Join columnist Vicky Ellison every month as she meets with inspiring women from the worlds of wellness, business, fashion and art to bring you a snapshot of their story and advice to take into your day.
Breezing in from France in floaty florals ahead of a pop-up event at Equinox Kensington, I couldn’t have foreseen the open-hearted insights Soul Circus festival founder Ella Wroath was about to share.
Moving to Cheltenham after a break-up, Ella spotted a gap in the market to build a community around hot yoga and so, along with her sister, she founded Ella and Fleur Hot Yoga.
From there, she and husband Roman went on to create Soul Circus three years ago, the first UK festival to fuse yoga and music now held annually in the Cotswolds.
Hearing the story of her journey to this point, I was struck by the bravery it took for Ella to go with her gut feeling and make some tough decisions, not least to run the first Soul Circus festival just 6 weeks after the birth of her first son.
How did it all start? Well, ‘I got sacked basically’, Ella confesses, ‘I got fired pretty much from everywhere because I couldn’t work for other people – I kept thinking what’s wrong with me? …It transpired that I needed to go and do my own thing’.
Realising the need to find a career that made her happier, Ella discovered yoga. With a background in dance, yoga offered the balance she was seeking between an innate need for movement and the desire to help people; a deep-seated feeling she uncovered whilst working in a role in welfare.
Winding back further, the turning point for Ella was taking a job dancing in the parade at Disneyland Paris aged 18. A bold decision given that work relocation and travel was much less common amongst her peers at the time.
‘I got back from that and I thought – if I can just go to Paris and work at Disneyland, then I can go anywhere. That changed my mindset’ she says thoughtfully.
Ella went on to work a ski season in Europe, teach English in Japan and then move to London. ‘If an opportunity arises, I just go for it,’ she enthuses, ‘I like the unknown and there’s also that innate feeling that everything will always be alright’.
What drives her to keep facing new challenges? As the eldest of five siblings and now a mother of two, Ella wants to show her children ‘that you don’t have to be scared of things. You can be brave and positive and try new things because you’ll always be fine - watch mummy and daddy do ridiculous things and figure it out as we go!’
‘The chance to try something new, to learn, to create something that’s never happened before’ gives Ella purpose. Watching Faithless DJ live during a yoga class at Soul Circus last year, Ella was struck by the special moment they had created finding joy in the excitement of their guests, and the thought that ‘this has never happened anywhere else in the world’.
Just as things began to feel comfortable in Cheltenham, last year Roman and Ella decided they needed a change and so moved to rural France. ‘We’re encouraged to grind, grind, grind and then retire, but by that point you’ve missed your entire life – so we decided we’d try to have mini-retirements along the way’.
Ella’s sense of courage and adventure is infectious; I have a feeling that whatever she goes on to do next, it certainly won’t be boring!