Brunch with London’s most creative couple

Desmond Dempsey Sundays with Emma and JONATHAN-2544.jpg

 Emma and Jonathan spend their weeks wining and dinning with London’s fashion elite so Sunday’s are all about down time – and celeb spotting at their local gym. Jonathan is currently living with Emma for 6 months whilst he is renovating his house. We caught up with them over coffee in North London to have a chat about their creative careers, and how they spend Sunday.

So tell us about your Sundays?

Emma: Jonathan has some hangover story usually…

Jonathan: That’s not fair labelling me as the drunk! Not totally true as I actually pretty much always go for a long run on Sunday…running is what keeps me stay sane, which is kinda important!

Emma: Exercise is a key part of weekends as the week is taken up with socializing and work commitments.  I really like to go to a hard core spinning class on a Sunday. I have just joined this totally new posh gym and last time I went Piers Morgan was sweating behind me! I have also just started going to a boxing trainer recently – he is super hard core, he trains Tom Hardy for all his movies.  I hate it because he spends the whole session yelling at me so I normally end up on the floor, crying!

Jonathan: After all the exercise though it’s about brekkie and chilling! And of course we always try and eat healthy!

Emma: If you forget the drive through McDonalds after a night out!

Jonathan: The weekends are honestly the only time we are not out entertaining a client or at a fashion party or a new opening so Sundays are about proper proper downtime.

Emma: I love nothing more than staying in on a Sunday – tucked up in my blanket and watching Netflix.  

What drew you to working in the world of fashion and events?

Emma: I always worked in fashion PR and I had my own business for years…I started my career in Manchester, where I grew up, in the bar and restaurant business looking after all the Manchester Football players and got into working with fashion brands and connecting them with talent through that.  After a few years, I went to Marbella and then was head hunted to work with some brands here in London.

Jonathan: I grew up in Northamptonshire – I was always the show off as I was the youngest of four and was ruined by love from my mother…she basically unknowingly created a monster.  I remember when I was at school my 6th Form head teacher told my mum ‘Jonathan is a catalyst for mayhem’.

Emma: You probably came out of the womb with jazz hands!

Jonathan: I know – it’s awful!

Jonathan: I always had a short attention span and school wasn’t really for me – so I left school early and came down to London and got a job in fashion buying straight away.  Its was crazy I was the only man on a buying floor with 90 women who were all negotiating button prices with suppliers in India – I had no idea what was going on so ended up buddying up with the fabric buyer and learnt the ropes. It was through her that I met Matthew Williamson who I then ended up working as his Executive Assistant for a couple of years.

What was it like working for Matthew?

Jonathan: I basically did anything and everything for him…I knew where he was at all times from his flight details to his Addison Lee – knew what was in his fridge…I even renovated his house for him to go into the World of Interiors!!  It was crazy, I remember looking back at the time when he was working with Pucci and realising that it was pretty major!


How have you found going from working mainly in the world of fashion to restaurants?

Jonathan: It’s nice to have a broader scope of work because with a lot of fashion brands you are working on something for 6 months but it only lasts 12 minutes.  It does mean I spend a lot of my week trying out new restaurants and sampling their tasting menus….

Emma:  Its crazy a typical week can be anything from entertaining a client 1 or 2 nights of the week to attending various industry events – so you rarely get any time to yourself.  For me I really try to be as peaceful as I can be on the weekends.

Jonathan: My family think I am mad when I tell them what I am up to every week – my brother and I always say to each other that if we weren’t brothers we would never be friends because our lives would never cross – he is down hill mountain biking and I am zones 1 & 2! 

How did you get into event production and PR?

Jonathan: When I was ready to leave my role at Matthew Williamson, Matthew and his business partner Joseph sat me down at the boardroom table and opened their address books and were like ‘who do you want to work for’ and through their contacts I ended up working for Inca Productions.  I loved it; we did the production for all the biggest shows at London Fashion Week including the Giles Deacon show, Fashion Fringe and Viviane Westwood Red Label. 

Emma: It was when Jonathan was working at Inca that we met….I was working on a project with 10 Downing Street at the times.  For five months I was at 10 Downing Street 5 days a week - it was the most defining, most important job I have ever done – it opened doors to all the clients and companies you would ever want to work with.  I would call up to speak to the CEO of Burberry to set up a meeting and normally they would say no and then you would say ‘would you like to do the meeting in number 10’ and they would be there.

Jonathan: Emma appointed Inca to do all the production for the initiative so we met then - We would invite Emma to the London Fashion Week shows we were doing and I was in charge of looking after her so we would hang out back stage.



Emma: For me whether it is huge scale initiative or a small pop up, I just love brand experience.  I love taking a brand and making it come alive because now more than ever it’s about telling a story. There is a huge nostalgic movement happening at the moment as we are dealing with a millennial generation who are on the i phone as soon as they can crawl.  This audience wants the experience.

Jonathan:  You see this in some of the best stores in LA where they combine a coffee shop with their store so their customers can live the brand experience.  For brands opening a bricks and mortar business it now needs to be about culture and a more holistic experience, whether that be partnering with a chef or restaurant – a lot of what I do now is restaurant based actually.

Emma Mainoo is a Business Partner at creative communication company, Sunshine who transform businesses through the power of culture and entertainment.  Jonathan McKenna is Business Development Director at creative and PR agency, Bacchus, working across a portfolio of brands within the lifestyle sector.

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