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Mother of three, Steph set up Don’t Buy Her Flowers in 2014 with the aim of selling thoughtful gift packages for occasions that included new mums, get well, birthday and anyone in need of some TLC. We talk to her about bubble baths, her love of British beauty brands and the bedtime rituals that help her sleep right through until Monday morning.

Steph Douglas Sunday Sessions

The Wind Down

I try to keep Sunday afternoon clear, as the kids will probably have had a bit of a mad weekend with lots going on. So I try to make sure they’ve all had a really good, vegetable-fuelled dinner before a bath and hair wash, because that’s just what you do on a Sunday night, isn’t it? I’ll make sure they’re all in bed by 7pm so they get a nice early night ahead of Monday, and then my husband Doug and I also get more of an evening together. Once they’re in bed it’s all about making sure uniforms are ready and bags are packed, anything to help make Monday morning easier. After this, I can go about my evening beauty rituals as there will be a window of time until about 9pm when we sit down and watch something on TV, at the moment it’s The Handmaid’s Tale. I love my job, so I don’t have Sunday night fear and my weekends are mostly family focused. By the time Sunday evening comes around, I’m usually slightly relieved that the kids are off to school the next day and I can get some work done.

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The Routine

Because I’m so busy with three kids and work, I really do understand the importance of looking after myself and this is what my Sunday evening beauty ritual is about. If I can start the week feeling relaxed and nurtured, I know it’s going to make for a better week. My skin is quite good; I’m 38 so I am starting to notice more fine lines and pigmentation now, which I know is from not using SPF when I was younger. I get it now, so I wouldn’t dream of not wearing SPF50 every day, but when I was younger, I didn’t realise and I just used to bake. So, my skincare routine is anti-ageing focused but with that said, I don’t worry about ageing – I feel like its part and parcel of life. My ritual starts with a gentle cream cleanser to remove makeup and daily debris and I’ll follow my cleanse with a pore-tightening toner and then I’ll apply a super-hydrating cream face mask. I take my skincare cues from Caroline Hirons. I’ve met her a few times, but I think her feed is really good for talking about ingredients and I’m a sucker for anything that she recommends. The world of skincare can be a confusing one, I look at ingredients and have no idea if they will work or not so I like to take advice from someone like Caroline or Sali Hughes – she’s great too – who are really knowledgeable and passionate about what they do.

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Before I get into a bath, I use a textured, exfoliating mitt on my body, mainly the tops of my arms and thighs to help with circulation and remove any dead skin cells. Then, I’ll light some candles. I’ve just been gifted the Diptyque Jasmin Scented Candle, which I love because it’s a bit different. When it comes to the bath, I quite enjoy a good old bubble bath. I just find the bubbles really relaxing and indulgent. The kids always have bubbles, maybe it’s because of that. I use the Sleep Time Top To Toe Little Aurelia range on the kids and so I’ll often end up using that as it’s always on the side, but I really like Cowshed or the This Works Deep Sleep Bath Soak. These are all smaller, British brands and this is something I do care about and try to endorse. I’ll probably soak in the bath for about 30 minutes and I like to listen to different business podcasts while I’m in the bath. I like the fact that you can learn from a podcast without having to read. I’ve been enjoying Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place and Conversations of Inspiration which is Holly Tucker’s blog – the founder of Not On The Highstreet – she has a lot of interesting people on. I like to use a hydrating hair mask while I’m in the bath, I find the Kiehl’s one is really good, then I’ll wash it out with Bumble and bumble Thickening Volume Shampoo and Conditioner,  and I also use their Thickening Spray too. Once I step out of the bath, I’ll apply an all-over body moisturiser and head downstairs for 9pm to join Doug for a bit of TV time on the sofa.

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Bedtime

I write a list on a Sunday of all the things I need to do for the week ahead. I’ve got one of those paper calendars with the days of the week on that I note everything down on, it’s all on my phone too but I like to have it written down in front of me so I can see it all laid out visually. Before I go to bed, I need to do something else that’s not work related, otherwise I’ll just lie awake thinking about work. I find reading helps occupy my mind, at the moment I’m enjoying, Just Eat It by Laura Thomas – it’s all about intuitive eating. While I’m reading, I’ll sip a cup of the Teapigs Calm Relaxing Tea with valerian. Before I turn the lights out, I apply Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid and Retinol Eye Cream – a Caroline Hirons recommendation, spray my pillow with This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray, pop in my earplugs and the Slip Silk Sleep Mask – a recent birthday gift from Doug. If I wind down and consciously go to bed feeling relaxed, I sleep a lot better than if I go to sleep feeling overwhelmed.

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Monday Morning

The kids are up pretty early so if I want to get a shower in first, I need to be up earlier, by about 6.30am. As long as I’ve got my shower in, then I can work around them. I’ll go downstairs and make myself a hot water with lemon and get the baby’s milk ready. Before I get dressed, I’ll use Aurelia’s Cream Deodorant, which I actually stock on our site, because it’s really, really gentle. It first came to my attention when beauty PR Zoe Robertson mentioned it, she had breast cancer and she talked about how gentle it was to use while she was having treatment, but [it’s also great] if you’re shaving constantly and the skin becomes irritated. I also always apply Dr Dennis Gross Dark Spot Defense, which is an SPF and it smells lovely. Getting three kids up and out of the door is always manic, but I generally feel excited to get the week going. When I first started the business, I spent a lot of time sourcing new products, doing PR and working on promotion but things have evolved a bit and my main focus now is building the team. We started off with gifting for new mums but now we cover lots of occasions and also corporate and workplace gifting has become a big market for us. I’ve just had two new people start in the last few weeks so spending time with them and making sure people are on track with what they’re doing has become a new part of my job, whereas at the beginning it was just me doing everything  but now it’s more about managing people. Something I’m really enjoying.

steph at work

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