10 Minutes With: Pure Package Founder, Jennifer Irvine
Jennifer Irvine is on a mission: to revolutionise healthy eating for the time poor. We get the skinny on this professional foodie in our latest Coffee Break Q&A.
30 Second CV
Name: Jennifer Irvine
The Real Deal
Brief overview of what you do:
Like every professional mother, I am a juggler. I have four young daughters but am better known for being an entrepreneur as I own and run two meal-delivery services: The Pure Package and Balance Box. I am strategic – from working with my team to create healthy, nutritionally balanced meals and planning new menus, to designing all our packaging and working out the logistics. Basically I do whatever it takes to ensure that our fabulous clients – from supermodels and Hollywood stars to regular parents doing the school run! – are as delighted with our products and service as possible.
Can you describe your job in 3-5 words?
Food, health, lifestyle, busy and fun!
Do you have a weekday morning routine?
My weekdays all start at home. I slip out of bed at 5am, before anyone else is awake, and spend a precious and valuable couple of hours in my home office planning my day, addressing any admin, and checking any overnight details which have come in.
Then I put on my mummy hat and head to my children’s bedrooms, where the chaos begins! Once tummies (including mine) have been filled and bags packed, everyone has been sent off to school and the baby is fed and happy, I’ll either go back to my home office or head to our HQ in London (I live about 45 mins away).
Once there, the first thing I usually do is to kick off my high heels and have a cup of mint tea! Then it’s head down and meetings and decision-making until I leave for the school pick-up.
What does a typical day at your desk look like?
There really is no typical day. I generally manage to pack half a day’s worth of work into the pre-dawn hour at my desk before my family wakes up, which sets me up for the rest of the day. I will always have at least one conversation with my “foodie” team – our nutritionists and chefs – and all of my staff know that I have a total open-door policy when it comes to discussing anything.
There are days when I spend most of my time talking to suppliers, and days when I’m racing around town meeting publishers and agents, or media executives and chefs.
Depending on what ongoing project I have on, I might try to find a couple of hours somewhere in the day to focus on writing, setting up a (food) photo shoot, or sometimes just doing that boring old business thing of ploughing through emails and checking documents.
I also try to talk to food producers and farmers, and food bloggers and writers as much as possible – not just because I need to keep abreast of what’s happening in our world, but because I love spending time and sharing ideas with people who are as passionate about food as I am!
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
There have been some great highlights. Publishing my first book was incredible – seeing all my hard work in black and white (and colour!) was indescribable. I’ve also won some great awards, which really make me feel valued, as well as meeting two Prime Ministers and being invited to Downing Street, Buckingham Palace, and the Houses of Westminster – the businessperson in me got a huge kick out of all of that!
And then there are days when I get the loveliest email from a grateful client who’s been transformed with the help of my team. That’s when I know I’m doing exactly what I should be.
Your job – the good, the bad, the ugly:
Gosh. It’s almost all good: wonderful people, fabulous clients, a real sense of purpose – and I work with my favourite thing, food! There is very little bad. As with every mum, sometimes you get frustrated because something doesn’t work out, like getting stuck in unexpected traffic and feeling like the worst mother because you’re the last one to pick up from school – but the world keeps turning, and I truly love what I do. How lucky am I to be able to say that?
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
To find what I love and which makes me happy, and then do something with that so that I can flourish. At the root of everything I do are the questions: do I love doing this, and does it help me to grow? As soon as the answer to either of those is “no”, I’ll change direction.
What would you say to your twenty year old self with the benefit of hindsight?
I think I’d be too impressed with myself to actually interfere too much! I’d say: “You are doing so well. Sure, you’re not getting paid a lot and the hours are long, but keep doing what you’re doing. Stick with what you love, and don’t let anyone deter you from your passions. You already know what you love so enjoy it.”
How do you relax and recharge?
I love my kitchen garden. If I’m not working or with my family, that’s where you’ll find me. Having grown up on a self-sufficient farm in Ireland, it’s in my blood to grow and produce as much food as I can. So over the years I’ve created a wonderful vegetable and herb garden at home, as well as keeping chickens and bees. Spending time in that lovely peaceful space, pottering about surrounded by nature, where things come to life and are created from nothing – that is so energising to me. And best of all I get to take what nature has delivered and create wonderful recipes from it!
What’s the last book you read?
I’m such a food nerd that my reading material is almost always a recipe or food book! I was totally engrossed in Hemsley and Hemsley recently, which is beautifully written and packed full of down-to-earth recipes featuring real, wholesome, fun ingredients.
What’s your favourite way to treat yourself?
I love spas, so sometimes after dropping the girls off at school I disappear to Cowarth Park for the day and am totally pampered. My guilty pleasure, however, is salted caramel – it’s important to treat yourself now and then. Life is for living after all!
Complete this statement: I feel most powerful when wearing…
Heels! I love wearing them for every occasion, there’s just something about wearing heels that makes me feel feminine and confident. It’s so important that I feel good as well as look good in the industry that I’m in, especially as I attend lots of events and meetings. Standing tall makes me feel empowered.
My weekday wardrobe consists of:
For my work wardrobe, I love the glamour of the Valentino Red Collection and a pair of killer heels. Gina and Jimmy Choo are my ‘Go To’ shoe designers. I buy heels and flats that match so I don’t have to rethink my outfit when I change my shoes. It’s important for me to wear what suits my body and is comfortable as I am always out at meetings, events or collecting my daughters from school.
My weekend wardrobe consists of:
Wellies, jeans, a soft cashmere jumper or raincoat and a pair of gardening gloves. I spend a lot of time mucking about in my vegetable garden with my kids, and there really is no space for glamour there – it’s all about being comfortable.
Pure Package and Balance Box are designed to make it easier to fit delicious, nutritious food into busy lives. Sign up for a customised meal plan from Jennifer’s range, or make your own Irvine inspired dishes by following the recipes in her two books, The Balance Diet and The Diet for Food Lovers.