January is known as being a difficult month; we indulged and enjoyed Christmas festivities and now there is little ahead to help battle the cold, dark and wet. This means self-love, confidence and positivity are even more important.
January blues can be a thing of the past. If you are looking for inspiration this January, look no further. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jemima Hand, an Artist, Illustrator, Designer and Sculptor living and working in London & Shropshire, UK. This inspirational entrepreneur has recently created her own brand: JEMIMASARA.
JEMIMASARA is a niche brand promoting self-love and confidence. The brand mission is to inspire ladies and gentlemen to love their genuine, unaffected and fabulous self. The brand celebrates the female form through the creation of the “Martini Ladies” illustrations. These elegant women boast their uninhibited self-worth for others to take inspiration from.
JEMIMASARA has created humorous illustrations of positive, fun loving and risqué ladies with few boundaries, ladies who love themselves just the way they are! But it is more than just illustrations and clothing; JEMIMASARA wants to support and celebrate women around the world. The brand pushes boundaries with illustrations and humour. JEMIMASARA wants everyone to feel beautiful, elegant and confident in his or her own right!
From studying Puppetry at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, her work seeks to find realism within the female form. She takes influences from the Renaissance divine, Henri Matisse and the pin-up ladies of the 1920’s. These influences have created her vision for ‘The Martini Lifestyle’. The illustrations, drawings and paintings she creates are her own interpretation of how she feels the female body should be observed today and relate to how women have been, and still are, manipulated and controlled, much like puppets. JEMIMASARA seeks to empower women to free themselves of boundaries imposed by modern life through her illustrations and designs.
Here is what Jemima had to say…
- For you, what is the most important, daily, aspect of self-love?
For me, self-love is about acceptance. Acceptance of your beautiful, individual imperfections. The things that make us who we are. That could be a scar, freckle, your little toe, bad habit or a hobby. These individual imperfections are always something we as humans find hard to accept, especially in our day and age where social media plays such a massive role in our life. For me, the most important daily aspect of self-love, is not to see yourself as a whole but to look at the things you enjoy about yourself and your strengths. It might be your eyes, your elbow or your goofy laugh, I don’t know, but to look at that ‘thing’, whatever it may be, and see it as a unique entity. Therefore, seeing yourself as a beautiful individual and accepting that we are all different.
- Practicing self-love is easier said than done. It is unsurprising that we are increasingly having to mindfully dedicate a specific time for it in our overly chaotic lives. Often, this ‘allocated slot’ gets overlooked or even forgotten. Do you have any suggestions on how to practice and increase it?
I think practicing and increasing self-love/ self-worth is a challenge for us all every day. For me, practicing self-love in our modern society is getting harder. Social media is such a big part of our everyday life and sets the standards for: ‘what we should look like’, ‘what we should wear’ etc… when its physically impossible to look like something we are not, yet we get upset over this, causing one to hate oneself more and more. As I said before, to me self-love is about accepting this and accepting that we could never look like that ‘photoshopped model wearing a tailor made bikini’. We are not that model. We are individual and unique. I think to practice and increase self-love one has to accept the small beautiful things about you which make you who you are. It’s hard, I find it extremely hard, but when you find something you like about yourself, whatever it may be, you have a small moment of self-worth and you accept yourself more and more as a magnificent individual.
As I said before self love is about acceptance and for me that’s accepting something I like about myself everyday. I usually do this in small ways. I might be on a train and notice something I like about myself. However, the main thing for me is accepting I am an artist and that others may appreciate my works. My drawings / illustrations themselves were a road of recovery for me; they are my way of learning more about a different side to me which I am wanting to share and others to be influenced by. When I write the words in those speech bubbles, I feel empowered and actually it’s my way of accepting myself everyday.
Methods I find really helpful for self-love include practicing yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises. Physically exhaling and releasing all my worries, stress and anxiety; either from daily tasks or my own insecurities. This ‘me time’ allows me to put everything into perspective and fully relax. What is actually important in the bigger picture? Identify what it and use it as a focus point. Whenever I get caught up and burdened by societal expectations, I resort back to this. For me it hugely helps. Additionally, as trivial as it may sound, I often verbally remind myself of my strengths: both physical and emotional. I suppose you could call it a “self-appreciation break“. You could even write these down, thus creating a visual tool and ‘trigger’ of positivity.
I also try and make time to do things for myself that I really, really enjoy. ‘Treat yourself’ has never rung so true. Pamper session, going to the park, a long bath, or even an early night. Whatever it may be: make time for it, it’s important.
- How do you view the future of ‘female empowerment’?
‘Female Empowerment’ is ever growing, I think that recently it was become huge, and I see this as a really exciting movement for females of all ages. When I visualise the word ‘empowerment’, I think of a fist, a loud voice, someone leading a crowd. I want to promote these images to women (and men) through my brand JEMIMASARA. The future of ‘Female Empowerment’ is a positive one for me, women should be empowered, giving them voices, opinions, and opportunities.
