#MUMBOSS – Getting to know author Aimee Horton

This month I’m super happy to share with you a friend of mine, Aimee Horton, we’ve known each other through blogging for years and in that time Aimee has become an author and I’ve set up Little and Fierce. I don’t think a day goes by when we don’t text, whats app or tweet each other! She’s been a great help and sounding board to me and I LOVE her writing and think you will too.

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Hello! I’m a wife, mother, author, and runner. I love the sunshine, and hate the cold, and I’m grumpy if my nails aren’t nice. I believe you can never have too much pizza or too many Yorkshire puddings, and that if you don’t laugh you’d cry.

Tell us a little bit about what you do

It’s still really strange to say that I’m an author. AN ACTUAL REAL-LIFE AUTHOR. I am also the Content Manager at Polarn O. Pyret UK.

What made you want to start?

I’d decided I didn’t want to do marketing anymore; it just wasn’t the right industry for me. I started writing a blog and some of my readers suggested I should write a book, so I decided to go for it. I had always wanted to be an author but a lack of confidence during my teenage years put me off. Getting older I realised I had nothing to lose giving it a go.

Once you had the idea how did you go about turning it into a reality?

I wrote a couple of awful books. Well actually I wrote a few awful chapters and sent them off to agents. At the beginning I was so busy wanting an agent, I didn’t write anything good. Then one day on a whim I decided to write a funny book to self-publish. It wasn’t intended to be anything but a bit of fun. Turns out that when you have fun, the people who read your work have fun too. People liked my heroine, Dottie, and I got carried away and started to write more. I sent it onto a publisher on a whim last year and they took me on!

Have you made any mistakes or got any regrets?

I have made lots of mistakes, but I try really hard not to have regrets. I’m a firm believer that the mistakes and errors you make shape the person you are. If I hadn’t tried to write a thriller, I’d not have had brilliant feedback from an agent telling me about pace and tone of voice. If I’d not attempted to plot a book in a certain way, I wouldn’t have learnt how actually I sometimes just need to splurge. The list goes on.

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Best thing about being a writer?

Apart from when people actually tell me they’ve read my books (AND ENJOYED THEM) I’m lucky enough to be doing what I love yet still have the flexibility to fit around the kids.

The hardest thing?

The fact that people don’t think I do anything all day can really grate. But also, the process of writing a book is pretty much a “just keep swimming” way of thinking. I spend a lot of my days hating my work, and thinking I’m wasting my time. It has a really impact on my confidence at times. Luckily I have good friends who keep me on track, and obviously the kids don’t stand for self-pity when there are games to set up on the X Box.

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What inspires you?

EVERYTHING! My family and friends. The people around me. Newspaper articles, Instagram, people having coffee in Costa, or just something somebody says on the radio. Sometimes I have no idea how or why ideas have come to me!

Any advice for anyone out there thinking of writing a book?

Just do it. If you don’t know how to start or what you want to write, just set yourself a target of writing for 20 minutes a day.. One of my friends got me into that when I was working on my first full novel, and it was invaluable. How many words can you splurge in 20 minutes? When you write like that you start to see the wood from the trees a little bit.

Also, please write for you, not what you think a publisher or an agent will want. If it’s forced, it will show.

Without wanting to sound corny, follow your dreams. It’s not always easy, it’s not going to happen overnight, in fact you might need to work in the day and fit following your dreams round your job, but do it, it’s worth it.

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All Aimee’s books are available on Amazon

mumboss aimee horton books

Surival of the GinnestMother’s RuinedLush in TranslationSurvival of the Christmas Spirit

Aimee’s blog – www.passthegin.co.uk

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 

 

 

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#MUMBOSS – Getting to know Liz from the Fickle Craftroom

This month’s #MUMBOSS is a fellow business owner that I’ve recently got to know. I’m really inspired by her creativity and passion and think you will be too!

Don’t forget if you have any questions for Liz just leave them in a comment at the end of the post.

