When we asked Anna AKA Mother Pukka who her fave parent brands were she didn’t hesitate... Steph Douglas from Don’t Buy Her Flowers is “good on the Internet and in real life,” she said and we happen to agree. Forget gadgets for helping us pump or feed, or tricks to make our kids sleep, her products genuinely consider what mums need. Her packages include anything from a bottle of bubbles and some candles, to a thermos mug and some delicious shortbread, all delivered to your door in a carefully considered gift box. A perfect gift for someone you love or, who cares, just order one for yourself! Steph gave us some brilliant advice for starting your own business and joined “Team IPad” for keeping kids entertained on the go.
Since becoming a mum what have you have found to be most challenging?
Just as you think you've cracked something, a new phase comes along and you're starting from scratch again. Be it weaning or potty training or coaching them through the trials of the school playground, each time - especially with your first child - it's a new challenge. Having said that, the most challenging thing for me personally is those first months. The exhaustion combined with the unknown and feeling high and in love but scared and sometimes lonely? It's a big deal. Heck, I've started a business based on how hard I found that beginning bit!
Have you got any tips for keeping children entertained on the go, in the car or on the tube for example?
On the train/tube they're ok eyeing up what is around them, but for longer car journeys or flights, plenty of snacks and a stocked up iPad.
What is your ParentingLifesaver? The one thing you couldn’t survive without.
Oh god it's probably the iPad/telly! It allows both us and the kids some down time, so everyone wins.
Do your children have a favourite toy they couldn’t live without, that if they lost all hell would break loose?
Mabel has a fluffy turtle called Tallulah that has been a favourite for a while, and for Buster it'll be a lego man. The specific lego man changes by the week and those things are small - we've had many frantic mornings searching for that week's favourite lego man. And they really hurt when you stand on them.
There are so many amazing parents out there doing what they can to make life better for their kids and trying to master the work life balance, do you know any particular favourites we should follow?
Anna at Mother Pukka is really trying to find a way to make it work - and sharing her journey, which I think will be an eye opener to so many women that think it's only them struggling to find a balance. I recently met Emma Hart, who founded Push PR in 2002, so has been doing this a lot longer than me. She was refreshingly honest about how it can creep up on you - we know that we shouldn't work all evening every evening but sometimes you have a deadline and then you lose perspective and you're suddenly working crazy hours all the time and not enjoying it. I think it's probably something you have to keep an eye on, accepting that sometimes when you run a business it will be crazy, because the buck stops with you. But it shouldn't be like that ad infinitum.
What inspired you to start Don’t Buy Her Flowers and have you got any advice for women out there thinking of starting their own business?
The idea came about when I had my first baby and received eight bunches of flowers. I was sat on the sofa feeling weepy and leaky and in shock and - much as they were sent by lovely family and friends that wanted to acknowledge my part in Buster's arrival - it struck me as bonkers that the go-to gift when someone is doing more caring than they've ever done in their life is another thing to care for. Our gifts are all about encouraging the recipient to take some time for herself, whether that's as a new mum, birthday, get well - our customers now send our packages for lots of occasions.
The main piece of advice would be that you can't expect to do everything you did before and run a business on top. Whether that's about keeping weekends free and doing less socially, or sharing your household jobs better. Running a business is all-consuming, especially that first year, so you have to learn to let some stuff go and protect yourself a bit or you'll burn out.