Ellen Hockley is the founder and CEO of Evergreen Activewear, a mission driven sustainable maternity & postpartum activewear brand. Created at the height of the pandemic during her first pregnancy – as her sustainable event planning company faltered with no in-person events – Ellen struggled with the lack of high quality activewear made specifically for the changes during pregnancy and postpartum and knew it needed to change. As a two-time entrepreneur, she was able to leverage her network and started on her first round of product design the week her son was born, in July of 2020 at the height of the COVID 19 Lockdown. Inspired by the lack of both physical and emotional support for women during pregnancy and postpartum Ellen has built her brand on changing the narrative. Long term, Ellen’s goal is to build out a brand with resources and network to support the pregnancy and postpartum space through education, and training around health, wellness, and advocacy. With maternal death on the rise in the US it is essential that every opportunity possible is used to educate, train and support pregnant and postpartum folks.
What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?
As an entrepreneur, I find I don’t have a “typical day”, I generally schedule meetings on Tuesday’s & Thursdays, meeting with vendors, other businesses, collaborators etc and then leave MWF for more heads down work, ideas days and sometimes just taking the day off to hang with my kiddo. I try plan my days in advance, but also not overschedule them, because that causes me stress and anxiety. I love being able to take an hour for lunch with a friend, or do a workout if I’m feeling stuck, this flexibility helps me thrive.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Through conversation, writing, and hiking. The outdoors have always been a place of solace for me, and I do some of my best brainstorming, thinking, redefining of goals on a hike or outdoor exploration.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The realization that hustle culture is actually less productive than self-care and respect of your role as an entrepreneur and member of society.
What is one habit that helps you be productive?
Keeping a pretty organized calendar. I find that when I know what to expect from my days, I can get more done in less time.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Try not to take yourself too seriously, everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. While it may take more time than you’d hoped, there is a time and a place for everything, and you have to be patient with yourself and the process.
Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you.
Honestly, I have no idea.
What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?
Continually foster and grow my community and network. This is immensely important, both to help your business grow, but also to help you grow as a person. By engaging with people doing different work than you are, you have the ability to learn in ways you didn’t even know you needed.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
Honestly, my first step is a workout (movement keeps me sane). If I’m still feeling stuck, I’ll connect with my network/advisors and talk through what’s on my mind to help move through it.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?
Investing a lot of time and energy in seeking out like-minded brands and businesses to network, support and collaborate with has given my company a much larger reach immediately. This also helps to grow and foster a greater community of entrepreneurs for personal support.
What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?
There have been many over the years. I think making the assumption that just because I created something I needed and wanted that people would immediately find it, and this is completely and entirely untrue. It takes a great deal of time and energy to build a brand that resonates with folks and then entices them to convert and become customers and community members.
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Circular maternal healthcare. Please start a company that supports folks from pre-conception through pregnancy and postpartum, the current system is so broken and needs a complete overhaul. IYKYK
What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
As a small business owner, I rely heavily on lots of software, but one of the most essential for me is Canva. I can create everything from Instagram posts to Investor Pitch Decks and they look polished and professional. I would be lost without it.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
Ooh this is a very tough question! Something completely not tangible, I recently traveled and visited some very good friends, and the $100 I spent on dinners with my friends was worth thousands in how much it refreshed my soul.
Do you have a favorite book or podcast from which you’ve received much value?
I’m sure you hear this all the time, but I love the “How I built this Podcast”, I find nearly every episode to offer new and creative tools for both personal and professional success. Plus it always reminds me how long it really takes to create a successful business, even “overnight successes” spend years building a strong foundation, it might just be hidden from the public.
What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?
I recently watched The Sinner on netfilx, it’s a very dark crime drama, but I loved being able to have a departure from reality that still felt real. The show addressed so many issues between families, spouses etc, that I don’t feel like you often see on TV these days.
- Ellen is a two-time entrepreneur with a broad knowledge of both service and product-based businesses. Through Evergreen Activewear, she is working to change the face of support physically and emotionally for women during pregnancy and postpartum.
- Network, network, network. Leveraging your community and network is essential to personal and professional growth both as an entrepreneur and in a more traditional career route.
- Respect yourself and your boundaries, it’s ok to need a reset, you just need to learn how and when to take it. As hustle culture has been heavily prioritized over the last few years and it has led to severe burnout for many entrepreneurs.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.