The most tearful calls invariably come at night, causing Tiffany Norris to startle awake as she scrabbles for the phone on her bedside table.
The women wanting her attention might have prolific careers in law and finance and earn six-figure salaries — but they’re also pregnant for the first time and, alone with their thoughts before dawn breaks, are as anxious about having a baby as any other mum-to-be.
‘I’ve had high-powered women, used to giving presentations to thousands, sob down the phone to me at 2am about anything and everything — from not knowing how to set up the cot, to what colour they should paint the nursery,’ says Tiffany. ‘They’re the kind of women who don’t like to appear vulnerable, but they’re going through something they’ve never been through before. I’m here to advise without judging. Much to my husband’s horror, my work phone is always on.’
Tiffany Norris, 38, (pictured) who lives in Oxfordshire, provides elite services to mothers based mostly in Chelsea, Knightsbridge and Kensington
Welcome to the rarefied world of the mummy concierge. Increasing numbers of wealthy mums-to-be are outsourcing every aspect of their (very glamorous) pregnancies and the earliest years of motherhood to women such as Tiffany.
A baby name nobody’s ever heard of before? A mummy concierge can sort it. A cot engraved with the family crest? Not a problem. A Mercedes S-Class to deliver you to hospital when labour starts? The chauffeur is on standby.
Perhaps most enviable, however, the mummy concierge offers emotional support on tap, no matter what time of day, or, indeed, night. For a price, of course — high-end mummy concierges command six-figure salaries of their own, and have waiting lists of celebrities, society names and some of the city’s most influential businesswomen.
The concierge industry — providing elite services to those prepared to pay for an easier lifestyle, and estimated to be worth £589 million worldwide by 2025 — might have started with hotels and restaurants at the turn of the millennium, but it is the baby sector that is now booming.
Top employers in the States, including American Express and Fifth Third Bank, have started providing maternity concierges to their pregnant staff. These concierges source everything from buggies to the best obstetricians so workers can carry on their day‑jobs unimpeded.
And while mummy concierging has been altered by the pandemic — with online consultations often replacing face-to-face ones — it certainly hasn’t been thwarted. If anything, it has only made rich women more likely to seek support.
Tiffany concedes that many of her clients inhabit a parallel pregnancy universe in which spending £40,000 on a hand‑painted cot or insisting on a trilingual nanny is par for the course.
‘To some of my clients, this isn’t excessive. They want the best care possible,’ says the glamorous but good-humoured mother-of-two, who had the idea for her mummy concierge service in 2017 while pregnant with her son, Rupert.
Made In Chelsea star Tabitha Willett, 28, enlisted Tiffany’s help for Ottilie, the daughter she had with nightclub owner Fraser Carruthers. Pictured: Made In Chelsea star Tabitha Willett (left) and daughter Ottilie, with former cast member Georgia Toffolo
‘In a state about everything’, she recalls having a ‘meltdown’ in John Lewis while deciding which pram to buy.
‘I remember seeing all these buggies, with tears rolling down my face. Did I need big or small wheels? Where was the brake? I was very aware that I didn’t think salespeople would give independent advice,’ says Tiffany, 38.
Previously a ‘proposal planner’ who helped people get engaged glamorously, Tiffany adds: ‘It suddenly occurred to me there are lots of people planning weddings, but nobody to help plan your baby.’
So she forged contacts with high-end boutiques and parenting experts in upmarket West London, where she lived at the time, and ‘word of mouth spread quickly’ about her new service, The Mummy Concierge.
Most of her clients are still based in Chelsea, Knightsbridge and Kensington, such as socialite and Made In Chelsea star Tabitha Willett, 28, who enlisted Tiffany’s help for Ottilie, the daughter she had with nightclub owner Fraser Carruthers, a friend of Prince Harry, last year.
Tabitha has praised her services: ‘Tiffany’s care and initiative is just so lovely. She has been an incredibly valuable asset on my journey to motherhood.’
And there are many more household names among Tiffany’s clients: ‘Yes, people would probably recognise them, but I sign non-disclosures,’ she says loyally.
Tiffany (pictured) who typical charges £120 per hour, revealed many of her clients have left motherhood late and because pregnancy has been a struggle, they’re more anxious about getting everything right
Her typical hourly rate is £120 and her clients largely split into two groups. There are ambitious, time-strapped working women determined ‘to be as brilliant at motherhood as they have been in their careers’. Many have left motherhood late, or gone through IVF, explains Tiffany; and ‘because pregnancy has been a bigger struggle, they’re more anxious to get everything right’.
Then there are the stay-at-home wives of wealthy husbands who see their new addition as another excuse to splash the cash. ‘They start as they want to go on and become an expert before their baby is even born,’ says Tiffany.
Her job requires ingenuity as well as a bottomless budget. Take the mum who tasked her with coming up with the perfect baby name, with one crucial caveat — nobody in the world was to have used it before.
