Mama talks natural parenting and organic products with party girl-turned-devoted mother, Tamara Ecclestone
Words Helen Baron
At first glance, Tamara Ecclestone is not your regular mother.
The daughter of Formula One billionaire Bernie, and model Slavica Ecclestone, she’s been in the public eye since girlhood. She was educated at the distinguished Francis Holland school in London and today, aged 33, calls a £45 million Kensington mansion home. Her professional life has taken in everything from sports presenting for Sky to posing for Playboy. And for a number of years, she was a favourite of the gossip pages – a socialite with an apparent knack for partying.
Then came Sophia.
It’s fair to say that Tamara Ecclestone’s public life can be divided into two sections, pre- and post-partum. When her daughter Sophia (whom she calls Fifi) was born in 2014, Ecclestone’s life, priorities and public profile changed dramatically – so much so that you can’t help feeling that motherhood is her true calling.
We meet Ecclestone at London’s Harvey Nichols. She’s there to celebrate the launch of Fifi and Friends – her range of organic children’s bath products – and we want to find out more about what inspired the brand. Because, let’s face it, few commentators saw this coming: Tamara Ecclestone, bronzed billionairess and some-time party girl, now a leading light in the promotion and development of natural toiletries for kids.
In person, the old image of Ecclestone is even harder to reconcile with her new direction. She’s still a glamour-puss, of course, but the look seems secondary to the spirit; she beams with warmth, welcome and positivity, clearly overjoyed to be launching her products into one of the world’s premier luxury retail spaces. It’s a triumph that seems all the more meaningful because the products weren’t designed with this uppermost in mind. They were, first and foremost, a personal project.
“My daughter Fifi and her cousin Lavinia inspired the brand,” Ecclestone tells us. “Lavinia has really curly hair and it was hard to find decent products to tame it. I had the idea to do a range for both curly and straight hair, so we developed a detangler that can untangle even the knottiest hair. From there it grew into swimming hair-care, sun-block, nappy cream and even baby wipes – I wanted them all to use organic ingredients and to have the same fragrance.”
The natural approach is core to Fifi and Friends, and Ecclestone’s products outstrip many of their competitors’ by offering recyclable and often biodegradable packaging. We ask why the eco-conscious angle is so important and she replies without hesitation: “It’s really, really important to me. It had to be this way. A lot of products are misleading [about such things]. And they smell fake. There was no way I was going to use anything harsh or artificial on my daughter.
“It took almost two years to get everything right – and I tested everything on myself.”
It’s all part of a conscious yet apparently never-judgmental embrace of natural parenting – itself inspired by a kind of epiphany Ecclestone experienced after having her daughter. We ask if motherhood is everything she thought it would be. “Actually, way better!” she enthuses. “Growing up, I wasn’t desperate to be a mum. When it happened, it blew my mind; I was unprepared for just how much I would love my daughter. It was just so immediate and intense. So far, it’s been an amazing journey and I’ve loved every stage. I don’t think you can know how you’re going to feel beforehand – or even what to plan for. I bought all these bottles and a cot thinking they would be useful, then Fifi came and I breastfed exclusively and we co-slept – I ended up following my gut with those things, so you learn on the job.”
Strange as it seems, being a public figure and endorsing breastfeeding and co-sleeping opened Ecclestone up to criticism in some quarters. That must have been hard, we venture. “I don’t really understand it. There are other things to have opinions about – [breastfeeding and co-sleeping are] such personal choices. For me, breastfeeding was easier for both me and baby, and I enjoyed that bond. Motherhood itself definitely engenders opinions and judgment. Well-meaning people like to give advice and share thoughts, but it’s bizarre that breastfeeding is contentious.”
At this point, Fifi comes over to ask for a blanket and we say how nice it must be that Ecclestone can take her daughter with her when “on duty”.
“Well, she’s so friendly and confident,” Ecclestone says. “She’s been exposed to so many adults and this is her norm.”
But, we continue, balancing work and parenting must still be a challenge? “It’s definitely a challenge. But Fifi does now have full days in nursery, so I get as much done as I can on those days. When she was younger, I utilised nap times. It’s important to have balance. I had to make it work so I could do something for me, too, and keep my brain ticking over.”
With that in mind, we ask for some of Ecclestone’s top advice for first-timers and mums-to-be. “Just to see what happens without planning too much,” she suggests.
“And reserve judgment, because you never know how you will react in similar situations – down to whether your child uses an iPad at a certain age or how they behave in public, and how you choose to discipline them in a moment of meltdown.”
Learning on the job, balancing work and motherhood, and wanting the best for her daughter… in all the most important respects, Tamara Ecclestone is not so different from a regular mum after all.