Five years ago I was freelancing at the legendary Mother advertising agency. Nicky was the super-efficient and glamorous PA to the four partners.
Every 6 weeks the company liked to move all the staff around so people didn’t get too cliquey or stuck in their spaces.
I was missed off the floor plan and the only space left was in between Nicky and one of the big cheeses. So we ended up next to each other. What a happy accident that was.
I had never met anyone with so much energy, glossy hair and glowy skin. She seemed to exist off plants and something called almond milk. This was all new to me back then. But she was an effervescent picture of health; running 5 miles before work and being the life and soul of the office. She was getting something right.
At that time she was also studying to be a Macrobiotic Chef, Nutritionist, Life Counsellor and Specialist Healing Cook at the International School of Macrobiotics. She had also just met a new man.
I was quite low and had been struggling to get pregnant for over a year so she suggested that I could be one of her ‘guinea pigs’ for her studies. We had a session that covered my physical and emotional state and she made some simple suggestions to changes in my diet and life-style. 2 months later I was pregnant. And she was in a relationship with said man.
Five years on and Nicky is a full-time Macrobiotic Chef, Counsellor, Teacher, Blogger, Instagrammer, Public speaker, #MumBoss as well as being married to that man and has a beautiful daughter.
We have kept in touch and championed each other’s new ventures, so it seemed fitting that she should appear here.
As we are talking, she is effortlessly creating the most delicious lunch for me as practice for a live cookery demonstration at The Natural Foods Show.
Where are you right now?
I am at a time in my life when I am starting to realise that anything is possible. All the things I dreamed about years ago are not impossible to reach now.
I am still teaching my 6 week course, I have launched a new half day workshop about what our cravings are telling us: Stepping away from emotional eating to empowered eating.
I’m also starting to do more public events, beginning to share my story and talk about topics such as how eating plant based has become sustainable to me, seasonality, cooking for children as well as cooking demonstrations, my supper club at Daylesford , writing for Neal’s Yard, Planet Organic and writing my book.
How have you got to where you are now?
It sounds like a cliché but step by step and one day at a time.
My first step when I qualified 5 years ago was to build my 6 week course. I started teaching before I was ready which I would advise to anyone. I needed to do it before my baby was born.
I then had Teia and had a year off. The next step was to get back to teaching again.
On my next course I met the soon-to-be owner of Tiosk – where I then went on to be head chef.
Everything has been very synchronistic. A student of mine had a breakthrough and put me in touch with an agent. I met my publicist through you. (Me: I introduced Nicky to my talented friend Jess at Bang Talent).
Doing this as a mother has been a really interesting gift for me as I can only do it this way, one step at a time.
No matter how much I love my work, Teia will always be priority.
First it was 3 days a week, then 4 days a week. Motherhood has softened me, it’s a good thing. It has made me more playful, more creative, forced me to take life less seriously and really benefited me.
Would you/ Could you have done it pre-Teia?
I think I COULD have done it but I think the way it has happened is the way it was meant to.
I wonder if I would have tried too hard, I might have shot myself in the foot; been too ambitious, not had enough balance. Got divorced.
The week I think is the most important in my work life, Teia will get chicken pox and I will have a week in pyjamas watching Frozen. And I’ll think that is actually what I needed. To rein in my ego and keep me humble.
What made you start when you did?
I was going to have a baby and I needed something for myself that was mine so I had something to go back to that I didn’t need to start from scratch after maternity leave.
What is the best thing about being a business owner?
That I can create anything I want to create.
The downfalls are that I can never switch off and there are 20 hour days unless I make sure I switch off. But there are no limitations and that motivates me.
What advice would you give someone setting up on their own?
Get really clear on WHY you want to do it first, and only then move on to WHAT you do.
What people are interested in is what is at the heart of your work.
People buy WHY we do things not just WHAT we do so it has got to mean a lot to you. When you invest so much into this new business, this new dream, you better love and care about it otherwise you are just surviving something and not creating something.
What would you tell your younger self?
My 20 year old self. Nicky – trust the process, you are exactly where you are meant to be, don’t give up.
