Spending an hour with Ella, is like sitting down with a ray of sunshine. She ignites positivity, radiance and an all round aura of ‘we can absolutely do this’ (and that’s without even branching into her stunning natural beauty). At 21, she’s travelled solo around parts of the world I’ve only ever seen on Pinterest, begun and formed a community of incredible females on her site, We Need To Live More, and shown that being brave, following your heart and ignoring comparison online- you can achieve anything. We met up over smashed avocados (naturally, and pretty green drinks I was too afraid to sample) to talk all things internets, being vegan, the moon and being a young woman in the age of online…
Ella! For those that haven’t read your blog or come across your beautiful feeds before, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Hello Olivia Purvis lovers! My names Ella Grace Denton, I’m 21, from London, I’m total mess a lot of the time, in kind of great way I like to think; and am super passionate about making this world a happier place for all. I focus on female community, sustainably living, spirituality, plant-based eating, adventure, self-expression and so much more craziness. Over the past nearly 5 years I’ve been sharing my journey – the ups and the downs – with females from all over the world. I started posting videos talking about female issues in a comic way, doing little sketches on YouTube at 16, then moved into the world of sharing through blogging and Instagram fully at 18- and at 21 I am still sharing with an amazing community of beautiful, positive, passionate, females and loving it!
You founded your gorgeous blog, We Need To Live More last year- what inspired you to begin the site, and how have you kept motivated?
Gosh, big question! We Need To Live More was created out of my frustration at idea of “celebrity”, especially within the online world. I felt such a responsibility having so many young females following me to not create a space for self indulgence, promotion and anything that could harm someone else’s view of themselves. I think the online world, especially the worlds of those lucky enough to amass a following online, can often lead to the viewers feeling negatively about their own lives and themselves. I think it’s so important to aim to inspire the human sitting on the other side of the screen to find their own passions, their own ways of expression, and help them cultivate their own self-love! We Need To Live More was also making a statement about our generations addiction to screens. We, myself included, spend so much time looking at screens and often forget to look up and connect deeply to what’s around us. I think not living presently in our own lives and using the online world as a form of escapism can be really damaging – I know it has been for me in the past!
Motivation is a funny thing for me, I’m not very good at having routine. My blog and Instagram are quite possibly the only slightly consistent things in my life. I’d say my audience keep me motivated, I feel a bit of a duty – as I have a voice online – to help make positive change in others lives and in the world generally and to spread positive messages, so I’d definitely say that feeling, along with the positive feedback I get from others, is what keeps me motivated!
You write about everything from incredible second hand style (something that should definitely be celebrated more in todays climate), food, travel and personal matters too. What does an average day look like for you?
I had to think about this one. Honestly, no day is average for me… As I said I’m not a creature of routine and I’m sure things would be a lot less hap-hazard if I were! My ideal day would be – waking up really early and starting the day sitting outside with a cup of tea. Then moving back upstairs and dancing in my pants for a little bit or doing some yoga in my bedroom. Getting dressed and then making a big Smoothie bowl for breakfast, moving back up to my bedroom and writing/shooting a blog post up until lunch, then getting out and meeting a friend for lunch or just going for a big walk (I go a bit mad if I stay inside too long which as I’m sure you know is very easily done if you work online)! At the moment I’m trying to organise a screening in my local independent cinema of ‘Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret’, an amazing documentary that flipped my world, and passions upside down! Then just having a cosy dinner at home with the family, maybe facetime-ing a girl friend and catching up, or watching TV with my mum in bed and then finally turning off all my electronics, lighting my candles, burning some incense and taking some time to just chill and breathe and be, before I go to sleep!
I feel as a fellow internet lady, and blogger- you offer a really refreshing breath of air into the often saturated and overwhelming sphere- but getting it back to basics, what inspires you to create your content? What gets you to live more? How do you not succumb to the pressures of blogging, YouTube and the bloody huge place that is the internet?
Another big question, I like these! It’s always tough and it’s definitely about balance. What I’ve realised is that I need nature, I need to spend time reconnecting and being outside without screens in my day, it’s really important to me that I find time for this, or I find myself feeling sad, isolated or overwhelmed! Equally I love the space I have online and feel SO lucky to have such an incredible community and such an amazing place that I can share on, and meet people through and also be able to support myself financially by doing something I love. I just feel really lucky and try not to take things too seriously or ever get too comfortable. My mum’s motto was always ‘Nothing really matters anyway!’ which seems a little crazy and some could find a little depressing, but for me it’s important to feel free within what you are doing. I feel like if you feel good and expansive on the inside it’s easier to express your feelings and give to others!
