Hermione Underwood: "I believe that living and working overseas...is something that all young people should consider"
Interview by Molly O'Brien, Marketing & Communications Specialist, Advance
From looking at her very exotic, well-curated Instagram page, it’s not hard to tell Hermione Underwood was ‘born global’.
Basing herself out of London (largely due to the extremely accessible travel opportunities) Hermione is sitting at the helm of many businesses; she is the Founder of fine jewelry brand Atelier Romy, the Director of brand development and creative communications agency The H Collective, and blog Hermione Olivia. The wearer of many hats, an average day-to-day for Hermione doesn’t exist (not that she’d have it any other way).
Hermione took some time out of her busy schedule to explain to Advance what opportunities she has been afforded in London that may not have happened in Australia, advice for those wanting to stay in London long-term (and dealing with visa constraints) and why she thinks that everyone should spend a period of time living and working overseas.
She also shared her tips for her most trusted go-to restaurants and bars – imminent London visitors, take note!
Why did you choose to base yourself in London and not another international city such as New York or Hong Kong?
The buzz of being in a global city is alive and well in London, but is juxtaposed nicely alongside a slower-paced, very traditional environment. I very much feel part of a community here, and while I’m constantly inspired by the energy, culture and history London has to offer I also have opportunities to escape into a slower-paced environment, whether it's one of the many parks in the city or the countryside just a couple of hours away. We have the best of both worlds (can you tell I love it here?).
What does London offer that other European cities don’t?
London is the epicenter of Europe! Biased or not, in my opinion, it’s the crown jewel.
Is there such a thing as an average day-in-the-life for you? What does it look like?
Fortunately not, every day is different from the last. I’m involved with a few different businesses so it depends on which business I am working on and whether or not I’m travelling. Usually, my time is split between meetings with business partners, designing and managing brand communication strategies, shooting content for my blog, and grabbing time wherever possible to work away on my laptop. I work from clubs like Soho House and Chess Club.
What are your favourite go-to venues for brunch, dinner and drinks?
One of the very best things about living in London is that you are constantly meeting people in new areas, on new streets and at new restaurants. There are so many it’s hard to pick just a few and it’s likely that these aren’t so secret but aside from my favourites, I like...
- Dishoom for brunch. Think delicious bacon naan!
- Egg Break in Notting Hill.
- Phat Phuc in Chelsea. They do the most delicious bowls of pho... for £7!
- The hidden bar at Sketch.
- Punch Room at London Edition.
- The local favourite for very low-key but extraordinarily high-quality sushi is Eat Tokyo.
Go-to coping mechanisms for a dreary London winter?
Leave! I jest, but seriously, I believe the key to London is to always have a trip on the horizon. It makes you value the city even more than you already might. Plus, there’s no excuse not to, given its location!
Are there any misconceptions about your job? What would they be?
My life is less glamorous than it might appear on Instagram, I work around the clock!
Do you have any advice for Australian expats looking to move to London long-term who aren't lucky enough to have European or UK passports? Is there any secret to securing visa sponsorship?
The Youth Mobility Visa is made accessible for those under 30. It allows you two years to live and work freely. From there, I secured the Entrepreneur Visa (which, admittedly requires a huge amount of work and substantial investment). If you’re looking to live in the UK long-term, planning is crucial; a lot of friends have had to leave unfortunately because of tight visa regulations.
What are some of the opportunities you’ve been afforded in London that you may not have been offered elsewhere, including Australia?
I’ve had the fortune of working with incredible brands, meeting extraordinary people and living a totally new, invigorating life that I most likely never would never have experienced had I stayed in Sydney. I am a huge advocate for boundary-pushing and placing yourself in situations to face new challenges. I believe that living and working overseas, even for just a brief period of time, is something that all young people should consider. For me, the greatest experience and opportunity has been the personal development I’ve experienced from being forced to push harder and dig deeper, outside of my comfort zone.
What was the inspiration to start Atelier Romy?
Atelier Romy was inspired by mine and my business partner Sabine’s shared passion to establish a high-quality fine jewellery brand that was available online and sold direct to consumers. This allowed us to price pieces more competitively than other brands in the market. Now that we’ve accomplished that, we’re setting out to expand and bring high-quality, creatively designed jewellery to a broader market.
What’s the most difficult aspect of running your own business?
The wearing of a lot of hats and constant self-motivation. Through working for myself I learnt quickly that if you don’t do it, it won’t get done. I have a multitude of businesses, too, so managing my own time and that eternal to-do list whilst constantly evaluating and re-evaluating my goals requires a clear mind and plenty of organisation.
How do you stay motivated?
I want to make my family proud, I want to do my best and I want to always be learning.
Is London a good city for entrepreneurs? Why?
Whilst London is a good city for entrepreneurs, in all honesty, I don’t think it’s the best. Controversial perhaps, but in my experience, I have found Sydney and New York to be more responsive to and supportive of entrepreneurs. The UK is definitely catching up though, even in the time I’ve been here, I am finding the culture to be more accepting.