My Life in Isolation: Lily Vanilli

Lily Jones, better known, as Lily Vanilli has become London’s most sought after artisan baker. She began baking as a way to earn some extra cash during the recession but this hobby has become a thriving business that is taking the city by storm.

Lily has published three best-selling recipe books and is the proud owner of the Lily Vanilli bakery, situated in a quaint cobbled courtyard by London’s famous Columbia Road, as well as a second store more recently in Tbilisi, Georgia. Her talent for creating extraordinary edibles has caught the attention of the fashion industry, celebrities and world leaders. Lily has created masterpieces for high-profile clients such as; Alexander McQueen, V&A and 10 Downing Street.

We caught up with Lily to find out about her life in isolation…

Where do you live?

Bethnal Green.

What does isolation look like for you there?

I furloughed my boyfriend (haha) so it’s just me in the flat and it’s actually been okay. It gets lovely sunlight in the evening and has a great view over London. Those things have always been a good antidote to the stress and confinement of London living, and I’m very grateful for them now too.

How has your local community been affected?

I have got to know my neighbours even better through this and have been able to bake for some and share groceries which has been a really nice thing to come of this. I’ve been learning some amazing stories from over the years about past and present residents in my block, (all through text which is odd but still really interesting). I love my community and neighbourhood and this has made me even fonder and more devoted.

Can you talk us through your daily routine in isolation? How has your life changed since being in isolation?

Honestly, I’m working like crazy at the moment. My staff have been furloughed but I wanted to stay open for orders, even though they are just little ones. It’s been so moving seeing people sending cakes to people they love and can’t be with, it’s been quite emotional.

I wake at 6am, walk to the bakery in the morning (it’s just 6 minutes), work there all day, home around 6-8pm and do admin until midnight. It’s a lot but it’s actually been incredible, I feel so much more connected to my work then I have for years. When I started the business (in 2008) it was just me, and this is like revisiting those old days. It’s been good for me to see that my passion for and commitment to my business is just as strong as it was, and I still really love doing what I do. Baking is also so good for stress and switching off, it’s been a good way for me to cope with everything and worry less I think.

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learnt during this time?

That you can’t take anything for granted, you have to be self reliant and resilient and adaptable. And that what’s important is to look out for each other.

What are your self-care tips at home?

I do a workout in the morning, it’s annoying when I’m tired but 100% helps the day go better – that and sleep. Also, watching movies and sunsets from the balcony.

What advice would you give to others that may be struggling?

I think there is comfort to be found in the fact that we’re all in the same boat. Reach out to people – they can relate! And help those you can help. We will get through this.