WHO IS … STEPH DOUGLAS?
Describe yourself in three words
Enthusiastic, determined, impatient.
How did Don’t Buy Her Flowers come about?
The idea came after I had my first baby. I felt exhausted, elated and overwhelmed, and it struck me as bizarre that the go-to gift for new mums was flowers, which require looking after when you’re already pretty spent! I returned to work but couldn’t shake the idea and, as more friends had babies, I could see how important it was that new mums be looked after and what a difference someone saying ‘Are you ok? I’m thinking of you,’ can make. We started as gifts for new mums and now our packages are sent for lots of other occasions, too – get well, thank you, birthdays or any time someone needs some TLC!
What were you doing before DBHF and did it help?
I was in brand and marketing on large Government campaigns, and then London 2012. It helped massively – I knew the importance of understanding your audience and project management. The budgets are very different, and nothing could have prepared me for how difficult running my own business would be – everything is on you and that’s tough, but it’s also the best thing I’ve ever done.
What’s a typical day like?
I’m currently on maternity leave, except not entirely because, when you run a business and there are salaries to pay, it’s not possible to just stop. Thankfully, we now have a team and a warehouse where the orders are all fulfilled. It’s not in my house and it happens without me! It’s a bit of a juggle at the moment as I’m home with Frank, but when he naps (if I’m not napping!), I am working on longer term plans and interviews, and we’re about to hit Mother’s Day, which is a huge one for us.
What’s been the biggest lesson learnt about business?
To stay focused and not get distracted by what others are doing, or try to do too much too soon, I think. I’m really clear on what Don’t Buy Her Flowers is – we sell thoughtful gift packages. There are lots of gorgeous gift ideas, but ours are about encouraging the recipient to have a sit down, and letting them know they are loved, because someone wants to take care of them.
Instagram: love it or hate it?
Love it! I love the community feel of it – being a business owner can be pretty lonely, especially at the beginning. It’s fantastic for meeting like-minded people, and to also find customers. Our followers are incredibly supportive and kind.
How did the Anna May Mangan article in The Daily Mail affect your relationship with social media?
It was actually really positive – the online community was angry on our behalf! I ended up doing lots of interviews about it and it really helped remind me why I started the business. Being a mum is wonderful but hard, and new mums are so vulnerable. We DON’T need people pitting us against each other and criticising how we parent. Most of us are doing our absolute best, and we’re hardest on ourselves, so don’t need judgement from anyone else!
Describe the change from a family of four to a family of five.
A lot more washing and a lot less sleep! We’re in the early stages so mostly knackered, but it’s so lovely to see a different, nurturing side to the big kids – they love Frank and are so excited every time he does something new.
Who inspires you?
Anna Whitehouse (Mother Pukka) is the most driven person I know.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
If you’re 70% sure of something, go for it. If you wait for perfection it’ll never happen, and you can always change things once you get going. That was Ben Jones, a friend, and one of the founders of Graze.com.
What would you take to a desert island?
A bed. I can’t think beyond sleep currently!
What’s your favourite spot in London?
I love where we live in St Margarets, and we love going to Kew Gardens.
Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you?
When I was at university, I applied to go on a TV show called Bar Wars and got to interview stage.
Last book you read?
The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother.
There are lots of exciting things happening at DBHF! We’ve seen huge growth in the number of corporate clients, which is exciting, and we have so many ideas. Personally, I also want to enjoy the next few months as much possible as I don’t plan to have any more babies. It’s taken me until the third one to realise that taking it easy is the key!
Steph Douglas is Founder of Don’t Buy Her Flowers, selling thoughtful gift packages.