"He's the best Instagram boyfriend ever!"
Vicki Notaro sat down with the former top model turned food, health and beauty entrepreneur to discuss the loves of her life – food, fitness and her new fella…
Since she last graced the cover of STELLAR 18 months ago, a lot has changed for Roz Purcell. Sure, she’s still strikingly beautiful, insanely popular and incredibly fit. But she’s also distanced herself further from her modelling past with the release of a second cook book called Half Hour Hero, following on from the success of her debut Natural Born Feeder. She’s brought out a gorgeous range of natural shower and bath products under the label Ripe By Roz. She’s also dealt with her sister Rachel’s diagnosis with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia, but she’s thankfully doing well with the manageable strain of the disease. And of course, her long-term relationship with Bressie came to an end right around the time her beloved rescue pup Wilko (or Willlaay as anyone who watches her Insta-stories will know) came in to her life. Now she’s been with new boyfriend Zach Desmond (son of MCD owners Dennis and Caroline Downey Desmond) for over a year. It’s been quite a time but then Roz, 27, doesn’t do things by halves.
As we settle in to Balfes at the Westbury Hotel for a natter a couple of days after our cover shoot, Roz reminds me that ours was the first magazine cover she ever graced back in 2010. “STELLAR was my first ever cover, it wasn’t long after Miss Universe. The magazine has always really supported me, and it’s the best magazine, I always get it for the fashion because I am obsessed with shopping. I don’t really have time to go around the shops, so I spot what I want in the magazine and then buy it online!”
And busy she is, currently promoting Half Hour Hero up and down the country. “I knew I was going to do a second book, because when I was writing the first one, I had to cut so many recipes that I loved out of it. So I alway knew I had the material, and I kind of felt like the first book was a trial, seeing if it took off and there was interest in the Irish market, and when there was, I knew that this second book would be the one I was most proud of.
“I created this one from the feedback I got from the first book; people would give me feedback and I saw a trend of them wanting simpler recipes with fewer ingredients. I didn’t want people to have to go to the health shop to get all the ingredients and I want to appeal to people that will use this book every single day, like me. I want my cookbooks to be dirty, covered in fingerprints!”
Roz asked her followers about their top five ingredients “and from that list I made a list of twenty ingredients, and they’re the basis for the book. They’re everyday ingredients, accessible, not too costly.”
And food is part of her other business, the beauty brand Ripe By Roz. She tells me there’s lots in the pipeline there, repackaging of the current scrubs and new launches as well. I tell her Irish women were waiting for her to release a beauty product for ages. “I wanted to bring out something natural and food related because that’s my passion. And day to day I never wear make up, so it would have been weird for me to bring out beauty products like that, and there are so many amazing products on the market already, it’s difficult to compete. A scrub was the natural first launch because I always have manky hands from tan!” she laughs. “I was the worst model ever, with streaky tan! I used to be much more glamorous but it was so much maintenance. The older I get, the less I care about wearing makeup and the less I wear. I’m just more comfortable showing off who I am, and I look after my skin from the inside out, I’m on top of my skin care.”
Roz is incredibly passionate about exercise. “Fitness is up there with food in terms of passion. A lot of people who aren’t really in to fitness wonder how I get up every morning and why I do it to myself, but it’s not like that for me, I really, really enjoy working out. If I don’t train in a day, I feel like I’m missing something. The gym settles me, and it also makes me feel really strong – boxing makes me feel bad ass, I’ve found the sports that suit me. I love boxing, weight training and sprint training at the track.”
She’s also recently gotten in to yoga. “Before now, I thought yoga was too much time in your own head thinking of nothing, I found I’d come out more aggressive! I was doing a class a week and dreading it. But now I’ve found a teacher that gets me, and I’ve started doing it to complement my training. I’ve become good at emptying my mind and just relaxing in to it, so now I do it for my mind and I get it – but it’s taken me years to get it. I wouldn’t be embarrased about fitness, but yoga made me feel self-conscious because I’m clumsy, or I just wasn’t as good at it. A few one to one sessions helped me with the confidence going in to a class.”
It’s heartening to hear that even someone as super fit as Roz struggles with confidence in exercise, but she admits “I mostly do training for my head.”
Anyone who follows Roz on Instagram will know that she’s had a bit of a jet-setting year, visiting Thailand, LA, Paris, Rome and New York among others. “I made a conscious decision to travel more. We live in Europe, it’s so easy to get around, book really cheap flights and go see somewhere new. It’s so good for me to get new ideas about food abroad, and also trying new training.”
This is also thanks in part to her relationship with Zach. “I’m actually totally fine with talking about my love life now, because I feel really happy! Zach is so chilled. I can 100 percent be myself around him. I always thought I was being myself, but with him I definitely am, and he really inspires me to travel more. I’ve turned in to more of a yes woman. We have great fun just the two of us, he’s my best friend. I think for a lot of people, that’s hard to find. And he’s also the best instagram boyfriend ever!” she laughs, clearly giddy when talking about her man.
She credits him with chilling her out. “I’m just having way more fun these days, I’m way more relaxed. I even switch off my phone a good bit more since I met him!” And with his own family in the public eye (his mum Caroline Downey manages Hozier, and both his parents run MCD), he understands the particular pressures of celebrity. “He’s purposely always stayed away from the spotlight, but he’s not awkward about people coming up to me when we’re out or anything.”
Roz isn’t just healthy when it comes to food and fitness though, she’s also vigilant about getting checked out, especially since 30-year-old PR professional Rachel’s diagnosis right around the time Roz’s first book came out. “She’s doing good. When Rach talks about CML, it’s in a really positive way – she wants to tell people that it’s not the end, that it’s manageable. She also wants to tell people in their twenties and thirties just to go and get checked, just because you’re young and work and go to the gym, it doesn’t mean that everything inside is okay. Go get your bloods done, mole mapping, get your smear test. Listen to your body, because she was really fatigued and she just put it down to being busy in work.”
So the future seems bright for Roz, who has matured before our very eyes. From teenage beauty queen to top model and now successful business woman, she doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon – and we wouldn’t want her to.
This article first appeared in the November issue of STELLAR Magazine. Our December issue is on shelves now!
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