From motorsport and polo, to television presenting and international modelling, Jodie Kidd is no stranger to the challenges of a fast-paced lifestyle. In 2017 she took on the mantle of publican, saving her Sussex local from developers and transforming it into a successful pub and restaurant. Here, in her latest role as brand ambassador for sustainable heritage brand Englana, Jodie talks to Hollie-Ella about life in the country and her excitement at designing her own collection. Despite having lived an intensely fast-paced lifestyle in the public eye Jodie is a self-confessed country girl at heart.
Jodie, where is home for you? – Were you brought up in the country?
I was born and bred in the countryside, and when I started modelling I moved to the city, but my real love is listening to the birds, growing vegetables and having the purity of country living.
Tell us about your most-loved animals…
My favourite horse was called Scooby; Scooby-Do to be more precise. I bought him for about £600 when I was 13 years old. I brought him up and trained him through the grades of show jumping and then about three years later I sold him for £5,000! It really opened my eyes to how commercial show jumping can be and these horses are just so amazing.
What would your ideal day in the country involve?
Waking up super early when everything is really peaceful, taking my horse out for a hack and then coming back to a big plate of organic eggs. Then, I love to potter around, invite my friends over for a leisurely lunch and in the evening have big cuddles with my son Indi, telling Joe all about my day and maybe opening a bottle of wine. Just being at home and being around the people I love and adore.
How did your relationship with luxury British brand Englana come about?
I’d seen the Englana brand at horse shows and we got chatting. It was their welly boot bag that caught my eye and I thought, ‘that’s such a brilliant idea!’ I’m a country girl at heart, and I love the rich connections this brand has to nature and the British countryside.
In each and every item, you can see the love and attention to detail that has lavishly gone into creating the beautifully crafted items – and they fit perfectly in the family Range Rover or horsebox. They aim to marry this rural practicality with traditional English craftsmanship by using only British-sourced materials, textiles and artisans.
What is the Englana product you can’t live without?
I love the Rupert boot bag as I’ve got horses, dogs and chickens, so I’m constantly in and out of wellies. But sticking filthy wellies in the back of my car has always been a pain and I’m constantly having the car cleaned. The welly bag is such a simple idea and Englana’s is beautifully made.
I’m actually working on my own collection for Englana which is really exciting. We’re looking at all the different colourways and I will be designing some travel pieces. It’s a relationship that’s going to grow and grow. What’s nice is that, although I’ve designed various items in the past – such as clothes for sports brands or my own trainers – with Englana I’m very much coming with my knowledge as a consumer and saying, ‘This is what I love and use’ or, ‘This is what I can see my friends requesting.’
As a 40-year-old woman, who is both a mum and an entrepreneur, I need what works for my lifestyle. It’s so much fun to be creative like this, particularly having been in the fashion world for so many years, albeit on the other side of the spectrum. It’s lovely that I can use my own creative juices and not just model someone else’s designs.
What is it you love most about life in the country?
I feel most at home in the countryside, I love having the space around me and I’m passionate about planting things and living off the land. We don’t buy any veg through the whole of summer because we grow all our own. The quality and taste is so much better.
The city has given me some amazing experiences, and I love heading into London for the day, but home is always the Sussex countryside. It’s where all my childhood memories are and I’m so glad my own son is having the same upbringing.
You took on The Half Moon because it was rumoured it was going to be sold for development – was that important to you, to save the pub for the local community?
When you live rurally, it’s so important for the community to have a place where everyone can come together. The Half Moon is the heart of the village – you can have your husband’s birthday or WI meeting or just come and have a natter after work. Developers keep buying up our little village pubs, and I’ve seen people become a lot more insular as a result.
It’s so important to people’s mental health and lifestyle, so when my local went up for sale I said, ‘Right, I’m not going to let this happen’. A couple of friends and I bought The Half Moon – and then we said, ‘Okay, does anyone know how to run a pub?’
We are delighted that your pub, The Half Moon is so close to In The Country HQ, especially when we heard there is a kitchen garden. Tell us about your chef, Paul Welburn and the kitchen garden.
I am so passionate about locally-sourced ingredients, and I love the lifecycle of nature. I still get excited as soon as I see the little seedlings we plant coming up out of the soil! It is really important for me to know where my food comes from, and Paul shares this passion with me. We only use organic produce from a 25-mile radius.
As a generation, we are so accustomed to buying whatever we like, whenever we like and we don’t really consider the environmental impact this has on the planet. When produce is locally-sourced you are also cutting down on your carbon footprint, as well as doing the right thing for your health. It might cost a little bit more doing it this way, but it’s important to be authentic and live by your own values.
Also we’re very impressed by no plastic at the pub – hugely admirable! Any tips for the rest of us in making that transition? (We already use Who Gives A Crap* in the ITC office!)
Simple things really count! Get yourself a reusable stainless steel water bottle, a great wicker bag for groceries and try and reduce your food plastic by switching from shopping in supermarkets to farmers’ markets where possible.
Life on the race track and on the catwalk in cities is very different to the life you lead now, what lured you to the city life, and back again?
I was fortunate enough to begin my modelling career at 16 so the work lured me to the city. I had decades of incredible experiences all over the world as a result of this, but it’s not sustainable long-term, especially when you want to settle down and have a family.
As a young, outgoing female going up against some of the men on the track (and beating them), did you face any issues or criticism?
Absolutely. I was racing in Italy and at the beginning they were saying, ‘Ah bella, lovely, beautiful’ as they overtook me. But when I started getting competitive they couldn’t overtake me and didn’t like it at all — a girl beating them, a blonde girl beating them, a blonde girl model beating them! Mine is a very competitive family. We’ve all been brought up as sportsmen and sportswomen and in sport, to be successful, you have to win. It’s been ingrained from an early age to be winners in life.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I’ve always used food purely for fuel, so if I was walking the catwalk I’d have a salad, if I was riding I’d have a bowl of pasta. I’m not the kind of girl who really loves junk food or takeaway, I’d much prefer something wholesome and seasonal, like an autumn apple and berry crumble or something like that!
Will you share with us a career highlight?
My career highlight was when I was presenting at the GQ Man of the Year Awards and sat next to [then-Top Gear presenter] Jeremy Clarkson, and we got chatting about the cars. He said it would be nice to get a woman, a model, to come and do the show, and I ended up breaking the speed record for their ‘Star in a Reasonably Priced Car’ segment. From that moment I knew I was hooked. I loved cars. I ended up having a long career racing for Maserati. It was a lot of fun!
Wellies or heels?
It’s about 50/50 between wellies and high heels, which is a lovely balance.
Has your son Indio caught the horsepower bug… is it engines or equines?
I try to get him out to play sport and do things but he’s addicted to electronic devices! It’s the bane of this generation.
He is still so young and he’s got the biggest heart, he’s incredibly kind and caring so I predict he will be an animal or nature lover but I’m sure he will naturally find his passions as he grows up.
What advice would your give your 23-year-old self?
Keep believing. Be kind and don’t lie. Always trust yourself to be yourself!
All photography within this article credited to Englana. If you’d like to view the collection, visit www.englana.com