Expecting: Chi-San Wan, co-founder of The Pressery

Chi-San Wan is the co-founder of almond-milk-making experts, The Pressery, who have spent the last two and a bit years making it their goal to get people drinking fresh, activated almond milk. And they’re succeeding. Stocked across London and in a few sites outside of the city, The Pressery have recently relaunched with a range of organic, long-life almond milk in a variety of flavours.

However Chi is about to substitute 5am almond-milking sessions for a wake up call of a different kind. We chatted to her and took some pictures at 7 months pregnant, as she prepares herself and her home for the arrival of her and her partner’s first baby.

As a young founder of a creative culinary start-up, and an all-round source of inspiration when it comes to food and drink, we’ve long been in awe of Chi. And now we find ourselves in her Hackney home, cup of turmeric latte in hand, chatting about how life has changed since becoming pregnant (and admiring her pretty potted succulents at the same time).

Chi in her Hackney home
Chi in her Hackney home

“I am more of a homebody now” she says “Towards the end of May my friend had her birthday party in a bar. I was just hanging outside with everyone when they all decided to go back in for a dance. I went in and everyone was dancing and jostling around - I needed the toilet and there was a massive queue. I suddenly thought ‘I can’t do this anymore.”

We’re sure she’s not the first mum-to-be to find herself in a distinctly non-bump-friendly environment, nor will she be the last. And for women used to a busy work and social schedule, the prospect of being pregnant and carrying on like normal isn’t always the easiest to pull off.

However Chi seems to have found a balance. A self-confessed “grandma” who’d rather “stay at home, make a nice meal with a glass of red wine or go to a nice wine bar and have nibbles”, Chi approaches her life holistically, taking care of her mind and body and embracing slowness wherever she can. For her that might mean starting the day slowly with her Sleep Cycle app or ending it with some meditation.

Slowness was something she was aware of when her and boyfriend started trying to conceive (Chi hates the word “trying” and we’re with her on that one). “It’s like an orchestra, everything has to work” she says, “By the third month I realised that ‘shit, this can actually be a really stressful process.’ I can see how people’s relationships and patience can be tested. Something that should be quite romantic and intimate turns into homework!.”

"I'm more of a homebody now"
“I’m more of a homebody now”

Thankfully Chi didn’t have to wait long and found out the good news two days before the first (and now probably the last) Christmas day spent at home, just her and her boyfriend.

“Some of my friends have said the funniest things” Chi says with a mini eye-roll as she talks about sharing the news with her friendship circle, “One said “Was it a mistake?” and then another comment I got was “Was it on purpose?” Isn’t that the funniest thing to be asked?”

Just like being shoulder-to-shoulder in a packed bar with a toilet queue the size of the cocktail menu, getting the ‘was it an accident’ talk from friends is something we’re sure Chi isn’t alone in experiencing. For a successful business co-founder such as herself, living in a capital city known more for its workaholics than its baby-friendliness, the question of ‘why’ is probably an all too familiar one - and one best left ignored.

Before The Pressery soaked and squeezed its way onto the whole food scene, Chi was working as a stylist in the fashion industry, with food sitting firmly as her favourite side hustle. Feeling disillusioned with fashion and keen to make food and drink into a 9-5, Chi partnered with a fellow foodie with an aim to bring pure, fresh almond milk to our shelves and lattes.

“We found one ingredient and ran with it,” says Chi, “There’s one bottle, one label, one of everything we do. It made more sense for us to strip it back and not overcomplicate. There were almond milk companies selling on the shop shelves but it was full of rubbish. So we thought why isn’t anyone making a raw organic product with actual almonds in it?”

A year into the business and The Pressery crowd funded £150,000 under 5 hours on Crowcube which allowed them to make the product more available. And available it is. You can get your Pressery fix at The Detox Kitchen, La Pain Quotidien and Tiosk amongst others.

“We found one ingredient and ran with it. There’s one bottle, one label, and one of everything we do."
“We found one ingredient and ran with it. There’s one bottle, one label, and one of everything we do.”

Work aside and Chi is beginning to think about the kind of parent she hopes to be, as well as the influence that her childhood will have.

“I’m first generation Chinese - my parents came over from Hong Kong and they were quite strict when I was growing up. I probably lied to them a lot about what I was up to” she says, “For Chinese families you show your love through eating and sharing food together and I think that’s what I’m into. The best thing that I can do is to have people around and socialise over a good meal.”

On a more practical level, Chi tries hard to live sustainably and we can’t help but admire her optimism about continuing to do so when the little one arrives.

