This week, we interviewed the inspirational Marissa Hermer. Marissa became a mother two years ago, and is now pregnant with her second child. Marissa leverages her own public relations & marketing background for the family business, The Ignite Group which owns and operates a group of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs including Bumpkin, Eclipse, Boujis and Wyld.
Marissa is currently producing birthday and event packages for children. Bumpkin Babes offer bespoke parties for toddlers, with soft play flooring, and children’s afternoon tea parties, cooking parties and science parties.
Marissa also serves on the fundraising board of the NSPCC. You can expect to see more of Marissa, as rumour has it that she is set to appear in society ‘reality’ show being produced by BBC Worldwide, Ladies of London, airing on the Bravo network this Spring.
You’re pregnant with your second child, what are the main differences you’ve noticed with this pregnancy?
During my first pregnancy, I was doing some freelance PR but my schedule was very flexible – leaving me time for lots of weekly pre-natal pampering of pilates, yoga, and reflexology. I was going on long walks in Hyde Park, played Beethoven to my tummy, and spent an inordinate time putting body oil on my bump while visualising the little babe growing inside. Now, I’m almost six months and it is only when the babe kicks that I’m reminded I’m pregnant. This time around, my husband and I are in the depths of opening a entirely new restaurant concept, scheduled to open a few weeks before the baby is due (!) – so the work front is crazy busy. When I was pregnant with our toddler, I was sleeping in late and taking naps and taking care of myself – this time around, I have a toddler to take care of, so I’m up early and run around after him all day – it doesn’t leave any time for prenatal pampering or those long walks in Hyde Park.
What’s the one baby product you can’t live without?
I love the aden + anais security blanket. With businesses in Europe and Asia – we have an Eclipse bar in the W Barcelona hotel, have just opened Boujis Barcelona, and opened Boujis Hong Kong last year – and with my family in California and New York, we are often traveling. A friend suggested that we give our son a ‘cuddly’ to make him feel at home even across different time zones and locations – and though a little bunny cuddly would be cuter than a muslin, this aden + anais muslin has been perfect as not only does our son love it, it is also very easy to pack and wash, and when we are on an overnight flight or need to block out light for sleep time during traveling, we just put it over his eyes and voila, lights out!
Where did you grow up, what was family life like – were you one of a big family?
My younger brother and I grew up in Laguna Beach and moved to Newport Beach when I was 10 and he was a toddler. When my East Coast or European counterparts grew up building winter Snowmen, my brother and I grew up building Sandmen on the beach. We had a very typical Southern California childhood – we spent weekends rollerblading down the Newport Beach boardwalk, boogie boarding in the Laguna Beach surf, taking our dog labrador for hikes and selling home-made lemonade on the side of our neighbourhood sidewalk. In retrospect, we certainly weren’t charging enough for a cup of lemonade – 25 cents (15 pence) is a steal for almost anything! Certainly under market value for a cup of homemade lemonade!
What’s on your to-do list this week?
On the family front, I’m getting organised for Christmas. My parents, my brother and his girlfriend always come to London for a few weeks over the holidays, so there is a lot to plan – I’ve booked tickets to a few London shows, ‘Mojo’ and ‘Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ – and every year we take my family and my husband’s family to Christmas Carols at the Royal Albert Hall for a festive family singalong. I’m also hoping to get a few Christmas pressies ticked off the list at The Pottery Cafe though taking our two-year old to paint mugs and platters might be a bit ambitious.
On the work front, I’m finalising our Bumpkin Babes offering for kiddie parties and events, meeting with our designers to sign off the presentation pack, and finalising the Party Children’s menu and the ‘Grown-Ups’ menu. Now that our son is in nursery, I’m scheduling post-drop-off meetings and need a place to go to have them as at that time in the morning, I’m ready for my second coffee, and as I’m pregnant, my second breakfast. I want to open Bumpkin for breakfast – it is a perfect place to meet once the kiddies are safely ensconced in nursery and school – so from January, we will be open in the morning. I need to draft the breakfast menu and meet with our head chef to review my ideas. For our new restaurant, Matt and I are meeting with our brand strategy and design agencies to finalise its identity and core values – and we are having another tasting for our proposed menu which will take 4 hours – which means that I will be rolling myself home on Friday evening.
