Nutritionist and co-founder by day, vaudeville performer to twin babies by night, Katie Fitzgerald is reinventing the way we view hormones. After months of struggling to conceive on IVF, Katie recognized a problem in women’s healthcare and set out to solve it.
At HelloEden, being hormonal is something that is celebrated, not stigmatized. HelloEden provides women with an all-in-one nutritional supplement to support your hormone balance from the inside out, capitalizing on the benefits that our hormones provide.
To kick women’s month off, we sat down with Katie, co-founder of HelloEden, about her experience starting a company and the problems in women’s health that HelloEden is working to solve.
Tell me a little bit about yourself (vague, I know).
I’m a native New Yorker and I hold the rare distinction of living in each of the five boroughs. I never met a food I didn’t like. I love Fall weather and almost always wear black. I don’t believe in the concept of TMI. The night I met my husband he was wearing a particularly ugly Christmas sweater. I think empathy and a sense of humor are the sexiest qualities a human being can possess.
Tell me the story of HelloEden's founding. What was missing in the world that inspired you to start HelloEden?
Like many of us in the world of wellness, I am a seeker. However, I did not always get answers to the questions I had regarding my wellbeing. The more I thought about it, the more it really bothered me that the average woman was undereducated about reproductive function and the important role that hormones play in overall health. I wanted to do something to raise awareness and also provide good resources to bridge the knowledge gap.
And how did that idea develop into HelloEden as it stands today?
Lucky for me, I met my co-founder Pete Boyles! A casual chat about the supplement landscape turned into a fast friendship. He was keen to do something in the wellness space and was not just open but intrigued by the topics I was passionate about. It would have been easy to decide that the area was too complicated or unglamorous but instead Pete leaned in. Together we crafted an idea to provide a community, platform, and products for women that met a real need.
Our flagship product, Eden, is based on a supplement regimen I adopted for myself to heal from inflammation and stress and restore my cycles following multiple rounds of IVF and miscarriages. Taking care of myself was a full-time job- researching, sourcing products, trial and error, not to mention the investment of time and expense was unsustainable. There was nothing on the market that was comprehensive, high quality, and easy to take so I created it!
Walk us through your journey in trying to conceive. What role did this experience play in your work with HelloEden?
At 30 and a year into my marriage, my husband and I decided we were ready to expand our family. I had always had incredibly regular cycles so we were surprised that after some time I was still not pregnant. We went through rigorous testing to discover that everything was healthy and normal, however, we were infertile. I had plenty of eggs and a healthy uterus so IVF seemed like it was going to be a slam dunk for us.
My first round of IVF produced two embryos which resulted in a miscarriage. During my second round of IVF I developed Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). This became so dangerous that I was hospitalized for 6 days battling excruciating pain and the threat of organ failure. The embryos from that cycle resulted in 2 more miscarriages. Following these events was the lowest point in my life. I felt betrayed by my body, isolated, hopeless, and wrestled with some truly dark thoughts. We entered couples counseling and I met with a therapist who specializes in child loss and infertility.
I took some time off from treatments and sought second, third, and fourth opinions. One doctor said that I would never carry a baby to term because my immune system was rejecting the pregnancies. Another said that although there was not implicit evidence for it, he could do an exploratory surgery that “might” help. I was so confused!
It was at that point that I started to remember that I am the expert of my body. I went back to my roots as a Nutritionist and I started taking care of myself like I was my own client. I found solace in exercise and acupuncture. I nourished myself in every way possible and started to look and feel much more like myself again. Luckily, we were recommended by close friends to their reproductive endocrinologist who gave us hope again. It took everything in me to push through two more rounds of IVF. I suffered another miscarriage but something inside me knew that this time was different. I felt it.
In October of 2018, we transferred one embryo and it split! We welcomed 2 healthy happy baby boys this past June.
At Stix, our brand is rooted in the idea of support—whatever result you're hoping for, we are here for you. What support do you wish you had during your own conception process? How does HelloEden help to give that support to other women?