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Hi! I’m Liz, and I live in St Albans with my husband, 5 year old son and 1 year old daughter. We only recently moved here, so it’s been a busy time unpacking a house, finding our way around, settling our son into reception, and launching my second business! I love it though and couldn’t be happier.

Tell us a little bit about your business

Fickle Craftroom is an online community of crafty people selling their wares – a bit of everything, but all handmade, and mostly bespoke.

I designed and made a range of jewellery: some personalised, hand-stamped silver and a collection of glass orbs, filled with a variety of beautiful objects. I also sell my funky hand-embroidered shoes on there too.

 

How did you come up with the idea and what made you want to go for it?

My first company, Stitches & Lace, sells personalised, hand-embroidered Converse, which are very popular around wedding season. But although I love it, I also love crochet! And I love making jewellery! And a million other things! I can’t tie myself down to just one sort of craft, and was therefore struggling with the idea of having a business that required me to commit to just one medium. I knew I wasn’t the only person having this sort of quandary, so I decided to not only launch the Fickle Craftroom for myself, but to open it up to friends, family, and anyone else that shared my vision. In fact, any designer/maker readers have any product lines they feel would fit, please do get in touch! I love to support small independent businesses like myself, not to mention #MUMBOSSES!

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Once you had the idea how did you go about turning it into a reality?

Once the idea entered my head I grew so passionate about it – I constantly have so many ideas whirring round and round that to be honest, I didn’t know where to start! I enjoyed setting up the website for Stitches & Lace, so I got cracking with that, having first taken some photos of a collection of glass globe jewellery I’d put together. It helped that I’d already got contacts and a bit of a following through S&L, so I used that as a launch pad to steer people to my new website. Budget has been limited this time around though, as I’d just had my second baby, and so all of my marketing has been via social media, and word of mouth.

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On the community side, I have a Sheffield artist exhibiting some of her paintings in the Craftroom, and have a couple more people getting their listings organised, ready to start listing this spring. I’m so excited about it!

 

Have you made any mistakes or got any regrets?

I just wish I had been more confident in the very first place about getting word out about what I was doing. Even the simple act of asking my friends to like my Facebook page, would have been a fantastic boost, and I wish I’d done that way sooner! People are genuinely interested when they hear you have your own business, and I never gave them enough credit for that.

 

Best thing about running your own business?

I’m basically doing what I have always wanted to do – and I am grateful to the bottom of my heart to my husband, who has been so supportive of me. I get to spend every day with my children, make cute stuff, and answer to n.o.b.o.d.y.

 

The hardest thing?

That old mummy cliché. It’s finding time. When I’m with my babies I often feel I ‘should’ be working. When I’m working I feel the guilt that I’m not cleaning or playing with them. You just never turn off.

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What inspires you?

I’m forever looking for ways for people to ‘wear their memories’ – whether it’s with a wedding date sewn into a pair of Chucks, or a baby’s first curl encapsulated into a silver pendant, a few grains of sand or a special shell turned into a keepsake ring… I just love it.

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Any advice for anyone out there thinking of starting up their own business?

Do it! Don’t feel intimidated; you’ll learn as you go. For example, I never imagined I could build an entire website all by myself, but there are so many resources available to anyone willing to try.

Also, maybe don’t feel you have to say yes to everything that comes your way though, especially advertising-wise. I was so flattered by an invitation to ‘be featured’ (ie pay to advertise) in Vogue that I jumped in headfirst! To be fair, that did actually generate a lot of sales, but off the back of that I’ve had so many advertising people contact me and you could just so easily spend a fortune.

 

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Liz has generously given us an exclusive coupon code!

Use COFFEE16 to receive a FREE personalised sterling silver initial charm pendant with any order over £15*.

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Liz has also recently launched a blog that runs alongside the online shop! It’s a ‘creative lifestyle blog’, which will be packed with inspiration and ideas, along with a sprinkling of more personal pieces on home and family. You can find it here.

Logo Feb16

The Fickle Craftroom – Facebook / Instagram 

www.ficklecraftroom.com

Stitches and Laces – Facebook

*valid until 30.09.16. Simply leave a note at checkout to state what initial(s) you would like – don’t add the free pendant to your order or you will be charged.

