How many times have you scrolled through Instagram and found yourself dreaming of a tropical island getaway or wishing you could make your smoothie bowl look that good? Yup. You can thank Ellie and Lauren Bullen for that.
Better known as @elsas_wholesomelife and @gypsea_lust, these twin sisters have managed to turn their passions into careers and find success in the wonderful world of social media thanks to their impeccable eye for detail and incurable wanderlust.
One, a dietitian and food blogger, the other, an avid traveller—both share a home in Bali where they live with their partners (and we can only just imagine the creative ideas bouncing off those walls).
In the first instalment of our Sister Series (watch this space!), we chat to Ellie and Lauren about how they got to where they are today and what really drives them to live their best lives (and inspire millions of others collectively to do the same).
As a twin, did you have the same interests as Lauren growing up? How did you both come to find success in social media?
We had many of the same interests growing up as we did everything together, but we also had our own personalities and flare. I think we both started our path on social media quite separately, mine being really food and nutrition focused, but we’re able to help each other out along the way and learn things off each other. How did your blogging journey begin? Take us through your story and how you managed to make a name for yourself.
I began on Instagram about four years ago because I was learning more about nutrition at university and wanted to share some of that as well as use food styling as my creative outlet. Over the years it’s just kept growing—from beginning an Instagram page, creating a blog, hitting 100,000 followers, then creating my first e-book and getting my first book publishing deal all during my university studies. About 14 months ago, I finished university and headed over to Bali with my finance to live with my sister and her partner Jack, and we have been living overseas, travelling the world, and launched our own little online business.
“I definitely wasn’t an overnight success. There’s been years of working hard at building my profile and name and I think it’s the determination and constantly progressing my style and skills to develop my brand name.”
Your motto as a dietitian is “eat more plants”. Why is this message so important to you?
I think the ‘eat more plants’ motto is very important because there are so many people who are not eating enough fruit and vegetables and the wrong kind of grains. It’s all about encouraging people to add more plant-based foods into their diet, whether it’s a 1 meal a day, 1 day a week, or even transitioning to a fully plant-based diet. What inspired you to study nutrition?
I was really passionate about health and nutrition but always knew I wanted to help others and I wanted to have a proper credible education in nutrition that is recognised professionally, so I undertook my Bachelor in Nutrition and Dietetics with Honours. You’ve made Bali your second home, what do you love most about life there?
Bali has a really special feel to it. There is an abundance of healthy food, other like-minded people, its laid back and there’s no 9-5 grind. I also love the beautiful rich culture of the local Indonesian people, so it’s a great place for creatives to live and feel inspired. Apart from food and nutrition, where do some of your other passions lie?
Fitness, travel and fashion.
What would a phone conversation with your sister sound like?
We chat like we would if we were sitting in a room together. It never feels awkward, it might go for an hour or so and there’s probably some long pauses while were both doing something with our phones on loudspeaker. Do you swap and share ideas and inspiration when it comes to work?
All the time. We very often sit or lay on the bed together and chat about our ideas or inspire each other. How would you describe your sister Lauren in three words?
Fun, passionate and generous. How do you properly switch off when your phone is a huge part of what you do?
It’s one of the challenges of this job definitely. I find that when I am home with family I just put my phone away all together and get no work done. When at home, the best way for me switch off is going to yoga or doing a workout and putting my music in.
“Sometimes flying is the best way for me to switch off because there’s no Wifi, no notifications, so no distractions.”
Your food pics are amazing! What tips do you have for all the aspiring food photographers/bloggers out there? Are you self-taught?
I am completely self-taught. My biggest tips would be to practice, always use bright natural light but not direct sunlight.
How did both you and Ellie come to find success in social media?
[Growing up] we usually did absolutely everything together, from sports, schools, same friendships, basically joined at the hip. For myself, I got into it a little later than Ellie, she was doing her food/fitness thing, and it was at this time that I thought how incredible it was to be able to grow a little community, at the time my focus was to travel, so as soon as I’d saved for my first trip I got a better camera and from there the journey began to self-learn photography. It took a year of this before I began to get any jobs! You’ve managed to build a career out of travelling the world! Take us through how this first came about and what you were doing prior to.
