An Interview with Ella Mills, Founder and Creative Director, Deliciously Ella
How did Deliciously Ella initially start?
In 2011 I got very ill with a condition that affected my autonomic nervous system. I was put on lots of medication but struggled to gain control of my symptoms, which affected everything from my heart rate to my blood pressure, digestion, immune system and chronic fatigue. I really struggled with the debilitating impact this had on my physical health, which in turn really affected my mental health. After about a year I hit my rock bottom and started to look at what I could do to help myself. I became interested in health and wellness at this point and began exploring the space. It took a while to feel the impact of a big lifestyle shift but after a few years I was able to come off my medication and have kept most symptoms at bay since then. I started sharing my experiments in the kitchen on a blog, deliciouslyella.com, which grew really quickly into cooking classes and workshops, then an app, a series of best selling books, sites in London and retail products across the UK. In everything we do we’re guided by our community and what they want.
What is you're favourite part about running your own business?
Getting to do something I love so much every day and work with such a talented team. I constantly inspired by everyone around me. My readers are my biggest inspiration though, I love the Deliciously Ella community – they’re so incredibly open and supportive.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?
Know your strengths and weaknesses and take your ego out of it – where can you help your business and where should you stand back and let someone else guide a decision? No one is the best at everything and learning from other peoples knowledge and expertise is invaluable.
Hire the best people you can, make them part of your team, incentivise them properly and appreciate everything they do – we wouldn’t have made a quarter of the progress we have without our team, they’re everything to our business.
Be an optimist. Create a positive frame of mind and let this guide all your thinking, you have to think you can achieve the impossible to make a start-up work and somehow you’ve got to convince a team of people to think the same thing! Always look for the solution rather than focusing on the problem
Enjoy it. It’s hard, it’s incredibly stressful at points and it’s nowhere near as glamorous as the #girlboss might imply but it is amazing. You get to do something you love, make a career in a space that matters to you, hire a team that you love working with and guide a process that you’ll learn so much from, so enjoy every minute of it.
Do you have any regrets?
I’ve made so many mistakes, some much bigger and costlier than others, but I’ve learnt so much from each of those and so I can’t see them as regrets, without them we probably wouldn’t be where we are today. We all mess up, it’s just important to take what we can from each disaster to avoid it next time!
What is your favourite quote?
You get back what you put in. It’s what my mum always said it to me growing up and I really believe in the concept: the more time, love, energy and passion you put into anything the more you’ll get back from it. You can’t expect magic to happen without putting everything into what you’re doing.
You've had a lot going on in the last few years, with multiple books, opening your delis and launching your snacks and energy ball line - How do you achieve a good balance between work and your personal life?
It’s all about being flexible each day I think. When you have an opportunity, you’ve got to run with it and that’s what we had with Deliciously Ella. We knew we’d have to go fast to make the most of that and with it came long hours and a huge amount of focus on my professional life, to say my social life had been side-lined would be quite an understatement! That being said it’s been the most incredibly interesting experience and I’ve learnt more than I ever could have imagined. Switching off when you can is brilliant and incredibly important, but equally it’s key to note that you can’t always switch off in the same way everyone else can when you’re responsible for creating a business and sixty people are relying on you for their pay check each month and that’s ok – I try not to create strict guidelines as I find that makes it more stressful.
How do you unwind and relax?
I try to get to yoga as much as I can, I’d go everyday if I could – I love how it makes me feel. It helps me breathe out all my stress, remove any pressure I’m feeling and generally calm me down. Work is mad at the moment, I’m travelling a lot with it and our business is expanding quickly, and it’s the thing that I find helps ground me most. Other than that I just love being home with my husband, Matt, and our dog, Austin!
What is the key to staying organised and on top of everything?
Be efficient. Wake up early, make a plan and stick to it. Don’t make excuses, be responsible for all of your actions and enjoy every single minute of what you do – that gratitude and passion is essential. Life is about making choices and starting your own business means a lot of your life choices will be dictated by your business, don’t see those decisions as sacrifices but moments to be excited about and a step towards your future goals.
What is you're favourite easy go to meal?
For breakfast I love bircher muesli with coconut yoghurt, almond milk, peanut butter and banana or an easy smoothie with spinach, oats, nut butter, banana, berries and almond milk. Lunch is normally either leftovers, recipe testing in the office or something from our deli – I love the five bean stew with corn bread and slaw at the moment. Dinner is the meal that I vary the most, I love spending time playing around with recipes then. In the winter I normally make warming dahls, spicy curries, bean chillies or veggie stews, which I serve with miso brown rice. When it comes to snacks I can’t live without our ginger energy balls, spoonfuls of peanut butter, avocado on toast and hummus with crackers.
What is your goal for 2018?
To learn as much as I can. We want to continue to expand within the product space, testing our ideas and recipes on our existing audience to get direct feedback and working to deepen our relationship and daily connection to our existing audience, while working to grow the readership by providing a great stream of free content. Making Deliciously Ella useful is incredibly important to me too, helping to make your five-a-day feel more do-able and more interesting is a real goal of ours and we feel the free content really helps in this space.
Ella Mills / Founder and Creative Director
3rd Floor, 25-26 Poland Street, W1F 8QN