Ella Mills, founder of Deliciously Ella, is a one-woman show of inspirational living. When our editor Kelly Green met her recently, the result was a brilliant story of hard work, challenges risen-to and resolute focus on successful positivity, sometimes against all odds. You can read the full article here, but in the meantime here are our most galvanising quotes from a woman we can – surely – all take at least one lesson from:
On facing challenges: “Two years ago, all in the course of a week: Matt’s mum [Labour cabinet minister Dame Tessa Jowell] was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and given a year to live; the London Bridge terrorist attack happened on the same street my dad and my brother live on and walk down every single night – that’s where I grew up. Obviously they were so lucky and fortunate but it was terrifying. We were having a cash flow nightmare at work; feeling like we were going out of business every other second. And my parents were going through a really bad divorce. I was just wondering how we’d all get through it; how I could support Matt through it? It was all so awful. But you do get through it, and you always do. My biggest learning is that you will always put one foot in front of the other, even on the worst day.”
On being aged 20, housebound, stricken with an unexplained illness: “My mental health got really bad as a result. I felt alienated and completely lost – as if I’d lost any sense of who I was, especially because as a student you tend to be defined by fun, active, outgoing things and I couldn’t do any of them. Launching my own food project allowed me to develop a new hobby – learning to cook and experiment with a new diet, but also photographing food, writing and sharing recipes – which in itself helps your mental health.”
On realistic goals: “I don’t believe that everybody should become a vegan, or eat a solely plant-based diet, because it’s really important to be realistic in your goals and what’s right for some people is just not right for everyone. It’s really important to respect that.”
On health and wellbeing generally: “We’re seeing a rise of lifestyle-related diseases like Type 2 Diabetes; the NHS is struggling, so we really do need to address the way we’re living. One in 10 people have IBS symptoms and so much of it is stress related. It’s important to remember that health and wellbeing is a 360 approach. You can’t just focus on broccoli.”
On dealing with backlash or unkindness: “I’ve learnt a lot. Not reacting is my biggest thing. And breathing. Learning to remove the personal from it; not be offended; and just think: ‘That’s just someone else’s problem that they’re reflecting onto me.’ But it can be challenging.”
On health trend versus fad: “What we can’t have is people thinking that having an adaptogenic mushroom latte is what defines health. If you want to do all those things I personally have no judgement, if it works for you – that’s awesome. But what defines health is eating more fibre, eating more vegetables, and that doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s important to separate what’s a health and wellness trend and what’s a staple and core of human health and wellbeing.”
On giving yourself a break: “Progress not perfection is something we’re really keen on. I think you’ve got to work with what’s available – that for me is really key.”
On patience in business: “It’s not yet possible to be perfect within this space. The packaging and recycling chains aren’t where consumer demand want them to be, but we have to be realistic about these things. It takes engineers time to develop solutions – plastic was a major breakthrough when it was first invented – it’s going to take time for the next major break-through. We have to be patient and responsible about accepting that that’s the reality. We put so much pressure on what can’t be changed tomorrow and ignore what can be.”
On transparency in the waste industry: “We don’t ever need a plastic water bottle – that’s a really easy swap – but there are other things that aren’t, because they don’t currently exist. Take composting: “compostable” wrapping in supermarkets isn’t actually compostable unless you take it to an industrial composting facility, which as consumers we have no access to. It’s so misleading. We need to stop saying things are 100% recyclable when it’s only zone 5 recyclable, so unless you really read the label and take it a really specific site, then you’re going to put in your household recycling and it’s going to contaminate the entire recycling stream.
On changing your fashion habits: “The more I’ve understood about the effect of the fashion industry the more I’m a more conscious shopper. I’m not saying I’m never going to buy anything ever again – I’ve had to buy a couple of stretchy things recently I have to say! But I’ve bought so much less in the last year or so, and everything I’ve bought I’ve absolutely loved – I’m investing in it and want to wear it for the next 10 years.’ I’m not going to waste stuff; I’m not going to throw stuff away; I’m not going to buy stuff I don’t need. Same with plastic water bottles and plastic bags.”
For more inspiration read our full interview with Ella Mills from Deliciously Ella.