Heaven & Hell: Lulu Townsend

Lulu Townsend

Lulu Townsend - Credit: Contributed

Lulu is a passionate well-travelled creative entrepreneur. Having created a lifestyle brand in 2002, she went on to launch Lulu’s Luxury Lifestyle in 2020, providing a specialist marketing service to small hotels and high-end lifestyle businesses. To feed her creative hunger in 2021 she set up Mixologems - a fun jewellery website selling bespoke creations and limited edition charms and pendants. Here she talks to Gina Long

How did Covid-19 impact your life and how are you adapting?

In March 2020 I went to Rome to review some hotels. Within 48 hours of arriving two things happened: I was called to come home because my father was dying and was unlikely to live another day, and lockdown was announced. I had to reschedule my return flight to the next one back and I just managed to see my father, who I believe waited for me. Given the Covid rules, I then had to quarantine on my own for seven days. And so started a very tough year both personally and in terms of the travel and hospitality industry. My travel consultancy roles ended,  I had to try and pivot, using my marketing skills in other industries and pick up any roles I could. 

What is your connection to East Anglia?

I was born in Colchester and lived and was brought up in Thorpe Morieux - my husband was born in Sudbury. We moved back to Cockfield in 2007 when my girls were four and two as we didn’t want to live in London while they were young.

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What is your East Anglian Heaven?

There’s so much to experience in East Anglia and it’s still so relatively unspoilt, partly due to so many areas being incommutable. I love the creativity that the area invokes and the artisanal food scene which seems to have exploded in the last couple of years.

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What is your East Anglian Hell?

We spend half the year in Aldeburgh and whilst we love the business the summer crowds bring, we breathe a sigh of relief when they all leave at the end of August.

What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?

It’s got to be Maggi Hambling’s Scallop on Aldeburgh beach. I wasn’t a fan when it first went up but now, nearly 20 years later it’s part of the landscape which would seem bare without it. It’s lovely that it is climbed on, sat on, and interacted with by so many, and of course it is a tribute to Benjamin Britten.

What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?

Both my girls are tennis players and they have been playing at Framlingham Tennis Tournament (the second oldest in the country after Wimbledon) since they were five. We haven’t missed a year in the last 12 years (apart from COVID) and it’s what we most look forward to in the summer.

What is your favourite restaurant?

I love The Wolseley in London. It has a wonderful atmosphere and a great brasserie menu. My girls are picky eaters and I know there’ll always be something they’ll love on the menu. For breakfast I could spend all day every day at Folk Café, and I think I did when it first opened as my girls were at a school nearby. Some people think it’s a waste of money going out for breakfast but it’s my favourite meal of the day especially when combined with delicious coffee and a great atmosphere.

What your specialist Mastermind subject?

Boutique hotels. They have always been my passion. I started up a boutique hotel brand in 2002 after working for my parent’s hotel in Italy. There’s something unique about privately-owned, family-run hotels as they have been created by passionate owners who love what they do. I’m not involved in that company anymore but still very much involved in the hotel industry as a marketing consultant and travel writer.

What is always in your fridge?

I gave up drinking alcohol the day my father was admitted to hospital with liver failure in December 2019. My go-to drink is Willy’s Fermented Apple ACV Kombucha Drink. It’s grown, harvested and fermented by the small team at Willy’s farm in Herefordshire. I have a subscription to it, so I never run out!

What’s your simple philosophy of life?

Live it. You can’t live your life to please others all of the time.

What’s your favourite film?

Letters to Juliet. It’s a charming romantic film set in Italy with a happy ending.

What was your first job?

I was lucky enough to land a job in Knightsbridge using my French and Italian working as PA for Lorenzo Camerana, who was a charming mix of Italian and Belgian. I worked for him in the Sports Sponsorship world for four years before he moved back to Italy and sadly a year later, he died in a car crash.

What is your most treasured possession?

My health. I had viral meningitis when I was 11 and bacterial meningitis when I was 13.

Who do you admire most?

No one person in particular. I love and admire people who overcome obstacles, follow their dreams and live life to the full.

What is your biggest indulgence?

Holidays and hotels. I love to be away and travelling. The last 18 months have been very testing with all the family at home, juggling being a mother and wife with my work and no chance of escaping! I turned 50 this year and had been hoping to celebrate with a lovely holiday instead I had to cancel four trips.

What do you like about yourself most?

I give 110% to anything that’s thrown at me so I would say my determination.

What’s your worst character trait?

I have many. I would say not being able to do ‘nothing’. I don’t feel deserving of rest.

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

Italy. We went there on holiday when I was 12 and my parents bought a house there where we spent every summer. They then restored and ran a hotel in Umbria before returning to the UK a few years ago.

Lulu Townsend with her daughters

Lulu Townsend with her daughters - Credit: Contributed

Best day of your life?

Due to health issues, both pregnancies were a nightmare, so the day both my girls were born, fit and healthy.

What’s your favourite breakfast?

A morning bun from Folk Café with a cappuccino (no chocolate on top) – followed by sourdough with avocado and Marmite sprinkled with chilli flakes.

What’s your hidden talent?

I’m not sure I have one. I love being creative, it makes me happy and feeds the soul.

What’s your earliest memory?

I think it’s difficult to look back and know how old you were when it comes to memories. I have many but have no idea which is the earliest.

Tell us something people don’t know about you?

I am a qualified reflexologist though I haven’t practised for years. I have always had a love for crystals and essential oils and the course I did involved both.

Tell us why you live here and nowhere else?

I live a mile from where I grew up and so I feel very much at home even though I spent many years in London. East Anglia and Suffolk in particular is unspoilt and unpretentious. It would be lovely if it had more wonderful pubs with rooms like those found in the west country, but then maybe it would lose its charm.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?

My new website mixologems.com – a pick and mix site of charms, pendants and chains, many of which are exclusive to Mixologems. There’s a great selection of exclusive colourful and happy gemstone talismans and I create bespoke candy necklaces and bracelets. I was inspired to start this from my research into a trip to India (which subsequently had to be postponed). I love dealing and designing with artisans who love what they do and who are incredibly talented. If you love positive vibes and colour, you’ll love these! Marketing takes up most of my time though along with my travel column lulusluxurylifestyle.uk

To contact Gina Long regarding your interesting story, do email gina@hallfarmfornham.com

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