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#MUMBOSS – Getting to know Anna from Little Flea

When I launched this blog I was excited about using it to promote other mums with businesses and make this a little hub for getting to know them and also sharing tips and ideas. I know Anna from my work with Little and Fierce and think she is pretty amazing at what she does. I’m happy to introduce her as January’s #MUMBOSS

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Hello! I am Anna Cascarina a mum of two girls living in Hertfordshire. After a career in fashion editing and styling, I decided to start up my own business

 

Tell us a little bit about your business

I run a website and directory called Little Flea. We feature a curated selection of beautiful independent brands ranging from clothing and accessories to interiors and toys. Alongside the website I produce a bi-annual magazine and Christmas gift guide called Little Flea Magazine where we feature all the gorgeous brands on our directory in photo shoots, interviews and trend pages.

 

How did you come up with the idea?

After I had my two children I was constantly trawling the Internet trying to find new and exciting brands that were a bit different from the norm. I decided that perhaps other people might benefit from all my hard work, and so Little Flea was born! Little Flea was created out of a need for something more inspiring; the unique, the interesting, the style savvy – that’s what was missing. I wanted to create a one-stop directory where like-minded individuals could go to find the most gorgeous items for children.

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Once you had the idea how did you go about turning it into a reality?

I was teaching fashion at a local college a few days a week, so it was a struggle at first, but I spent all my time around work and the kids emailing all my favourite brands. I had zero cash and didn’t want to take out any loans, so I decided to do everything myself including building the website and creating the magazine.

I relied heavily on friends and family and my husband has been an absolute rock and so supportive. I also have a lot of creative friends who have done me lots of favours along the way! I couldn’t have done it without them.

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Have you made any mistakes or got any regrets?

I’m constantly making mistakes! Having only been in business a year, I still don’t have the budget to employ anyone yet and doing everything myself is exhausting and can take its toll. Plus the children still need picking up from school, feeding, taking to clubs etc so sometimes I accidentally let things slip. However, I try not to have regrets. Probably the only regret I have is not starting Little Flea sooner. I wasted a good few years procrastinating – I should have got off my butt and just done it!

 

Best thing about running your own business?

It’s different everyday, it fits around family life, I am a #MUMBOSS and even though some days are really tough and it’s a struggle to carry on, I am doing what I love everyday on my own terms!

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The hardest thing?

Getting motivated. I work from home on my own and it can be so isolating and lonely. When I am trying to get started on a new issue of the magazine it is really daunting and the road ahead looks scary. But I have to keep plodding on and pushing through and I always get there in the end! I try to remind myself that nobody is perfect and sometimes just to get through the day in one piece is enough!

 

What inspires you?

All different things. I’m inspired by people on the street, magazines, friends, art, fashion. But probably the most important is the absolutely amazing community on social media that I have had the privilege of meeting and getting to know. They really inspire me and it’s fantastic to know other people are out there with the same struggles and the same dream of wanting to make a little business grow for them and their family.

 

Any advice for anyone out there thinking of starting up their own business?

Do your research and get as much advice and help that you possible can. But if you really want to do something – DO IT! There’s no better time than now!

 

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Have a little explore around Little Flea and see what new brands you can discover. Little Flea Magazine issue 6 will be out early March and if you want to have a browse through the last issue, you can read it for FREE here.

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Little Flea – Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

www.littleflea.co.uk

 

 

(Photo credits – Sharon Cooper)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#MUMBOSS Getting to know Jenny from KyNa Boutique

Last month we got to know Steph the #MumBoss behind Don’t Buy Her Flowers, you can catch up here if you missed it. This month I’m telling you about Jenny from KyNa Boutique. Jenny has been such a huge support and inspiration to me over the past eighteen months. She’s been patient enough to answer even the silliest of my questions that come with starting up a new business, and I know that I can always count on her when I’m in a flap or need a bit of advice.