Prior to this I was a dental assistant. As mentioned above I did my first trip to the States and my whole goal was to be re-shared by the big repost accounts (didn’t succeed on this trip). Once I came back from the states and Asia I then moved to a new region in Australia; Cairns, which was the perfect breeding grounds for me to begin my career.
It has so much to offer in terms of content and I was so eager to get out there and capture moments, it was the local tourism there that first contacted me to do a free trip, which is where I met other influencers that were much bigger than me at the time and making an income from it, this is when I realised I could turn this into a career! Next I was being contacted by travel agents and overseas tourism boards and was able to get to some incredible places.
What do you love most about what you do and are there any downsides?
I love that I have the opportunity to do what I love everyday and to be able to have made a career out of it, and hopefully set myself up for a fun and happy life! I love that I am able to inspire people, and it’s always that bit more special when you met your followers in public which really brings it to life that each of those numbers are real and amazing people. I also love that I’ve been able to meet so many likeminded people from this that will be lifelong friends.
The downsides… well there’s not many. I really can’t complain but it would be the toll travelling so often can take on your health and wellbeing, you begin to miss that routine of home life. Also, it can sometimes be hard to ‘take time off’ or really switch off and do ‘normal’ things, like watch a series or have a day at the beach without thinking about anything work related – but I guess it’s a full-time lifestyle career and that’s what comes with it! Out of all the places you’ve travelled to in the world, why have you chosen to settle in Bali?
Between travels and trips we come back to Bali as we have just found it to have the overall best lifestyle. The food and cafe scene is amazing and healthy, the overall quality of life there is relaxing and easy going, its warm all year round and has direct flights to all the big international hubs including Dubai, Doha, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia.
Do you share Ellie’s love for healthy eating? How would you best describe your own food philosophy?
I do share a love for healthy eating, she is certainly better than me when it comes to being strict and healthy, I guess that comes with her wealth of knowledge, but I have learnt so much about healthy lifestyle from her! My food philosophy would be to have balance, everything in moderation, eat as healthy as possible but don’t dedicate your entire life to it, especially if you are travelling sometimes you need to be a little more flexible to enjoy. How do you personally stay fit and healthy whilst travelling?
I eat a mainly plant-based diet, although recently introducing seafood back into my diet due to a health condition, I always am researching for good healthy cafes and restaurants and asking for recommendations. In terms of fitness, when looking for hotels one of the key things I am looking for is a good gym, I try to make time for exercise even on busy trips! What is your most fondest travel memory?
I guess I would have to say my trip to Fiji where I met my boyfriend Jack! What’s it like having a real-life boyfriend of Instagram? Partner Jack Morris (@doyoutravel) Does he take many of your snaps?
It works really well to have a boyfriend that’s also an Instagrammer, we do basically everything together which works well for us. In the initial stages of travelling together and early dating it worked so seamlessly because we had all the same interests, and we would sit and edit together, do emails together, plan trips together, and now we are so well-known as a couple that most trips and jobs are always asking for us both. We take all of eachother’s photos!
“Bali is usually our reset, where we spend a few weeks at a time, and get into our routine;, gym, good food, catching up with friends, beach, emails and planning the next trips, and of course still have the opportunity to get content there!”
How would you describe your sister Ellie in three words?
My BEST friend! Do you have any secrets you can share to taking the perfect Insta shot?
Shot early morning/afternoon when the light is softer, a good quality camera and lenses, uncrowded spots (which usually means early).
QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS… (they’re kinda in sync)
Favourite travel destination—
Ellie: Finland, Tahiti, Turkey Lauren: Finland & Cook Islands
Ultimate smoothie combo—
Ellie: My Balinese dragon smoothie from my cookbook Lauren: Dragonfruit, banana, peanut butter and cacao
Number one photo editing app—
My guilty food pleasure—
Ellie: Potatoes Lauren: Cinnamon Doughnut
Go-to coffee order—
Ellie: Long black Lauren: Ice long black with a little coconut/almond milk
Ellie: Be Kind Lauren: Everything happens for a reason
Next place on my bucket list—
Ellie: Africa Lauren: Mexico
Favourite cafe spot in Bali—
Both: Peloton Supershop
Ellie: Heart-eyed face Lauren: Kissy face and tongue out
One thing people may not know about me is—
Ellie: I am usually quite shy and observant in group situations Lauren: That Ellie and I are twins… so many people think we are one account!