So your friend has just had a baby, or it's their birthday, or Mother's Day - what do you send? As lovely as it is to send a bunch of flowers, why not send something a little bit more personal, more practical and extra thoughtful? That's where Don't Buy Her Flowers comes in. Their hampers are specially designed for any occasion, from The Growing A baby Package to the Recovery Package and The Care Package with Gin, there's something for everyone. The hampers are packed with great quality products and you can even add Cook vouchers to any hamper for that extra treat.
We caught up with founder and mum-of-two Steph to find out where it all came about, what a £1000 hamper might look like and what's next - keep an eye out at the end of the post to see what Don't Buy Her Flowers are doing for Mother's Day, too.
Tell us about Don't Buy her Flowers - how did it all begin?
The idea came when I had my first baby and was sent eight bunches of flowers from lovely family, friends and colleagues. It was really kind of them, but as I sat on the sofa leaking and weeping, I felt massively overwhelmed and on a practical level only had two vases. It struck me as bizarre to be given another thing to care for when you’re doing more caring than you’ve ever done in your life. I returned to work part time after both babies to my job in Brand and Communications, but I’d lost the passion – if I was going to juggle the double drop off and extortionate nursery costs, I wanted to do something I felt really passionate about. I also couldn’t see how I was going to make the commute work once they started school. So it was a combination of not being able to shake this business idea, and wanting to be more flexible. I started a blog Sisterhood (and all that) as a kind of stepping stone to the business, to see if people felt like me and that I could relate to other women. It was really popular and with some encouragement from Doug that gave me the confidence to quit my job and do it. The night we launched the website crashed where we had such amazing support from people sharing the link. Very quickly our customers also wanted to send packages for birthdays, get well, bereavement and any time someone needed some TLC, so it expanded from the original idea pretty quickly but the focus of everything is still around thoughtfulness and thinking about what someone actually wants to receive.
Do you have kids? How do you manage to fit your work around them?
I have two kids – Buster is six and Mabel is four. I definitely don’t have it ‘nailed’ – it’s a juggle for everyone I think. I wanted flexibility and I do have that in that I can choose when to work and be there to pick the kids up, but I’ve also never worked harder in my life, so I’ll often work late in the evening and at some point over the weekend. Running a business isn’t the easy option, but I don’t think anyone has it easy. The juggle is real! My biggest learning so far is that we are really hard on ourselves and when you get the call from nursery that your kid is sick, or you have a disastrous drop off, you’re the only one that can stop yourself from going in to a spiral of ‘I’m a terrible mother/colleague/person’. We need to take our foot off our necks.
Where do you find inspiration for your products?
The aim is always that our packages let someone know they’re loved, that they’ve been really thought about by the person sending it. The products offer some indulgence and TLC like handmade truffles and gin and a magazine to encourage the recipient to sit down, or are practical like COOK Food vouchers and dry shampoo. The Some Like It Hot has a Thermos mug in it so they can enjoy a hot drink instead of reheating it in the microwave twice and finding it two days later. We work with lots of amazing businesses, some very small and just starting out, which is lovely to be part of.
What did you do before you started Don't Buy Her Flowers?
I worked in Brand and Communications on national campaigns. My role was to integrate all the elements – PR, media, internal comms, digital – and that involved working with lots of people and teams and helping them to work together. I loved it actually. I like working with people (the irony being that I spent a lot of the early days of DBHF on my own – it’s only more recently now we have a team I have people to talk to!). I’m good at juggling a lot of things and managing a project and that was essential to getting the business started.
What would be in your dream package for Mother's Day? (£1000 limit!)
Ooooh £1000?! It would have to be some kind of spa trip. I really, really love putting on a white dressing gown and padding about, flicking through magazines. I think it’s something that feels very indulgent to get for yourself, so it needs to be a gift. To be honest though, mostly all I ever want is more sleep so the £1000 could go on a person or cage to keep the kids contained until a reasonable hour. And some soundproofing as while they might play in their room together for a bit now they’re older, they’re so loud it’s impossible to sleep in!
Any other independent brands you'd like to spread the word about?
Obviously any that we stock! Our Recovery Package is a fab one as the products are all from female owned or co-owned businesses – Skin & Tonic, Sister & Co and Laughing Bird. I’m meeting business owners all the time now and there are so many fab and creative brands out there. Instagram is a brilliant place for discovering them too. Lovefrankie.com do awesome lampshades – I’ve bought three so far and they’re gorgeous.
What kind of music do you listen to? Have your kids inherited your music taste?
It’s pretty eclectic – I’m an unashamed fan of pop so Taylor Swift and Little Mix, which the kids love and one of my favourite things is having a dance in the kitchen at the weekend with Doug and the kids and a gin in my hand. I love Sinatra and a good warble, and know most musicals tragically well. I also love some old school R&B and Kisstory for a good grind about. I was at a school quiz recently and guessed Cliff Richard’s ‘Wired for Sound’ two notes in. So pretty mixed. Doug likes a bit of Heavy Metal and Rock and Buster is a big fan of Slash’s ‘Not for me’ about turning his back on heroin, so that makes for a good singalong in the car…
Party out or party at home - Discuss!
I’m just the other side of a really busy couple of weeks and am SO looking forward to some joggers time this weekend with a cheeky gin and some good telly! However, I do love going out dancing. It doesn’t happen nearly enough any more and I refuse to accept I’m so old that I only get to dance at weddings or in my kitchen now. When I get together with my homegirls we like to find an empty, slightly crap bar and dance for a few hours with some nasty shots and it usually involves one of us having a dance off with a 20-something lad who thinks he’s Justin Bieber. I don’t feel the need for a while after that.
What's next for Don't Buy Her Flowers?
So much! We moved the business out of the house in September last year and now we have a Head of Ops and a team building, there is not only a lot more space but possibility to do things we just couldn’t before, like offering Next Day Delivery. We’ve some packages in the pipeline and as well as our online customers, more and more corporates are coming to us, either ordering through our regular site or to develop something bespoke for an occasion or event. It’s a really exciting phase – those first two years were bloody hard work, but having other people involved and the space to do it has been life changing and I’m excited to see what happens next!
For awesome gifts for mum, granny and mother-in-law this Mother's Day (26th March!) here is the Don't Buy Her Flowers Gift List - you can pre-order now for delivery closer to Mother's Day, and £1 of every order for Mother's Day will also be donated to charity Kicks Count.
You can keep up-to-date with Steph and Don't Buy Her Flowers at the following links: