Meet Helen Bowman - Absolutely Mama editor, mother, wife and the face of our new campaign for autumn winter 2018.
Since its launch in 2016, Helen has edited Absolutely Mama, a luxury parenting magazine for stylish mums. She also shares a beautiful snapshot of family life with her husband and two children at @hel_bow.
Helen has been a supporter of Jem + Bea since our launch so we were really excited to work with her on our AW18 campaign, which was shot at a location house in East London by photographer and dad-of-two, Ash Johnson.
Find out more about Helen in our interview, where we speak to her about her minimal, pared-back style, travelling as a family and being a mother of girls…
Thank you (to you, Lewis and the girls) for being the face of the Jem + Bea AW18 campaign! It was so lovely to work with you. Did you have fun at the shoot?
Totally! I’d normally be too self-conscious to do something like that but I knew the team and imagined it would be pretty chilled. The photographer lived where we’re moving to, so that was a nice touch. And I’ve always supported the brand as an editor; I love Jem + Bea’s aesthetic.
What do you love most about the new collection?
I love the leather box bag for more dressed-up days but, in keeping with my (generally more laidback) style, I’ll say the coolly casual waterproof bags. I love the clutch bags too - that’s pretty much the entire collection!
You edit Absolutely Mama. How did you get into your career and where you are now?
It wasn’t a linear route. I started out in journalism before switching to the charitable sector, then the music industry. I then tried my hand at running my own business before coming back to editorial. I edited one of the other Absolutely titles then we decided to launch Absolutely Mama just as I came back from maternity leave with my first baby – so I’m lucky that the job role has developed in tandem with my personal life.
You share a snapshot of your life in your Instagram feed @hel_bow, what made you want to start it and what do you enjoy most about doing it?
I always had a hobbyist’s interest in photography. As a teenager and young person I saved up for camcorders and was always trying different camera models. In the early days I preferred Instagram to other social media platforms because it centred on the visual (rather than the verbal). Like having kids, Instagram gives an added sense of purpose to my photo-taking.
How do you juggle family life and work life and what’s a typical day like for you?
I’m fortunate to have a flexible setup with work, which is great. I work two full days and then try to fit more in around the rest of the weekdays. But I also have a three-year-old who has never taken to nursery (we’ve had two abortive attempts), which means, it is a bit of a juggle - one where balls often end up on the floor! That said, Clem’s starting a new nursery this autumn, so I’m looking forward to instigating more of a settled routine.
What’s it like being a mama of girls?
I feel very lucky. I always wanted a girl; now I have two - I have a girl gang!
As a children’s magazine editor, where are your favourite places to shop for your daughters?
There are so many... too many to name. I love Smallable and Mama Owl for bulk buys of essentials. My current favourite brand is Yellow Pelota. They specialise in pretty yet unpretentious linen pieces: pinafores, smocks, pant suits.
You travel a lot as a family, where are your favourite places to go with your girls?
I like to take the girls to the sea when I can. I’m a sucker for America: the different landscapes, the diners, all that movie culture. I would love to take the girls and Lew to Hawaii – I went there on a bit of a pilgrimage with my family (my mum’s grandma was Hawaiian) years ago and it’s a dream of mine to go back. Also... Mexico.
We love your style. What are your go-to pieces in your wardrobe?
My style is pretty basic... I like workwear and raiding my husband’s wardrobe. The main aim is fuss-free minimalism, which means it’s easy to put together on days where I have to get two little ones out of the door. I do try to buy high quality fabrics that can be worn again and again. Oh and some duck boots or similar for walking the dog.
Do you have any recent style discoveries and where do you like to shop?
I see a lot of amazing boutiques via Instagram but they always seemed based in the States - or Australia - so I can’t buy from them - which is probably for the best! My sister works at Net-a-Porter so a lot of my clothes are from there… and we often share occasionwear. I always come back to Goodhood, and Olive for more affordable finds.
How do you wear your Jem + Bea bags?
Jem + Bea bags make the best statement accessories, especially if, like me, you keep the rest of your outfit pretty simple. The compact bags are great for when your littles get a bit older and you don’t need quite so much stuff. I love the grown-up colourways and the streetwear edge of the Romy puffer tote.
And finally, what are your five essential items to keep inside your Jem + Bea bag?
- My phone!
- A decent lip balm
- Wet wipes – but biodegradable ones!
- My Ilia beauty multistick (in peachy tangerine)
- My bamboo ecoffee cup