I’ve bought from Jenny’s store over the years, especially when E was diagnosed with Eczema, and I must add that my sister in law loves getting the clothes that E grows out of for my niece! This is such testament to the brands Jenny chooses as they really do last for wear after wear.

These Indikidual leggings were pretty much permanently on E’s legs until she sadly outgrew them (why do kids have to do that?! haha). I love the brands that Jenny choses, so many fantastic bright and bold prints.

Enough waffling from me, let’s hear from Jenny!

Hi, I’m Jenny, 35, mum to three boys Kyle (10) Nate (5) and Hugo (2) and owner of KyNa Boutique.

I live in Yorkshire and like nothing more than spending time with my family, my ideal night is to have a hot chocolate snuggled up with the boys and watch a movie.

Tell us a little bit about your business

My business is KyNa Boutique. Online Organic clothes for children aged 0-8 years.

The clothing is different to anything you can find on the high street with a heavy focus towards unisex designs. Bright, fun and unique. AND I like to offer that little bit more, everything has FREE delivery and FREE returns – customer service is something I value and I like people to feel like they are part of the family.

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(MODEERSKA HUSET DEEP FOREST LONG SLEEVE TOP £23)

How did you come up with the idea?

The idea came about while I was on maternity leave with my middle child. He really struggled with eczema and I felt like I was getting nowhere with the creams that the Dr was giving us.  The Dr suggested looking at clothing so I started to do research and found that organic clothing could really help.  I tried it and it made a HUGE difference to his skin, I mean HUGE, he had eczema for 9 months and after two weeks it was almost gone.

At that point I decided that Organic was the future but became frustrated to what the high street offered, everything was brown, beige or white.

So I looked further a field and found a number of small brands from around the world that made organic clothing, I started sourcing it for my children and then thought maybe other parents could benefit

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(INDIKIDUAL BANANA WINDBREAKER £37)

Once you had the idea how did you go about turning it into a reality?

I contacted the brands I wanted to stock and explained what I was doing and whether they would be willing to support me.

I then had to create a website so with some technical help (hubby) we built the KyNa website to something that I was happy with and it was all go.

I started small with a couple of brands and built the business from there, re investing my profits to buy more stock.

I had no budget for advertising so used social media (Twitter and Facebook) to get myself out there and make myself known.

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(FILEMON KID ONESIE – TURQUOISE LORI £35)

Have you made any mistakes?

YES! Lots, but I have to be honest and don’t really see anything as a mistake, more of a learning curve.

Best thing about running your own business?

The best thing is the freedom to work the hours around my children, not missing the events that are important to them and the world/ people it has opened me up to. I have met some amazing people along the way, if I wasn’t running the business our paths may never have crossed.

The hardest thing?

Hmm it has to be when you have a mountain of work to do but there is something important in family life that you want to be there for so end up pulling an all nighter.  Its all a juggling act.

What inspires you?

My children inspire me every day, I work hard for them, I want them to be proud of me and what I have achieved after all, its all for them.

Any advice for anyone out there thinking of starting up their own business?

There will always be people who think you can’t do it, just as many people who think you can but its down to you, ignore everyone else, if you believe in yourself you can do anything you set your mind to!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Jenny and finding out about her store. If you have any questions for Jenny just leave them below. Also if you have any general questions to do with setting up your own business feel free to leave them below too or email them to me as I’m going to be answering a load of questions related to this topic in the New Year.

Please note that if you want to order from KyNa for Christmas then the last posting day is on the 18th, so get those orders in quick!

KyNa Boutique – WebsiteInstagram / Twitter / Facebook / Facebook group

 

 

 

 

 

morgana#MUMBOSS Getting to know Jenny from KyNa Boutique
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Getting to know Steph from Don’t Buy Her Flowers

Part of what really excited me about launching this new blog was having a platform to talk about running my own business, and sharing the successes and difficulties that come along with it. As well as sharing my own story I wanted to use this space to shout about other mums that have launched businesses. When I was getting this blog ready I jotted down a few ideas of who I’d like to interview and my list was huge,and that was just from people that I already knew about. The first person that I approached is this lady, although we haven’t me in real life (so to speak) yet, I feel like know her. Does that sound weird and a little stalkerish, eesh, I hope not!

