Name: Steph Douglas
Number of children: Two – Buster (4) and Mabel (2)
Job title: Owner of Don’t Buy Her Flowers
Duties: Everything! My husband Doug helps with finance (and questions all decisions, which drives me mad but is definitely necessary), and I’m very lucky that my brother in law Alex runs a business building websites for small businesses (www.freshpage.co.uk). I think my website is brilliant and very professional looking and I wouldn’t have been able to do that myself.
Hours: Three days and then evenings/weekends. It’s such a cliché, but it doesn’t feel like work. It’s only been a month so I’m high on adrenalin for now!
Childcare arrangements: Three days a week in nursery
What I love about work: Launching my own business has been one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. Getting feedback from customers to say they’ve had these lovely messages from new mums that have had a Don’t Buy Her Flowers package and some have cried (in a good way!) when they’ve opened them. It confirms that the core idea is bang on – new mums need some TLC, and gifts that might help them take a few minutes to themselves make everyone (the giver and the mum) feel good.
What I find difficult is: There is so much to do and I have so many ideas, but limited time to do it. The sales and feedback have been awesome – for a brand new business it’s flying, but the very reason I started my own thing was because I want to be flexible and have those two weekdays with my kids while they’re young. When I’m thinking ‘if I just had more time I could…’ I have to remember that.
My working life would be easier if…D’you know what? I’m not going to complain. There are thousands – millions – of people that are having a horrible time. This is a juggle, but it’s one I’ve chosen to take and I’m very lucky that I have that choice. Maybe I’ll feel differently in a few months!
Work/mum life balance: It’s such early days, but I know this is going to be one of the toughest elements. The four of us went out for the day on Sunday and I left my phone at home and it felt good. Social media is amazing and makes starting a small online business possible, but it never goes away so it’s up to me to manage how I do that.
How having children has changed the work I do: Fundamentally! The idea for Don’t Buy Her Flowers came about because I had children. After I had my first baby I received eight bunches of flowers and they just felt like such a waste – I didn’t have vases for them all and was too tired to care for them. It felt like another thing to deal with. I started giving friends that had babies little packages of things for them or taking them food if I lived nearby and then after my second child I started to think perhaps this could be a business. My background is Brand and Marketing, so it all started to fit together. But having kids was most definitely the catalyst.
If I wasn’t doing this I’d be: I started a blog at the beginning of this year called ‘Sisterhood (and all that)’, covering motherhood and relationships and mostly trying to laugh (or cry) about how ridiculous life can be. I always wanted a blog to go with the business, and it was a way of getting a feel for how other women find it all. Mostly, we all can feel very lonely but actually those feeling aren’t unique and most of the women around us feel the same. Some just hide it better. It was my first public step toward the business and it went really well. I love writing it and it now sits on the Don’t Buy Her Flowers website, but if I hadn’t started the business I would want to make more of writing. I wrote loads as a kid and went on creative writing courses at weekends (yep, I was THAT kid) but then didn’t really do any until I started the blog. Now when I haven’t written for a couple of weeks I really miss it. It’s therapeutic too, especially the stuff about relationships and wanting to (sometimes) throw a shoe at your partners head. When you say it out loud, it makes it funny rather than terrifying.
Mojomums helps mums get their mojo back – what advice would you give to mums who feel they have lost theirs? If your child/children are really young, don’t feel like you have to be everything right now – awesome mum, supportive friend, amazing worker, perfect wife, helpful daughter. It takes a while and babies are all-consuming. At some point, the fog lifts and you can see that you might be able to fit other things in to your life. Then work out what will make you happy as it might not be what it was before. You can’t compare yourself to the ‘old’ you, or to other women – everyone’s circumstances and needs are different. And find some women that you can be honest with when you’re sad, happy, excited, scared. Women are THE best support when you have the right ones. It’s all about the Sisterhood.
Anything else? Not everyone will be excited for you when you do something new. Some people won’t like it (some florists in my case – call me naïve but I didn’t see that coming at all!) some won’t mention it, or some might say ‘Oh that’s nice’ when you’re thinking ‘but this is MASSIVE, I’m going to change the world!’. I’m learning I need to move on quicker – they’ll have their reasons and I can’t change those so it’s wasted energy. You never know what is going on in someone else’s world. I wrote a blog post about the business that was read 10k times in a weekend and I saw hundreds of amazing comments and 2 negative ones, and I thought about the negative comments for far longer. Absolutely ridiculous, but I guess this is why people talk about being resilient and tough in business. I should also mention that the support from people, lots who I don’t know, has been overwhelming. There are a lot of very kind, supportive people out there who are offering help without any expectation in return. It makes me want to do the same for others.
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