Managing that work/life balance is never easy and can feel sometimes totally elusive...
At Jus Jus we care about bringing our vision of a healthy, sustainable lifestyle into the office space.
So we were delighted to sit with Katarina Vercammen and Anneke Pauwels at their brand agency, The Dear Hunters, to chat more about their professional endeavors and their family life.
Both Katarina and Anneke have been fans of Jus Jus from the very beginning, they feel like family to us! And it was fun to spend a day with them listening to their projects, passions, inspirations and learning how much their healthy eating and habits have shaped their professional and family spheres.
Meet The Dear Hunters!
Hi Katarina and Anneke, aka The DEAR HUNTERS, can one of you share with us your journey to where you are today?
Anneke: Do you have some time? :-) At the age of 17 I started modeling for 10 years.
Happily married to the love of my life for 18 years and raised two fantastic daughters Mira (20) and Nona (15).
After my modeling career I managed a casting agency. Worked five years at a leading film production company as a marketing & new biz producer. Did a short side step in politics, working for a spokesman at the communication department.
The next 10 years I was leading a photo agency as managing partner and photo agent.
Nearly two years ago I started a new journey with my empowering partner Katarina. We founded The Dear Hunters, a creative agency specialising in brand strategy, visual identities and campaigns for fashion & lifestyle brands.
Always staying focussed on what we do, but also laughing a lot. Never take anything too serious ;)
Next to this I am a freelance photo & video producer and a passionate vegan foodie/ cook.
I would like to share my plant based lifestyle on different platforms. There are more exciting challenges ahead on my journey :-)
What’s a day in the life of The Dear Hunters like?
Anneke & Katarina:
We definitely both start with a coffee. "COMPUTER SAYS NO" here without that first cup of coffee.
We go over the topics of the day and split tasks. That is something that goes organically. You do this, I do that.
Actually we function best under pressure. The more work the faster it all goes.
Since our main interest is defining brands' unique DNA and its visual identity, we are always focused on images. We managed to turn our passion for fashion into our daily business. So great, isn't it?!
Do you have any advice for women looking to start and run their own business?
Think carefully about the right idea. Talk to other inspiring women that have experience in the same business. Sharing is caring! Be consulted by an accountant and set-up an achievable business plan with your goals and numbers. Pitch your idea to friends and family and ask their honest advice. My mom taught me that life is up to the daring. Believe in yourself and dare to dream!
Make sure that you do what you love to do. When you are passionate about something it will be much easier to succeed. Follow your dreams but NOT WITHOUT a good business plan.
You both share a passion for fashion, beauty and design. Who or what is inspiring you right now?
Aesthetics in every way are very inspiring: photography, art, architecture, movies, magazines, books, theatre, dance and other cultures.. I have a lot of creative friends that inspire me in different ways. I live in Antwerp, the city of fashion which was put on the map by the iconic ‘Antwerp Six’. A group of early 80s graduates from The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, who made their mark in the international fashion industry.
I have had the chance to work with some of them: Ann Demeulemeester, AF Vandevorst, Walter Van Beirendonck. All very talented in their own recognizable way. I am a big fan of AF Vandevorst’s shoes (the best shoe last!) and their accessories. Actresses and music artists are also very inspiring to me: Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett, David Bowie, Nick Cave, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Roisin Murphy, Grace Jones.
I am inspired by a lot of things! A movie can inspire me, a book or a city but a friend can also be a source of inspiration.
When it comes to fashion designers I admire Alexander McQueen and I adore Isabel Marant, every season she surprises me and I would wear every single piece of it.
I no longer find much inspiration in fashion campaigns though. It feels like mediocrity took over. 15 years ago magazines were filled with beautiful women in stunning campaigns, which were inspirational.
It took me half an hour to go through an upscale magazine and enjoy all the beauty. Nowadays I just flip every page after another and I rarely stop for something that captures me.
I guess that is one of the things we approach differently with The Dear Hunters!
There are so many inspiring women all over the world.
Malala Yousafzai is the one I admire most: what a brave girl who turned into a leading woman.
The average Belgian spends over 1/3 of their life at work. How do you stay healthy at your desk?
I drink a lot of filtered water, green tea, fresh ginger tea or one of my fave Jus Jus juices. If I get hungry I prefer healthy snacking: dates, energy bar, nuts & seeds.
Go outside for a walk after/during lunch time, no matter which season. Walk the stairs instead of taking the elevator.
