Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Brooke Bartolomeo, Founder of Hey MTHFR, located in the USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is called Hey MTHFR, and I offer an online course called Hey MTHFR Academy. I’m not cursing at you - MTHFR is the name of a gene that handles an important bodily process called methylation. Without getting too deep into the science of what that means, roughly a quarter of the population has a variant in this gene that causes impaired methylation. About 10-15% of people have two variants in the gene (I’m in this category) that causes even further impaired methylation and potential health problems.
In a nutshell, having an MTHFR variant and impaired methylation means that the carrier has a hard time detoxing efficiently and that they do not process folic acid (the synthetic form of vitamin B9) well. This predisposes the carrier to a wide variety of diseases and disorders, including cardiovascular distress, blood clotting disorders, neurological problems, the development of autoimmune disease, fertility struggles, food sensitivities, and more.
The good news is that armed with the right knowledge and motivation to make lifestyle changes, “MTHFRs” can optimize their genetics and minimize their chances of experiencing serious health problems. This is made possible through an amazing concept called epigenetics. This basically means that it’s possible to make problematic genes “switch off” and behave more normally. This can be accomplished through strategic lifestyle changes, including targeted supplementation, a balanced diet that eliminates food sensitivities, supporting gut health, minimizing environmental toxins, supporting detox pathways, and more.
That’s where Hey MTHFR and Hey MTHFR Academy come in! The Hey MTHFR website contains a wealth of information to help those with an MTHFR variant get started in their journeys to bettering their health in light of their unique genetics. Meanwhile, those who want to take a deeper dive and are serious about implementing changes can enroll in the Hey MTHFR Academy course. Hey MTHFR Academy is a 16-week fully online course that guides users through the process of harnessing the power of epigenetics to support their MTHFR gene through holistic methods. I also offer an affiliate program where other holistic health practitioners can sell the course to appropriate patients or clients and earn a 20% commission!
Obviously, this business is a niche one that is only suitable for a specific audience. However, with a quarter of the population having at least one variant of this gene, the audience is sizable. More and more people are developing a growing interest in understanding their genetics and bettering their health through holistic, preventative measures. While Hey MTHFR Academy is not for everyone, it has the capacity to help the right person in a very powerful way.
Tell us about yourself
As I touched upon, I am an MTHFR! However, it was a long and difficult journey to discover this fact. I am homozygous for the MTHFR C677T variant. This means that I carry not one but two copies of this genetic variant and am predisposed to some serious problems. No one told me that my body was unable to metabolize folic acid or that I had a tendency to store dangerous toxins rather than release them. It wasn’t until experiencing a mysterious life-threatening disease that kept recurring that I received every type of blood test known to man to figure out what was going on.
For a long time, there were no real answers or ways to break the pattern. Eventually, an integrative physician thought to do some genetic testing and discovered this important piece of the puzzle. It seems that having two variants in my MTHFR gene, along with years of making uninformed decisions, likely caused a domino effect that led to this series of health events. Once I began making targeted lifestyle changes, I was finally able to escape the cycle!
This sparked my interest in becoming an integrative health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and, eventually, a board-certified holistic health practitioner through the Trinity School of Natural Health. I witnessed how much my life radically changed through gaining this important knowledge and implementing the appropriate changes. This led to a desire to help others who are facing a similar struggle or are interested in avoiding going down that road in the first place through preventative care. That is my motivation.
As for a little about myself outside of this business…I’m a music lover and enjoy singing and tinkering with piano and guitar, as well as writing songs. I’m terrified of bugs but love nature, including hiking, kayaking, and taking lots of photos. Traveling is a love of mine, which I hope to be able to do more of in the future. I’m very family-oriented, and my dog is objectively the best (sorry to all).
While I have a degree in communication and have worked in event coordination, administration, and marketing throughout the years, my experience and most-valued strengths have led me to pursue the field of data analytics as my day job. I consider myself to be a lifelong learner, and that includes my spirituality and what it means to follow Christ. For those MBTI-inclined, I’m an INFJ.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is the transformation that clients can and do experience through my program. That is the ultimate goal and what makes me feel accomplished as the owner of a people-helping business. A real story…I had a client who was also homozygous for the MTHFR C677T variant. She had intense mold sensitivity, to the point that it was somewhat debilitating. While there are many facets to managing such a condition, an often overlooked one is that many people with extreme mold sensitivity also have impaired methylation! Conversely, improving methylation can help to minimize mold reactivity.
At the time of enrolling in my program, she experienced chronic limb numbness and tingling, as well as shortness of breath. She wanted to get her weight to a healthy level but couldn’t exercise at all due to these issues. After changing many aspects of her lifestyle, including targeted supplementation, diet changes, and detox methods, she found that her symptoms of mold sensitivity dramatically reduced!
By the end of her journey with Hey MTHFR Academy, she was not only exercising but feeling energetic with much fewer episodes of breathing difficulty and limb numbness/tingling. She didn’t decrease her mold exposure - she optimized her MTHFR gene and improved methylation, thereby reducing her sensitivity. These are the stories that drive me.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Being your own boss can be fun, but it’s also a lot of responsibility! There is no one to tell you what to do, when to do it, or how to do it - which can be great but also overwhelming. There is no template, which allows for endless creativity and freedom, but it’s up to you to create that outline and content for yourself. You’re also responsible for any financial investment involved, which can be a lot of pressure.
This may be a “me thing,” but I also find it difficult to balance my desire to help people while also needing and deserving to be fairly compensated for my work. I can see this particularly being a problem when running a business that is centered around helping people who are often in distress. Maybe someday I’ll be in a place where I can consider this program to be more of a charity than a business, but for now, I need to have firm boundaries, and that can be challenging.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Consider your pain point. What has thrown challenges your way, and how have you overcome them? This growth process can fuel a passion that can be helpful in starting and growing a business. While many successful businesses are not born from particular adversity, I do believe that whatever unique ways that life has challenged you can uniquely equip you to help other people on that same journey.
- Don’t give in to fear. Fear of failure and of what other people think is a sad way to live. If you see starting a business as an opportunity for growth rather than some sort of evaluation of your worth, then you can’t fail. Wouldn’t you rather give something that is important to you a try, regardless of the outcome, than forever live with knowing you were too afraid to try?
- Be disciplined and balanced. Being your own boss means that you’re not accountable to anyone else. If you fall off the wagon, no one will be there to tell you to get back on. Creating structure for yourself is important. At the same time, I know that many entrepreneurs can fall into workaholism, never allowing time to rest and have a balanced social life. As a holistic health professional, I see the danger of that extremism and know that whatever potential health problems could be waiting on the other side are not worth it! In my opinion, balance is a more sustainable, long-term strategy.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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