Ella Mills: Directionless to Trailblazer

Caught in the whirlwind of her bustling life, Ella Mills is post-photoshoot en route to the school run. In the cab, she discusses her path from directionless to directional. Powerful teachings have been uncovered, but the journey is far from over. Her eloquence is a force, effortlessly intertwining stats with her messages.

Exploring the ‘why’ behind her business, Ella unravels the tale of a £20 million empire shaped by darkness, exploration, and love over the past 12 years. Alongside her (co-founder and CEO) husband Matthew Mills and their growing team, she pioneers the cause of delivering delicious, natural food while transparently educating the masses. With a resounding call for emulation, Ella unveils the blueprint, leaving a trail for others to follow suit.

Suit: Lisou
Pink gold diamond earring, pink gold hoop earring, pink gold ring & black gold diamond ring : Repossi

Ella dives into the resolution game with a dose of reality. “There’s interesting research that shows that only 6% of people keep their resolution past the end of January,” Ella shares. 

By the end of the first quarter of the year over 90% of us have already given up on our new year’s resolution. It’s tough, the immense pressure to make drastic changes amid the winter blues and the onslaught of aggressive ads can feel quite suffocating. Now, you might be pondering, what’s the escape route from this relentless cycle? Ella, steering clear of the ‘deep-rooted diet culture,’ offers a refreshingly simple approach – think daily about one thing that can be done to enhance your health.

Stressing that she is neither anti-resolution nor anti-goals, she explains that her aim is to guide people toward crafting long-term, sustainable changes and reshaping the mindset we bring to our endeavours. “The all or nothing approach to resolutions has got to go,” she asserts. It’s time to jump off the bandwagon, throw the diet plan out of the window and find a healthy balance.

Ella recommends a 20 minute stir fry, quick tray bake, one pot meal or batch cooking to take little steps in the right direction, highlighting the power of consistency. “Over time, you’d be really surprised by how much small changes actually add up to shifting the dial on how you feel and your overall health. Don’t start a habit today that you don’t think you could do 10 years from now.”

Nevertheless, Ella is well aware that things are much easier said than done. “There isn’t one size that fits all,” she acknowledges, noting the vast differences in everyone’s lives and realities. Consequently, she emphasises the importance of avoiding the trap of perfection: “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” Ella reminds us that there’s no better time than today. “ Start slowly, start gradually and be really realistic with yourself, but start now.”

In spite of this, Ella digs deeper, to highlight the socio-economic factors at play, stating that the landscape must change. “It can’t be as simple as putting the onus on the individual. In this country, around two thirds of our calories are ultra processed foods and only a third of us manage our five a day. We struggle so much with our eating habits and it’s too reductive to say we’re not cooking enough. There’s lots of socio economic factors that play into that as well,” Ella explains.

From a wider perspective, that’s one of the biggest challenges. Take the cost of living crisis, for example, it exacerbates the matter. Yes, we need to eat nutritious, plant rich diets, full of fresh whole foods, however, when fast food is more affordable than fruits and vegetables, it’s hard to convince people to do so.

All the same, diving into the realm of home cooking, Ella unveils a fascinating revelation. “It’s interesting to see, that there’s lots of research to show that a whole food, plant based diet is cheaper than the meat equivalent.” She breaks it down, highlighting the cost-effectiveness of a tonne of lentils – an inexpensive powerhouse of protein. Cooking a large lentil Bolognese is cheap, filling, full of fibre, and pretty straightforward. And luckily for us, Ella has written numerous award-winning books filled with easy recipes to follow. Her latest, ‘Healthy made Simple’, is brimming with delicious, plant-based recipes ready in under 30 minutes.

Transitioning back to a broader perspective, Ella passionately advocates for a shift towards a plant-rich diet, citing both health and environmental imperatives.“The latest research is that we’re edging up to £100 billion on obesity and lifestyle related repercussions. That’s both the cost of the NHS, but also through reduced productivity. Ella presses the urgency, asserting that the damaging impact of ultra-processed foods is now undeniable. “We can’t afford to keep going on the current trajectory,” she warns, likening the situation to the cultural shift against smoking.

Drawing a parallel with the fall of smoking from a once-glamorous vice to its current subdued state, Ella notes the slow, incremental change that brought about this transformation. “Now you look at cigarettes, and you can’t smoke in public places, they are behind the tills, they have no marketing, they’re just in plain packets with warnings about death on them,” she reflects. 

