Nicky Hambleton-Jones is a gutsy woman, knowledgeable and educated, both as a doctor and nutritionist. When I met her, what I really liked about her was the way she decided to give it up all in her late twenties to start life anew in London. Like many others, she didn’t know what she wanted to do – but she did know she wanted more from life. She was passionate about fashion, an innovator and started providing advice on fashion long before it was fashionable in the UK. So, how did she get to be a UK TV personality – and what advice would she give to those starting out in life, now?
With her transformative advice on Channel 4’s 10 years younger Nicky Hambleton- Jones has inspired a generation of women to pay attention to their bodies, to what they wear, and to feel and look a hundred times better. But her earliest interests were far from the limelight, she recalls. “I wanted to be a geography teacher… that was my favourite subject.”
She speaks with obvious relish of her upbringing in South africa as she pins down why it was so special. “I guess it’s just the space, you know. I just think of space. of a freshly-mown lawn, and the heat baking the grass. Having a lot of freedom as a child to run around and swim… It’s very much an outdoor lifestyle. I absolutely loved it!”
At her strait-laced girls’ school, boys were only allowed on the grounds during the annual ball. “all the benches would be turned over and the grass would be wet so no-one could have any hanky-panky anywhere!” But there was no pressure to get on in life, and she felt her way through her teen years, working in stores as a sales assistant, gaining life-experience.
Initially feeling drawn toward fashion – an interest her father talked her out of – she worked her way through a 5-year medical degree.
Then, Nicky was involved with making leading-edge, life-saving decisions in theatre, telling surgeons where nutrition tubes needed to go to help patients recover.
After going private, she grew bored and decided to study for an MBA in business, before working for Government.
But still Nicky was dissatisfied. one day, she packed her backpack and flew to London, temping and then working in a marketing company. all was going well until the company had to restructure and she was made redundant.
On the day she was laid off, the real change started in her life.
“I walked into IT and they said really sorry you’re going Nicky. I gave them my laptop, still in a bit of state of shock, walked out, turned around and said, don’t worry, one day I’ll be famous, watch this space.” That was 2000. Three years later she was on primetime television on Channel 4.
The change was facilitated by a life coach who asked her an important question: what are you passionate about? The first thing she thought of was fashion – the very subject her dad had dissuaded her from pursuing. Nicky followed her dream and it paid off. She is the presenter of a hit TV show that mixes all her skills to help women look fantastic – in fact, 10 years younger!
So what advice would she give to young people starting out?
“It’s difficult… I think if I had given myself any advice, it would have been go into fashion straight away and don’t waste all the time in nutrition and business. But at the same time, all the different stages of my educational process and self-discovery got me to where I am today…
“There’s so much pressure on young people to finish university, have a career and go and forge that career. But it doesn’t always work like that… I guess what I’d say to young people is that if you go through a process of confusion, a process of indecision, it’s fi ne to change. you’ve got your whole life ahead of you. Everything you’re studying, everything you do in life, will always be useful at some point later on.”
Nicky Hambleton- Jones at A Glance
• Becomes a doctor and nutritionist by her early 20s
• Gets bored with life in South Africa
• Moves to London to start again
• After several positions gets into fashion
• Is approached by Channel 4 to become the star of 10 years younger