Very much a Londoner, Harriet was born in Westminster in the mid seventies, and brought up in Clapham. Devastatingly, her father died when she was just 11 so she moved, with her mother and brother, to a small flat in Chelsea next to Foxtrot Oscar (a legendary restaurant that was owned by Michael Proudlock and Rex Leyland where Harriet went on to work for many years).
Having completed a few shifts at Foxtrot Oscar, Harriet got the restaurant bug and went to Bournemouth University to read Hospitality Management. However, she dropped out early when Foxtrot Oscar offered her a job as restaurant manager. Harriet stayed in the restaurant industry until her mother died of cancer at the age of 48, when Harriet was only 22.
Harriet moved on from Foxtrots to have a memorable stint working with Michael Whitehall (hilarious father of Jack), agent to some amazing actors such as the late, great, Richard Griffiths, before she transitioned into restaurant PR and worked with the brilliant Elizabeth Crompton Batt on clients such as Nobu, Hakkasan and Mr Chow. Harriet stayed in the PR industry until she and her husband Robert had the first of their four daughters in 2003.
Harriet took some time out to chat to me about Spacemasks, Self Care and Motherhood
How have you found your journey through motherhood?
We have 4 daughters. From a very young age, I longed to have babies. I was very lucky to fall pregnant relatively easily and to have easy pregnancies and births, all midwife-led. In fact I actively enjoyed being pregnant. Breast feeding wasn’t quite so much fun…. I remember my boss at the time of my first pregnancy telling me that every stage is best until you get to the next phase. I was quite a worrier and would always worry whether they’d had enough food/sleep/playtime and I was a sucker for a strict routine. But it worked out and they slept well. The cliche about teenagers being worse is true, I’m afraid. The worrying doesn’t stop and the worries get worse!
You tragically lost your parents at an early age, how did this impact your journey into motherhood?
Yes, my father died unexpectedly in his sleep when I was 11 and my brother 13, leaving my mother a widow at the age of 36. The three of us became very close and she would often tell us how she’d help us set up home/babysit her future grandchildren etc. She told me once that all a mother wanted was to see her children settled and that it broke her hear that she wouldn’t due to secondary breast cancer that she eventually died from at the very young age of 48. It was incredibly hard to have 4 babies without a mother around and the pain is still raw to be honest. The nativity plays, the first steps, the momentous milestones all missed by her. So many times, I want to call her or send her a quick photo and I wonder whether that urge will ever completely disappear.
Having previously suffered with depression and anxiety, how do you care for your mental wellbeing while juggling a busy life of motherhood and running a business?
I am a very keen and able sleeper! The main reason I set up Spacemasks was to help us all sleep/rest/take time out more easily. I swim most days and I have very frequent massages and facials. I’m not very good at sitting still and I never watch telly. I also manage my diary well and make sure I don’t over do things. I’m very high energy so am constantly busy but it’s in my genes and I like it like that. The CBT I had in my 20’s equipped me very well and I tend not to sweat the small stuff anymore.
What was the inspiration behind Spacemasks?
I have always been a stay at home mother but always worked from home. At first I catered for friends which led to becoming a virtual pa/concierge and then a homestay host. One of these students staying with me brought a
warming face mask from Japan and from that moment the idea for Spacemasks started to germinate.
What were the important values to you when creating Spacemasks?
People are very keen to give me advice on how to grow my business but I like it just the way it is. It’s a small, very personally run, honest, bullshit-free approach. I don’t push sales, I pay everyone on time, I respond to all my messages and I keep things simple. Kindness is key.
How do the Spacemasks work to relax you?
They heat up gradually and force you to stop and relax. They are calming and soothing and are known to reduce stress, headaches, anxiety and insomnia.
Why should mums have a Spacemask in their mental wellbeing toolkit?
It’s too easy to entirely devote yourself to the baby and then to do life’s admin when the baby is asleep, leaving no time for yourself. Resentment and exhaustion kicks in and that’s not good. The best advice I can give to a new mum is to book some time out in advance or it will never happen. Even if it’s just to have a lie in or to go for a walk alone.
What are your must haves or must dos for self care?
Massages, facials, hot baths, skincare and pets!
If you could go anywhere to restore yourself and relax, where would it be?
Whitstable! I love being by the sea and hearing the seagulls. I get butterflies in my tummy when I get to Whitstable. It’s definitely my happy place.
Affirmations are a big part of my life and the Super Mumma designs. If you had to choose an affirmation for today, what would it be?
This is just a phase and it will pass.
I really recommend following Harriet on Instagram @spacemasks, her stories are so entertaining!!