Marissa Hermer is an all-American California girl who now is a lady of London living and working in the exclusive borough of Kensington and Chelsea. As a Director of Special Projects for the Ignite Group, Marissa is the queen of the social scene whether you are in her beautiful kitsch, quirky and uber healthy Bumpkin restaurant, trying the delicious (and famous) cocktails in Eclipse bar or dancing the night away surrounded by famous faces in Boujis, you'll more than likely bump into her somewhere along the way! She's recently become a fully fledged member of the elite appearing in Bravo TV's series Ladies of London which followed Marissa and her friends including Caroline Stanbury and Caprice Bourret in their adventures in London.
There's more to Marissa than meets the eye as she successfully juggles her family life with her ever-expanding business empire as we heard on the grapevine their are plans for another restaurant in the Ignite group just around the corner. We delved into Marissa's world and asked her a few questions on the best places to visit in Chelsea, her Ladies of London co-stars and her wardrobe essentials.
DONNA IDA: What was it like growing up in California?
Marissa Hermer: I loved growing up in Southern California - I spent Summer days on the beach playing in the sand and evenings in our backyard barbecuing hot dogs and hamburgers.
DONNA IDA: Tell us about your career history? How did you get your first job in PR?
Marissa Hermer: I knew I wanted a career in PR and because I love the story-telling aspect of the job – I love following the beginning stages of a launch and find it very exciting and interesting. My first job fell into my lap by a total stroke of luck - Ian Schrager was my first client, and he has since been a huge mentor in the food and beverage industry.
DONNA IDA: How did you decide to make the move to New York?
Marissa Hermer: Although I grew up in California, I went to Middlebury College in Vermont - a very rural (and cold!) setting. I loved the change from California and knew that I wanted to try something new again after college. New York seemed like a perfect fit - I was ready for a fast paced, exciting experience and New York certainly delivered!
DONNA IDA: Where are your New York hot spots?
Marissa Hermer: I will always love Gramercy Park Hotel as opening it was one of my first PR projects. I love dinner at the NoMad Hotel, margaritas at La Esquina, and late night fun at Boom Boom Room. For shopping, I always go to Barneys when I’m in New York as it is the ultimate one-stop-shop. You can also find me at the closest J. Crew buying everything in sight!
DONNA IDA: Where did you meet your husband Matt Hermer?
Marissa Hermer: Matt and I met for the first time at a dinner party where we were sat next to each other. We reconnected at the Gramercy Park Hotel years later when he came to New York.
DONNA IDA: How and when did you move to London? What is it that you love about Chelsea?
Marissa Hermer: I moved to London in 2004. I was immediately drawn to Chelsea as it has a very vibrant restaurant and bar scene, lovely shops (that can be seriously dangerous!) and wonderful artisan food stores. However, soon after I married Matt I realised that what I love most about Chelsea is the family-friendly vibe - the streets are tree-lined (and stroller-lined!), the parks are easily accessible, and we live right around the corner from a number of excellent schools for my sons, Max and Jake.
DONNA IDA: Bumpkin is so beautiful, your South Kensington branch is set out like a little garden, do you pick all the pieces to go in it?
Marissa Hermer: Yes, I did. I love the little garden gnomes - or rather my toddler loves them and collects them from around the garden whenever we have breakfast or lunch there. He hates putting them back in the garden flower beds but knows they will be waiting for him for his next visit.
DONNA IDA: We noticed a Bumpkin cook book in the offering, what's your favourite meal to make?
Marissa Hermer: I love a traditional Sunday Roast, our Bumpkin head chef Ray taught me how to make Yorkshire pudding at home. It is delicious and I am sure to never skimp on gravy!
DONNA IDA: Your company Ignite has Chelsea's famous Eclipse Bar which is just around the corner from Donna Ida - what is your favourite drink?
Marissa Hermer: Definitely the Watermelon Martini - hands down! Whenever I want to have a fun night out, I always start with one (or two!) of these. But consider yourself warned - a third will put you on the floor. You can find the recipe on my website.
DONNA IDA: Boujis is a famous nightclub always attracting A-list celebrities - who is the most memorable person you've had a Crackbaby shot with?
Marissa Hermer: I'm a huge anglophile so I would say the most exciting celebs I have spotted on the dance floor are most definitely the royals. Princess Catherine, Prince William, Prince Harry have all been known to frequent the nightclub. One particular night sticks out in my head when I saw Owen Wilson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Denzel Washington and Prince Harry in different corners of the dance floor.
DONNA IDA: You took part in BRAVO's #LadiesofLondon with Caroline, Caprice, Noelle, Julia, Annabelle, Juliet, if each of them was a drink, which one would they be?
Marissa Hermer: Juliet: White Wine Spritzer; Caroline: Champagne; Julie: Cold-pressed Green Kale Juice; Annabelle: English Breakfast Tea; Noelle: Watermelon Martini; Caprice: Pimms.
DONNA IDA: How do you balance being a mum of two with being a successful business woman and public figure?
Marissa Hermer: There are never enough hours in the day to squeeze everything in so I make sure that I am always a mum first and everything else comes second. While this can sometimes get in the way of my job, I find that more often than not the opposite happens: taking time out of day to spend precious moments with Max and Jake keeps me grounded, relaxed and happy, therefore making me more productive and successful in the workplace.
DONNA IDA: What are your wardrobe essentials and how do you wear your jeans?
Marissa Hermer: Aside from jeans (which I live in), my wardrobe essentials include comfortable t-shirts (like this Splendid one), wedge sneakers (I have multiple pairs of Isabel Marant ones), and a tailored jacket (like this one by Joie or this La Prestic Ouiston Trench) to make the messiest of outfits look pulled together and chic! I have way too many pairs of jeans - skinny, dark, ripped, flares, high-waisted, you name it! But I should get rid of them all as I only really need one pair as I absolutely live in my J-Brand 814 Jeans and find them easy to dress up with heels or down with flats.
DONNA IDA: Who is your fashion icon?
Marissa Hermer: I am totally obsessed with J.Crew so I would have to say Jenna Lyons. She is perfection, as are her clothes!
DONNA IDA: Where’s your ultimate holiday destination?
Marissa Hermer: Italy, hands down. I love the people, the culture, and of course, the food and wine! Matt and I love to take the kids to Italy and chill out and unwind. We typically rent a villa as opposed to staying in a hotel and are therefore totally unconnected to the outside world. I wear no make-up and no shoes for a straight week and I'm in absolute heaven!
DONNA IDA: What is your favourite fashion magazine?
Marissa Hermer: Vogue for fashion and Tatler for giggles.
DONNA IDA: What do you do to keep fit?
Marissa Hermer: I take a class at KX Gym from a crazy, hilarious Italian superstar named Francesca Giacomini. She gets me into insane positions with weights strapped to my wrists and ankles but I somehow love it, even though I can never walk the next day!
DONNA IDA: We heard on the Ladies of London grapevine that a new restaurant might be on the cards… What’s next?
Marissa Hermer: We are working on some very exciting new projects that we will announce in the coming month…stay tuned!