Don’t Buy Her Flowers is the brain-child of Steph Douglas; an utterly genius concept which aims to give a beautiful, nurturing and practical alternative to the usual bouquet of flowers. As part of our ‘Ten Questions With…’ series for The Motherload® Store & Directory, we caught up with a very busy Steph to have a chat about this lovely business and found a truly inspirational entrepreneur, and fellow lover of gin…
Can you sum up your business in 10 words?
“Thoughtful gift packages for anyone that deserves some TLC.”
Was there a light-bulb moment when you came up with the original idea for your business?
“Yep – on the sofa after having my first baby, feeling weepy and leaky, wondering what the fuck had just happened and feeling like I had no idea what I was doing! The doorbell kept ringing with deliveries and I had eight beautiful bouquets, but I only had two vases and it made me feel more of a failure that I couldn’t even handle the lovely flowers people had sent. I knew people were being kind and wanted to say congratulations, and it struck me as bonkers that the go-to gift was another thing to care for, when a person is doing more caring than they’ve ever done in their life.
After that when a friend had a baby I’d send them some chocolate and a magazine and leave food on their doorstep if they lived nearby, and they were so grateful that someone was thinking of them. I couldn’t shake the idea of better gifts for new mums and I did some research that confirmed 96% of new mums receive flowers. Starting a business felt like a huge leap I wasn’t ready for, so I started a blog called Sisterhood (and all that) which is an honest account of motherhood and relationships and being able to laugh at together at the ridiculousness life throws at us. The response was overwhelming (the most popular post was ‘When New Mums Get Angry’, about wanting to hit your partner in the face with a spade, which I think Motherloaders will relate to…) and that gave me the confidence that other people had found motherhood as challenging as I had, so there was something in the idea of looking after new mums. I wanted to create packages that would be useful at that particular time and let someone know they’re loved.”
How closely have you stuck to that vision?
“Pretty close! We have a strict criteria for all the products in our packages, that they have to be in some way nurturing (such as body cream, truffles and gin) or practical (Dry Shampoo, Thermos flasks and COOK meals) but also make the recipient feel like someone has really thought about them. We’re growing month on month and we have really high repeat business, which is testament that people are getting what they came for. The biggest difference is that we started very focused on new mums and immediately our customers started also sending our gifts for get well soon gifts, birthdays, thank you presents, and we’ve also seen a lot more corporate orders. The potential is really exciting, but we’re being careful not to go off on too much of a tangent; every business owner I’ve ever spoken to has said to stay focused.”
What is your best-selling product?
“The Care Package works for any occasion, and was basically put together to encourage the recipient to have a sit down. It contains a choice of scarf and magazine, handmade truffles, tea and flapjack. This is the one that makes the most people cry too. I think it’s because it says ‘here, this is for you, I know you need it’ and women are often rubbish at looking after themselves, especially mothers. Someone letting you know that they understand in those moments is really powerful. We’re pretty hard on ourselves, a lot of people say ‘You’re doing a brilliant job’ in their personal messages, and that makes me so happy. The sisterhood is real y’all.”
Which product do you love the most?
“I love that we have COOK food vouchers as an add on, not only because I know what an awesome gift that is for new mums or anyone that needs a bit of looking after, but also because when I had the original idea I knew I wanted to involve COOK because they are the best at what they do. We went and pitched to the founder Edward Perry before we launched. I didn’t even have a website to show him but he got it immediately. He has four kids so I guess he would! But it was such a boost at that point, especially as I’d kept the idea pretty close to my chest and didn’t really know what reaction it would get. Despite being around for a long time and having shops all around the country, COOK has managed to retain an entrepreneurial feel as a business and the founders are still there leading it, which I love. I’m very grateful for their support.”
How did you discover The Motherload®?
“An ex-colleague Jane invited me to join the Facebook group. It’s a fab, supportive community (with some very funny women!)”
How important is it to support other small businesses?
“There is such an exciting growth in small businesses, especially those run by women. Because of social media and the internet, you don’t have to have huge finance behind you to start a business, and we actually have the upper hand when it comes to service because we remember when the number of customers was in single figures and that each one is very precious! Word of mouth has been vital for us; offices and school gates seem to be a popular place for people to tell others about Don’t Buy Her Flowers, and without big advertising budgets that’s been critical to our growth. Running a business and having met so many small business owners in the last couple of years, I know how hard these small businesses work so every time you support a small business you’re helping make that work pay off! Small Business Saturday in December is a great one to get involved with, most businesses involved will have offers on and it’s perfect timing for your Christmas shopping.”
What’s your favourite quote?
“‘But What If I Fall? Oh But My Darling, What If You Fly?’by Australian poet Erin Hanson. Try it every time you feel a bit out of your depth or anxious about doing something new. It was my mantra in the lead up to starting the business!”
What’s your favourite tipple?
“Gin. Always. It pleases me a lot that our package with gin goes nuts before Mother’s Day!”
Where do you hope to take your business in the future?
“We are just moving the business out of the house and in to 800 sq ft premises, with a full time Head of Operations so this is a very exciting next phase (and a bit terrifying – I shall be repeating the above quote to myself). I’ve got so many ideas and having a dedicated space and freeing up some of my time means we can crack on with them; these first two years have basically been proving the concept, so now we can build on that and grow further. I also can’t wait to do more writing again. I loved my blog and having that connection with women; it’s been difficult to maintain as the business has been so demanding but I’m planning to get back to it. There’s nothing quite like sharing tales of forgetting wipes when potty training and having to use your daughter’s cardigan to wipe your son’s bum to make everyone else feel a bit better about their own lives.”
You can discover more from Don’t Buy Her Flowers here: www.dontbuyherflowers.com
Don’t Buy Her Flowers offer 10% off all of their fabulous packages to our registered members. To sign up for this exclusive discount, register >>> HERE and you’ll receive our discount codes to Don’t Buy Her Flowers in the next weekly mail-out.
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