They say that if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you should create it yourself.
That’s exactly what Millie Gooch did in 2018, when she founded the Sober Girl Society. Millie chose to stop drinking alcohol in February 2018, and was looking for a supportive group to join, where she could connect with like-minded women. The Sober Girl Society was born, and has been growing ever since: they’ve been featured everywhere from Elle to the Daily Mail.
Millie’s story is a great lesson in being brave and having the confidence to strike out on your own – even if it feels intimidating at the time. In a year and a half, Millie has gone from drinking alcohol to being a poster girl for sobriety, quoted in national British press on a regular basis. She proves that when you throw yourself into your new project, learning through reading, podcasts and audiobooks, there are no limits to what you can achieve. So if there’s something you’re interested in doing, either as a side hustle or as a business, take a leaf from Millie’s book, and get learning!
Let’s kick off with you introducing yourself to our community!
I’m a former journalist and now the founder of the Sober Girl Society, an online community for women who don’t drink alcohol. We’re currently mainly Instagram based, but we do events, meet-ups, panel talks and podcasts as well – all about not drinking, and changing how we think about drinking.
Awesome! And how did you get started with Sober Girl Society? What led you to create it?
I actually gave up alcohol in February 2018. I was looking around on social media just to see what was out there about sobriety, and I couldn’t really find anything that I identified with. There were lots of American ones, but I couldn’t find anything for young millennial girls with a really active social life who just wanted to change their drinking habits. And because I couldn’t find it, I decided to set it up myself! That was just over a year ago now, at the start of autumn in 2018.
What were some of the hurdles you faced in your journey so far? How did you go about solving them?
It’s been a massive learning curve! I’ve learned a lot about society and attitudes towards addiction. When I first started it [Sober Girl Society], I think I was quite naive as to what’s out there, and the big problems that people are facing. I come from a place of privilege where it had been a lifestyle choice for me to give up drinking, whereas for some people, it’s not a choice. So one of the biggest things for me was probably needing to educate myself to make sure that I knew what I was talking about when I do things like this!
What’s the most important quality you need if you’re self employed?
It’s passion! You have to be passionate. If you don’t care enough about what you’re doing, you’ll find it boring and it will be hard work. You need a personal reason to want to grow your business or project.
Where do you get inspiration from for growing your community?
Researching constantly. I also love podcasts and watching new documentaries… Even things like The Coven [an online community for female entrepreneurs and freelancers] are great for that sort of thing. On Instagram, I make sure that I have a very curated feed, so I just follow accounts that inspire me.
What advice would you give someone who wants to do what you’ve done, and found an online community for a specific niche?
Do your research. Know what you’re talking about. Know what’s already in the space, and what can make you different. I think as well bringing a personal story to it is important. I took part in a podcast talking about my drinking, and I think a lot of people really identified with it. Put your heart into your brand!
We love that advice! Do you have a business woman who inspires you?
Not a particular business woman, but I’ve just read the book Be the Change by Gina Martin, who is the activist who got up-skirting [taking photos underneath strangers’ skirts in public] made illegal. I think she’s amazing – she’s my new girl crush! For me, Sober Girl Society wasn’t meant to be a business: it was meant to be a way to make changes, so it makes more sense for me to look up to someone like Gina Martin, rather than a business woman.
Yes, Gina Martin’s a great choice. Final question: can you share a top book recommendation with us?
My book recommendation would be The Unexpected Joy Of Being Sober – that was really the first book I read to learn about sobriety, and it changed the way that I looked at it. Most books talk about it from the perspective of “you’re going to quit, and this is how you can do it”, while The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober actually focuses on what you can gain from giving up alcohol.
To find out more about Millie and Sober Girl Society, follow @sobergirlsociety on Instagram.