She’s one of the most stylish (and mysterious) women on Instagram thanks to her carefully and cleverly curated images (you’ll be hard-pressed finding many images of her face, just a hint of shoulder, arm or ear at the most), so it’s no surprise to learn that Helle Vestergaard Poulsen is as stylish at home as she is on social media…
Mother to eight-year-old Luella and founder of heavenly handmade jewellery brand ANNI LU, Helle is all about images that inspire thanks to her background as a graphic designer, which explains her clever hawk-eye when it comes to finding amazing images from Tumblr. After a 15 year career in magazines, a side project making her own beaded bracelets lead her to launch her own business named ANNI LU, a brand that honours her mother in name and aesthetic, where fine chains and delicate beading form the most lust-worthy collection of earrings, necklaces and bracelets we’ve ever seen. In a world full of same-same Instagram images, it’s refreshing to see a point of difference in Helle’s creativity, personal style and overall design aesthetic, which explains why the Scandinavian creative shuns minimalism. “No, I can definitely say, that I am not a minimalist. Which is also very clear when you look at the ANNI LU collections and my personal style…. More is more.” We’re seriously inspired by the tropical/bohemian vibe of Helle’s jewellery, style and home and know you will be too. Read on to hear more from the stylish mum on everything from running a business to her approach to health and wellbeing and how she tackles phone usage for herself as well as her daughter. Photography: Helene Sandberg | Words: Marisa Remond | Go to www.annilu.dk
What is the best advice you’ve been given about motherhood?
Relax and enjoy the moment. Be calm – your child will feel it.
Can you tell us about your childhood – where did you grow up, what was it like?
I grew up in Aalborg in Northern Jutland. My mother was very young when she had us (I’m the youngest of three) and I learned very early to be responsible and help with many things in our family. My mother was a hard worker and I have been used to that my whole life.
Can you tell us about your mother Anni and what you remember most about her – how does she inspire you and how has she inspired your brand?
My mother always had something creative in her hands. She knitted the coolest sweatshirts for us when we were little. She loved to play with patterns and colours and I always felt so proud wearing her homemade clothes. She was the most charming person and kind to all. My friends loved to visit us and felt so welcome in our home. She never talked badly about anyone. She was strict and loving at the same time and as much as I didn’t understand her in my teens, I really do now that I have my own daughter.
Talk us through your career path – what lead you to go into jewellery design?
I’m a graphic designer. For 15 years, I’d been working as an art director and creative director for several fashion magazines. I loved it, but in my spare time, I needed to do something creative that didn’t remind me too much of work. After a lot of playing around with different materials and techniques, I started making beaded bracelets. I love to mix jewellery and personalise things. I was so lucky, that one of my absolute favourite stores in Copenhagen – Lot29 – wanted to sell my designs. Many of the fashion editors around me loved the things I made and they requested a lot of bracelets for their cover shoots for Spring/Summer 2014. That was amazing! I used Instagram to promote my designs and I got so many requests from stores that wanted to sell them. After six months, I quit my job as creative director for the largest women’s weekly magazine in Denmark to work full time with ANNI LU. That’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. At that time, my mother was very sick with cancer and being self-employed, I felt so fortunate to be able to spend so much time with her without having a job to answer to. She really was a part of ANNI LU to the end.
How would you describe your signature style?
Colourful and asymmetric. Happy and personal. And always with a special meaning to me.
What kind of motifs do you like to work with?
I love working with motifs with a personal meaning to me. I also like anything with a tropical feel, the moon and the stars, and the colour combination of soft rose and red.
And stones – what stones do you love and why?
I like working with a lot of different stones. I use a lot of precious stones in my designs – as long as it’s colourful and a bit of fun. And then I really love opals, coral and emerald. They’re nature’s little wonders and I love that.
Where is your jewellery made? Can you talk us through the process?
I draw and make up a number of prototypes by myself and, after that, the actual production is made by hand by the sweetest and most talented production team in China.
Where does your ambition come from and what keeps you so motivated?
When work is more play than work, I’m really excited and I love to work on new projects with great people. When you sense that the people around you have a lot of energy, that’s very motivating. At the end of the day, it’s you who decides what kind of day you want: a positive vibe against things or a negative vibe. I try to choose the positive whenever possible.
What’s the hardest part of being a working mother?
My own mother worked three jobs and I’m used to that in my own upbringing. I would love to spend even more time with my daughter so I try to pick her up early from school a couple of times a week, and I prioritise to have as much mother-and-daughter time as possible. I work a lot from home, so the lines between work and free time can be a bit blurred sometimes.
