This week, we’re talking to the ultra-stylish founder of Jax Coco, Jane Gottschalk! With five kids (Beatrice, 9; Josephine, 8; Leonie, 6; Claudia, 4 and Augustine, 4 months), she has a full house, which means plenty of good times and family escapades. In-between all the chaos, Jane is spearheading a healthy new drinking experience with the launch of Jax Coco and now Jax Kidz, providing healthy coconut water-based beverages for adults and kids. Here, she dishes out her best tips for balancing a growing family and business!
Can you talk us through your career pre and post babies? How did you get back into the swing of things after having children?
My career started in London at an old school private client stockbroking firm and from there I moved to Hedge Fund trading, which I enjoyed but felt was not something I could continue as a mother of very small children. I took a more entrepreneurial approach once the children started school, from helping friends with their growing businesses to eventually helping to run and grow businesses that we invested in. My involvement grew gradually from there. Jax Coco was born at an opportune time when I had three children in full-time education and just one left in kindergarten, which was manageable. Now with a newborn, I’m spending more time at home where I have an office.
Jax Coco is a huge hit around the world , what’s the key to running a business and a family at once?
Knowing your limitations and being able to delegate and ask for help, which is hard to learn. Also, patience, a sense of humour and the ability to multi task. Some organisational skills help too, although I struggle here. In general, you have to come to the realisation that you won’t be able to get everything done and not beat yourself up because of it. Being present with the children when it’s family time is the most important part. I also love including the children in the creative aspect of work. It’s important to me that the children know what I do and understand when work takes me away from them at times. They are very involved and know about all the products and the people I work with.
Jax Coco Kidz has just launched, what are the benefits of coconut water for kids and how do you make it taste just right for children?
As coconut water contains naturally occurring electrolytes, it is very hydrating for the body. In giving my children coconut water to take to school in their lunch boxes every day, I know that even if they don’t like their lunch or eat some junk food they have been offered, they will at least be properly hydrated which will give them energy and help with focus in classes. We use no processed sugar, adding only a small amount of coconut sugar to our chocolate flavour, which is a natural sweetener and has a low glycymic index level. Research has shown us that Jax Kidz coconut water contains up to 30-70% less fruit sugar than orange juice which, if correct, means less cavities and less spikes in energy.
How did you get your children involved in the creation of Jax Kidz?
They were our primary taste-testers! We produced three sets of samples before they were happy with the products. Interestingly, they also chose two fruits that are very popular in the Philippines but relatively unknown in the Western world: Calamansi – a cross between a lime and an orange and Guyabano – a white fleshed tropical fruit widely believed to fight cancer cells, boost the immune system and lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
How do you save time? What are your organisational tricks and tips?
I get up early. You can achieve a lot between 6-8am! I also tend to act quickly and decisively – I’m not a fan of deliberation, debate nor corporate bureaucracy. It prohibits progress and squashes creativity. I tend not to plan too far in advance and although this can be frustrating for people around me, it leaves room for spontaneity, which I like. Don’t forget to take the time to clear your mind so you can see what needs to get done and can prioritise whilst recharging your batteries. I do this on early morning walks and hikes with the dogs. Oh, and write it down! But preferably not on loose pieces of paper which you find strewn on the bottom of your bag a few months later…
Tips for staying stylish while multitasking?
Again, being realistic. With five kids and five dogs, I tend to stay away from white silk or anything that can be creased, crumbled, marked or torn. The challenge is finding something that I can wear at home but also show up to meetings in. I like to have some key go-to pieces and obviously, comfort is important. During ‘term time’, I stick to a basic wardrobe of black jeans, basic T-shirts and jackets. I always carry two pairs of shoes with me – flats for when I’m with the kids and dogs or running in between meetings and heels for work, meetings and dinners.
I wish I had more time for…
I always feel saner after….
Time spent with animals – particularly my 16 dogs or trips to the Animals Asia bear sanctuary in Chengdu. There’s a lot to be said for animal therapy, it puts a lot of things back into perspective.
Favourite activity with the kids in Hong Kong?
A trip to the beach. It’s rare to live in a city with great beaches a stone’s throw away and although the water quality may not win any awards, to see the kids running free, getting messy and playing freely is a lot of fun. Our favourite is Shek O beach or Big Wave Bay near where we live.
Favourite kid-friendly restaurant in Hong Kong?
The Black Sheep in Shek O for pizza and kid-friendly cocktails. With four young kids, you need an understanding environment and the family-run restaurants of villages like Shek O provide that. I think taking young kids to restaurants can be overrated and a stressful experience for all unless you keep it simple, relaxed, informal and fun. No kid wants to be stuck in a stuffy restaurant in uncomfortable clothes being repeatedly told to sit quietly and make polite conversation, no matter how nice the vision of perfection may seem!
Favourite family-friendly holiday spot in Asia?
The Philippines for a relaxed, beach hangout or Singapore for the action-packed fun of Sentosa, which the kids love.
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
Spend time together alone be it lunch or dinners, sports / hobbies, with good friends or trips away. If you have friends, family or a nanny to help with the kids, grab the chance and go. It’s hard to leave them but it’s even more important to give them the stability of happy, bonded parents if possible.
Favourite date-night restaurants?
Anywhere informal and relaxed with great home cooked food and a good wine list.
How has having kids changed the way you define work?
It keeps your priorities in check. It’s not all about the single-minded ‘drive’ anymore. You have to manage your time and find the balance between being a mother, a wife and work.
Do you have any tips for aspiring “mamapreneurs” and other working mamas in Hong Kong?
Drink lots of Jax Coco! (Just kidding.) Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. If you’re passionate about something, you can find a way to make it work and manage your time,whatever the circumstance.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
It’s advice I give myself as a parent: take the pressure off them, let them be independent and don’t wrap them up in cotton wool or they won’t cope with the realities of life later on. Let them get dirty, run free, fall down and learn from their mistakes. Above all, instil in them a sense of self-esteem without arrogance – a platform on which they can grow, and also teach them respect for other human beings and animals.
As a mama I wish I were better at…
Finding the balance and learning to share my time equally between five children and a busy husband, especially with a newborn. It’s hard and doesn’t always work but you can only do your best.
My most humbling mama moment was…
A definite moment, humbling or not, was giving birth to our son with all four girls in the delivery room, thanks to the fabulously good-humoured Dr. Lucy Lord who was remarkably relaxed at the surrounding chaos! It was like a scene out of a bad comedy. Some of the comments were priceless, especially as his head started to show (“Yeuck, that’s disgusting…”). It certainly kept the pain at bay seeing four young kids all wearing adult rubber surgical gloves staring in fascination and trepidation at the proceedings. I hope I haven’t put them off for life. The few minutes after he was born and we were all together as a young family still starting out together was very poignant and one I won’t forget.
What’s your favourite family ritual?
It’s a bit too full on in our household to have many rituals but I do love our Friday “ movie and popcorn” nights at home during term times. Weekends are precious times.
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about….
Animals on meat, fur and bear bile farms in China and other parts of the world where cruelty is so revelant.
Even when my child has a family of his/her own, I’ll still…
Have lots of dogs!
One thing I won’t sacrifice as a mama is…
Time with my husband and friends. Time with friends is the best way to unwind.
My favourite moment of the day is…
Cocktail hour … (mixed with Jax Coco of course!)