Hi, I'm Elena, and I'm the name and face behind the Contented Company.
The Contented Company is a Twickenham-based mum-run family business, providing online eco-learning courses, eco-friendly alternatives for everyday essentials and special gifts.
My hope is to educate, inspire and support people in taking environmental and climate action - both at an individual and at a systemic level.
So how did it all start....? Here's my story 👇
“Contented Cow, Contented Calf…”
It's not the most glamorous phrase, is it?
But it is a phrase that I try to remember every day, ever since my wonderful mother-in-law said it to me when I was first pregnant. If I look after myself, and make sure I’m happy and OK, then my baby will be happy too. And after all, that’s all we really want isn’t it?
It's also what gave inspiration to the first part of the Contented Company: Contented Calf.
An Accidental Entrepreneur
I never meant to start a business. Before I had kids, I worked full-time in Technology Marketing. But when I got pregnant, I didn’t get a choice – my role would no longer exist after I went on maternity leave. In hindsight, I could have fought harder, challenged this and found a difference position with the company. But I was exhausted – emotionally and physically. As the time to me leaving grew closer, I just accepted the situation.
And so, in Summer 2009, after 28 hours of labour and 40 hours awake, I was catapulted into the whirlwind world of motherhood – and joblessness.
I was very much a neurotic, sleep-deprived, deer in the headlights first time mum in those early days. Of course I loved my daughter fiercely, but it’s safe to say, I was a bit of an emotional wreck. At the time I put it down to the sleep deprivation – it’s really enough to send anyone a bit over the edge isn’t it? But looking back at it now, it was more than that. I think I knew it at the time, but wasn’t sure what it was – it felt more than the baby blues, but less than post-natal depression (though I suppose it still could have been). I had a wealth of support around me, and yet I just had this overwhelming sense that it was me and my daughter together against the world.
The Contented Calf Cookbook
As with any new mum, much of my time was spent feeding our baby. During those times I wasn’t working my way through DVD box-sets , my mind would be whizzing, wondering….
When our now 14YO was 10 months old I went to a weekend entrepreneurship course at the Business School where my husband was doing his MBA. One of the outputs of that course was a focus to create the cookbook. I asked my food writer and chef friend, Jassy Davis, to co-author the book with me. And at the end of 2011, when 14YO was two, we launched the book – The Contented Calf Cookbook: Nourishing Lactogenic Recipes for Breastfeeding Mums, the name inspired by my beautiful mother-in-law's wise words of wisdom.
But babies don’t stop growing-up do they? And before I knew it my breastfeeding days were drawing to a close. Though not for long - Spring 2012 brought us a second baby girl. (Just look at those milk covered cheeks...!!)
Summer 2014 saw us move to California with my husband’s job, after which I worked part-time for a while, back in my old world of Technology Marketing. But Silicon Valley is a fickle place and the company was ‘downsized’ – job gone. Upcoming holidays, hosting visiting family and friends (California is a pretty cool place to visit), and child-care struggles meant too many balls to juggle. So I ended up ‘mom-ing’ and housewife-ing. I am so grateful that I got to spend so much time, in such a wonderful place, with my two beautiful girls.
The Contented Kid Cookbook
With our move to the West Coast of the US, we hadn’t moved to a totally different culture, with a very different cuisine. But things tasted ‘different’ nevertheless, especially to the kids.
One item we really missed was low sugar kids’ Fromage Frais. (You know, something to give the kids after dinner sometimes that isn’t too sweet, but can masquerade as ‘pudding’…) I set about trialling and error-ing with various wholesome ingredients, and developing my own. Let me tell you something I know you already know: children are harsh critics. So I kept on trying until I got it just right.
That homemade ‘Fromage Frais’ was the starting point for The Contented Kid Cookbook of Treats & Eats, launched September 2017.
At Christmas 2017, we moved back to Twickenham, London. And for me, it also meant being able to focus on the business again - time to really focus on what I am passionate about.
I’ve always been a bit of a quiet eco gal, plugging away, doing my bit, going the extra mile and trying to inspire others to make a change. Well, the time has came to make a bit more of a noise, properly inspire, drive and support others making changes. And so, at the end of 2018 I introduced Contented Earth.
I was super excited and totally thrilled to be adding this fabulous collection of Eco and Zero Waste products to the Contented Family! As with all the recipes in my cookbooks, the products we are offering have been fully tried and tested by our family.
Fast-forward 18 months to June 2019. Greta Thunberg, the School Strikes and Fridays for Future movement and the Extinction Rebellion protests in London acted as catalysts and the UK declared a climate emergency.
My concern about plastic and pollution had expanded to include the impacts of climate change on the environment, on our health and well-being and our children’s future.
In April 2021 I took my first carbon literacy training, in March 2022 I joined Parents for Future, in November 2022 I took a second carbon literacy training, and in October 2023 I launched my own course: Climate Confidence. We have until the end of this decade to make significant changes. The climate crisis is now front and centre of what I do, and of The Contented Company.
It's time for all of us to take whatever action we can to ensure a liveable future for us and our children, and everyone around the world.
As always, with my love from our family to yours,
picture by Jess Morgan Photography