She is the author of one of the fastest selling debut cookbooks ever and creator of one of the country’s most popular food and lifestyle brands. But Ella Mills, founder and creative director of Deliciously Ella, has revealed how she never anticipated a career in business, let alone as the face of her eponymous empire.
‘I never had big ambitions, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life,’ says Mills in the second season of Piper’s podcast ‘How I Grew My Brand’ – a series of interviews with leading entrepreneurs. ‘I certainly wouldn’t have had the confidence to have created my own business if I hadn’t fallen into it.’
In a frank and wide-ranging interview with broadcaster Mary Nightingale, Mills tells of Deliciously Ella’s ‘very personal journey that never intended to become a business’. Diagnosed with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome in 2011 and ‘struggling with my mental health’, she researched her own diet and lifestyle. Her findings led to her blog about her plant-based diet which, in turn, gave birth to the hugely successful Deliciously Ella app, bestselling cookbooks and food products brand which is today in more than 6,000 UK stores.
But the evolution from blog to fully-fledged business has not been without challenges. Mills describes the brand’s attempt to scale up three divisions of the business at once as a mistake. ‘We were just being pulled in too many different directions,’ she says.
She also tells how the brand’s big break with Starbucks nearly didn’t happen (‘I thought we were going to get laughed out the room’), explains the frustration of being caught in the ‘clean eating’ debate and underlines the importance of keeping community at the heart of the brand.
In Season 1 of Piper’s How I Grew My Brand podcasts, Cassandra Stavrou, co-founder of Propercorn, Alex Reilley, co-founder of Loungers, Nicola Elliott, co-founder of Neom Organics and Ajith Jayawickrema, founder of Turtle Bay share their stories about growing successful brands.