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Family Portrait | An Interview with Ruby and Reena Hammer

Every square inch of the kitchen island in Ruby Hammer's west London home is covered in shiny, jewel-like boxes of make-up. Not all that surprising considering she is an international make-up artist with an MBE for her services to the cosmetics industry, but this time the carpet of compacts, lipsticks and creams belongs to the lovely make-up artist that Childrensalon has brought along to keep Ruby hands-free (no pressure there) while we photograph her with her beauty entrepreneur daughter, Reena Hammer, and one-year-old grandson, Max.

This is our first intergenerational Family Portrait and we can't wait to get Ruby's take on modern grandparenting and see how this sweet trio connect. As with every interview in this series, we've asked the Hammers to nominate a charity to benefit from sales of their clothing edit and Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital is their immediate choice, setting the tone for a warm and nurturing chat.

 

While Max has his afternoon nap and after a quick tweak from hair and make-up, we catch up with mother and daughter to find out how much life has changed since his arrival.

31 Jul 2023

Life with Max

"Having a grandson has been absolutely divine," Ruby beams, curled up on the sofa with Reena. "Reena was pregnant during covid and we had to wait three days until we could see him – it wasn't like with my parents who were just there from day one – so when I finally saw him, I couldn't speak. It's getting me going just thinking about it now. There is this pure rush of emotion. Reena would say, 'I always thought you'd love him but I never thought you'd be this besotted'."

 

This mother and daughter have a wonderfully relaxed relationship and as they chat, they nestle into each other, laughing and squeezing each other’s hands. There's a tenderness and a shared humour between them that is lovely to see, as they gently tease each other about Reena's teenage years and Ruby's heart being stolen by little Max.

 

Having watched Max play with his "Nani", as Ruby is called – her pink sparkly mules no obstacle to pushing him along on his new Vilac fire engine – it is clear she is one smitten grandmother and she confesses that she is so invested in his every move that Reena has given her remote access to the baby monitor so she can tune in and check in on him when he's sleeping."I don't think you go to bed without checking it," Reena jokes. "My husband Martin laughs at me kissing the screen!" admits Ruby.

 

As hands-on as Ruby is – this baby was treated to full body massages as a newborn and still gets his legs and feet rubbed when he's tired – Ruby is quick to tell us that she isn't one to overstep parenting boundaries. "I don't interfere," she says, "I've taken a lot of that approach from my late mum, who was not a mother-in-law or a mother who interfered in the way you made your choices. I follow Max's routine and I try to stick to whatever Reena's plan is for him. If I can help in that way, that's what I'm going to do."

 

In Their Own Words

Ruby and Reena talk about their close family bond, staying balanced and how baby Max has stolen their hearts.

Max's Daytime Wardrobe

Softness is a key detail that Reena looks for when she's dressing Max...

KENZO KIDS - Кремовый спортивный костюм из хлопка с тигром | ChildrensalonKENZO KIDS

165,00 £

132,00 £

KENZO KIDS - Белый топ из органического хлопка с тигром | ChildrensalonKENZO KIDS

65,00 £

46,00 £

KENZO KIDS - Кремовая хлопковая футболка KOTORA | ChildrensalonKENZO KIDS
70,00 £
KENZO KIDS - Белые кожаные кроссовки с тигром KOTORA | ChildrensalonKENZO KIDS

215,00 £

172,00 £

Family Ties

Growing up as the daughter of Ruby Hammer (make-up artist to supermodels, co-creator of 1990s cult make-up line, Ruby & Millie, and now her own range of eponymous beauty tools) must have been very exciting, we venture. "They're just your parents, so you don't quite see it like that," Reena muses, "I do remember always coming home to find quite glamorous people, you know, whether it was photographers, or hairdressers, or models and there was just this buzz of energy and creativity. My mum is the queen of organised chaos, so there was always pile after pile of exciting things. She'd come back from trips – and she is the person who goes to every single drugstore to find that one little cream – and she'd bring back piles of American magazines. You couldn't help but be a sponge around all this style… It was normal but amazing."

  

These days, Reena runs her own beauty business and is busy launching her own teen skincare and make-up brand, Indu. How does she manage the juggle? "I'm very fortunate. My office is a 10- to 15-minute walk from the house, I have an amazing nanny, my mum is here and I've got my husband Nick's mum too. We're a really close family. My dad lives six minutes away and my uncle is across the road.” 

 

Mothers supporting their daughters is a tradition that runs in the family and Ruby is very keen to help out with Max. "I was a working mum and I had the support of my mum to be able to do what I did at work, which involved a lot of travel. I did many, many things in my life. I had the support of my mum and I want to do the same for Reena to support her because she's a young woman at that peak, starting a new brand."

 

"I've got an amazing support system." Reena smiles, "And I'm very fortunate that Max sleeps and eats well. I'm just so grateful that he does and because of that, I'm able to function and get through everything." We can vouch for this, having watched Max go down for his afternoon sleep like clockwork. After lunch – current favourite foods are sausages, nectarines and blueberries – Reena gave us the heads-up that we had 15 minutes of his time before he’d get tired and need his nap and she was exactly right.  

