Monday Morning Mantra: Steph Douglas, Don’t Buy Her Flowers

To kickstart the week, we ask Steph Douglas – the brilliant mum-of-two (soon to be three) and founder of Don’t Buy Her Flowers – for a positive Monday Morning Mantra, and to share her thoughts on Mondays and the working week…

Steph Douglas is the founder of Don’t Buy Her Flowers – offering alternative gift ideas for new mums (and dads, grans, sisters, friends…). She lives in St Margarets, London, with her husband and their two children – Buster and Mabel – and they are expecting their third baby.

Steph’s Monday Morning Mantra:

YOU ARE ENOUGH.

“I think it’s great that there are lots of positive statements about being whoever you want to be and pushing onwards and upwards, but a lot of the time I think we probably need reminding that we’re doing ok just as we are.”

What do you tend to be doing first thing on a Monday? 
Running about in a panic! We are ALWAYS late on a Monday. Without fail. It’ll be 8am and we’re all dressed and ready and I’m feeling inwardly smug and then somehow I lose thirty minutes and we’re half-walking, half-dragging our way to school to drop Buster off with me yelling ‘come on, let’s keep moving, we’re going to be late, pick up your feet’ on repeat.

How do you feel?
Annoyed at myself for being late again. But I have Mabel on a Monday so we then head to the M&S café for our usual and we’ll either meet someone for some park action or hang out just the two of us. We often have jobs to do – food shopping, post office etc – but doing those with one child is quite a joy if you’re used to doing it with two.

I used to work three days and have Mabel for two but the business has grown so much and I found I was spending those two days feeling v anxious about the amount of work building up, and would be on my phone a lot of the time. This is working better for us at the moment and it also means Monday is quite a chilled day, and I’m raring to go on Tuesday morning. I sometimes feel the guilts as Buster only ever did three days a week of nursery before he started school, but I’m learning you’ve got to let that shit go. I’m doing the best I can.

What’s the first thing you do after getting out of bed? 
Get in the shower, or put on gym stuff if I’m gymming first. We went to the Lake District last year and had no phone signal or wifi where we were staying, and I realised how much better it was to not start the day looking at your phone. I’d blame being tired on the kids, and they are pretty tiring, but I found not jumping straight in to emails and social media means you actually sleep more. We have alarm clocks and I leave the phone downstairs and I highly recommend it.

Tell us about your business, Don’t Buy Her Flowers…
We launched in November 2014 selling gifts for new mums. The idea came after I had Buster and was sent lots of beautiful bouquets from well-meaning family, friends and colleagues, but they just added to my feeling of overwhelm. Flowers need looking after (plus we didn’t have enough vases) and I just thought it was crazy that the go-to gift for new mums is another thing to care for. Straight away our customers also started sending our packages for birthdays, get well, bereavement and any time someone is in need of some TLC, so it’s organically changed and grown quite considerably.

All our packages are about encouraging the recipient to take a bit of time for themselves, whether with a delicious G&T, a hot cuppa or all the products for a full body recovery bathroom session by candlelight. We get a lot of recipients crying when they receive our packages and I think it’s because someone is recognising that they need looking after, and giving them permission to feel knackered or fed up. We’re all so busy ploughing through life and feeling like we need to hold it together outwardly, when often we feel like we’ve no idea what we’re doing, and someone acknowledging it’s ok to stop and feel that that is pretty powerful.

I ran the business from home for almost two years and we’ve consistently grown month on month. Then we moved to our premises in Sept 2016, took on a full time Head of Operations (who is also my brother!) and monthly orders have doubled in the nine months since then, so shit has got pretty serious!! That first two years was such hard work, but now we’re building a team of people I really respect, who are brilliant at what they do.

The first two years involved mostly me juggling everything, and I think that’s part of any start-up journey if you don’t take investment. I also doubted myself a lot and it’s a pretty lonely time so it was very much a rollercoaster. I learned a hell of a lot but I’m very happy we’re through that phase now.

Where do you spend your working hours?
It’s a mixture; if I’ve got no meetings I tend to work from home as find I can power through much more, so need at least two days a week at home really. I’m usually in London for 1-2 days and try to line up meetings so I’m not trekking in for one, and then work on the laptop in between. As an online business, as long as I have wifi and the laptop I can work pretty much anywhere. The warehouse is in Gloucestershire and I’d like to get back every couple of weeks but as I’m pregnant, I haven’t had the energy in the last couple of months. Hopefully I’m coming out of that phase…

What one thing would improve your Monday-Friday? 
Probably being more organised and efficient. When the pressure is on I can fly through tasks, but I wish I planned better and used my time more wisely and avoided the unnecessary stress/late nights.

What gets you through the week?
I love what I do – growing the business has been so exciting and this current phase, where we’re building a team and sales are increasing all the time, is fab. The other thing is having weekends with no plans. Knowing we can recharge as a family and on our own schedule without running about being late for stuff – the week is busy enough so ideally having at least one day at the weekend with no plans makes me very happy.

If you could wake up anywhere next Monday, where would it be? 
This is a bit dull but we’ve just been away for half term trekking about the country and I’m currently on my way to Menorca with girlfriends (flying solo is THE best btw. I could probably get back on the plane at the other side and feel like I’ve had a holiday). I can’t wait for sun and being with the girls, but I also love routine and being home so I’m looking forward to our usual Monday morning panic and then some time with Mabel for Mabel Monday. Probably at the M&S café.

For new mum (and other) gifts, visit: Don’t Buy Her Flowers