launch a £20 Rainbow Hero Tote- with 100% of profits going to NHS Charities Together. High profile this lovely lady maybe, but old fashioned kindness values remain at her core - the smiley brand logo seems very fitting.
How has your home evolved during lockdown? A gradual migration of my existing home office, which was on the top floor of my house, down to the basement floor, where it’s nearer the fridge!!
How has your work had to adapt? We are very lucky that we at Hill & Friends already had a very small, but highly effective, dream-team…not just in terms of our core Head Office team, but also our incredible factory and warehouse, all of whom are British-based and still fully operational and delivering to our customers. This has meant that we haven’t had too much interruption to our regular way of working, other than the fact that all of our interactions are of a virtual nature! We have a daily team zoom call every morning, but we decreed very early on that these calls would only be audio, with absolutely no video (we are a predominantly female-led business after all!!!!)
What projects have you been dreaming up? We have been working on producing a fabulous H&F rainbow “HERO” cotton tote bag, which will be £20 RRP and with 100% of profits donated to “NHS CHARITIES TOGETHER” - will be available in the next week or so….watch this space!!!
How has your neighbourhood come together? It’s been a beautiful thing - neighbours looking after neighbours, finding inventive ways to interact with and help each other, and coming together as a community to look after those that can’t leave the house. And, every Thursday at 8pm, an emotional and noisy street clapping for our carers!!
Acts of kindness - to you / by you? All the myriad of tiny kindnesses that now occur every single day!
Favourite space in the house to escape to? My ensuite bathroom - it’s the only room in the house that has a lock on the door and so has occasionally served as a vital self-sanity-saving lockdown bunker! I live with a teenage son…….enough said!!!
Jobs in the house ticked off the list? Unfortunately not much!!! Just so busy working……which I am so grateful for!!
New daily rituals? Daily bike ride round my neighbourhood, which I adore! I was always too frightened to cycle before, because of the London traffic…..
Early morning fitness or another biscuit please? Of course I had grand lockdown plans to reinvent myself as a fitness fashion guru, but the sad truth is that I’m just so much more a “just one more biscuit” kind of girl!!!
What’s in your vase? No change there - potted white orchids all the way!
What’s on the menu? I have always loved to cook but, like most single working mothers, would more often than not, especially on weekdays, default to repetitive & quick meals. Now that I have more time I am really enjoying everything about mealtimes - from menu planning OCD weekly charts, to having the time to grocery shop little & often in our neighbourhood small local shops, to inventing new recipes, to setting aside a proper sit-down family mealtime, around the table. I’ve long been a sucker for buying cookbooks, and now I finally have the time to pour over them! I especially love Nigel Slater (for his infectious love of embracing seasonal British ingredients) and Julia Child (for her shameless love of butter!)
Favourite tipple to get you through? A glass of chilled red wine always seems to do the trick (but with a bottle of Patron Tequila on an emergency standby!!)
What book is on your bedside? 'The Testaments', by Margaret Atwood.
What tunes are playing? Old school sentimental favourites like David Bowie, Queen, Blondie, Everything But The Girl, The Smiths etc etc….until my son does a sneaky speaker Rap takeover!!
News updates or podcasts? BBC news updates on my phone, Audio Books and “Serial” Podcasts are my go-to obsessions.
Which IG accounts have inspired you? Am I allowed to say our own @hillandfriends ???!!!
What have you missed the most? Messy nights out with my friends!
What distractions are getting you through? We have set up daily, weekly repeating, games zooms with our friends both here and in the US…where we virtually play games like Rapidoh (I even had to make my own Playdoh for this!), Pictionary, Hearts card game etc etc….we are all as competitive as ever despite the new socially distanced aspect to the games!
Zoom backview? In my mind: a calmly zen home/work space. In reality: intermittent bursts of unexpected background chaos, lovingly provided by things like my son, Hudson, suddenly appearing in the background to raid the fridge or my French Bulldog, Bleecker, peeing on the floor!!!
What has your home meant to you over this time? This time has forced me to re-evaluate so many things that I once took for granted. Before, like so many of us, I would obsess over all the things wrong with my house (the DIY jobs I never finished, the natural chaotic mess that comes with the territory of living with a teenage boy and an excitable puppy, the victorian plumbing that is forever breaking…the list was endless). But now I just feel so humbled and so incredibly grateful for the space that is our home. I no longer see any of the flaws, but rather only the beauty and how very lucky we are….and it’s made me fall in love with our house all over again!
Image credits: Interior images kind permission Megan Taylor. Brand imagery, Hill & Friends. Home / lifestyle imagery, Emma Hill.