 

We ask Ruby if she thinks Max has inherited anything from her and, while she thinks, Reena is quick to jump in. “I know. I think he’s a very sweet, kind soul and I know all kids are sweet and unspoiled at this age but I think some are definitely sweeter and less grumpy! My mum’s got the biggest heart of anyone I know and Max is a sweet, warm person. Hopefully, long may that last, but that's what I would say. He's definitely got that warmth.”

 

All Dressed Up

For smarter moments, the Hammers choose butter-wouldn't-melt separates and those all-important polished but comfy shoes.

Babidu - Синий вязаный кардиган из хлопка | ChildrensalonBabidu
25,00 £
Ancar - Бело-синий летний костюм из хлопка для мальчиков | ChildrensalonAncar
55,00 £
Romano - Синие мокасины из искусственной замши для мальчиков | ChildrensalonRomano
51,00 £

Making Time Together

Mornings and evenings together are special times for Reena and Max, and they particularly love their bed, bath and book routine. "It's actually my wind-down time, too, because it's completely focused on him. You can't be looking at your phone while you're doing bedtime. It's very important for us as a family. My husband starts work very early, so he gets home in time for that because he always wants to see Max before bed. That evening ritual is quite an important family moment."

 

Bedtime means a story for Max, and Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney is a firm favourite. "That was his bedtime book every single night for a long time," Reena remembers. "Sometimes he pulls it out and he's like, 'That one.' I always laugh, because when my mum reads it to him, she sing-reads and he loves it. Recently, he got this big new book of nursery rhymes that he knows is a proper book with nice pages, not just cardboard, and he's very gentle with it. He cheers every time we finish one of the songs." And for pyjamas? "Well, he normally wears zip-up onesies to bed, so it was really nice to see him in the crocodile print set from Childrensalon." "Oh, he looked delightful in those. Really cute," coos Ruby. "So grown up!"

 

For daytime dressing, Reena usually makes a beeline for something bright and cheery for Max. "I like to put him in colour quite a lot because I think he looks great in it. I've always loved bright colours. I just think it's a really happy thing. But mainly I just want him to be comfortable – so slightly loose, soft pieces. I absolutely loved the Kenzo outfit – I would wear that! Mum would wear that!"

 

 

Ready for Bed

Ruby and Reena choose cosy socks and snuggly PJs with friendly crocodiles on (who might want their teeth brushed too!).

Powell Craft - Кремовая хлопковая пижама с зелеными крокодилами | ChildrensalonPowell Craft
35,00 £
Mayoral - Boys Blue & Beige Crocodile Ankle Socks (3 Pack) | ChildrensalonMayoral
9,00 £
Powell Craft - Медвежонок в бежевой пижаме с зелеными крокодилами (33см) | ChildrensalonPowell Craft
23,00 £
Blade & Rose - Синие носки с динозавром | ChildrensalonBlade & Rose
4,00 £

Words of Wisdom

"When I had Max, the way I viewed my own mother changed. My perspective shifted massively." Reena tells us. "There's a whole newfound level of respect and appreciation for what they've done for you. I've only had Max for around 18 months and I just think, 'Wow.' Until you do it, you can never quite understand it. I remember having a similar conversation with my husband about his mum – he is one of three boys – and the sense of appreciation is very real.

 

"It's the other way round for me," explains a visibly moved Ruby, "I have enormous respect for Reena. I'm so proud of her as a woman and as a mother, because she's doing such an amazing job. And that's not fake flattery – she is really impressive. She's a great mum and she's doing so well. It's lovely to be appreciated for my role as a mother, but I think it's so important that new mums are told that what they're doing is really admirable."

Max's Toy Box

Ride-on fire engines, whizzy bees and building blocks are always so much fun.

Vilac - Деревянная пожарная машина (50см) | ChildrensalonVilac
100,00 £
Liewood - Бежевый развивающий коврик Джунгли (110см) | ChildrensalonLiewood
104,00 £
Wheely Bug - Черно-желтая пчела на колесах | ChildrensalonWheely Bug
70,00 £

A Time to Play

As we pack up from a wonderful day spent at Ruby's beautiful London home, we can't help smiling at Max, Mum and Nani all playing on the floor with a beautiful set of wooden building blocks. Ruby is enraptured as Max carefully builds his tower and then gleefully sends the blocks flying. We ask her if playing with her grandson keeps her young. "My husband says I'm like an eight-year-old boy," she laughs. "If your vision and your perspective are youthful - this isn't about being young but youthful - it means you are open. And that is what being childlike is. They're open. There are no limits and it's all about being curious. And if we can be more like that, whether it be in our work or just as human beings and just play, that's a wonderful thing. I love it. And I do! I can do it for hours."

 

With Thanks To:

Photographer: Trent McMinn
Videographer: Marc Abe
Hair stylist: Tim Crespin
Make-up Artist: Oona Anderson

 

Discover Ruby and Reena's Edit

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