“Recently the thing me and my boyfriend looked into are washable nappies. I know it’s a lot of hard work to begin with but you save money and lots of landfill in the end. It’s important to at least try instead of opting for disposable nappies which are easier - I might find that within a week or two and scrap the washable nappies.” This attitude is typical of Chi’s roll-up-her-sleeves mentality – something we’re sure she’s developed from starting a business and something that will definitely come in handy with a newborn.

Chi also approaches life with a conscience - whether that’s through the organic ethos of the company or her own views on diet and wellbeing, so it’s no surprise she is planning a natural home birth, aided by hypnobirthing techniques which she has been practising with her partner. Previously reluctant to have children as she was worried about giving birth, discovering hypnobirthing (a form of self-hypnosis for labour and childbirth) made her less fearful about the birthing process: “It made so much sense to me in the way I like running my life. It sounded like the most natural thing ever and really empowering. I thought that if this is how I can give birth then I’m happy to have children.”

“For Chinese families you show your love through eating and sharing food together and I think that’s what I’m into.”
“For Chinese families you show your love through eating and sharing food together and I think that’s what I’m into.”

On a similar note, she tells us that she has a doula (a woman equipped to give help, support and guidance during pregnancy and birth). Originally Chi was told by a few doulas she initially met up with that they often come with a “Mary Poppins bag of tricks” which can include reiki, acupuncture, massage - all sorts. After a handful of meetings, she organised one with (her now current) doula Liliana to find out more.

“I was blown away by how much I loved being in the presence of her” she says “My last question to her involved asking what she can do. And she said ‘nothing’. She looked at me as if I was crazy and said ‘I don’t need to do anything to you, you are the only thing you need to birth this child. You need to give birth and I am there to protect your space. If I have all these ‘things’ with me then you will feel weak’. That actually blew me away.”

Spending time with Chi in her home and talking about health, food and family is definitely a therapeutic experience. Her natural black hair, neat bump and soft linen dress by The Acey all paint a rather lovely picture of calm and serenity. Despite her admittance that she’s been “stressed” recently, you wouldn’t be able to tell and looking after herself seems important to Chi. This naturally extends to eating - an intrinsic part of her life, both for the business and for her breakfast, which usually consists of “just fresh avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, herbs, seeds and then maybe a boiled egg on top. Perhaps with spring onions as well because I like something punchy. And then lots of lemon juice and olive oil.”

Skincare comes courtesy of homemade treatments, a generous amount of dry brushing and magnesium oil for those inevitable pregnancy body cramps. Sesame oil pulling is something Chi does regularly to draw out toxins, although a recent experience where she tried to hold the oil in her mouth for 20 minutes whilst meditating - “I couldn’t do the breathing, obviously, so stopped that quite quickly” - shows that we’re all guilty of taking wellness multi-tasking a step too far.

As we tear ourselves away from Chi’s plant-dotted den, it’s clear to us that every first pregnancy is in equal parts exciting and entirely unique to the individual. Approaching her’s with the same beliefs she applies to her life and business is a technique that seems to work for Chi, and one we’re sure will continue into motherhood. But what about her final thought on being a parent? “You can only guide and your guidance is always based on expectations of which you’ve had of yourself. I’d like to empower them with the knowledge of everything you can, hoping they will make their own choices in life, for the good.”

On that note, we leave Chi in tranquility. Peace and quiet may be a thing of the past soon, but what comes in its place is an extraordinary replacement we know she’ll cherish.

Keep up with all things The Pressery here and catch Chi on Instagram too.

Chi’s pregnancy recommendations

Books:

Do Birth by Caroline Flint
Expecting Better by Emily Oster
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Gentle Birth Method by Dr Gowri Motha
Why Doulas Matter by Maddie McMahon
Why Hypnobirthing Matters by Katrina Berry
The Hypnobirthing Book by Katherine Graves

Doula:

Liliana Lammers

Acupuncture:

I discovered acupuncture in late 2015 and felt that it kept me on an even keel. However having found my latest acupuncturist (Natasha Tauber based in Stoke Newington), I look forward to my sessions a lot. They include reflexology, cupping, massage, moxa sticks and a little therapy too! It’s an all round holistic approach to ailments of the body and mind, treating the root of the cause and not just the symptoms.

Meditation:

I only got into (guided) meditation when I discovered the ‘OMG I Can Meditate’ app (silly name, I know!) It was the only one I can stick to, so I have signed up to pay a really small amount per month to keep using the programme. I also listen to the CD that comes with The Hypnobirthing Book by Katherine Graves.

Yoga:

Pre-pregnancy, I really enjoyed Andy’s classes at Refinery E9, but since 20 weeks, I have been dedicated to going to Ann at Yoga Body Centre in Lower Clapton for her prenatal classes which are both practical and relaxing.

Classes:

I really would look into hypnobirthing. I have also attended Hackney Homebirth meetings (free!) and breast feeding workshops with Sherridan Stymest which will be invaluable.

