This interview series features inspiring female entrepreneurs who have launched and run successful businesses. Through our peers’ experiences, we can learn practical lessons and insights to empower us on our entrepreneurial paths. Crucially, storytelling de-risks entrepreneurship so we believe it is an essential pillar in closing the opportunity gap for female founders.
Meet the founder(s)
Megan: I’m a futurist in the fullest form, I love thinking about where we’re going and what we can do five or ten years ahead. Full Fat is all about predicting what’s coming and how we can be on the wave of future trends!
Ella: I, on the other hand, live in the moment with a focus on ensuring we have a happy team and clients. We have a strong family culture at Full Fat with a shared passion for doing great work in an environment that both our team and projects enjoy working within.
Tell us about your business, how did you come up with the idea?
Megan: Full Fat was built out of a shared love of partying and the need of a job. Ella and I met at a previous agency and it was looking as though it was going to go bust, this was during the time of the financial crisis, so we thought – why don’t we just set one up. Eight years later we’re still going strong!
Ella: I always knew I wanted to run my own business at some point but I hadn’t predicted it would happen so early on in my career. We were offered an opportunity too good to miss and so we grabbed it and have never looked back.
what was the moment everything changed for you? Describe that moment when you decided to fully commit to your idea and the first few steps you took to make it possible.
Ella: Full Fat began as four co-founders but four years into the business we became two. It was a catapulting moment giving us the confidence to take the agency to new heights and we grew more in the year that followed than ever before. It was a pinnacle moment and I knew at this point that my commitment to making Full Fat great was sealed. We diversified, evolved, took more risks and grew our team and projects in the months that followed.
Megan: For me it was quite late, during our third evolution of the business (you’ve got to keep evolving otherwise you get old and boring!) was when I had a breakthrough. We went through a very challenging year, or maybe two to be honest, and it required us to commit everything we had to Full Fat, all the energy we could muster, all the hours, the labour, everything. Up until that point I don’t think I really realised how much I would do for Full Fat. From that moment on the protection of the business has been my first and foremost focus, now everyone has to love the company and our mission is to create one that is easy to love!
what were the initial challenges you came up against and how did you overcome them?
Megan: Cash flow is a continuous challenge, however it was at its peak during the beginning of the business. If you’re creating a business which has clients, you tend to be living ‘hand to mouth’ for a few months, sometimes years. It was a long time before Ella and I were paying ourselves at the same time as our team or even at all!
Ella: Finding an office space is a hurdle to overcome and not a cheap one. Find yourself a reasonable landlord and don’t forget to haggle. Similarly, we went through three accountants until we found one we trusted and gave us sound, honest advice.
what was the first win that made you feel you were onto something?
Megan: My first major brand client win was Russian Standard Vodka, I had to pitch to people that had far more experience in the alcohol sector, and convince them that Full Fat was right for the project – I must have done a good job because we’ve been working with them for five years now!
Ella: Six months in I brought in the city of Gothenburg as a project, positioning it as Sweden’s music capital. It was an eye-opener as before then I hadn’t realised such a campaign could exist and it allowed us to flex our creativity and work alongside the pioneering music festival Way Out West who was the first festival to go fully vegan. Our big moment was when Dazed featured Gothenburg as one of the top new music cities alongside London, Tokyo and New York.
Did you take the investment route for your business or are you self-funded? Can you share some insights on your decision and the process?
Megan: Full Fat is self funded, mainly because Ella and I didn’t have any funds to put into it and when you’re a service business, if you’re smart you don’t necessarily need it.
Ella: Being self-funded has given us the freedom to shape Full Fat exactly how we imagined it and being super agile. That’s not to say we would not consider investment in the future to help realise some of our big ideas with the right partner.
what has been your best investment?
Ella: Our team and employing the best in the business.
Megan: Humans, when we’re and our team is working 100% and happy, then the business is working 100%
Have you made any mistakes or faux pas? if so, can you share with us?
Megan: Yes, I’m not the best judge of character and often make bad judgements on people, Ella on the other hand has amazing gut instincts!
Ella: So many. Forgetting names, forgetting faces. Being emotionally-led at times and showing exactly how I feel on my face, good and bad – Own it. My memory isn’t my strong point so I tell people and smile and laugh through it. I am passionate and really really care so what I feel I can sometimes blurt out. I have however learnt over the years to control this better and be more measured. It comes down to properly listening.
what’s your experience of being a woman in the start-up ecosystem and what in your mind needs to change?
Megan: I often find that people underestimate me, or assume I have less experience or have a ‘gentler’ touch. I also get mistaken for an employee rather than the employer, people seem to have a vision in their head of what an entrepreneur looks like. It’s very frustrating to be honest as you have to start from a position of weakness.
Ella: I’m very much about substance and hate the bullshit. I have had multiple experiences with men who talk the talk yet unable to walk the walk but their voice is heard louder because they are a man. It’s frustrating and wastes time. I’d like to see more women in leadership positions, less hierarchy day to day within organisations ensuring everyone has a voice no matter their gender or position.
what’s been the greatest lesson you’ve learned since starting your own business?
Megan: Think backwards, look at where you want to be, and work back – that way you’ll always achieve it.
Ella: It’s ok to make a mistake. It allows you to learn and be better.
Have you had any role models or mentors along the way?
Ella: Lots. We invest in our clients and by very nature often become extensions of their teams. I enjoy learning from them but also supporting them with my expertise. I am also grateful to learn from Megan all the time. We have very different approaches and celebrate this difference and learn from one another.
Megan: I tend to pull and learn from everyone I meet, I don’t necessarily think progress is chronological so I can see the value in any experience.
with the future in mind, where would you like to be/where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Megan: Global reach, delivering for the best brands and cultural institutions on the planet. Owning communication of the experience economy.
Ella: Driving change through the people and projects we work with on a global scale and directly impacting the future of the planet for the better.
Can you tell us one of your goals for 2020?
Megan: Have more fun!
Ella: Get better at public speaking.
what can our readers do to support your business?
Megan: Tell people about it!
Ella: We want to work with the best people whether that’s as part to our team or our clients so get in touch!
what books, podcasts or resources would you recommend?
- The Slice Podcast
- Our Full Fat podcast for industry insights on the experience economy
- The StrengthsFinder because everyone should play to their strengths
What advice would you give anyone about to start a business?
Megan: Over 50% of start-ups fail because they don’t have the support they need financially or emotionally. Make sure you are willing to give everything to your business, and that you have an emotional support group to help you do it.
Ella: Look after the people around you. When you begin employing people it’s important to create an environment that people enjoy working within. Without this you won’t be able to grow and achieve your business goals.
Find us at:
Ella Social Media
Stories website: http://placeofstories.co.uk/food
Megan Social Media
Instagram + Twitter: @meganmorass
About your author
Leah Williams is the Blog Editor for Found & Flourish, working with Founder Lara Sheldrake to ensure every piece of published content is empowering, inspiring and well presented, just like the women we work with.
I’m Samantha Jameson, the Founder of British hand, bath and body care brand, Soapsmith.
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