Danielle Canty and Natalie Ellis hit it off instantly. The women met in September 2017 at a personal development seminar in San Diego, connecting not only for their shared United Kingdom ties, but also for their mutual desire to make the most of the experience. At the end of the first day, when many attendees hit the city streets in pursuit of cocktails and revelry, Canty and Ellis stayed behind to prepare for Day 2 of the conference.
“We didn’t know each other,” Ellis says. “But the two of us really wanted to study and be up early so we could pay attention in the morning. We went for dinner together and then went to bed. There was a really early morning workout the next day and we decided to do it together. From that moment, we realized we’re both really similar. We knew it was going to be a great friendship.”
When the conference ended, Canty returned to the United Kingdom and Ellis traveled back up the coast to her home in Los Angeles. The distance was vast and there was an eight-hour time difference between them, but this didn’t stop the women from keeping in touch. One day, Ellis called Canty with a proposal.
“At first, it wasn’t a question of whether she’d be my business partner. I was just asking for her feedback,” Ellis says. “But then we started to realize that she has a lot of strengths that I don’t, and I have a lot of strengths that she doesn’t.”
The idea to create an online space for ambitious women evolved into a concrete plan, and by 2019, the business partners launched BossBabe. The women host a podcast, offer trainings and masterclasses on topics like Instagram influence, and even sell pre-made templates for online businesses. Today, their community boasts a following of more than 4 million women (and even some men) who are seeking betterment through resources and programs tailored to help them achieve success in entrepreneurship.
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Running a business felt like Ellis’s calling since she was old enough to start working.
“I had a traumatic childhood growing up,” Ellis says. “And with that, there was part of me that just wanted to create something different for myself. So, from a young age, I was super ambitious and entrepreneurial. I actually had my first-ever online business when I was 13. I was building websites. I was learning how to design. So, I always had that in me.”
After graduating with a business degree from Newcastle University, Ellis received a job offer as a management consultant. “On paper it looked like the perfect job,” she says. “There was a sign-on bonus. I would have gotten the chance to move to London, but it just didn’t really feel aligned with me.”
Ellis listened to her intuition and instead of accepting the offer, asked the company if she could take some time to consider. With the consultant job on hold, she set out to explore other options.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a business, but I knew that being an entrepreneur was the path I wanted to go down,” she says. “And so, in that time, I made a commitment to myself that if I came up with a business that had any kind of legs, I’d go all in with it. I’d do that instead of going for the corporate job.”
Ellis launched a supplement company that eventually sold its products in over 250 stores across the U.K. But, she says, she started to feel lonely as an entrepreneur. While she was bootstrapping, her friends and family didn’t understand what she was going through.
The feeling of aloneness, and what Ellis cites as a lack of mentorship, eventually led to BossBabe.
“I wanted to create a community where I could bring in experts that I personally wanted to learn from,” she says. “I wanted to help women meet business partners and meet other women just like them.”
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Canty never dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur. She did, however, grow up with a deep-seated desire to help others, eventually becoming a chiropractor.
“When I went to chiropractic school, I started understanding there were so many different ways to help people,” says Canty. “And then from that I started becoming more ambitious.” The idea of owning her own business became more appealing throughout the years. One day, she asked her boss if she could buy a clinic off him. “It was very bold,” she says. “And he said no.”
She waited a year and then asked again. “I was like, ‘Can I buy your clinic?’ And what happened was I ended up becoming a partner in a company that became the fastest growing primary health care brand in the U.K. So, at 24, I’d really started launching my entrepreneurial career.”
In 2016, things were going great for Canty. Her business was thriving and her clientele was growing, but then life took a sudden turn.
That year, Canty’s father was in a skiing accident that required major surgery and a long recovery. She wanted to stay with her dad in France, but couldn’t. She had to return to work.
“Although I got financial freedom, I didn’t have time or location freedom. That was a turning point in my career,” she says. “I thought I was chasing financial freedom. But I realized I wanted freedom to make my own decisions—freedom to be in charge of my destiny and freedom to have a choice of location.”
It was then that Canty knew she needed to make a career change.
“That’s when I started exploring the online world,” she says. “I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t know how I going to do it. But I was going to create an online business.”
During the next 18 months, Canty sought out mentors with successful online businesses. This is what led her to the event in San Diego where she met Ellis.
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One Friday night, a couple of months after the women met, Canty stayed up late gathering research about online businesses.
“I just sent [Ellis] all this information,” Canty says. “And from there, it started a conversation around what it would look like doing this together. That was over the Christmas period. We had just met in September. And by January we had a business plan. It was a whirlwind relationship.”
The women say they knew they were meant to go into business together—that it just felt right.
“It was what Natalie and I were craving,” says Canty. “We didn’t have that place where we could find support. We knew that if we didn’t have that, then other people were feeling like this as well.”
The women launched BossBabe while Canty was still working as a chiropractor in the U.K. “I would do BossBabe on the weekends and the evenings,” she says. “It started as a passion project. Did I know that it would be as big as it is? Absolutely not. I just knew that I wanted to help those extra few people.”
The women worked tirelessly and kept going even when those around them didn’t always believe in their vision. Canty closed her health care business in February 2020 and moved to California, where Ellis was living with her husband, to work on BossBabe full time. For the women, the venture was never about the money.
“For me, BossBabe is about teaching people the foundation of how they can work up that career ladder, start that business, grow that business, and how they can show up as their best self,” Canty says. “What lights me up is not just the one woman that we help. It’s the positive ripple effect that that has across others—be it her family, her partner, her children, her parents, her friends—that’s what keeps me going.”
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Ellis and Canty have been busy since launching BossBabe. In just a couple of years, the brand built a following of more than a million people. They’ve hired a staff. Their weekly podcast has included guests such as Tony Robbins.
“We were so naive going into this business,” Ellis says. “But it’s just been incredible…. We’ve always just been so focused on our mission and that has really opened up a lot of doors for us.
“What I find really amazing is that on a daily basis, we get to speak to over 4 million women. I think when you empower someone or give them the confidence to change something in their life, it can make a big difference. You’re not just changing their life, but the life of their family, or maybe close friends, the people that they’re around. That snowball effect is something that I’m really proud of. Wanting to make a difference is what gets me out of bed every day.”
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2021 Issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photos Courtesy of BossBabe
Catherine Downes is a freelance writer and photographer currently living in California's Inland Empire. Her work has appeared in Success Magazine, D Magazine, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Morning News, Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Modern Luxury, and more. While she'll eat just about anything, her favorite food is sandwiches.