Words by: Fiona Cowood
Socialite-turned-businesswoman Tamara Ecclestone Rutland, 33, talks parenting styles, social media and low-maintenance living.
A businesswoman with a net worth of £232 million. An outspoken advocate of attachment parenting. Star of her own reality show. The owner of the most ridiculous Chanel shoe closet I have ever seen (check it out on her Instagram). There are so many facets to Tamara Ecclestone, daughter of ex-Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, that when we sit down together in the private shopping area of London’s Harvey Nichols, it’s hard to know where to start. But then her three-year-old daughter, Fifi, runs over, having bumped her head, and it’s suddenly obvious. Everything in Tamara’s world now revolves around this adorable bundle of energy, who is today dressed in a black Givenchy Kids dress and has made instant friends with all of the staff.
We’re meeting to celebrate the store’s launch of Tamara’s range of Fifi & Friends natural baby products. From baby wash through to a bottom butter and suncream, Tamara tells me that Fifi was her guinea pig for the whole range: “I just wanted it to be perfect and to make sure that it agreed with her. I’m such a perfectionist.”
We meet in the week that Tamara has written on Instagram: “You may be my little sister but you have shown unimaginable strength, dignity and composure. Proud of you.”
Her sister, Petra, 29, has been embroiled in a custody battle with ex-husband James Stunt, whom she divorced in a £5.5 billion settlement last October. She has since been awarded sole custody of their three children, Lavinia, five, and James and Andrew, three. So how important is it to be able to lean on family in dark times?
“When my parents got divorced, me and my sister were there for each other,” says Tamara. “We’re the only ones who fully understand each other because we grew up in a certain environment and we’ve been through everything together. Watching her suffer almost feels like I’m going through it because we are so close. I’m raising Fifi to know that family is the most important thing – they’re the people who will always be there, no matter what.”
Tamara’s own domestic situation couldn’t be more different from her sister’s – she and her husband, Jay Rutland, have only recently started going on dates again now that Fifi is sleeping through the night. The couple met in January 2013, were engaged within a month, married in June the same year and were expecting Fifi by July. Tamara has talked openly about how co-sleeping with Fifi has affected their relationship and why she’s still breastfeeding – positions she’s had to defend repeatedly on social media and television.
“It’s so mad!” Tamara says, breaking into laughter. “There are so many other things in life to be angry or that opinionated about. Everyone’s got something to say and everyone wants to tell you what you should and shouldn’t be doing. We should all be encouraging each other, not judging each other.”
I ask her if she regrets being so open about her choices.
“No, I don’t regret it. I’ve had messages saying things like: ‘My mother-in-law said I should stop breastfeeding but I now feel empowered to continue because of watching you.’ Those kinds of comments are so rewarding and really nice,” she says.
Does the criticism ever get to her?
“No,” she insists. “I’m happy to keep talking about attachment parenting because I feel like the proof is in the pudding. I see how outgoing Fifi is, and that it doesn’t make you clingy. It has the opposite effect – I want to get that across because I feel that attachment parenting has been misunderstood.”
Tamara tells me that Fifi recently went for a school assessment and her heart swelled with pride watching her daughter swan down the school corridor without a backwards look while other children cried and fretted around her.
“I felt so proud of how brave she is and who she’s become,” confides Tamara.
With a 57-room mansion worth £70 million, 50 servants and nine dogs, Tamara is not one for doing anything on a small scale. Fifi’s fourth birthday is looming and Tamara says plans are already underway: “She’s having a Care Bears and unicorns party because those are her favourite things. We’re doing it in a hotel so we can leave the mess there!”
But Tamara insists that daily life is far more down to earth than people might imagine: “An average Saturday would be spent going to the park, feeding the ducks. In the evening, I’ll have a hot bath to unwind. I like my hot-water bottle, my tea, a box set – we just finished Ozark and The Sinner. Pyjamas are my favourite thing and I love not wearing make-up.”
For now, Tamara’s focus is clear: family and business. The products we’re here to celebrate are all hypoallergenic, vegan and gluten-free. They’re surprisingly well-priced, too. “That was really important to me – I wanted the range to be premium but affordable,” explains Tamara.
So does the marital bed have room for another baby?
“We will, I just don’t know when…” Tamara says. “For me, I would be done and happy because I feel like life couldn’t get any better than this, but I think about how close me and my sister are, and I do want that for Fifi.”
Watch this space.
Fifi & Friends is available to buy exclusively from Harvey Nichols stores and harveynichols.com