Jenné Claiborne’s Bedroom Refresh
Jenné Claiborne’s life revolves around food that makes her feel happy, energetic, and nourished—and her bedroom’s new look does the same. The vegan chef and author is the founder of Sweet Potato Soul, a blog with a trove of delicious, beautifully shot, and wellness-inspired recipes. As long-time followers, we were elated to tour the Los Angeles home she shares with her husband, daughter, sweet older cat, and stunning worldly treasures. We also got the chance to sit down with Jenné to discuss her passion behind her vegan lifestyle and wellness practices, how her recent move to L.A. has transformed her recipes, and the fine balance between form and function when styling her home.
How did you start Sweet Potato Soul? Were you always interested in cooking? When did it become necessary for you to write your cookbook?
I started SPS in 2010 as a recent college graduate looking for a creative outlet. I had just moved to NYC to pursue a career as an actress, but it wasn’t fulfilling me like cooking was, so I started the blog. I decided to write my cookbook in 2015/16 because I saw how important it was to share my vegan versions of the best soul food recipes. I hoped it would help people on their journey, and I think it has.
What lessons have you learned in the kitchen that you have brought home with you?
Patience and the power of trial and error. Especially when I was a new cook, these things were essential to not giving up on challenging recipes and techniques. I’m currently going through it with sourdough baking, which has a yogic quality to the novice experience.
What do you recommend making homemade versus buying at the store?
Dressings and spice blends. They’re both so easy, and you’ll save money and have a fresher, tastier product.
From discussions of its effect on climate change to meat-like products flooding the market, vegan cooking is a topic that’s ruled the wellness and food space for years. Why is eating and going vegan so important?
I became vegan for the animals, first and foremost. I always come back to animal and human suffering that is caused by our industrialized meat, dairy, and fishing industries. The other positive effects are gravy for me.
Since moving from Georgia, to NYC, how here in LA—how does California serve as a source of inspiration for Sweet Potato Soul’s recipes?
The fresh and local produce is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. And the fact that this bounty is available year-round is a dream. I can always go to the farmer’s market and get inspired just by what’s in season. My cooking has become lighter, fresher, and brighter since moving here.
Let’s talk about your bedroom: We love the overall feel and color story you chose. What was your inspiration?
I’m obsessed with interior design, but I didn’t have only one thing that inspired me. I just wanted to create a space that felt like me. I was nervous about pairing the mustard yellow bed with our dark wall color—it’s a rental, so I didn’t choose it—but it’s the perfect color combination. Color is everything to me!
Personal trinkets and touches make a room- tell us about your favorite pieces in your bedroom?
Aside from my sweet family photos and the photos of my daughter, my favorite pieces are the unique embroidered waist bag I got in Thailand a decade ago, an original painting by my husband’s friend Slade Kaufman, a print of Jean-Léon Gérôme's Bashi-Bazouk painting (one of my favorites), and all of my plants.
How did you strike a balance between function and aesthetics in your bedroom?
I prioritize function, but make sure that it’s also gorgeous! I don’t like wasting space with furniture pieces I don’t use. I thought for a long time about having a chair in the room, and it has become one of my favorite places in the house to sit and take Zoom or FT calls.
What draws you to these Lulu and Georgia pieces? Is it the feel, the color, style?
All of the above: the feel, color, and style of Lulu and Georgia speak to me. I especially love that the pieces are feminine without being girly, sophisticated without being stuffy, and cool without feeling trendy.
What advice would you give someone who is about to break into the wellness and food industry?
With the holidays fast approaching (ahh), is there a favorite recipe for the holidays you never go without?
My sweet potato pie is a must!
Any tips for those cooking a vegan meal for the first time and worried about it all coming together?
Don’t get in over your head. Make as many dishes as you can without feeling overwhelmed, and order in or ask your guests to contribute something. The dishes you make will stand out from the rest.
What are the food and wellness essentials you can not live without?
I would definitely say matcha, tahini, sweet potatoes, spending time outside, reading, and long bubble baths.
Like everything in 2020, cooking at home has taken on a new meaning, and we are all doing it a lot more often. Any tips on how to add new ingredients and recipes into the rotation?
Challenge yourself to make one new dish or try one new ingredient each week! That’s what I did when I was first getting into cooking, and it was so much fun.
What is next for Jenne and Sweet Potato Soul?
Hopefully, book #2 and then buying and decorating a home!