Thriving in the fast lane of her full-throttle life, Jenny Halpern Prince works hard to play hard. The PR guru, who juggles running her PR firm, being a mother to three children and championing multiple philanthropic causes, spoke with us about how she lives her life by the same mantra that she drives her company with (JFDI – “just f***ing do it), and how vacations away with family and friends are her ultimate battery rechargers.
Can you tell me a bit about how you came to found Halpern PR and what your motivation behind it was?
I founded Halpern PR about 25 years ago. I was working inhouse and I had this determination to do my own thing and create my own destiny – but I had absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of how to do that! I think that a lot of people embark on exciting new projects and it’s kind of a fight or flight test. I learnt early on that I was very much a fighter. I was scrappy and used all of my contacts that I had met over the years to support this new company I was building. I was very lucky to be the daughter of someone who successfully founded multiple big retail brands and I could look up to my dad and see him as inspiration for creating something myself. I didn’t want to be handed things on a plate. I wanted to create something that would make an impact and that I could know I achieved entirely on my own. I’m now proud to say that I’ve done that, but it wasn’t always a smooth ride. I had bad knocks along the process, some of which happened very early on and made it feel almost impossible to carry on. But through it all, I learnt the value of resilience. It’s been one of the biggest lessons in my life – the importance of being resilient.
What makes Halpern PR stand out?
I’m incredibly proud of Halpern’s strong culture and identity. Our mantra is JFDI (“just f***ing do it) and I think that really tells you a lot about how we approach our work. Some companies in the same industry as us are really quite bland and we’re the total opposite of that. This means that some companies really love working with us, and for others, we might not be right for them – and I think that’s okay. It’s so important to get the chemistry right with the people that you work with – that applies both to internal relationships and the clients that you onboard.
How and when did your passion for philanthropy start?
In terms of how philanthropy became an important part of my life, I would say that my motivation goes back to when I was 18 or 19 years old. With my connections, I was very lucky to do a lot of work placements in big-name businesses and with all of the opportunities that I had, I decided early on that I really needed some avenue in my life where I could give back. When it comes to philanthropy, one of the things that you can’t make up is a passion for a certain area. My passion at the time and to this day was to try and help give people a chance to enter career fields that they wouldn’t ordinarily have the opportunity to gain access to. As a governor at a school, I set up an educational charity called Access Aspiration and much like Halpern, it began as a little fledgeling thing. Again, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was doing but I put all my efforts into it, brought in people who shared my vision and work ethic, and in time, the charity grew. We went from giving placements to 20 kids in one school to now having given over 4,000 work placements to kids in 30 schools across a whole range of industries from business and finance to communications and art. The mission here is to give kids across the UK equal access to aspirational companies like the Bank of England, Barts Cancer Institute, EE and so many more – hence “Access Aspiration”.
You are a co-founder, chairwoman and trustee of the Lady Garden Foundation. Can you tell me a bit about the charity and how you became involved?
Some girlfriends and I founded Lady Garden in 2014 after one of my friends whose mother had died of ovarian cancer told me that she was thinking about setting up a charity and asked if I would get involved. A group of us came together, including four women who had lost their mothers to ovarian cancer, and I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to help build this charity. It’s always a good idea to do things with people that you trust and get on well with and that was absolutely the case with Lady Garden. I love what we do. It’s irreverent, eye-catching and different. We have an engaging and strong tone of voice and a very serious message which is – Ovarian cancer is a silent killer. Our mission is to bring awareness to the issue and to raise as much funds as possible to make a positive change.
Do you find yourself travelling much with your work and philanthropic commitments?
Only around London! When it comes to my work, travel is very much London based. At the beginning of running a comms agency, you’re travelling the world for your clients and it’s all incredibly glamorous. Then real life hits you and you realise it’s not actually sustainable. I have three children, one four-year-old and two ten-year-olds and it’s just not feasible for me to be travelling for work all the time. But that means that travel for me is totally for fun. There is real joy in taking your kids away and spending quality time with them. It’s incredibly important for me to completely prioritise living in the moment with my family when I’m away, especially when my time is so heavily split across projects when I’m at home.
What are some of your favourite holidays to go on with your family?
We have recurring trips that we go on every year that I really look forward to. For example, skiing in half-term is definitely a tradition for us. We do that every year and my kids absolutely love it, even my four-year-old who started skiing when he was three. It’s one of the most thrilling things to be able to teach them life skills and I would say that skiing is one of them. My father lives in Miami so we travel there every March/April for some family time and my husband is Canadian so we have a cottage in Muskoka by the lake that we go to every year. This time really is all about family and enjoying the peace of being in a natural setting. We’re completely surrounded by trees and also looking over a beautiful lake. It’s never anything fancier than jean shorts and t-shirts while we’re there and the majority of the days are spent paddle boarding, water skiing and fishing – it would surprise many people to know that I’m always the one who worms the fishing hooks! It’s these funny, intimate moments that your kids remember and it’s such a saviour for me to come out here for a few weeks every year and just switch off.
What destination is on your bucket list?
The Galapagos Islands, without a doubt! I’m desperate to go there but we’ll need to wait until the four-year-old gets older (Not that I want to wish away his youth!). It will need to be in a few years time but I would absolutely love to travel there. I’m a real animal lover and have watched all the documentaries about the incredible animals on the island like the blue-footed booby birds and iguanas, and to see them in real life would be so special.
What are some of your most memorable recent travel experiences?
Other than travelling with my family, I find it so uplifting to spend time with friends, especially on holiday. Last year we went to Castiglion del Bosco, one of the Rosewood Hotels in Tuscany and that was incredible. We were there for a friend’s birthday party and it was a phenomenal weekend. We all felt very lucky to be able to travel and enjoy our friends’ major life moments like this – it was very special. Another one of these friend trips was a surprise vacation to Marrakech. We all had to meet at the airport having packed our bags with absolutely no knowledge of where we were going and once we were on the plane, we were told that we were going to the stunning Amanjena.
Tell me the top three travel essentials that you can’t go anywhere without?
Definitely sunscreen! And hand sanitizer is also key when you have three kids and always find yourself in a sticky mess at airports and on planes! A swimsuit is absolutely a must. Can I also extend the list to include knickers too?! If your luggage disappears and you’ve got all of those essentials, you’re sorted! Oh, and if you’re travelling for a big black-tie event, my biggest piece of advice is always, always pack your outfit in your hand luggage! If you take your chances and the luggage never comes, your whole trip is screwed. You’re much better off to be safe than sorry.