Cot hire:

Bed Nest.

Anything else you’d like to share to expecting mums?

Try and chill and enjoy the pregnancy as much as possible! Be active (as long as you are able to!) and affirmations really do work (even if you feel a bit silly doing it).

Words: Lucy Vincent
Images: Jessica Maccormick for Glasshouse Journal

Thank you to Chi for letting us into her beautiful home.

Share this:

More From The Journal

  1. Glasshouse Christmas Gift Guide

    To help ease the busy Christmas shopping period, we’ve put together our top picks from Glasshouse Shop that prioritise artisan crafts, natural and organic ingredients, sustainability and design.

    More +
  2. Hair Trend: Chocolate Brown

    Leaving summer balayages behind, we’re all about moody, glossy chocolate brown shades - simple yet big on impact and the perfect match for a rich winter colour palette.

    More +
  3. Bug x Glasshouse: Anti-Waste Accessories

    Working with our East London neighbours Bug Clothing, we are launching a collection of handmade hair accessories, including Scrunchies, Hair Ribbons and Head Wraps made from leftover fabrics.

    More +
  4. Masterclass: Toners

    ​With the help of our Senior Stylist Ashleigh, we’ve put together a guide on toners to help you understand the basics of the service; what they do, why they are used and how they can help you achieve your perfect colour.

    More +
  5. Q&A: Shereen Jupp of Mother Muse

    Celebrating motherhood in all forms, Mother Muse is a bi-annual coffee table book focusing on slow living and both the beauty and vulnerability of becoming a mother. ​In conversation with Glasshouse founder Olivia Crighton, model Shereen Jupp shares the story behind the publication and the experiences that drove her to create it.

    More +
  6. Meet The Founder: Laura Rudoe of Evolve Beauty

    ​On Monday 19th November we are hosting a Q&A and skincare session with Evolve beauty founder Laura Rudoe and Glasshouse founder Olivia Crighton, covering everything from ingredient sourcing to sustainability and the story behind the independent British brand, plus the chance to try out some of our favourite products from the range.

    More +
  7. Beauty: Boyish Brows

    ​Defined yet wearable with a touch of boyish charm, the latest eyebrow trend makes the most of the brows you’ve got. Here are our top tips on giving your natural brows some extra character to make just enough of a statement.

    More +
  8. Photography: Ilsa Wynne-Hoelscher Kidd

    Ilsa Wynne-Hoelscher Kidd is an Australian photographer who’s sensitive style lends itself to capturing the subject she resonates with most: motherhood. We catch up her to find out more.

    More +
  9. Guy Morgan: Flower Of The Five Wounds

    Verified Organic, suitable for pregnancy and ideal for those with sensitive skin, we explore the new Flower of The Five Wounds range from Guy Morgan Apothecary with imagery from photographer Thea Lovstad.

    More +
  10. Rituals: Elizabeth Bennett

    To kickstart our new Rituals series on Glasshouse Journal, we speak to freelance Journalist Elizabeth Bennet to find out what a balanced lifestyle means to her and what how she stays motivated, energised and calm in modern life.

    More +
  11. Work with us at Glasshouse Salon

    Fancy being a part of our close-knit Glasshouse team? We are looking for a talented Hair Stylist to come onboard.

    More +
  12. Rule Of Three

    Celebrating the diversity and freedom of colour on different skin tones, Glasshouse’s resident makeup artist Emily and photography duo Al and K collaborate for a shoot that bends the rules of colour theory.

    More +
  13. Period Matters

    As more and more topics are placed under the sustainability spotlight, we have turned our attention to an interesting one: periods. As menstrual products start to modernise and with attitudes towards our monthly cycle becoming more open, we are delving into the subject and taking a look at some of the consciously-created menstrual products that we’ve introduced in the salon and online.

    More +
  14. Fashion Month: Round-Up

    As the curtain falls on the Spring/Summer 2019 catwalks, we have gathered together some of our favourite hair and beauty looks from all four cities.

    More +
  15. Reads: 11 by Jasmine Deporta

    Jasmine Deporta has been a favourite photographer of ours since her series Sofa Safari, where she matched her models outfits with the furniture they were sitting on. Now she’s back with the release of her first ever book, 11 - a personal journey through her last 4 years of work. We caught up with her to find out more.

    More +
  16. Hair Story: Ayesha McMahon

    As part of our Hair Story series at Glasshouse Journal, we spoke to up and coming model Ayesha McMahon about her natural hair and the story behind it. From free flowing curls to intricate braided styles, Ayesha walks us through her favourite looks and her love for her fro, along with her thoughts on the misconceptions of black hair in society.

    More +
Load more posts