You’ve spoken about leaving university in the past, which I think is a hugely brave move- and something that definitely needs to be spoken about more (being a fellow ‘drop-out’)- do you have any advice for other young women in a similar position to how you were?
Regardless of whether it’s University, a job or any situation you find yourself in, if it doesn’t feel right, listen to that feeling. As soon as I arrived at University, and even before I went, I knew deep down it wasn’t the right environment for me and yet I stayed for a whole year before finally leaving. I would never take that year back, I made amazing friends and it was such a learning experience, but I can only say that now because I trusted my gut instinct in the end and decided to leave, even though it felt scary and a lot of people in my life questioned what I was doing. My advice if you feel something isn’t sitting right with you in your life would be; don’t rush it, don’t panic about it, spend some time exploring that feeling, and then when you’re sure in the present moment that where you are in life isn’t right for you, and the feeling has come up enough times for you to really know that it’s not going to change, trust that feeling and make whatever changes you need to! Live for YOU and your happiness!
Post university, you also went travelling solo- which is hugely exciting (and nerve-wracking), what was the most challenging thing about heading across the world on your own? How did you pluck up the courage?
Oh god it’s definitely an experience. It honestly felt really excited heading off to do a bit of travelling alone! But, arriving in a country alone, knowing no one and being far from home is quite a scary, anxiety inducing thing. I’d say those feelings of aloneness, before I’d met anyone, were definely the most challenging thing to deal with and rationalise!
Do you have any tips for travelling solo, avoiding homesickness and making the most of your surroundings?
My tips would be arrange your time; contact friends of friends you could meet with who live where you’re going and if you know no one then stay in hostels and make conversation! It can feel really scary to be travelling totally solo, but every single person travelling is there to meet others and is probably feeling exactly the same as you are. Basically, people are important, be open, be confident with conversation and ask people if you can join them! I feel like if you’re busy and you’re with people you really resonate with you don’t get homesick so much! But if you do struggle with it then just arrange times to Skype your family/friends whilst your away.
As well as inspiring the sisterhood one post at a time- you’ve also openly spoken about veganism and your shift into a plant based diet. I think for some people becoming vegan can be a little intimidating, what steps would you offer for someone looking to change their lifestyle gradually?
Becoming vegan can without doubt feel very intimidating, especially as sometimes online I’m sure it can feel like there’s a little cult-y thing going on around it. I know I felt that before going vegan! My advice would be, be open about looking into it! It’s an incredible community full of compassion and so many people are just wanting to help share information they’ve found and wanting to help others. Learning about the animal industry, the environment and health has been the most transformative thing for me; for my body image, my health, my interests. I just want to share what I’ve learnt with everyone. I’d say start with a video called “101 reasons to go Vegan” and is a really amazing, informative, funny, talk given by a really cool guy that made me (and everyone I’ve sent it to) think a lot more about what I’m putting into my body 3 times a day! Mainly, don’t feel overwhelmed, just begin to look into it!
You’ve achieved such a lot at such a young age (if I was ‘hip’ enough I’d probably insert a ‘#goals’ here), what has been the highlight of your career so far? What’s next for Ella? Where is next your travel list?
You know what, it’s so funny to hear that because with SO many young people doing SO much amazing things (you definitely being one of them) I often feel like I’m not doing enough, so it’s always a much appreciated reminder that I am actually doing something! It’s easy to compare to others and forget how far you’ve come personally. There have been so many highlights, but I would without doubt say the best thing that has come out of the work I do has been the people it’s enabled me to meet and connect with. I’ve met so many inspirational babes and friends for life via the online world and I feel so lucky to have such an amazing, like-minded, community around me. I’m planning on relaunching We Need To Live More in the new year! I think it needs a new look and am wanting to get some new voices contributing articles to it! I’m also looking into doing lots of short courses this year, I want to explore lots of different things that I’ve found love for; herbal medicine, ceramics, horticulture (fancy gardening), astrology, all of that good crazy magical stuff that I’m into! And finally I hope to do some more travelling, more meeting of humans and more singing – I’m trying to be braver with my singing!