Dress: Borgo De Nor, Earrings, Bangles & Ring: Lylie Jewellery

Deliciously Ella’s culinary journey began in 2012, a time when Ella was a stranger to the kitchen, armed only with a desire to learn and a spontaneous choice to document it.“Growing up, food was always a real anchor point in our family. It was definitely important, but more from a social perspective — what we ate just wasn’t a big focus at all,” Ella reminisces, revealing how fundamental yet one-dimensional her upbringing with food had been.

It wasn’t until a bout of chronic illness that Ella’s perspective on nutrition underwent a seismic shift. “Trying to regain my health through what I was eating and connecting to the impact it had on my body — that’s when I started to get interested in foods,”  she shares. Ella recounts her culinary journey with joy. “It wasn’t until I really started being creative in the kitchen and experimenting that I realised that I love cooking,” she explains. Her sweet potato brownie recipe was the first to go viral. She chuckles as recalls its evolution, noting that it’s “now very much improved.”

On her journey into the world of plant-based eating, Ella set to dispel the common preconception that it’s comparable to “rabbit food”, (essentially bland and unexciting), views in which she also shared. Now a driving force in her mission, Ella passionately champions this realisation, declaring that, “We’re here to help people eat real food again, but you’ve got to make it delicious, and I think that’s the crux of everything.” Her personal favourites include: Creamy orzo; Black bean, harissa, and almond butter stew and Lentil bolognese, showing her love for comforting, warming, and hearty plant-based meals. Yet, Ella is quick to clarify that a plant-based lifestyle doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing affair.

When Deliciously Ella entered the scene with this message, it really shook things up. While the market had the traditional vegan approach, Ella’s emphasis on starting with vegetables rather than meat mimics was a game-changer. Over a decade later, as the plant-based industry has surged in popularity. In response to growing competition, Ella confidently states that there is none.“We’re the only ones with 100% natural products. We’ve never used an emulsifier, preservative, stabiliser or flavouring, that’s our key point of difference. Steer clear of non-transparent brands posing to be healthy”, she warns. Reflecting on the early days of the business, Ella recalls moments of uncertainty, wondering if they could truly scale while staying true to their values of being ‘a force for good.’ 

Deliciously Ella’s triumph is nothing short of extraordinary. Just last year, they sold 15 million oat bars in the UK from just one of their many stockists. “We’re selling a product a second now in terms of their total portfolio,” she proudly shares. In a category flooded with almost 100 cereal bars, we stand alone as the only brand that doesn’t even use a hint of artificial flavouring.

Amidst this steady path of success, Ella embraces competition with open arms. “What we want now is for other people to copy us,” she declares confidently. Their message is clear – they’ve proven that crafting products with only natural ingredients can thrive on the shelves of mainstream retailers. Ella envisions a future where other food corporations follow suit, making pivotal changes in the industry. She clarifies saying, “we don’t want to preach, [or] tell people they’re doing it wrong, but [we’re] trying to implement change in the food industry.” Advocating for more transparency, Ella urges all companies to join the movement, imploring them to adopt practices that prioritises this. Her mission goes beyond Deliciously Ella’s success — it’s about initiating a collective change. Ella is determined to put an end to misleading claims like ‘full of goodness’ when a product is laden with E numbers. She passionately believes that this transparency will not only empower the public but also make natural products more accessible at a more affordable price.

Ella outlines the future goals of the company. “The biggest part of our businesses is our food products by a long run. We’ve got around 50,000 stocking points in the UK, we ship to 40 countries, so that’s the big focus for us. We’ve spent 10 years getting Deliciously Ella ready, we’ve got a team of almost 100 people now, we’ve got our own factory, we’ve got a restaurant and we’ve got the office, so we have this amazing base to drive forward from which is super exciting,” Ella gleefully shares.

As she delves into the cultural shift towards mindful eating, Ella senses a growing awareness of the profound impact of dietary choices. “The bigger you are, the more impact that you have and the bigger the reach, the more you’re sharing — that’s the beauty of social media,” she notes, crediting the transformative power of online platforms. Last year’s staggering half-billion collective views on Deliciously Ella’s recipe reels stand as a testament to the influential role social media plays in their mission.