Looking back on all of it, I knew that the treatment and advice we had in the beginning was not the right fit for us. I ignored the voice in my head that was not happy with the answers I was getting but I was too scared to voice it. I don’t know if it would have changed our circumstances, but I’ve vowed to honor my intuition as the best first resource.
The big questions women want to know when trying to conceive are “When am I ovulating?” and “Am I pregnant?”. Figuring it out on your own is like a shot in the dark. Having an easy ovulation test that shows up at home would have taken a lot of mental and physical leg work out of the equation and made for a less stressful experience. Also, for someone who is struggling while trying to conceive, buying a pregnancy test is an emotional minefield. Having it ready when you are in the privacy of your own home adds an element of self-preservation to a stressful situation.
Having irregular periods, struggling with PMS, trying to conceive, recovering from childbirth, and dealing with PCOS are stressful situations to say the least. Most of these very real issues are pushed into the margins and many women feel like there’s nothing they can do about how they feel. That’s unfair and untrue! HelloEden strives to allow women to face these ups and downs with a little grace. It’s a little support and a little push in the right direction that allows you to make more and more healthy choices.
Hormones are pretty stigmatized. How is HelloEden pushing back on this stigma?
It’s easy to stigmatize something you don’t understand. Unfortunately, that is something that medical patriarchy has done with a myriad of women’s health issues, which spills into the collective culture.
The first step is to inform in a way that is fact-based and relatable so that education can take root. From our website blog, to our chat feature, and our social media posts we always endeavor to inject good information into our messaging.
The second step is to challenge the old ways of thinking. Something we love to say is, “People tell us we are hormonal, we say thank you!”. We want to show everyone that hormones aren’t just responsible for a collection of symptoms you have to deal with- they are what make you a woman and that is profoundly powerful.
What is one thing that everyone should know about hormone health that very few do?
Hormones are communication chemicals that somehow connect far away organs and tissues to work together to do amazing things. Hormones touch so much more than reproductive health- bone density, nutrient metabolism, cognitive function, sleep cycles, are all impacted by your amazing hormones.
What advice would you give to women looking for information & methods they can trust in this complex women's health space?
Oof- there is a lot of bad information out there!
Always consider the source. Today the lines are blurred more than ever before between information and advertisement. Whatever media you ingest, be as mindful as you can of the funding behind the message and the education or background of the person presenting it. It may sound silly but read articles from start to finish- headlines and initial paragraphs seldomly provide the complete picture.
If a person or product is making a lot of guarantees or claims that is a big red flag. The supplement industry has a nasty reputation around misinformation. There simply is no such thing as a magic pill and we at HelloEden refuse to perpetuate that sentiment.
Building a business can be brutal—how do you take moments to care for yourself and your family as Eden continues to grow?
I think the concept of work/life balance is faulty. Some days I work more, some days I mom more but it is never even. If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. I hold on to a few non-negotiables from both sides and try to let go of the rest.
I also remind myself to breathe, drink an obscene amount of water, and try to move my body as much as possible. These things make the biggest impact on how I feel physically and mentally and they require very little work to accomplish.
What is your wish for women who want to start a business in the women's health space?
I can not wait to see what comes next. To all those passionate, creative, savvy souls out there--endure! You will face a lot of resistance, but that’s the beginning of every inspiring origin story. Surround yourself with people who “get it”. Ask for help. Do not apologize.
If people could take away one thing from HelloEden, what would it be?
There is an idea that hormones are something you consider only in very tidy boxes in a woman’s life: puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. But, hormone health and reproductive health are an indicator of overall health. This is regardless of reproductive choice and applies to every day of your life. Eden is a multi-nutrient supplement that supports healthy hormone function every single day.
For Katie, self advocacy was key both in her journey to conception and with Eden. Moreover, the absolute need for resources for women across their health journeys--because hormone health is critical no matter who you are and what stage of life you are in.
To celebrate the strides being made in women’s health, we’ve partnered with HelloEden and are giving our customers discounts on all products. Stix customers will receive 10% off their first HelloEden order by entering code Stix10.