Sociella – a mentoring partnership story

8 min read

Ella Anais Gilchrist is the founder of Sociella, a social media management and branding business. Her mentor Effie Dower is the co-founder and director of Sleep Thief, a sustainable, organic baby clothing company.
Ella Anais Gilchrist, Founder of Soicella
Mentee
Effie Dower, Co-founder and Director of Sleep Thief
Mentor

We first met Effie last year, when she took part in the Santander Breakthrough 2020 mentoring programme as a mentee, with her business partner and best friend Sophie. They had just started Sleep Thief, and received invaluable help and support from their mentor Clare-Marie. This year, Effie has returned to the programme to mentor Ella, founder and CEO of Sociella. The pair have been able to work together to achieve immense progress for both of their businesses, while at the same time develop a friendship that will last beyond the formal mentoring programme.

I founded my company, Sociella in October 2020. After completing my undergraduate degree, I spent a lot of time mentally going back and forth about what I wanted to do. My degree was in textiles and business, and I used my placement year to expose myself to different roles within the fashion industry. Through this experience, I came across social media as a bit of an accident. I launched Sociella with the aim to change the narrative of social media from being demanding and tiresome, to being part of business that can be enjoyed. I love getting to know the specific social media needs of each business that I work with, and implementing tailored plans to support their strategies.

I don’t have any experience of formal mentoring like this programme, but a few of my university lecturers provided what has been the closest thing to a mentor to me. They listened to my struggles, heard my fears, and pushed me to achieve what I wanted. Without Effie being my cheerleader and my rock, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve half of the things I’ve done in the past year. I had a lot of self-doubt before being on the programme, but Effie has supported me through her ever-growing confidence in my ideas and myself.

Ella

I am the co-founder of Sleep Thief; a sustainable and organic baby-clothing company with the aim to enable less sleepless nights for parents with babies. Importantly, I’m a full-time mum and I founded Sleep Thief with my great friend, Sophie, because we realised that traditional sleep suits were causing us both too much stress with their tricky poppers. So, we began developing high quality, environmentally friendly sleep suits that make changing a baby in the middle of the night, stress-free. I joined the Santander Breakthrough programme as a mentee, and was able to really develop my business as a result of the fantastic guidance I received. I decided to return to the programme this year as a mentor, to give back to this fantastic programme.

I’ve always been so lucky to be involved in mentoring, both as a mentor and as a mentee. At university, I had some fantastic supervisors and professors who went out of their way to champion me, and then in my law career I found an abundance of people who were willing to support my self-development. I realised that when I founded Sleep Thief, what was missing was the mentoring. Claire-Marie, who was my mentor on last year’s Santander Breakthrough programme was exactly what Sophie and I needed. She plugged gaps that we didn’t even know were there and gave us a new-found confidence to take risks and make decisions.

Effie

Sociella

Because I’m new to formal mentoring, I didn’t know what to expect and felt as though I was going into the experience blind. Naturally, this brought up fears of the unknown. However, as soon as I met Effie and was introduced to her experience of founding and growing Sleep Thief, I realised that the experience would be great and that my fears would disappear. I can talk to Effie about anything; we’ve found the perfect balance between a professional relationship and a friendship, and I’m so grateful for this.

This experience has given me a confidence to lead my business with my own decisions. I struggled previously with continually comparing myself to other social media leaders, but since working with Effie, I’ve been able to see that my ideas, aspirations and vision are enough. In fact, I’ve realised that they’re great! I’ve had a client Tik Tok that I created go viral, I’m in the process of expanding my team, and I now have formal processes in place to make my everyday work that bit easier. I’m so proud of how far I’ve come throughout this experience.

Ella

This mentoring programme has given me the confidence to put myself out there as a leader. I’ve begun taking the lead on all employment matters at work, which is something that I would’ve shied away from prior to being a mentor on this programme. Ella has taught me just as much as I have taught her on this programme and I’m now a true believer that when there’s a passion and a purpose for something, you can achieve the goals that you set out achieve. Ella has demonstrated this right before my eyes and its been an invaluable learning to take away from this experience.

Effie

Sociella

The one piece of advice I’d give to somebody who is about to embark on a mentoring journey would be, simply, to tell them to go for it. It’s incredible how much this programme has helped me to progress and push my own business. So, why wouldn’t you be open to that happening to you? I’d advise anyone to take on board all of the advice and ideas that the programme presents to you, and to relish in the working relationships and friendships that the experience provides.

Ella

If you get to the point where you feel that your business has become all-consuming, or there’s a lack of structure which is holding you back, then this mentoring programme will be amazing for you. It really provides a laser focus for where you’d like your business to go. I will say that if you do take part, ensure that you’re fully committed to it so that you get the most out of it.

Effie

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