Your husband’s in the restaurant trade; are you a big foodie and what’s your favourite restaurant in London?
When I was living in New York, I worked in the PR sector, opening bars, restaurants and nightclubs – so Matt and I share this passion and profession. The F&B industry isn’t a 9-5 job – it has become our life. Thankfully, we both love it, and often I find it hard to differentiate between work and play. I’ve always loved food, I love the food itself but also the ceremony of gathering good friends and family around a table for some great grub and shared laughter. I’m a huge fan of Bumpkin (of course!), but when I want to get away from work, we are at Scott’s. It is our home away from home – and though I think I should be more adventurous and order something different, I inevitably stick with my favourite – Shellfish Cocktail to start, followed by Grilled Dover Sole, and the Honeycomb ice cream as the finale.
What three things would you take on a desert island?
My family, my kindle, and a sarong. And I might never come back!
What are your beauty tips for a busy mum?
You’ve got to find a good colourist – and if you don’t colour your hair, well then, you are one step ahead of the rest of is. I’ve seen Heidi for over 5 years – almost as long as I’ve known my husband! I see her at Josh Wood’s Atelier. I don’t actually have to tell her what to do – she just knows – that is the beauty of having a colourist who knows your hair better than you do. I just leave it to the expert and catch up on emails while she works her magic. The Atelier also has an amazing in-house chef, so I always book in for a morning session so I can have breakfast.
I’m not great with makeup, I’m not sure if it is because I can’t do it well enough or if I just can’t be bothered to spend the time and I don’t feel like learning, so instead I invest in keeping my skin glowing with Sarah Chapman’s Skinesis facials and her products. I use each of her products religiously – and marinate my face in her ‘Overnight Facial’ every night.
During the day, I pile on The Lip Scrub which I’m totally obsessed with and love because it makes my lips feel fresh and clean, and also tastes delicious. I’m probably not supposed to eat it, but I do, and am always delighted when I’ve put a bit too much on because that means more for me! And for night, I put on a red lip, as somehow I think a kick of a red lip makes me feel more awake, like I’ve tried and made an effort and like I’m not going to fall over after a long day.
Where in London is your favourite place to visit with the family on the weekend?
I wasn’t a big coffee drinker before our son was born – but for the past couple years, I feel like I could have coffee on an IV drop. So conveniently, my husband is the Chairman of La Bottega, the Italian delicatessen, which serves the best coffee in London. On Sunday mornings, our son wakes us up and we wander over to La Bottega for our morning fix and this time of year, Panettone. We then head over to Hyde Park to feed the ducks with the week’s old bread – it has become a weekly tradition and despite the chilly mornings, it feels great to get outside for a walk – we just bundle up. Our son sometimes feeds the ducks the panettone that is meant for his own mouth – there are some very lucky ducks indeed.
Sunday afternoons are spent at Royal China – we always over order and then eat everything. Matt opened a Boujis in Hong Kong last year and we love dim sum, so when we can’t be in Asia, we get our fix at Royal China. And it is so speedy – we arrive, order and pay our bill, all in under an hour – so it works well for a toddler’s attention span!
What’s your favourite family meal?
There is nothing better than a Roast Chicken dinner with all the fixings – roast veg and potatoes and cauliflower cheese. I never had cauliflower cheese growing up, it just isn’t a Southern California staple – so when I moved to London and discovered it, it was like ‘Hallelujah! Where have you been hiding all my life?!’ I probably eat too much cauliflower cheese now, but I’m just making up for lost time.
How would you sum yourself up in one sentence?
Optimistic, Productive, and Fun-loving