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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)