Never meet your heroes, they always disappoint. Unless it’s Emma Bunton, former Spice Girl and founder of eco-friendly family brand Kit & Kin, who spoke to Rebecca Cox about her latest project, Spice nostalgia and how to keep teenagers happy at home.
Kit & Kin’s Eco Home: Emma Bunton Interview for Country & Town House
What could I, a 30-something nobody with not one platinum record to my name, ever have in common with a Spice Girl? (And not just any Spice Girl, but the one that I, in retrospect, based large parts of my style and persona on as a tween die-hard fan with a penchant for pink in the late 90s.) As it turns out, there is one thing, one of humanity’s great levellers: parenthood. Becoming a mother inspired Emma to launch her eco-friendly baby brand Kit & Kin (I can attest on behalf of my son that the nappies are excellent), and as her family grows up, the brand is growing with them. To celebrate the launch of her latest collection, a line of eco-conscious home cleaning solutions, Country & Town House was offered interview time with Emma. I paused my weekly screening of Spice World, pulled on my platform trainers and picked up the phone for a conversation, mother to mother.
Emma Bunton Q&A
RC: Can you tell me about your latest launch for Kit & Kin?
EB: Kit & Kin really feels like my third baby! Building a brand like Kit & Kin is something that I’m so proud of. And I’m thrilled to be launching a plant-based refillable cleaning range. It stemmed from lockdown, where everyone was cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, and it’s so frightening how many chemicals are in everything. Especially after you have children, what they’re breathing in, their skincare, everything. To be launching this range feels like an exciting transition for the Kit & Kin family. Now we’re growing up as well, it’s not just all about the babies. It’s about the whole home. And just like Kit & Kin’s sustainable baby range, our naturally derived cleaning solutions are plant-based, sustainable and cruelty free, making them kinder to us and the planet. What’s more, every Kit & Kin product sold helps protect acres of rainforest forever whilst also supporting communities around the world.
How does the refillable aspect work?
So, we have our recyclable bottles and we have the refill packages. You send them back to Kit & Kin, (we pay for that,) and then we will either refill and send it back to you or we will recycle what you send us back.
Are there any major lessons when it comes to sustainability that you’ve learnt along the way?
I’ve learned so much. But I have also learned so much from my children. They come back from school and they’re in eco clubs, I’m so proud of them! Of course, in the house we have done as much as possible for years now. Recycling, speaking to the children about being water-wise, we buy local, we use products that aren’t harmful to the environment, I go around the house constantly turning everything off, not on standby, but by the switches! But a lot of it also has come from my children. It’s so wonderful to watch a new generation growing and learning, a lot quicker than we did. I find that I’m learning so much from them.
I was on the beach with my son (7) the other day, he’s wading into the water to fish out rubbish. It’s so innate to them, isn’t it?
Absolutely. It feels so much more natural as well. But I find that my children do have much more sensitive skin than me or my partner. And I think that’s the kind of world that they’re living in now. But they’re so much more aware, and they want those products that are derived from natural ingredients. I’m proud of them, they’re definitely my teachers at the moment.
At Country & Town House we try to promote a life in balance, what does a life in balance mean to you?
It’s the most important thing for me. Anyone who has to juggle work and family, we know, it’s not easy. But it’s about finding the right balance and managing your priorities. I’m lucky enough to love what I do, but family is my priority. I always make sure we spend quality time together and especially weekends, that is what’s important to me, and what helps me to have that balance. I have to make sure that I do things early, tick everything off the list so that I have that peace of mind to be able to take time out and relax and have dinner times and weekends with my children. And that to me is a balance in life.
How do you keep your children engaged in that family unit as they get older?
Losing that is my absolute fear as a mother because they’re my everything! And they are getting to that age where I can see that they don’t depend on me as much. It’s bringing tears to my eyes right now. But I’m so lucky with both of them because they love being at home. Dinner time is really important, when we sit around and talk about our days and play games while we’re eating, things like that. We had an Italian night last night: we play Italian music, and it’s really cheesy. They roll their eyes but deep down I know they love it!
How do you restore balance, if you feel like things are getting a little bit out of sync?
Taking time to look after yourself is so important, so that you can be present and ready to look after your family. Sometimes I just have to take that hour out, tick things off my list and make sure I can be happy and at peace being around my family. And once all the other stuff is ticked off and done and I’ve had a lovely long bath, I’m ready for the rest of it.
A bath can solve almost anything…
It doesn’t happen often enough at all, but yes, that is the one thing that definitely helps.
Please indulge me with a couple of Spice-related questions?
When you were in your early Spice Girls days as Baby Spice, did you ever imagine that one day, your second career would be a baby-focused business?
Back in the day I was having way too much fun to even think about running a business! Those days we just lived every day and travelled: it was just magical. I’m not sure I thought about it at all back in the Baby Spice days. But absolutely, as soon as I had my children, I just felt like it was time to create something environmentally friendly, something I’m passionate about and that was going to be amazing for the future of my children, most importantly. So creating Kit & Kin has just been the most wonderful thing. And obviously being Baby Spice with a baby brand works well. Tick and tick!
Do your kids grasp the enormity of you being a Spice Girl or are you just ‘mum’ to them?
They absolutely didn’t until the last tour in 2019. They came along and it makes me laugh because they were in the audience with my husband Jade. Apparently both of them just started screaming. They were like: ‘Oh, I just didn’t realise it was going there would be so many people!’. They just thought it was going to be a small theatre. I think that’s when it hit them. But then, just as quickly, it goes back to: ‘where’s my dinner?’ ‘I don’t like that. It’s cold.’ etc. If you’re in the middle of a stadium tour they think you’re wonderful. And then the next minute, I’m just mum again!
Have you got a Baby Spice highlight?
I think it has to be being backstage with the girls in New York at Madison Square Gardens. You know, we were just five girls. It was an amazing, incredible moment, we were all so nervous. I don’t think we could quite believe that we were about to perform at Madison Square Gardens. It was a very special moment.
And a mama spice highlight?
The seconds they were born. I had music playing, my mum was there, Jade was there, obviously. I remember it so vividly. Both of them coming into the world, it was so magical. The most incredible moment of my life, without doubt.
What are you excited about for the future?
It makes me quite emotional, because I’m watching my children grow up, which, obviously, is fascinating. And I love it. I love seeing their passions and what they love doing, it’s amazing. But it’s also emotional because I just love being a mummy. So, and I always will be of course, but they’re just growing up so far too fast.
And also Kit & Kin, that for me is also my future, having this incredible brand business and watching it grow and having other mummies thank me for a great product.
There’s something so wonderful about the community of parenthood, isn’t there?
It’s been amazing. And it really shows you the power of women. It’s been amazing to have that connection with other mums, and a lot of fun, as well.
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Female connection, girl power and a lot of fun? That’s what being a Spice Girl is all about, after all.
Find out more about Kit & Kin at kitandkin.com