Absolutely Mama talks to Emma Bunton about being a working mum, and her new passion project
Words Holly Kirkwood
Happily, Emma Bunton is exactly as you’d imagine her to be. Just like a sister, or a bubbly, totally down-to-earth pal, she’s someone you feel you could put the world to rights with over a long lazy lunch. In fact it seems that’s pretty much exactly what she and her friends do; her Instagram feed is peppered with selfies of her with her blonde crew having amazing girl times over lunch, dinner, or drinks. Except that for most of us, our friends aren’t Nicole Appleton, Kate Thornton and Holly Willoughby, but there you go. We can’t all be members of we-survived-fame-in-the-90s-and-now-we’re-living our-best-lives girl groups, more’s the pity.
After finding fame relatively young as Baby Spice in The Spice Girls, Emma’s life was obviously a crazy whirl for much of the 1990s – she attributes holding on to her sanity to her mum, who went everywhere with her at the peak of her fame – but she always knew she wanted a family. Emma found her perfect man in singer Jade Jones, who had also found 90s fame with boy band Damage. This gave her some semblance of normality and when her two boys Beau, 9, and Tate, 5, came along, Emma got the family she’d always wanted: “Coming from a big, close family it’s something I’d always thought about,” she says. “It’s busy, and it’s hectic and I’m always juggling things as a working mum, but I love it,” she enthuses. It’s obvious she wouldn’t have it any other way.
But what does she love most about being a mum? “Probably all the love I get from my boys – they’re really cuddly, loving people and whatever else is going on it’s just amazing to see them every day and get that affection from them,” she says. “I mean don’t get me wrong: it’s a struggle, and there are things we find difficult because there is so much to balance,” (Emma and Jade don’t have a nanny). “It’s also hard work and a lot of responsibility being a mum, but my boys are just the best thing ever!”
They live in Hertfordshire, but the family spends a huge amount of time in London, and Emma’s morning gig at Heart Radio is obviously in the capital. ‘The boys are mad on the Science Museum at the moment, we’ve been there three times recently – they just love it so much.’ Tate, their youngest, adores music and dance, so they also love going to musicals when they can, as well as wandering around the city… “there is so much to see and do, I’ll always be a London girl really, and the boys just have the best time here,” she says.
Her own mum lives close by to help out, and she says Jade is a brilliant dad, and as hands on as she is: while she does her breakfast show in the mornings Jade drops the boys at school – she does the pick-up at the end of the day, in a rhythm familiar to many working parents. “Jade is also a total foodie which is great – we all try to eat healthily at home and he’s always in the kitchen trying out new things and cooking up a storm, It’s brilliant!”
Being a parent may have been something the former Spice Girl – and current member of GEM – always wanted to do, but it hasn’t slowed her career: at the time of our interview she’s most recently been out and about filming for Comic Relief alongside her other commitments. And there is more to come: being a parent also gave Emma a business idea.
“Basically the whole thing started because Beau had eczema, and I looked and looked, but I couldn’t find any creams which worked well. Everything we tried was so full of chemicals, and had strong perfumes which put us off. I don’t want to put loads of chemicals on my baby’s skin – it’s so soft and lovely – I just don’t want to ruin it,’” she giggles. At the same time, Emma was shocked to find out how harmful disposable nappies are to the environment: “In the UK alone we throw away 8 million nappies every day” she points out. “The majority of Kit & Kin nappies, including packaging, will biodegrade within 3 to 6 years. Compare this to conventional nappies that can take up to 500 years to biodegrade and the difference is clear.”
Like many of us mums, Emma chatted to her friends to find out what other people were doing, but the reality was that if you can’t go down the reusable cloth route (and few working mums feel they are able to) there seemed to be a gap in the market for natural products and more environmentally-friendly nappies.
These issues were still on her mind two years ago when she met Christopher Money through a mutual friend. With 15 years’ experience of developing mother and baby products for some of the world’s leading brands, and his experience in the industry, (Chris also has two boys) he had tons of ideas, and it didn’t take long for the two of them to hatch a plan: the result is Kit and Kin (kitandkin.com).
The name is inspired by friendship, and family, and the products are a simple range of must-haves to make mum’s life easier, and baby’s life happier. We’ve tried them all out, and can confirm that the skin products are lovely. Made with natural ingredients and totally sustainable materials, they have been clinically and dermatologically tested, and also look fantastic.
The magic cream is officially a nappy salve, but actually doubles and triples up as a multi-tasking wonder control. All the products smell wonderful, from the baby bubble bath to the stretch mark oil, while their nappies do just as good a job as Pampers, and come in four very cute designs (choose from bear, fox, panda or tiger). Emma and Chris have also paired up with charity The World Land Trust, and promise that, for every 10 Kit & Kin nappy subscriptions, they will purchase and protect an acre of rainforest.
There are plans for more products to come – Emma says she would love to make some all-natural baby clothes – but for now the attractive range is all available to order online. Of course there is humour in the fact that Baby Spice has turned her talents to nappies and a baby skincare range, but this feels more honest than a celebrity putting their name to a fashion line or a range of ghostwritten children’s books.
There is a real sense that she’s committed to making products which are kind to little people, as well as to the environment. When she’s not being a busy mum-of-two, loving partner, pop star, Radio DJ or perfect brunch companion, that is.