Tiffany deployed a linguist and branding experts to form a ‘think tank to discuss whether the name would suit both a baby and a prime minister’. So cloaked in secrecy is the final decision that she hasn’t even told her husband.
Tiffany, who lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and their two children, Rupert and Ophelia, one, travels extensively with clients to help baby-proof homes and test items such as buggies in their intended environments. Two years ago, one family flew her first-class to their holiday home in Dubai to prepare it for their newborn.
Tiffany’s main tasks during her four-day stay in the ‘exquisite’ eight-bedroom mansion, with cinema and swimming pool, were sourcing ‘beautifully carved’ toys — ‘They didn’t want flashing noisy plastic toys, the sort babies like,’ she says — and interviewing childcare: ‘They wanted a holiday nanny 24/7, so I had to book three.’
Unsurprisingly, none of them were fresh out of school looking for pocket money. Often, Tiffany is told nannies have to have Oxbridge degrees or speak three languages.
Tiffany (pictured) recalls one client wanting a £40,000 hand-painted cot, while another requested a £1,000 blanket
‘I have a lot of wealthy Italian clients. It’s important their nannies speak Italian and English, and often another language as well to help with their child’s development,’ she explains.
‘We might think that’s excessive, but it’s common among a certain type of mother. It doesn’t mean they love their babies any less.’
Part of Tiffany’s job is preparing the nursery. One client wanted a £40,000 hand-painted cot from a luxury children’s furniture company. Others have asked for their family crest embroidered on muslin squares. Personalised bedlinen is de rigueur. One mum wanted a £1,000 blanket. ‘To me that seemed quite expensive,’ Tiffany says diplomatically.
For a couple having a baby called Peter, she decorated the nursery in a Peter Rabbit theme. For a London family who loved the countryside, she sourced an unusual toy for the newborn’s elder sibling: ‘They wanted a rocking horse, but their toddler didn’t much like horses, so I sourced a rocking deer.’ Contacts with impossibly exclusive suppliers are a pivotal part of the process — ‘We’re in a unique parenting bubble,’ says Tiffany — as is an in-depth knowledge of London’s most prestigious obstetricians.
Most of Tiffany’s clients give birth at either the Kensington Wing (a private maternity ward at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital), the £7,500-a-night Lindo Wing in St Mary’s Hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to Prince George, or London’s private Portland Hospital.
Tiffany (pictured) once commissioned a designer to create a long blue nightgown for her client to wear after her elective C-section
‘Yes, it costs a fortune, but it’s like a five-star hotel,’ says Tiffany, who will prepare each client’s hospital bag weeks before the due date, often putting it in the boot of their car to be sure it’s not forgotten amid the drama of contractions. ‘Some of these obstetricians hand their number to my clients and tell them to call whenever they want.’
For one ‘very glamorous’ client who worked in fashion, Tiffany commissioned a designer to create a long blue nightgown to wear after her elective C-section, and booked a make-up artist, hair stylist and photographer for a photoshoot with her newborn immediately afterwards.
Tiffany, whose book about her role will be published next year, is at pains to stress that ‘normal’ mums can afford her, too, via shorter consultations she has started conducting online.
One such mother is Jaime Baxter, 34, a complaints manager for a bank who last month paid £45 for a 40-minute, one-on-one call.
Jaime, from Rainham, Kent, sought advice on bottle-feeding after antenatal classes had made her feel like ‘the worst mother in the world because I didn’t want the pressure of breastfeeding’.
Jaime, who gave birth to son Louis ten days ago, recalls: ‘Tiffany gave me information about the best bottles and her research on formula milk. She made me feel I wasn’t alone. I’ve got good family support, but would approach her again for other key stages such as weaning. If you’re paying for peace of mind, it’s worth it.’
Sarah Dixon, 38, (pictured) who has been providing concierge services for the past ten years, said one client had a party at London Zoo, complaining that a giraffe wasn’t pretty enough
Concierge Sarah Dixon, however, offers no such services for civilian mums-to-be. She’s too busy packing £25,000 hospital bags for royalty or ensuring that there is the correct power source on a super-yacht for her client’s breast pump.
A mummy concierge for some of the world’s wealthiest women for the past ten years, many of whom are Middle Eastern royalty, Sarah says ‘saying no is not an option’ — although she recalls one occasion when she put her foot down.
A client told her a giraffe they spotted during a trip to London Zoo — where they planned to rent rooms in order to throw an exclusive party for their child — wasn’t ‘pretty’ enough for their precious six and eight-year-olds and requested she fly in another from their Saudi Arabian palace zoo.
‘I said I’d work on it,’ recalls Sarah. ‘But ultimately, it was a moral issue. Flying in an animal for a child’s birthday party was not going to work for me.’
A former maternity nurse for royals and celebrities, Sarah, 38, set up her concierge business, Mini Me And Luxury, after she was kept on following a stint as a maternity nurse with a globetrotting royal family in the Middle East.
