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California girl turned Lady of London, Marissa Hermer is a restaurateur, mother to Max and Jake, and wife to Matt Hermer - owner of Boujis, Bumpkin, and Eclipse - several of the hottest restaurants and clubs in London.  After working in New York City as a publicist for fashion, luxury restaurants, and nightclub brands, Marissa is applying her knowledge and passion for locally sourced ingredients and free-range, grass fed meat at her London Soho restaurant, Top Dog.  In 2014, Marissa took on the role of cast member joining Bravo’s reality television show Ladies of London.  Find out how she balances business, motherhood, marriage, and reality TV, her passion for serving locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, and how she's growing a business while growing a family.

Learn more about Marissa Hermer and follow her #MarissaHermerMakes recipes here!

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Life isn’t going to be perfect, but if you’re having fun with the juggle, that’s what counts.

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London Legacy

What did you learn as a cast member on Bravo’s Ladies of London?

I’m naturally a people pleaser, so this experience has helped me to be less so.  I’ve learned that I can’t make millions of fans happy all of the time.  I can only make those nearest and dearest to me happy.  For the rest, I can at least provide some entertainment, even if I’m not always the fan favorite!

My husband said the best thing about the show is that it’s given me thicker skin.  I used to take all criticisms to heart.  Now when I wake up to twitter trolls, tweeting negative things about me or seeing the other ladies saying harsh things in interviews, I laugh it off and get on with my day.  Reality TV is only a snippet of our lives, not all of it.  Thankfully I have a 4 year old and a 1 1/2 year old who are always bringing me back to reality.

Overall, I was happy with how I was portrayed on the show.  Of course, there are certain episodes where I see ‘scenes’ play out on TV that are totally different from how they played out in real life.  Therefore my reactions don’t make a lot of sense.  But overall, I think viewers see that our family is happy and healthy, that I adore my husband, and that I love my work.  After that, not a lot matters.

What can American and British women learn from each other culturally?

Stereotypically, British women drink heavily, are very witty, obsessed with class, have ‘British reserve,’ and think that a good cup of tea fixes everything.  Of course stereotypes are over-simplistic and certainly don’t apply to everyone, but they are stereotypes for a reason. 

Because my husband owns bars and nightclubs, I have a lot of alcohol at my fingertips.  I can’t say that I drink heavily, but this is probably because I’ve been pregnant (or trying to get pregnant or breast-feeding) for what seems like a decade.  That said, I do drink wine at lunch in London whereas in California, if I have a glass of wine at lunch, someone might want to send me to the Betty Ford Center.  There’s a different mentality about drinking over here and I’m all for a glass of wine at lunch.  Bring it on!  

I have to admit that I do love British humor.  My husband is very witty, and though I can’t say I’ve mastered the art of sarcasm, I’m definitely more sarcastic than when I landed here 10 years ago.  Brits tend to throw out insults as a joke, and the recipient doesn’t take it seriously, so it seems to work. 

The Brits I know are obsessed with class.  If you have a Lord or a Lady in front of your name, you are automatically accepted.  If not, you’ve got to work for it and prove yourself and even still, you won’t attain ‘class’ unless you marry into it.  Although I love the monarchy and am a royalist at heart (as it fulfills every Cinderella fairytale childhood dream I’ve had), I like that in America - where there is no aristocracy or royalty - you’re judged on your merit rather than who your great-great-great Grandparents were. 

I’m still very much American in that I embrace my emotions and don’t always show the stereotypical British reserve (sometimes to my husband’s chagrin!).  I think emotions are just part of communicating how you feel.  Although I’m not the type to scream and shout about every little thing, I do express my emotions whereas Brits tend to not show emotion and sweep everything under the metaphoric rug.

Tea; thank goodness I’ve learned about tea.  Brits taught me about tea and at first I didn’t understand why it’s so amazing.   I was a morning coffee drinker for years, but have now switched to tea for the slow release and calming kick of a good cuppa.  I also drink it in the afternoon, when I need a boost.  If a friend comes over and wants to talk, it’s with a cup of tea.  If I’m sad, I need a cup of tea.  Sunday afternoon with the papers isn’t complete without a cuppa.

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I’m a working mother and I’d like to show viewers that you can have it all.

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What is the key to having strong and supportive female friendships?

Friendships take time and because my work and family demand so much of my time, I inevitably have less time for socializing with friends.  Ten years ago in college, I lived in a sorority house filled with my girlfriends.  Now that I have a family, I can count on one hand the number of my nearest and dearest friends.  But, I’m okay with only having a few close friends because it gives me more time to dedicate to them.  The key to having strong and supportive female friendships is making time for each other in the midst of busy lives filled with career, children, and family.  Of course, we’re always there for each other to have an emergency chat over a martini (and this is probably the secret to being a good friend!).

Do you have any regrets for how you handled conflict on the show?

Often in life I wish I could press the delete button or restart and do it all over again.  When filming a reality TV show, sadly it’s all caught on tape!  I have to then take responsibility for my actions and my mistakes, which will be overanalyzed by the other women on the show and then by all of America!

We receive the episodes only a few days before they air on television, so I always watch through my fingers and I’m often cringing!  When I see myself in the midst of drama, it reminds me that I’ve done something to put myself there and thus have to deal with the consequences.  In real life, there isn’t so much drama, so I get my fill while on the show!

What type of role model would you like to provide as a public figure?

I’m a working mother and I’d like to show viewers that you can have it all.  That said, it isn’t going to be perfect.  If you’re striving for perfection with children, a family, and career, it isn’t going to happen.  I do the best I can at home and at work and try to be a good person.  Life isn’t going to be perfect, but if you’re having fun with the juggle (and okay with dropping a few balls along the way), then that’s what counts.

