I started Deliciously Ella back in 2012 whilst I was still at university. In 2011, I had been diagnosed with a condition called Postural Tachycardia Syndrome following four months in and out of hospital. The condition affected the workings of my autonomic nervous system; I couldn’t control my heart rate and blood pressure properly, as well as struggling with digestive issues, chronic fatigue and infections amongst other symptoms. I was prescribed a cocktail of medication, but unfortunately they had limited success in managing the condition and after about a year I hit rock bottom, both physically and mentally.
At this point, I started looking into other ways of managing the condition and began researching diet and lifestyle. Encouraged by stories I read, I decided to turn to a plant based diet and overhaul my lifestyle. I had three major obstacles at this point though: 1) I couldn’t cook, 2) I had no idea about plant-based food and 3) I had lost all of my sense of drive and passion. I decided the way to combat all three issues was to start a diary of my culinary experiments, pushing myself to try new things in the kitchen each day and rediscover a sense of creativity. I did this online through my blog: deliciouslyella.com. The blog was originally intended to be a personal project, a way to encourage myself to fall in love with plant-based eating and eat as healthy diet as I could. I also didn’t want to make any sacrifices to taste though, healthy eating had really sad connotations at the time and nothing looked abundant or delicious. I used the blog as a way of filling my time, as I learnt to cook, photograph and document what I was creating. I quickly found a deep passion for what I was doing, and shared the blog with friends and family. It quickly started building an audience and somehow it’s now had over 130 million hits!
As the blog became more successful, I started using social media to share more inspiration with our community, before moving into hosting supper clubs and teaching cooking classes, which funded the development of my first commercial venture: the Deliciously Ella app. The app, to my huge surprise, went straight to #1 in Food & Drink on the UK app store, solely thanks to the support of our online community. Following the success of the app, I was approached to write a cookbook. The book was published in January 2015 and became the best-selling debut cookbook ever in the UK. This was the turning point for our company, taking Deliciously Ella from a small online community into something beyond my wildest expectations. The first book has now been translated into 22 languages, including becoming a NY Times best seller.
I met my now husband, and our CEO, Matt, shortly after the book was published and we started talking about taking Deliciously Ella further. We wanted to share, on scale, the benefits we had experienced from plant-based living. Matt had worked in finance and business development, and we decided to join forces, using both of our skill sets – me on the creative side and Matt on the operational side – to start a family business. Our first venture was opening a small deli on Seymour Place, in central London. The deli had lines around the block, so we quickly decided to open a new, larger space, on Weighhouse Street, which is now the home of what we do. After opening the delis, we set about starting the larger, and most effective way of reaching the most people possible with delicious plant-based food, which was to launch our food products business. Our first product was our energy balls, which are now in around 6,000 stores across the UK, from Waitrose to Starbucks, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Holland and Barrett, Whole Foods and lots more. We have since launched a line of breakfast cereals and oat bars and are working on a whole range of other concepts.
We’re only getting started on our journey, but our core purpose has remained the same from when I wrote my first recipe, which is to share the joys and benefits of plant based living. It gave me my life and health back, and between us we can help millions of others too.