Are you missing someone right now? We were delighted to discover that Brighton & Hove based Living Wage employer Ellie Ellie is spreading the love with a whimsical lock down themed design free with every order. We caught up with founder and MD Danielle Plowman to find out more about her business and to see how she’s adapting to work during the Covid-19 pandemic.
What is Ellie Ellie and how did it all begin?
Ellie Ellie is a multi-award-winning online personalisation giftware company on a mission to bring people together through all life’s moments. We sell unique and innovative gifts through our own website as well as other well-known gift retailers! All our products are personalised in-house by our amazing creative team, creating local jobs and proudly flying the flag for small independent business.
Before starting Ellie Ellie I walked a very long and winding road, full of knock backs and failures! After completing a degree in Fashion Design at Kingston University specialising in childrenswear, unable to find a design role after graduation (we were in a recession), I set up my own girlswear shop on the Sussex coast whilst juggling a number of other jobs. After a year 2 years and not making a penny of profit in the shop I decided enough was enough. I had tried and tried to kick start my career and nothing was working so I went and got a job at Chichester theatre just for the summer in the wardrobe department to save enough money to go travelling. I ended up settling in Melbourne for a while where I got an amazing job as a sales and marketing manager for a childrenswear company, they even sponsored me to stay, but then the skilled migration list changed and I could no longer apply for residency. So I carried on travelling for a few months before returning home penniless. When I returned I looked for several design jobs and found nothing again (yep, no one wanted to employ me!) and it was then when I was looking through an old notebook I found a reference to a website called www.notonthehighstreet.com. I applied to be a partner with some of my jewellery designs and I was accepted! That’s where the Ellie Ellie story began.
Why have you decided to be a Living Wage employer?
I am so proud to fly the flag as a Living Wage employer and be part of the movement. I had wanted to be a Living Wage employer for a long time, but when you are an established business with small profit margins and large overheads it takes a while to be able to move towards a goal like this, so I’m so proud of the whole team for making this a priority and making this possible. For me becoming a lLiving Wage employer is about doing good for the business, doing good for the team and doing good for the economy – it’s a win-win situation. It is an investment in our team based on our brand ethos of bringing people together and creating an environment where our team feel valued for the contribution they make.
What does ‘good business’ mean to you?
I think ‘good business’ is about sharing and using the success, influence or power of business to make the world a slightly better place than before you started. It is about having a higher purpose and a mission through your work and being part of something much bigger than yourself. It is about sometimes choosing good over profit and understanding the sense of responsibility that your decisions and therefore actions can have on other people – I guess it’s about morals and ethics and making them an integral part of your business values, culture and mission and therefore they innately become part of your decision-making process.
How are you adapting to the pandemic and is there anything you want to let people know about at the moment?
Like everyone, we really had no idea what challenges the pandemic would bring to us as, but we knew early on that as a business on a mission to bring people together through all life’s moments, there wasn’t a more important time for us to help connect people than during lock down. We therefore wanted to help as many people as possible connected with their loved ones who they couldn’t see, so we quickly designed our ‘I wish I could self isolate with you’ postcard which we put in free with every single order, as well as offering as a free download on our website. Over the past 3 months, we have helped connect over 16,000 people with our postcards which is fantastic. We have also just designed a range of positivity face masks in order to hopefully allow people to get back to some normality and we are thrilled to be donating a percentage of every sale to our partnered charity St Barnabas House and the national charity, NHS Charities Together.
We have of course had to make a lot of adjustments in order to remain trading and fulfilling orders safely with our workshop team social distancing and following very strict guidelines, whilst those from head office have had to adjust to working from home. My team have been amazing and we have all pulled together to get through such a challenging time which is something I will always be so proud of.