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We’ve created brands where we want to be customers ourselves.

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Reality Role Model

What is the key to running a successful business in hospitality?

I wish there was one secret and I wish I knew it!  I can’t take credit for Boujis, Bumpkin, and Eclipse, as my husband started these before I was around.  That said, I learned a lot while opening Top Dog and have watched how my husband runs his brands.  One of the keys is hiring great people.  We have an amazing team at the Ignite Group and it’s always our priority to hire the best people we can find.  The second key is to be your best customer.  We’ve created brands where we want to be customers ourselves.  After that, the key is a lot of hard work and luck.

How are you able to impact health through hospitality in your restaurants?

Bumpkin is all about using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and supporting our local British farms.  To us, being healthy isn’t about counting calories, but about eating fresh ingredients and grass-fed, fresh-caught, free-range, and home-made dishes rather than non-fat / sugar-free foods.  When I was thinking about the concept of Top Dog, I wanted to open an American hot dog shop, but since I never knew what was in the murky hot dogs of my New York City days, I wanted our Top Dogs to be filled with the best free-range, grass-fed ingredients from farms and butchers I knew and trusted since our kids would no doubt be eating at Top Dog. 

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Bumpkin is about using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and supporting our local British farms.

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What is the key to growing a business while growing a family?

It isn’t easy to grow a business or to grow a family - and to do both at the same time is certainly a challenge.  I wish I knew the ‘key’ and the truth is that when I’m working, I do feel guilty that I’m not with my kids.  Then when I’m with my kids, I’m thinking of all of the things I’m not doing at work.  I embrace the guilt, realize it’s part of the process, and then get on with it.  Even as I write this, the kids are playing on the floor next to me and I’m interrupted every three minutes to settle a conflict or to fix a broken lego, so I’m sure this is not the key!

It’s really about how you divide your time.  When I’m with the kids, I’m 100% with them.  No matter how long I’m with them, my energy and focus is on them and they feel that.  I also get my own needs fulfilled as a mother by spending time with them.  When I’m in the office, I’m 100% at work and not being interrupted by broken legos and I’m able to fly through my to-do list.  However, right now I’m on pregnancy bed rest, so I have to work from home.  Even though I love hearing my kids in the playroom or seeing them next to me as I work, it can be distracting and I don’t feel like I’m doing anything 100%.

How do you maintain a strong marriage as a mother and business owner?

We’ve prioritized our marriage because it’s more important than anything else.  We view it as our most important job, so we work at it.  Matt knows I adore him because I tell him a lot.  I leave little notes for him and we’re always checking in with each other throughout the day.  We make time for date nights and also make time for each other’s ‘me’ time.  I can tell when Matt needs some time to himself and I support that.  And he knows when I need to spend the morning in my robe at home, so he’ll take the kids to the park.  We give each other what the other needs and we’re always laughing.  Even when we’re thrown curve balls in our personal life or work life, we know we can lean on each other and we’ll get through it all.  Of course it helps that we share an office at home and at work so we get to see each other a lot too! 

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We’ve prioritized our marriage because it’s more important than anything else.

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How can we be smart balancing roles as wife, mother, and businesswoman?

When I was pregnant with our eldest son and I was worried about how I was going to juggle being a working mom, my dear friend gave me the wisest advice, ‘You will feel guilty.  It’s part of it and normal.’  At the time, I didn’t know how right she was, but yes, I always feel like I’m missing out on something.  Right now, I’m missing dinner with the kids because I was with them this afternoon and now have some work to catch up on.  It’s a constant juggle and I can’t be in two places at once.  I also don’t want to be on my iPhone at the dinner table so I’m tucked away in our home office and hear the kids monkeying around downstairs.  

You’ll make sacrifices in trying to have it all.  Certain things won’t be perfect but you do the best you can, given the hand you’re dealt.  For my role as a mother, I try to always make it home for bath time and bedtime.  This is as much my own time as it is for my kids - sometimes I think I need their cuddles more than they need my bedtime stories!  I think it’s all about perception.  Look to the good bits and realize that you’re lucky to be on this journey as a mother and a businesswoman, rather than begrudging all of the things you’re missing and the balls you’re dropping.  And now, I’m off downstairs to join the munchkins for dinner! 

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Realize that you’re lucky to be on this journey as a mother and a businesswoman.

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Spotlight on Marissa Hermer

Neighbourhood: Chelsea, London

Occupation: Restaurateur

Women I Admire: My Mother

Dream Mentor: Danny Meyer

Look of the Season: Zoe Jordan Sweaters (cozy but the arm cutouts show a bit of skin)

Ultimate Accessory: My wedding band

Favorite Store: Harvey Nichols

Go-to Outfit: Boyfriend Jeans, Cashmere Jumper, Isabel Marant Trainers

Must-have Shoes: Aquazzura

Favorite Nail Polish: I don’t wear nail polish as can never keep up the maintenance so I just keep them clean, short, and buffed.

Can't Live Without Product: Sarah Chapman Overnight Facial

Salon Recommendation: Gary Glossman for cut and Heidi Gammon for Colour at Josh Wood Atelier in Holland Park 

Signature Scent: Chanel Gardenia

Beauty Essential: Laura Mercier Lip Stain

Cocktail of Choice: Our Eclipse Watermelon Martini

Best Date: Sitting at our local tapas bar with my husband

Travel Destination: Mauritius 

Favorite Quote: 'Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.'

De-Stress Technique: Bedtime stories and pyjama cuddles with our children

Favorite App: WAZE - helps me navigate the traffic of London

College: Middlebury College

Sorority: ADP

 

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