I do a daily workout, 10 to 15 minutes everyday in the morning. I try to spend enough time outside (I love nature) which unfortunately is not always easy when living and working in the city.
And I like to eat healthy.
I eat lots of fruits and vegetables. When I eat meat, I buy it in the local butcher around my corner. I eat a bit of everything but in small quantities and of good quality. Only blueberries, cranberries and raspberries, I consume in large quantities!
Plain and honest food is what I like and what I like to serve my family. Sugar is the one thing I totally avoid.
And let's not forget a good night sleep. 8 hours would be perfect, 7 hours is realistic.
Pure chocolate and my homemade pecan butter!
Mmm yes... a quinoa cracker with peanut butter on it, raspberries and a piece of dark chocolate with it... I call that "een Anneke doen" she seduced me with it!
What are some of the ways that you take time out to re-charge?
Spending time with my family, a walk in the park, a pampering beauty treatment, having diner or drinks with friends, vegan cooking, going on a city trip, visiting an inspiring art or photography expo, reading a book/magazine.
Recharging for me is being outside, in nature. I love to take long walks with the wind in my hair.
I love Sweden, my second home because of my husband. The greatness of nature is overwhelming! When I am in the forest or in the desert, it feels huge and I feel small and humble. Makes me feel alive!
What's always in your fridge/ pantry?
I am vegan so always loads of fresh veggies and herbs, fruit, plant-based milks (oat, almond, coconut), siracha, homemade hummus, tahini, veganaise.
Berries, all kinds of them. Oatmilk and peanut butter (yes, I have to confess...peanut butter. But always of good quality!)
A bit of peanut butter in my oats in the morning...mmm, to die for!
My daughter loves peanut butter too. She is addicted to vegetables, fruit and peanut butter, not so bad actually for a 12 year old!
Do you think that your conscious and healthy habits, make you perform better in your hectic, professional life?
Definitely YES! Take good care of my personal health is one of my highest priorities in life. I want to age in the best health conditions :)
A plant based ‘diet’, hydration with lots of water, green tea and Jus Juskes, ideally 7 to 8 hrs sleep, some sport exercise and stretching at home,
My daily skin care routine, but also positivity, humour, friendship and love are very important to achieve and maintain a healthy work/ life balance.
You both have children. Is it easy to incorporate whole foods into their daily meals?
Yes it’s very easy as my 2 daughters are already 20 and 15 years. The oldest became vegan three years ago and the youngest is vegetarian. I am a passionate plant-based cook trying to serve as much fresh and non-processed food as possible. They are grown up in a healthy lifestyle at home.
Well, I find it not that hard. It is a way of living. It's how you introduce it to your children. I have never made "kids food". Except for the weekly mashed potato and spinach with fishsticks when they were small.
Everybody eats 'wat de pot schaft'. Sometimes they like it, sometimes they don't. I let my 16 year old boy cook once a week. He gets to pick a recipe (which always includes meat by the way; he is a basket player and trains 3 times a week with a game in the weekend, he NEEDS meat) and we cook together, I am his sous-chef! He loves doing it and surprises himself and the rest of the family with his cooking art.
My family also tips me on courses they'd love to eat that week, which is very helpful when in the supermarket looking at the same racks filled with the same food.
As mothers and business owners, is it difficult to keep a work / life balance?
The advantage of getting older and more experienced is that you set your priorities in business and life. Through experience you get more efficient in scheduling your professional time as an independent. I try to achieve more within a limited time. My children are young adults that are less dependent which gives me some more breathing space as a working mom.
I can happily say that for me that has not been too difficult.
Maybe it is because I am a calm person and have no FOMO at all.
I have always tried to balance things. Of course when the children were small it required a lot of organization. And I often took a step back with certain things. But taking that step back brought peace in our family. I am not the kind of person who wants it all in one time. I want it all but when time is due.
Now that we have teenagers things smoothen out and organization is much easier. I find I have more time for myself, which is nice.
What are your fave Jus Jus product(s)?
The Choco Shock cookies are the best on earth! Yum!
Definitely "Oh My Greens" and "Heartbeet" when it comes to the juices.
The Rainbow Crackers and Kale Chips are to die for. And yes, you can seduce me with Golden Milk and Nutty Joy.
Actually we all have our favorites, that is so nice about Jus Jus.
Father, mother, daughter and son: all Jus Jus fans!
Bjorn loves "Start Me Up" (as if that engine husband of mine needs to be started up!)
Jack sings for Skinny G and Lili-Jean is a Pineapple-Mojito herself.