What are your thoughts on the minimalism movement? Would you say you’re a minimalist?
No, I can definitely say that I am not a minimalist. Which is also very clear when you look at the ANNI LU collections and my personal style. You can of course choose something minimalistic from my collection, but my own choice and selection are never minimalistic. More is more.
Describe your fashion style and the women whose style you admire?
Colours, patterns, and almost never black. A lot of jewellery. A happy face steals the attention regardless.
What are your time management tips – how do you juggle it all? Do you ever feel overwhelmed?
Yes, especially as I get excited about new projects very easily. Over the last couple of years, I have done a number of charity collaborations, introduced a small clothing line and several other projects. That can be hard to juggle, but I have a few close friends that I use for sparring.
Talk us through your beautiful home – how would you describe it?
Vintage and tropical and with a twist of pink.
What’s your approach to styling your home? How do you keep it tidy with children?
I have a lot of personal things in my home. Something from my grandmother, my great grandmother, my mother-in-law and my mother. And many things I’ve collected while travelling. I like things with some kind of history or meaning. Our home is almost never truly tidy.
What is your approach to health and wellbeing? Do you exercise and eat well?
It’s very important for me to feel healthy inside and out. I’ve always been very active, whether via running or a fitness routine. But a few years ago, I had surgery because of a spinal disk herniation. Over a period of two and a half years, I couldn’t be active at all and I gained close to 10 kilos. I didn’t feel good about or in myself. Mostly because I couldn’t exercise. After that, my mindset has changed. Now I work out five times a week to keep a strong body and I’m grateful that it’s possible. I cried when I had my first run after the surgery. It’s the little things. Now I combine running, Reformer Pilates and high intensity training with weights and TRX elements. I love greens, fruits and vegetables and I try to use them in almost any meal. I also love sweets and cake, and I try to find a good balance in things. When I prepare meals for my daughter, I always make sure to give her a balanced meal. She loves spaghetti with, well, just spaghetti. That’s a bit of a challenge. Luckily she loves apples too and eat them every day as a snack.
What was the last meal you ate?
Spaghetti with garlic, chilli, olive oil and parsley.
What do you love most about raising your children in Denmark?
I love that we live close to the ocean and the woods and that we have the city just 45 minutes away by train or car at the same time. You really feel how small this country is. I appreciate how privileged we are in Denmark, but I would love to live in another country one day.
What makes you feel stressed?
When I miss a deadline.
Describe your inbox…
What are you wearing today?
Soft rose corduroy pants from Céline, a pink ‘Good Morning Tokyo’ sweatshirt from Isabel Marant, eight ANNI LU bracelets, a Cartier Love Bracelet, a custom made gold bracelet from a former colleague, a Rolex watch, and ANNI LU and WWake earrings. A necklace from Pascale Monvoisin, a vintage signet ring from etsy.com, a square ring with a diamond I got from my mother 20 years ago. Rings from Mociun. Fox and Bond jewellery, a Zodiac pinky ring from Carolina Bucci, my wedding ring from Jo Riis Hansen. Opal ring from Melanie Casey. Tiny diamond band from Marlene Juhl Jørgensen. Mrs. Ring from Nora Kogan. Sophie Bille Brahe gold ring and cluster ring from EM Jewelry+Design.
Three items every woman needs in her wardrobe?
A white T-shirt. Jeans that goes with everything. A silk scarf to add a little detail around the neck or waist.
Describe the Danish approach to fashion?
Working with fashion, I see so many stylish women. Brave women that use colour and print, but when you look around the streets in the smaller cities, you see a lot of black and grey. I hope that these women dare to add just a little colour to their outfit with a colourful ANNI LU bracelet.
How do you handle phone usage around your daughter – how do you switch off and focus on her entirely?
I use my phone a lot. Everything is managed from it. Photographs, Tumblr, Instagram, my webshop Annilu.dk, emails, etc. I have switched off most of the notifications to avoid too many distractions. When spending time with my daughter, I leave my phone on a desk away from us. I always bring it on small trips though, to take pictures of nature or Luella.
Helle's List of Little Loves...
Vietnam. I would love to see Hoi An by night. Everything Matisse. I’m so inspired by the colours and the simplicity. The whole Glossier range. Both the products and the packaging. Vintage blouses with flower print. I found the prettiest one in Merci Paris. Every hue of pink – so feminine and calming. Ceramics from Suzanne Sullivan. Reformer Pilates – power, stretching and flexibility in one. Nepal for a great trekking experience and beautiful views. I just love rhododendrons and would love to see the forests’ with these in full bloom.