It certainly helps that I LOVE Steph’s business and am a repeat customer with so many of my friends and family popping out babies all over the place! Of course I’m not going to promote businesses that I don’t believe in myself, that would be rather silly. Anyway, enough of my waffling, let’s get to know Steph the Mum Boss of Don’t Buy Her Flowers.

Steph Douglas, founder of Don't Buy Her Flowers, photographed at the Bethnal Green Town Hall Hotel.

Steph Douglas, founder of Don’t Buy Her Flowers, photographed at the Bethnal Green Town Hall Hotel.

I’m 34, married to Doug and we have two children Buster (4) and Mabel (3). I grew up in Stroud in Gloucestershire with five siblings and now live in London. After University I went straight to work in PR and then Brand and communications, managing big teams and campaigns. I’m enthusiastic and mostly cheerful except when I’m hungry. Then I’m an awful person. I’m good at multi-tasking and getting stuff done, and never ever thought I wanted to run my own business.

 

buster, me and Mabel, bluestones

Tell us a little bit about your business

It’s called Don’t Buy Her Flowers and we sell thoughtful gift packages for new mums. I wanted to put together packages that make the recipient know she’s loved and someone is thinking of her. Our most popular package is The Care Package – choice of magazine, scarf, tea, truffles and flapjack. We’ve just launched the Some Like It Hot package which has a thermos mug and really good shortbread (I had to do a lot of taste-testing). Other packages contain gin, dry shampoo and COOK food vouchers, so new parents can get delicious prepared meals delivered to their door.

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How did you come up with the idea?

After I had Buster I received eight bunches of flowers. They were well-received and no one needed to send me anything, but it seemed such a waste as I didn’t have enough vases. As I sat on the sofa feeling sore and anxious and a bit weepy, I also wasn’t really in the right frame of mind to appreciate the beauty of the flowers. It didn’t make any sense to me that when you’re probably more exhausted and emotional than you’ve ever been in your life, you’re likely to be given another thing to care for. When I gave friends who had babies little packages for them, they were so grateful and that planted the seed.

 

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Once you had the idea how did you go about turning it into a reality?

Slowly! I started with a blog, Sisterhood (and all that). For the first time since having babies I felt I had enough headspace for something else. I wanted to see if I could connect with other women, motivate myself to write and learn about social media. It went really well and gave me the courage to think more seriously about starting the business. While still in the security of my job I did a survey that confirmed a) 97% of new mums get flowers and most more than three bunches and b) new mums don’t want flowers. Of all the options I gave, flowers came out overwhelmingly bottom. I had a look at what is out there already, which confirmed there was a gap and then started looking at products and costs and working on a brand. Doug saw that I was getting it together and the success of the blog, and encouraged me to quit my job and go for it. I launched the business a few months later in November 2014.

 

Have you made any mistakes?

More like learned lots of lessons! We haven’t had any disasters yet, but there have been times when orders have been flying in and I’ve been packing boxes at 1am or ordering stock from holiday to make sure we can fulfil orders. That’s quite hard to manage at the beginning as you have no idea what to expect – will you sell one or one hundred?! I’m also learning to have thicker skin. When I first launched I had quite a few florists angry at me for the name of the business. Call me naïve but I wasn’t expecting it at all and it made me feel really wobbly as the comments on my blog and facebook page suggested I was an awful person! Doug came home on the day after we’d launched and I was having a cry and he said ‘Steph, it’s business’ in a really blokey, matter-of-fact way. I woke up the next day more determined and I have definitely got better at letting anything negative wash over me. Not everyone is going to agree with what you do if you write a blog or run a business, and that’s ok. Different strokes for different folks.

 

Best thing about running your own business?

