Natalie Mogford is using storytelling to drive powerful connections

by Georgie Abay
Monday 4 September 2023

MECCA M-POWER has powered a special edition of STORY magazine. Here, we meet its dynamic founder Natalie Mogford

Natalie Mogford never planned on founding a social enterprise – but after a 20-year career spent founding and leading two marketing agencies, she suddenly realised the spark was gone. “As a young adult I worked on some of the world’s most successful theatre shows and this came with a large amount of responsibility and pressure,” she reflects. “I found myself travelling and meeting all these exciting people, it was fast paced and even though on the outside it may have seemed glamorous, my days were long, and it was hard work. I loved it though; it pushed me to become a creative problem solver and I thrived in that environment. After over 15 years in the industry, there was no joy, no spark, I was tired, and my work did not feel like it was aligning with my spirit anymore.” 

What happened next – founding a social enterprise on a mission to help others feel less alone – took Natalie back to her childhood. Sharing and kindness was something which had been instilled in her as a little girl. When Natalie was a toddler, her family inherited a property in Greece. They’d planned to spend a year there but ending up staying for 12. It was a colourful childhood that shaped the way she saw the world and led her to become a passionate community advocate. “Growing up in Greece, we were very much an unconventional family,” she says. “My Dad was ever challenging the status quo, especially when it came to justice and societal discrepancies around equality. From a young age I noticed the different class systems that existed,” she reflects. Years later, her upbringing would inspire her next chapter. 

Approaching life with purpose has always been what drives Natalie – both personally and professionally. “In my personal life, I have always been involved in community work, running events for charity and other fund-raising initiatives,” she says. “Being of service in some way and connecting with people has always been my oxygen.” Yet as someone passionate about making a difference, she found that after 15 years in marketing, she’d lost her purpose. “Here I was in a work life that sapped me off oxygen. I knew I was out of alignment, and I was lost. I made the decision to close my agency and the universe seemed to respond immediately, making the exit smooth. However, I went from working for years on full throttle to doing nothing and with no plan in sight for what was next.”

Being of service in some way and connecting with people has always been my oxygen

- Natalie Mogford

It was a stage of her life that she describes as empowering, challenging, and unnerving. She had an eighteen-month-old son to care for, and for the first time in her life, no deadlines to meet. “I went to see a clairvoyant who told me to stop trying to fill the space and allow it to unfold”. Which is exactly what she did. She slowed down. She spoke more deeply with people in the park. She engaged more. She listened more. She stopped rushing. She shared. And through that sharing, she realised just how powerful storytelling is. She also noticed she was experiencing a new level of connection with the people around her. “All of us have so much knowledge that we have accumulated over the years that we could be sharing with other people who may be going through a similar experience. All I needed was a platform to connect people and the willingness of others to share. I realised then that there’s a new type of ‘giving’ and that was in the ‘sharing’.”

In the park, she met her now creative partner Bianca. Inspired by how Airbnb had transformed the way people think about sharing their homes, the idea of a Peer2Peer marketplace where people could help one another by sharing emotional or practical support. “Whilst we were building the app, we were conducting research and we realised that most people would not open and share their problems with those closest to them because of fear of being judged or because they wouldn’t understand if they hadn’t gone through a like experience. There seemed to be a lot of shame,” she says. “I wanted to make everyday people the heroes and turn shame and struggle into strength, in the hope that people will share more but also be more compassionate towards others.” Global Village is driven by the fact that loss of connection is one of the leading causes of depression and anxiety. “People have lost their sense of village, and in a world more connected than ever before, people are feeling increasingly disconnected and alone,” says Natalie. 

When you write a story, there is freedom; shame is released, and the story doesn’t own you anymore.

- Natalie Mogford

It’s a purpose-led path that led Natalie to found STORY magazine. STORY is a free magazine that consists of stories submitted by everyday people. “It’s a powerful magazine in three ways,” explains Natalie. Starting with the contributor. “When you write a story, there is freedom; shame is released, and the story doesn’t own you anymore. A shift occurs where that same story that had become your armour transforms into hope and resilience. There is a pride in that,” she says. Then there’s the reader. “I learned so much about myself reading other’s stories. I saw them as heroes. How brave, how wonderful, how witty, and funny. They are not sad stories; these are stories of hope and strength. They are empathy builders,” she says. And finally, the power of STORY magazine comes from the organisations they partner with, such as social change movement MECCA M-POWER. “How STORY works is that there’s a ‘Powered By Stamp’ on the cover of each magazine. This shows the likeminded brand that has supported the magazine. Also, they contribute by distributing STORY to their team members or community for free. It’s a way for companies to give back in a beautiful and thoughtful way. People can take STORY home and experience it in a safe environment. STORY is a spark for further self-exploration.”

For MECCA M-POWER, partnering with STORY magazine is a tangible step in M-POWER’s ongoing commitment to storytelling as a way to build empathy and connection, and break down societal stigmas and stereotypes as part of its overall mission to end gender inequality. After all, a compassionate and connected community has the potential to create an empowered future for next generations. “For the last two decades, I feel the focus as a collective has been in the acquiring of things, something external to ourselves; in order to find happiness and fulfilment,” says Natalie. “Building our careers, building our family, bigger home, new car, holidays … we’ve been working so hard to create that perfect lifestyle, without even realising we are running on empty. So, we self-sabotage with our choices and vices. Regardless of everything that we may have acquired externally we are not in alignment. It also doesn’t help when our attention is sucked into social norms that are built on false narratives in what the pursue of ‘happiness’ is and the constant reminder on social media of curated moments of others seeming to be having the best time through life which can stop us from sharing perhaps some of our own uneasiness.”

Her answer to this is sharing, which is why Natalie finds meaning in working on projects that benefit individuals and communities. As for what drives her forward each day, it’s not a life where she runs on empty. It’s purposeful work that creates real change, and that’s a version of success we can all get behind. 

To find out more about STORY magazine, go to