Top and Trousers: Hildur Yeomans
Earrings and Rings: Goossens Paris

In this engaging glimpse into the future, Deliciously Ella emerges not just as a brand but as a catalyst for change, leveraging its expansive reach and innovative use of social media to inspire a broader audience towards a more delicious, colourful, and health-conscious lifestyle.

Deliciously Ella certainly has a bright future ahead, however Ella is no stranger to the harsh reality of entrepreneurship and the adversities that come with it. “It is a lot and sometimes it feels like you’re living in a tumble dryer,” Ella divulges. ‘How many times can you pick yourself back up and keep pushing forward?,’ she rhetorically asks, reflecting the tenacity required in the face of adversity. Her journey isn’t just a business venture, Ella considers herself fortunate that her passion for business was ignited as her community flourished. “I feel so lucky that it comes from a personal mission and that deep sense of ‘why’. It wasn’t really until I started and the community started growing that I became so passionate about business or creating a business,” she explains.

“Entrepreneurship is such an important backbone of our economy, we need to encourage people to take that risk. Equally, there is so much risk, it’s consuming, and intense. It’s everything. That relentlessness never ends…as a result, your world is very small,” Ella candidly explains. In the midst of the glamour often associated with entrepreneurship, she urges us to peel back the layers and demystify the facade. “I think learning to ride the highs and the lows, as you build the business is really difficult, especially the bits where you really feel like everything’s on the line,” she continues.”

“It’s taken us 12 years to build this. It’s a brick by brick approach. It’s slow, [with] two steps forward, and one step back. We don’t have social lives. We’ve missed weddings, we’ve spent Christmas working, we’ve cancelled dinners and numerous attempts of going on holiday or taking time off,” Ella shares, giving us a glimpse of her reality. Yet, in the midst of the sacrifices, there’s a resounding appreciation for the profound sense of purpose. Ella goes on to describe how her nature perfectly aligns with the mission, saying “I’m a more introverted person and one of my values is making a difference and having an impact, so I find it so incredibly fulfilling.” However, she offers a friendly caveat: “If you’re a deeply social person, it may be more challenging.”

Dress: Edeline Lee, Ring: Goossens Paris

In response to the elusive work-life balance, Ella admits that the line is in fact, very much blurred. She explains that in the beginning, trying to pretend it wasn’t made it harder. “You resent the fact that you are working as opposed to just knowing that it ebbs and flows, and that’s just part of it. Our work is our life and so [we can’t] fight that. We’re so privileged to have the opportunity to do what we do.” She often reminds herself of the privilege she has to live purposefully. Passionately, she says, “the biggest inspiration is our community, it’s such a gift and inspires me to no end.”

It’s no doubt that working with her husband is a huge benefit to the logistics of life and Ella shares that it equally strengthens their marriage. “It adds so much depth to our relationship. Growing together has really grown our mission, the brand, what we stand for, the community, the content, the recipes, etc, the core essence of what we are and what we do. [Consequently], we’ve both allowed each other to be so much more than we are. We’re infinitely more than the sum of our parts,” Ella lovingly shares, acknowledging the symbiotic relationship between their professional and personal worlds. 

Addressing her past self and aspiring entrepreneurs, Ella imparts invaluable wisdom: “There’s no magic solutions, no quick fixes, and certainly no silver bullets.” She emphasises the importance of relentless perseverance, urging, “Keep putting one foot in front of the other; progress is in the journey.”

Beyond the world of whole foods, Ella touches on future components which aid a wholesome lifestyle. “I do 10 to 15 minutes of meditation or breath work, drink coffee quietly and have a quiet shower with my skincare routine,” she shares. These seemingly small acts, she notes, wield significant power in managing stress and nurturing a positive mindset.

The pinnacle of her advice revolves around confidence. Ella candidly shares her struggle with imposter syndrome and self-doubt, regretting the underestimation of her own capabilities. In a raw admission, she wishes she could tell her past self, “You can do it,” acknowledging the profound impact confidence has on unlocking untapped potential. As Ella courageously steps beyond her comfort zone, she imparts the bare truth. “I wasn’t ambitious. I really didn’t think I could achieve a lot in my life and so I was pretty directionless,” she admits. Continuing on, she says, “I always say this not to kind of overly self deprecating, but just because I think it’s so important.” Transparently disclosing her personal journey to support those grappling with a similar reality.




Catherine Harbour 


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