It’s definitely a rush – when orders come in or I get a great piece of feedback; we get a lot of reports of new mums crying when they open our packages. A friend sent me a screen shot from a Facebook group she was on the other day and people were recommending Don’t Buy Her Flowers to someone asking what to get a new mum. There’s a huge sense of ‘we’re doing it!’ which feels amazing. It’s also organically changing as people send our packages for lots of occasions – get well, birthday etc. That wasn’t planned and my main focus is still new mums, but it’s very exciting to see how it’s evolving.

KJ_Steph DBHF0099

The hardest thing?

It never stops. I’ve had to have a meeting with myself a few times when I’ve got carried away and left Doug downstairs with dinner going cold while I ‘just answer one more email’. One of the reasons for starting a business was to have flexibility and be around for the kids and in control, and there have been moments when I definitely haven’t felt in control. At the same time, it’s part of it I think? If you run a business there is going to be a period where you do everything yourself. I took someone on for packing a couple of months ago and also have an assistant (who happens to be one of my best friends) about to start and it’s a huge relief to have other people involved. I didn’t really think this far ahead, but it’s exciting.

 

What inspires you?

Women. I go to Mother’s Meeting and the Business Club is hugely inspiring – rooms of eighty mothers all trying to work out how they can make a living but be more in charge and do something they’re passionate about. I always walk away buzzing. I think we’re living in a really exciting time where women aren’t willing to accept ‘work full time or be a housewife’ as their only options. The internet means that there are so many possibilities, and I know so many women doing varied things trying to work out what they want to ‘do’ – freelancing, retraining, project work, part-time. I think it’s a challenging time because we’re pioneers – lots of us are trying to do a job and still do all the ‘traditional’ things our mothers did – running a home, being the primary carer for the kids etc and I think it can be exhausting as well as tricky on relationships. But I think by the time my daughter is in this position, the world of women and work and equality at home will have changed considerably for the better. I hope so.

 

Any advice for anyone out there thinking of starting up their own business?

Think it through properly – write a business plan, talk to your target market, check the financials work – but don’t wait until everything is perfect or you’ll never do it. We might have to work for another thirty years – it makes sense to do something we’re passionate about. Go for it.

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I hope you enjoyed getting to know Steph and finding out more about her fantastic business. Like I mentioned earlier I am a very happy customer of Don’t Buy Her Flowers and I have friends and family that can vouch for how lovely her care packages are. Whether you are wanting to treat a friend for her birthday or have a friend that’s just had a baby you should definitely take a look at Don’t Buy Her Flowers, you won’t be disappointed.

In fact you should totally check out their recently launched Recovery Package. The Recovery Package contains four indulgent, natural British products to polish and sooth from top to toe, plus candles, and the option to add luxurious British-made socks for curling up on the sofa. Christmas can be a special time of feasting and fun with loved ones, but for most women the run up is also full of lists, burning the candle at both ends and feeling done in by Boxing Day, so this package is just what they’d need.

The Recovery Package contains

FACE: Skin & Tonic Gentle Scrub (30g) made with just six natural ingredients
NAILS & HAIR: Sister & Co Coconut oil (60ml). Among many uses, softens cuticles and conditions hair.
BODY: Laughing Bird Lemon & Walnut Body Scrub with Apple Seed Oil (250ml). Moisturises, softens and cleanses, and with an invigorating scent.
BODY: Rich Laughing Bird Shea & Cocoa Butter Body cream with Moringa & Blueberry (250ml) for velvety soft skin.
MOOD: Three ‘Love & Peace’ 8 hour tealight candles in recycled glass, subtly scented with essential oils Citrus, Geranium, Patchouli and Orange.

Designed and made in England, the following luxury socks can be added to the Recovery Package:

  • Scott-Nichol Chunky Wool socks in Rosehip or Oatmeal, OR
  • Pantherella Cashmere socks in Light Grey or Hot Pink

 

The Recovery Package is £41, £55.50 with Scott-Nichol socks, £70 with Pantherella Cashmere socks. Price includes gift-wrap.

recovery packagae

Now I for one would definitely love to receive a package like that in the post!

Don’t buy her flowers – Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Website

 

Professional shots of Steph are by Emily Gray Photography)

morganaGetting to know Steph from Don’t Buy Her Flowers
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