When it comes to thoughtful gifts, we might have a thing or two for pretty packages that are delivered to straight to your doorstep so we were thrilled to have the chance to catch up with the founder of thoughtful gift brand, Don’t Buy Her Flowers. Steph chats to us about how she came to start her business and why she loves what she does.
Introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do
I’m Steph, I’m married to Doug, I’ve got three kids and we live in Richmond. I worked in Brand and Marketing for years before starting thoughtful gift company Don’t Buy Her Flowers in 2014. All our gift boxes are created to order and beautifully gift wrapped, and you can create a completely bespoke package from over 250 gorgeous British products (including Martha Brook, obviously!), or choose a selection we’ve suggested.
I enjoy a G&T, 80s clothes, 90s music and weekends with no plans so we can hang out the five of us. That said, I also love seeing my friends and laughing – oh I missed that the last couple of years.
Tell us about why you started Don’t Buy Her Flowers
After I had my first baby 11 years ago, I received eight lovely and well meant bouquets. As I sat on the sofa feeling overwhelmed and sore and exhausted, and the doorbell kept ringing with more flowers, it struck me as a bizarre gift – you’re basically giving someone another thing to look after when they’re doing more caring than they’ve ever done in their life. That was the core of the idea and over a few years and having a second child, I couldn’t shake it and the more people I spoke to, the more I knew that lots of people felt like me. We launched as Gifts for New Mums in 2014 and pretty quickly, customers wanted to send packages for other occasions. Our packages are now sent for lots of reasons and for different people – men, kids and corporate too – but the core idea remains. To offer the recipient some TLC and encourage them to take a bit of time for themselves.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love that we get to be a part of a human connection. Every package has a handwritten tag and those messages that people send are really personal and often emotional, of things that people are going through every day, and how people want to support them and let them know they’re loved. It’s always good to spend some time looking at the tag messages if ever it feels like we’ve lost sight of what it’s all about. They always bring you back to our ‘why’.
What does a typical day look like for you?
There isn’t really a typical day! I’m based in Richmond and our warehouse is in Stroud, where I’m from, so there are team calls some days, I go to the warehouse most weeks for a day or two, I might be out meeting people or speaking at events, recording a podcast, or just in my office at home trying to get through emails.
What do you do to switch off?
I play netball (badly!), I exercise and I love listening to podcasts. Sometimes I think I have found a better balance and other times I’m overwhelmed and feel like a headless chicken, and I think that’s all pretty normal for a business owner with three kids!
I took orders off my phone for the first time recently when we were going on holiday – I realised that every day for the last seven years I’ve known how many orders we’ve had as they come in, whether it’s a good day or a slow day and then all the thinking that leads to – how do we maintain this, or how do we drive it forward. It’s pretty exhausting. Obviously I still know every day how we’re doing but having that constant information isn’t always a good idea at this stage because it does impact your day and your thought process. I need to be clear headed and leading the team most of all.
What stationery item can you not live without and why?
I love a weekly planner desk pad. Yes I have a calendar on my phone and laptop and a big wall calendar but I need one on my desk so I can see the full week really clearly. Every day is different so I have to write everything down.
Tell us what Martha Brook item is at the top of your wish list right now?
As well as the desk pad, I’m a sucker for a notebook! The vegan leather embossed notebooks are gorgeous!
What was the biggest challenge you faced when launching Don’t Buy Her Flowers?
I think pressing ‘go’ was a big challenge – you can keep tinkering and overthinking whether you’ve got it ‘right’ but the best thing to do is get it live and then you will start to get feedback and that allows you to improve and evolve. No one ever launched with their final product.
What’s your biggest dream for Don’t Buy Her Flowers?
To be the number one thoughtful gift brand.
This year you launched a podcast, which is doing so well, congratulations! Tell us a bit about how that came about.
Ah thanks! Before I started Don’t Buy Her Flowers I had a blog, where I wrote honestly about motherhood and relationships and the idea was 1) it was a stepping stone as starting a business felt like too much of a leap and 2) if people connected to the blog and felt the same as me, those people would understand what was at the heart of the business and they would ‘get’ DBHF. Which they did – the website crashed when we launched because all the women following the blog supported the business and shared it. The podcast has become a new extension of the blog – a way to connect with an audience who may also be customers. The team have been on at me to do it for ages and I resisted because, well, everyone had a podcast. But I love it and I love the connection with people contacting us after hearing it. Two recent episodes on Sex and Relationships had a huge response, and it felt like the good old days of the blog.
What’s your bit of advice for someone else looking to start their own business?
Stay focused. Look at what other people are doing and then park it and get on with it. It can be such a distraction and your USP, especially in the early days, is YOU. Be really clear what you are doing and go for it.
Do you have a life mantra or favourite saying that you live by?
‘What if I fall, oh but my darling, what if you fly?’ It’s from a poem by Erin Hanson. I saw it when I was just starting the business and it was very fitting. The OTHER one is ‘you can’t do everything you did before and run a business on top’ – I see so many women trying to hold together families and households exactly as they did before AND start a business and I think it in part explains why there are less women running businesses. If we want equality in work, we all need to work on equality at home – we’re a work in progress but Doug and I are definitely trying!
P.S. Want to win your Father’s Day gift with a huge gift bundle from Martha Brook & Don’t Buy Her Flowers worth over £100? Enter here!