My 30 year old self. Nicky – trust the process, you are exactly where you are meant to be, don’t give up.
I wouldn’t change a single thing because it makes everything I do mean an awful lot. I am who I am today because of all that I have experienced in life, the good, the bad and the ugly. It has all been a gift.
What has been your greatest challenge so far?
To continually trust my instincts no matter what everyone is telling me.
I have a publicist, agent, branding consultants, lots of voices, lots of opinion (all very positive and helpful I’d like to add) but there is a danger of me getting lost. My vision. My heart. I need to keep remembering WHY I am doing what I do. With social media, for example, there is a pull to do what people like but I must stay close to my intention. Not everyone will like it but my integrity is important.
Biggest achievement so far?
It has to be how I am bringing up my daughter. I am so proud of who she is blossoming in to and I am proud of myself of how I am showing up for her.
With work it is not the flashy stuff. It’s when I watch my students or clients transform and get themselves back. It is remarkable watching someone come back to life and have a feeling that you have contributed to that in some way. There’s no better feeling in the world.
How do you get a work/ Mum balance?
I have to be disciplined. When I am working, I am working. When I’m with Teia, I try to be present for her. No Instagram, close the laptop (although I am still really working on this). Days off are quality time. It’s not always perfect but I think it works. She will always be my priority and if there are signs that it’s not working anymore I’ll do what I need to change something. It’s all about balance, for all of us in the family, and we continually need to check in with each other to see if something needs to be shifted to bring us all back into balance.
Last year I miscarried and my husband lost his job in the same week – it was one of the worst times of our marriage. Two weeks later I was in a depression and grieving and my husband was feeling really low. Teia seemed her normal lovely cheery self at home but at school, we found out, she was just sitting in a corner constantly nursing her baby doll and not wanting to play with any of the other kids. She had seen me crying and broken for the first time in her life when I am normally so strong. Her teacher told me what was going on and I cleared the diary and we went off to Malaysia to bond and get all loved-up again.
What do you want from being a working mum?
I used to feel really guilty for loving my work. But I’ve realised it is who I am and the more honest and truthful I am to myself about who I am, the more at ease my daughter feels too.
I am learning that what I am doing is showing my daughter that it is possible to be a woman who follows and fulfills her dreams. That she is capable of anything. I want to teach her how to be a grounded and empowered woman.
Do you miss your ‘old’ life?
Oh goodness, no. I don’t miss my old life at all. I have had moments, though, when I’m desperate for some space to myself or some time out.
I’ve had one weekend to myself since being a mum, when I was alone in the flat for 24 hours. I was like, “Hey Nicky, I haven’t seen you in ages!” and I missed that. It was the first time I had been unattached to anyone else as a wife, mother, counsellor, teacher, a Nicky that didn’t belong to anyone but me and it felt really good. I enjoyed every moment.
I used to spend a lot of time alone doing so much self-pampering. Nowadays it is very much a luxury but I still wouldn’t change it for anything. Becoming a mother is the best thing that’s ever happened for me.
What are your tips for making it work?
My husband always reminds me that if I go down everyone in the family does so I would say to other juggling mamas, you must take care of your own health and wellbeing. If we neglect this then it will effect our ability to be loving mamas. This is a lesson I have to re-learn over and over.
You also have to be very flexible on any given day. Be open to things not working out. And trust life a bit. No a lot.
And what is the BIG plan? Anything you can tease us with.
Well my big news is that I am writing my first book which I am absolutely thrilled about. It is another dream that I am trying to realise.
I also have some big public festivals and events and workshops coming up. And to try and get in baby number 2 in there somewhere!
It is an exciting year.
And with that, Nicky puts a huge bowl of golden tempeh triangles with rainbow slaw and satay sauce in front of me. It looks and smells so good that I tuck in straight away and have finished the bowl before she has even finished taking her picture (below) of the dish.
There is a joke in my house that nothing can be eaten until it is photographed. I can’t remember the last time I sat down to my meal while it is still hot!
Nicky really is her own best advert. And since meeting up I have booked on to her September course Transform your diet, Transform your life.
For more details about courses, Nicky’s recipes and her blog go to
Watch this plant-based space.