- Art is a powerful tool of manipulation and transcends other barriers of communication. What have you learnt from your art background? Which elements within your pieces do you perceive as most important in relaying your message? Or which collection/ pieces achieves the most success in this?
Art, I would say, is the greatest tool of manipulation. Art being anything from an advert on TV to a renaissance painting. My art background is a mixture but at university I am currently studying puppetry, therefore I am studying the manipulation of objects/tools/beings and even actors. I have learnt how to make puppets (for example, marionettes, glove puppets and stop motion animation puppetry which you see a lot of on TV) and also how to manipulate puppets to have human characteristics by studying the body. For me, I find it terrifying that I can manipulate an object in this way; it really brings to light how we are all manipulated by social media. Our own brain tells us we ‘should look like something else’, this thought made me feel sick. I then realised why I drew my illustrations of the ‘Martini Ladies’, they couldn’t be controlled or manipulated. They were carefree ladies empowering other women to be like them. So, I’d say this collection is fundamental in relaying my message and ideology of the brand. When I started drawing these illustrations, they were only for me. I didn’t share them. I was just exploring these carefree souls which soon became my alter egos. My art was manipulating me, therefore empowering me. I think this realisation is the greatest success I’ve had so far.
- It is women that stereotypically suffer from a lack of self-love and confidence, yet men equally face these challenges. What are your views on this – how is this perception and openness changing?
I agree, women stereotypically suffer from a lack of self-love and confidence. I believe it is wrong to ignore that men also suffer from these difficulties: they face the same challenges. It is oppressing my strong beliefs: that everyone should have the opportunity to build their self-love and confidence. It is hugely positive that this is ‘changing’ in society so ‘allowing’ or ‘opening up opportunities’ for men to speak out about needing support too. Its 2018, I think it’s time we started ‘letting’ men cry, ‘letting’ them be emotionally vulnerable and ‘feminine’. Start supporting ‘queer’ boys, uplifting men of colour and encouraging men to follow their passion!
- I love the fact men can wear your clothing too. Have you considered involving them in the images?
Recently a lot of people have asked this, and yes, I have. In the past I used to draw a character called Jerry in my illustrations. He was a carefree man, who loved his imperfections and boasted of his uninhibited self-worth for others to take inspiration from. I have no idea why I stopped drawing him but I will start again soon. Get ready for the ‘Martini Man’.
- Do you have a specific target audience?
I do not. My brand is all about self-love, confidence and empowerment. I think everyone should have that in their lives, no matter who or where you are from, or what your back-ground. I want to share love with everyone so that everyone can find their own way of getting through the day.
- Describe the relationship between females and their own body. Its past, perception and evolvement.
I have recently finished a university essay on the relationship between females and their own body, I came to some conclusions about our culture and its perception of the ‘female form’. Our culture worships the image of ‘the ideal body’, but if it worshipped the ‘body’ itself, then we would possibly be more conscious of what we were consuming. Therefore, our self-care would change. We would also have more respect for each other’s physical body – in whatever form. I also think our obsession of ‘body-image’ creates a negative mindset; we see our body as anything but perfect, when it is our tool to experience the world. In fact, someone told me that the octopus holds its consciousness in its skin all over its body rather than it being contained in its head. Consider this biological relationship, especially as it is said to be one of the most developed creatures in terms of consciousness. I think this is something to think about when trying to understand the relationship between females and their own bodies or should I say brain and body?
- Can you explain a bit about the significance of the Boob Collection?
The Boob Collection started with me wearing a white top with boobs painted on it to university. It was a statement but also a joke, and I loved it. The Boob Collection is a statement of female empowerment. I was empowered by wearing the boob top and I want to pass this feeling on to others.
- What drove you to start this brand and the ideology behind it?
The brand started from a collection of ideals but the ideology behind it was a domino effect; 2016 seemed a bad year for us all and for me it was a time when I personally hit rock bottom. I had forgotten all sense of self-love and confidence, due to a number of negative situations happening at the same time, and I had no idea how to bring these key elements back into my life. That’s when I realised I was drawing these naked ladies who “had martinis and loved themselves”. Overtime I started becoming one of these carefree ladies, thus my alter ego was born. The illustrations helped me find my own confidence and self-love, so I wanted to share this. I want to share this path of recovery for others to use. In the future, I want to break into fashion, testing its conventions by not conforming, just as a ‘Martini Lady’ would do.
- How have you found it being such a young, female entrepreneur?
When I decided I wanted to launch JEMIMASARA I was 19. For me I was launching something that meant everything to me: sharing self-love, confidence and empowerment. I think these elements are important no matter what your age and need to be voiced and shared. Working as a young female entrepreneur can be very difficult. Firstly, to get your voice heard but also to push yourself into a heavily male dominated workplace. The good thing about JEMIMASARA is that as soon as you see an illustration or an item of clothing you immediately get an impression from it. It’s a voice in itself, and you either love or hate it. These impressions have enabled me to promote myself, have the ability to listen to advice from other female entrepreneurs and build relationships. These relationships have taught me how to enter the workplace as a young female individual and I hope to continue to strengthen these relationships and form new ones moving forward.