HotTea Mama is the award-winning range of tea supporting women from bump to baby, and beyond. Their caffeine free pregnancy teas can help to ease morning sickness and prepare for labour; and in the fog of the fourth trimester, their teas can aid wonder weeks, sleep deprivation and breastfeeding.
Now let's meet Bethan...
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm Bethan, I'm 37 and live in Oxford with my partner and our 2 children. Cerys just turned 5, and Hector is 2. They're a delight but energetic to say the least! I went to uni here and met Jake when we studied at the same college, but now we live just north of the city in the middle of fields and I love it. But we are on the fast train line into Oxford and London, so we can still get a city fix when we need it!
How are you coping with the lockdown and juggling running your business around the kids?
I think I'd use the word surviving! I'm lucky that we have an amazing warehouse who are still able to fulfil all our orders for us, so we haven't had to close. But the juggle has never been harder. I am working in every 5 minutes I can get in between stopping the kids from destroying the house completely. I let them watch a film in the afternoon after an energetic morning and post-lunch walk. That's my main window for day time work, the rest has to happen after 8pm!
What was the inspiration for starting HotTea Mama?
It was actually the idea of Kate, who I run the business with. We met at uni, and I'd become a tea buyer and blender after this. She'd gone into marketing, and then had 2 kids in the space of 16 months. Her diet was so restricted for so long, that she got fed up to say the least. She also had all sorts of symptoms that she thought teas might be able to help with. She apparently asked me about this while I was pregnant with my first baby, but I can't remember that at all! I blame it on baby brain. However, when I got pregnant for the second time, she asked me again. And I couldn't help but want to get involved immediately. I'd been blending teas for over 13 years by this point, and even had a degree in Tea Science. But I had never realised until having kids, that a lot of the herbal and fruit teas that I made, were really dangerous for pregnancy. This is because I (and all other tea blenders!) put liquorice in them to sweeten them. But liquorice raises your blood pressure and is very dangerous if you're at risk of preeclampsia.
So we went about making a range of teas that were all safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding, but that also had a functional benefit for certain aspects of motherhood - a tea to help with morning sickness, milk supply, tiredness and insomnia.
When did you launch the business?
We launched in November 2017. It took us over 6 months to perfect the blends, and design our packaging and website.
What do you love most about what you do?
The lovely messages we get from women who have the tea and have found it really helped them. I cried when a lady wrote last week to say that she bought our Night Owl tea (it's a natural sleep aid) and had had her first full night of sleep in months. I know how much that means, as sleep deprivation was the hardest part of motherhood for me. But it's the same when someone finds their milk supply improves after drinking Milk's Up, or can finally reduce their caffeine intake by replacing a coffee with our Get Up & Glow. I get emotional every time.
What's been your biggest pinch-me moment so far?
Winning the Best Maternity award at the Baby Awards last year. I was on my own at the ceremony as we hadn't expected to win, and I was genuinely speechless when we won. Huge brands with a lot of money behind them, like Annabel Karmel and Baby Bjorn, were there, so I couldn't quite believe that I was in the same category. I mean, my desk is my kitchen table!
What's the hardest thing about running a business?
Turning off. As I work a lot in the evenings, it can be really hard to make free time for myself. I can find myself working until 11pm most evenings, and not having spent any time on myself or with my partner.
Where do you see your business going from here?
I'm hoping when life returns to something more like normal, we'll be able to take the brand from being primarily online, to in more and more shops, yoga studios, pre and post natal centres.
What's your current obsession? (could be a TV show, a podcast, anything!)
There's a few - Unorthodox on Netflix is amazing, we just binged it! And I'm loving 'Big Little Lies' as an audio book. I had no idea it was set in Sydney originally, and am loving the Australian narration. I only saw 2 episodes of the TV series, but the book is even better I'd say!
Can you share your top tips for relaxing?
For me, it's exercise. I find running or a HIIT really good to clear my mind and allow me to relax afterwards. A long shower and tired limbs will make your brain able to turn off and relax.
How do you take care of yourself? Do you have regular time just for you?
I sound like a broken record, but again - exercise! As soon as the kids are in bed, and the house is vaguely put together, Jake and I tend to both do exercise. He converted our garage into a gym and workshop (total man cave), so he goes in there and I do a HIIT in the kitchen or go for a run. It's almost meditative for me. And after that, we can both work or watch a film and hang.
What's your motto in life?
Nothing comes out of nothing, but something always comes out of something. So just try/do something - it will always be better than not doing it. Whatever the outcome.