STEPH DOUGLAS ON F*UCK UPS, HER BRIDESMAIDS, A KILLER BUSINESS PLAN AND KEEPING UP WITH THE KARDASHIANS.

Steph Douglas is the woman saving us all from petrol station flowers and lack lustre condolence cards. Steph realised how hard it can be for people to provide comfort at times when emotions run high, be it from a new arrival or loss of a loved one and so, she launched 'Don't Buy Her Flowers' to provide beautiful care packages - think magazine subscriptions, cashmere socks, foodie treats and alcohol. Here's Steph on the cool realities of being a working woman - and Mum - fuck ups included. 

To me, success is....

Doug and I wrote a list of ‘what success looks like’ just before we started the business. A lot of mine were about balance, and finding a way to work and still be available for some school pick ups. The problem is, when you get up to your neck in it, it’s really hard to remember what success is to you, because you caught up in bigger, better, more sales, more profit. I regularly have to remind myself that success for me was a profitable business and kick ass brand, but it was also about finding balance and enjoying my family. It’s a work in progress…

Being a working woman today means... 

Juggling too much and constantly feeling like you’re dropping balls and fucking it all up. We haven’t landed it yet. I think a lot of women of our generation emulate our mothers without really thinking about it – home makers, primary carers, responsible for remembering all the stuff like spellings and swimming bags – but we do a load of other stuff on top and too many of us are exhausted and anxious. I think it’ll change, and I don’t think it’s all roses for the men trying to figure this all out either. 


The career tip I would give my younger self is...

Work hard because you can, but also enjoy it! Enjoy taking a salary and staying out on a school night until the early hours boozing and bonding with colleagues. Plenty of time for sensible stuff.

This book changed my life because...

I actually read a book by the Not on The Highstreet founders ‘How to Build a Business from your Kitchen Table’ on holiday a few years ago. It set out how to write a business plan, with clear sections to fill in. Before that point I had no inclination whatsoever to start a business, but seeing it broken down in to tasks made me think of it differently – it seemed easier. I wrote my first business plan for DBHF shortly after that.

My guiltiest pleasure is...

Turning up the 90s R&B and Garage (Kisstory is a favourite), necking a gin and grinding around my kitchen. I don’t feel guilty about it though! Oh maybe Keeping Up With the Kardashians…I feel positively dirty writing that.

The invite list to my ultimate dinner party includes...

Do you know, with all that’s going on in the world currently, I’m going to say my five bridesmaids. I’ve known them for 25 years and I don’t get to see them often enough, and I’d love a whole evening just catching up with them as a couple of them live out of the country and it hasn’t happened for a while.

I consider my greatest achievement so far to have been....

I’m pretty proud of Don’t Buy Her Flowers. The first two years were incredibly hard work, but now that we have a warehouse, sales are doubling by the year and the team keeps getting bigger, it’s really exciting. I’m enjoying it a lot more now I’m not solely responsible for everything, even if the buck does ultimately stop with me.

The most important lesson life has taught me is... 

You are more capable than you’re ever going to give yourself credit for, so go for it. What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll learn from it whatever you do. 

SUMMER BAGS TO SWITCH UP YOUR WARDROBE NOW

We talk a lot in our book and our blog about the power of what we wear to work. We've both got our uniforms pretty well honed - dress and heels for Phan, jeans and shirt for Alice. But, like everyone, we still have those days when our wardrobes aren't immediately forthcoming with pieces that make us feel the way we need or want to feel.  When this happens, we change our tactics and start with the bag. 

Our bags have myriad uses. Yes they're practical - often full to bursting with laptops, spare shoes and workout gear. But they're also the easiest way to add personality to your outfit. A bag can convey gravitas, femininity, creativity, fun and everything in between. 

For all their multi-tasking brilliance, bags are also a big investment. When we're buying a new bag, we'll spend hours researching the options - filling and rejigging our online shopping baskets. Of course, our picks are different, but they have something in common - stylish, timeless and with the ability to transform your outfit. 

As usual, we've collated 5 great styles from Phanella for corporates and Alice for creatives. As always these aren't adverts or instructions but just a handy guide to get you started on choosing your perfect work companion... or two! 

Happy browsing!

x Alice and Phanella x  

For Corporate: Our advice is to go for clean lines and block colours - if you really must go black experiment with different geometric shapes or different textures to give it a fresher feel.  

Matt and Nat, Cassidy in Peacock, £115, Mulberry, Small bayswater, Croc Navy, £995L.K.Bennett, Regan Black, £250DKNY, Bryant Park Saffiano Ochre, £230, Marks and Spencer, Metal Tab Shopper in White, £35 

For Creative: Bags big enough to carry round a laptop are essential for most creatives but this doesn't mean you're limited to a tote (although they are great!). We love a rucksack or a bucket bag for days when we're hitting the cafes for a day of writing. 

LOFT, Monochrome Straw Bag, £52.35, Matt and Natt, MUMBAI coral, £98, Oliver Bonas, Orange Ruthie Oval Tote, £45, Laura Slater Leather Backpack, Multi, £99, Kin by John Lewis, Luna Leather Tote Silver, £100 

THE SECRETS TO A CLEARER MIND

THE SECRETS TO A CLEARER MIND

How we feel inside our heads, that pesky voice of doom or joy, can affect how balanced we feel when it comes to work and life. It's all very well getting you practical balance sorted - no work after 7pm, that kind of thing - but what if your mind is still whirring even after you've gone to bed? Here are our secrets to feeling calmed inside your head, because balance can only happen when we can physically and mentally detach from work.