Although the family travelled with a staff of 70, Sarah says ‘there actually wasn’t anyone to do the concierge role’ — which, in truth, sounds like a logistical nightmare.
‘At London Zoo, we’d have to hire a suite and get our own chefs in for security reasons,’ says Sarah, from Northampton, whose clients have ‘business interests’ rather than day-jobs, ‘huge amounts of disposable income’ and fly her between their multiple homes by private jet.
She won’t take on more than 20 clients at a time (‘They are very demanding’). Nor will she disclose how much she is paid, quoting her price ‘on application’. She concedes, however, that maternity concierges can earn six-figures.
Sarah (pictured) said throwing a baby shower at hotels such as The Ritz or the Mandarin Oriental costs around £250,000
Which perhaps isn’t surprising, given the amount her clients spend on baby clothes alone. Sarah knows the baby ranges at all the larger fashion houses, from Dior to Moschino, and everything has to be the latest season.
‘Each designer vest probably costs £70 upwards. Baby outfits can cost £500. We have to buy everything before the birth in “newborn” and “0-3 months”, too, just in case, because we don’t know the size of the baby.’
With items commonly requested including £1,500 cashmere swaddles, the price of her clients’ hospital bags alone comes to ‘an easy £25,000’. Kitting out the nursery with designer cots and furniture (often in multiples, so a version can go in every home) can cost £250,000.
Compared to which, the £8,000-odd for membership to exclusive private children’s clubs such as Purple Dragon and Maggie & Rose, which Sarah often acquires for her clients before their babies are born, is small change.
‘Parents feel if their nannies take the children to a private club, they’ll be with a certain demographic,’ says Sarah, who adds that while it’s often wealthy daddies who determine which elite school a child attends — ‘each family will have a clear indication of schooling from the father’s side, which I know sounds incredibly sexist’ – she is tasked with finding ‘the correct tutors. Lots of my babies are brought up trilingual.’
Baby showers are held at London hotels such as The Ritz and the Mandarin Oriental, where Sarah says throwing a bash, including hiring a suite, staffing and catering, costs around £250,000.
She typically spends £2,000 each on gift bags for children’s parties — even if all the ‘guests’ are newborns. ‘I’d probably put in a £550 Fendi teddy bear or a Dior bunny rabbit for £250 and some bespoke teething products,’ says Sarah.
Judy Goldberg, 36, (pictured) from London, once had 24 hours to set up a nursery for a client, spending £15,000 on ‘essentials’ including a £3,000 Aston Martin buggy
Does Sarah, herself mother to a seven-year-old son, worry she’s encouraging hordes of spoilt brats? ‘This is all they know, and it’s how they’re going to live the rest of their lives,’ she says.
As for her new-mum clients, she says they can be subject to baby blues and still call her in tears: ‘I tell them the feeling is normal. You can have all the money in the world, but you’re still human.’
At such an intensely personal time, lines between mummy concierge and pregnant client are invariably blurred — and perhaps never so much as when Judy Goldberg ended up acting as birthing partner for one of her clients.
‘Her husband had broken his leg. She was going to be induced and asked me to be with her for support,’ recalls Judy, 36, from London, a former French teacher who set up her concierge company Babynizer after her second child, Eitan, was born six years ago. ‘She felt comfortable with me.’
Judy, married to Michael, 39, who runs a chauffeur company, is also mum to Noa, eight, and is pregnant with their third child. She says most of her career-orientated clients in law or finance contact her because they don’t have time to plan things themselves. ‘They are working until the end of their pregnancy and there is too much to get organised,’ she says.
But what of the husbands? Surely, they’re capable of researching buggies? Aside from the fact they’re often too busy, Judy claims they lack the ‘intuition’ a woman like her can offer: ‘Ask what baby bath they should have, and they’re completely lost.’
Her most stressful job was working for the wife of a businessman, who contacted her a fortnight before her due date. Judy recalls: ‘She said: “I need you now.” She had just moved to London and the following day went into labour.’
Judy had 24 hours to set up the nursery and spend £15,000 on ‘essentials’ including a £3,000 Aston Martin buggy and £2,000 designer rocking chair. ‘I set up the nursery while she was in hospital, then went to meet her at the Portland with her car seat and baby clothes.’
Judy — who charges £50-£60 an hour — has been known to send a chauffeur to clients’ homes with a ‘craving buffet’ — emergency supplies of specially requested food to satisfy pregnancy cravings. She’s also booked clients a top-of-the-range Mercedes S-Class to take them to hospital. ‘They want to arrive in a nice car,’ she explains.
But she stresses that her services are not out of reach to ordinary mums: ‘We have very wealthy clients but it is accessible for the middle-class. A simple two-hour consultation would help enormously and cost £100.’
Indeed, due to give birth to her third child next week, she admits she would hire herself if she could: ‘I wish I had someone to take the pressure away.’