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Meet Ella Hearrean Ritchie of Stellar Communications Houston

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ella Hearrean Ritchie.

Ella, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve heard that great success usually follows great failure, and I suppose that’s true in my life. My story began after a very difficult year in 2009. Things didn’t seem very promising at the time, but two good things happened.

First, I had time to re-evaluate everything, including my career. I had enjoyed many years as a reading and writing teacher, but I admitted to myself that my wildest dream was to work as an editor and writer. Second, I was more willing to take risks. My budding faith in God allowed me to consider my future without fear. So I decided to embark on an adventure and pursue my career dream.

In a serendipitous series of events, I was introduced to a savvy freelance editor who offered a one-year internship. And then in 2012, I founded Stellar Communications Houston to provide freelance business communications. Over time, my team grew to include proofreaders, writers, and graphic designers. Our clients grew to include business owners, nonprofit organizations, corporations, and federal government agencies.

In 2015, our services expanded to include nonfiction book publishing. I had spoken with several self-published authors who were confused and unhappy with their options, so I set out to build a publishing process that educated them on their options and resolved their issues. We were overjoyed when our inaugural book, Contraflow, by Houston banker Bill Herrington, received the 2017 IPPY Award for Best Regional Nonfiction (South U.S.).

Since then, we’ve published several autobiographies, memoirs, business books, workbooks, and Bible studies. Along the way, we’re partnering with excellent writing organizations and tweaking our processes to create the best possible experience for self-published authors. And I am living beyond my wildest dream!

Has it been a smooth road?
I don’t think any worthwhile adventure is smooth. It’s a daily bundle of passion and frustration, setbacks and milestones. And coffee. Lots of coffee. When you love what you do, you persevere.

My first challenge was getting the company off the ground. I bartered services with other business owners and networked constantly to find clients. A milestone was when an international pharmaceuticals company trusted our team with a critical project.

Another challenge is the “aloneness” of owning a small business. I was lucky to find an incredible mentor in Tracey Timpanaro of 2T Communications and a trusted business coach in Glenn Smith Executive Coaching. And my husband, Jason, is like a business partner in many ways. He’s a project manager in another field, so he’s brilliant at providing clarity.

An ongoing challenge is a work-life balance. Running a business can be very demanding, and for a long while, I burned the candle at both ends. In time, I settled into a routine that works for my lifestyle. I can step away occasionally to attend a school field trip or to travel, but I stick to a fairly strict work schedule most days. The biggest blessing is being able to see our children off to school every morning and to greet them when they return.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Stellar Communications Houston story. Tell us more about the business.
Whether we’re providing business content or nonfiction book publishing services, I’m most proud of our boutique approach. It’s a privilege any time a business owner or author trusts us with his or her message to the world, and our level of service reflects our genuine gratitude. We’ve developed a reputation for quality, professionalism, responsiveness, and attention to details. More than anything, we want every client to feel at peace during the process and pride in their product. We want to honor that trust.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
One trend is to pair written content with visual content so that the two complement each other. For example, business clients are approaching us with their business videos and requesting that we convert the material to a business book. Other clients are approaching us to help them write their family histories and also create a video keepsake of their family members’ interviews to accompany their book. Still, others are taking the time to create video trailers of their books. Video and written content work together beautifully.

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Image Credit:

Andrew Lipovsky, Cloud Nine Photography

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