hannah rochell and grenson the schnauzer
Meet InStyle magazine's fashion features editor, flat shoe fanatic and author and her gorgeous boy Grenson
Words: Simon Glazin Pictures: Lorna Luxe
Hannah Rochell loves flat shoes. So much so that she writes features, started a blog and now has two books published about her deep obsession with them.
On her blog, Enbrogue.com, Hannah states: "I NEVER wears heels, mainly because I find them terribly uncomfortable, but also because I have a bad back and am a bit of a tomboy." You won't see a sniff of a heel in her house. Strange for a fashion editor you may think. And it is, but Hannah reminds me that she has just returned from a trip to L.A. which she tagged on to the end of an exhausting fashion month, visiting the four cities to attend catwalk shows, and that she could never imagine doing the rounds in heels. And I don't blame her. She told me how liberating it was to know she'd never wear heels again. Quite a realisation really!
Hannah actually studied to work in television, until she took an evening class in fashion journalism and discovered a totally new career choice she had never considered. She worked as a fashion writer at The Times for six years, before starting at InStyle magazine where she still works. Some of her recent features include: 'What to wear in the rain if you don't like wellies', '13 reasons to be smug about wearing flat shoes' and 'Yes you CAN wear trainers to work'. See, she really champions flat shoes.
Hannah's first book, En Brogue: Love Fashion. Love Shoes. Hate Heels, was published in 2014, and has now also been printed in Japan and Korea (they must love flat shoes too!). The book is a guide through every style of flat shoe and how to wear them, with oh-so-lovely illustrations drawn by Hannah herself. Yes, she's a keen artist too. In fact she showed me some of her other illustrations which feature in her second book, En Brogue: The Trainers Guide, published last year.
Gorgeous Grenson is seven months old and full of energy. He's changed Hannah and her husband, Mark's lives for the better, so much so that Mark launched his own blog all about dog-friendly restaurants and pubs. Scroll down to hear from Hannah all about why she never got on with heels, and some brilliant career advice!
On Grenson: Grenson is EVERYTHING to us! We don't have any kids so we definitely spoil him. He's our baby! Getting a dog changes your life completely. We now only go to dog friendly pubs, restaurants and hotels - my husband Mark has even started a blog about it (manaboutadogblog.com), such is our dedication to the cause!
On her job: I had a strange route into my career. I started interning at the ripe old age of 30 after doing an evening class in fashion journalism and falling in love with it. I think being older gave me an advantage, as every subsequent job after my internship was something I was personally recommended for, so I must have been doing something right! I really appreciate doing something I love for a living, having spent a few years doing jobs I didn't love before I realised what I wanted to do. I love how varied my job is; often I'm in the office writing or commissioning features, but I get to travel a lot too - I've been to New York, Milan, Paris and LA so far this year.
On why heels are the enemy: Me and heels never got on. My look has always been quite tomboy, but when I first started working in fashion I felt like I ought to wear heels. I didn't work out well - as well as falling over a lot, I totally lost my style identity. Once I had to courage to ditch the heels for good I think I understood how to dress to suit me again. Not only that, I'm a sucker for comfort. I don't see why I should have to be in pain for the sake of my legs looking a bit longer.
On a career plan B: This IS my plan B career! I started out working in TV. I'd love to spend more time illustrating so maybe that's plan C?
On her daily routine: I wake up at 7am and throw on a tracksuit because Grenson is my first priority, obvs! Mark works from home, but I don't want Grenson to think he doesn't need me so I make sure I take him for a walk and feed him before I go to work. I'm usually in the office until 6, and as soon as I get back Grenson gets his evening walk. When I'm writing a big feature I'll work from home but that just confuses Grenson and I end up having to ignore him because he wants to play but I need to concentrate!
On career advice: It's all the obvious stuff, but you wouldn't believe how many people doing work experience or junior positions don't do this! Be punctual, helpful and organised. Offer to make tea. Offer ideas when you're asked but don't sit in the office talking non-stop all day - people are trying to concentrate! Learn who everyone in the magazine is - especially the important ones! And grab every opportunity that comes your way with both hands. You never know who you're going to meet, and have the chance to impress...
On her husband's blog: Man About A Dog Blog came about because we wanted to keep our social life without having to leave the dog at home for long stretches. And once we started researching where to go, we realised it would make a great blog! So Man About A Dog Blog is Mark and Grenson, trying out the best places to eat, drink, stay and play with your four-legged friend. The dog community is so lovely - if you love dogs, you love ALL dogs, and he's built up a great following in a really short space of time (it's only been going since January). And it turns out that there are absolutely loads of dog-friendly establishments out there, so the material is endless. It's just finding the time to visit them all that's the problem!
On her favourite Grenson tale: Grenson has this thing we call 'cracker dog'. It only happens once or twice a day and is usually triggered by him getting wet or by someone he loves, like my parents or my brother, coming to visit. When he goes cracker dog, he runs around the house at top speed with his little bum tucked underneath his back legs and his ears folded back, leaping off the stairs and the sofa. Once he started actually bouncing off the walls, like he was doing parkour or something! It only lasts a minute or two but it's always absolutely hilarious.
On the dog breed she'd like to be: I rather fancy being a whippet. They're really good looking, don't have to worry about their weight, look great in clothes and love napping! #lifegoals
On who would play her in a movie: How about Elizabeth Olsen. I mean, she doesn't look anything like me but she once said "when I'm wearing heels at events, my feet feel like they're sitting in pools of blood" and for that, I salute her.
On one thing people should know about her: Other than the fact I don't wear heels?! I'm from the Isle of Wight. Although anyone who meets me will know this before long - I talk about it all the time. We live in London but spend a lot of time there. And Grenson loves it!