September 21, 2016


This week’s focus is on Steph Douglas, Founder of Don't Buy Her Flowers. Steph founded a business following having her first baby, when she received 8 bunches of flowers. She felt a little overwhelmed with not enough vases and space to display them all, trying to arrange them and dispose of them.

This led her to the concept of ‘Don’t Buy Her Flowers’, offering people an alternative from traditional gifts. The business has gone from strength to strength and they have recently moved to bigger premises to cope with demand.

We asked Steph a few question about her life...

Describe yourself in 3 words.
Enthusiastic, tired, multi-tasker.

What makes you happy?
Family, friends, gin, dancing, music… In the last few years though I’m at my most happy at weekends with no plans, hanging with Doug and the kids, staying local in St Margarets and taking it easy – bit of swimming, bit of park, bit of pub for tea.

Who and what inspires you?
At the moment I’m so excited by the number of amazing women I’ve met since launching Don’t Buy Her Flowers, all trying to find a balance between working and having kids and discovering what it is that will work for their own circumstances. Our generation are guinea pigs – we’re the first ones trying to actually ‘do’ equality rather than just talk about it. We grew up with an absolute belief we were equal to the boys and then the reality of that after having kids is a bit of a headfuck frankly because it’s just not that simple and requires some serious adjustment as a person and as a couple, and that can totally throw you. For some of us it means working, for some of us it means not working and for all of us it should mean not worrying about what anyone else does. Social media means we can all watch (and compare) how and what others are doing, and that in itself is fairly new and not something we really know how to handle. I know a lot of very lovely ladies who are more than happy to admit it’s hard and that they don’t always get it right. I think in sharing their journey, it helps others and that is inspiring. Honesty is the key to sisterhood.

How do you personally define success?
When I’m feeling calm and in control and not panicking about the next thing that needs to be done, I feel pretty happy with my lot. My family are healthy and smart and make me laugh, the business is growing and I’m excited about the future. I need to get better at stopping and reflecting though. Oh and world domination would be great, but it can wait a while.

You are obviously very busy, how do you cope and manage to juggle it all?
Most of the time I don’t! It’s been a steep learning curve since launching almost two years ago. That first year was the toughest as I never felt I could give myself a break because when you start a business there is this infinite ‘to do’ list and it took me a while to realise I was never going to be on top of it because it is never done. Noone is going to be able to make you stop, so you have to learn to give yourself breaks, set realistic goals and accept that it will take time, especially if you have kids in tow and you want to actually see them. I now have two years of sales to look at and can see the awesome growth curve of our sales, which helps me stop and go ‘you’re doing ok…take your foot off your neck’. Also realising you can’t do everything you did before and run a business on top. Maybe everyone will have beans on toast a couple of times a week, maybe the house will look a bit shit, and you might not be as good at keeping in touch with everyone for a short while. That’s all ok.

What’s been your biggest lesson?
The biggest thing to happen to me/us is when Doug was diagnosed with cancer when I was 14 weeks pregnant with Buster. The impact that has had on us has been huge. Six years on I’m ashamed to say it doesn’t always mean I have perspective; life goes on and things that aren’t important (like, ahem, someone forgetting to put the bins out) will still cause major rows. But I think a lot of the decisions we’ve made – starting the business, things we’ve done, how we view our friendships and each other – have been impacted by that experience, and for the better. Seeing the positive in that experience is quite a nice way to be able to say ‘fuck you’ to the cancer, although I appreciate it helps that Doug is well and I’d feel very differently if we hadn’t had the outcome we have.

What's been the best advice you've ever received?
When you’re 70% sure of something, go for it. If you wait until everything is perfect, you’ll never do it.

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