Khila Life, Joanne Birkitt,

Healthy Habits : How Joanne Birkitt Founded Award Winning Khila Life

Bridie Houlihan

Bridie Houlihan | Founder & CEO of Female Health Founders

Delve into the founding business journey of Khila Life. Our founder Bridie, interviewed Joanne Birkitt on her business journey through starting out, triumphs and navigating barriers. Khila Life is a platform designed to help everyone lead an amplified life, that is a lifestyle where your food, nutrition, supplements, mind & body all come together to ensure you are optimising your health & wellness, through their award winning vitamin pod.

Joanne is a qualified Yoga Instructor, IIN Health Coach and business woman, and her passion to help make healthier living accessible to everyone, is a driving motivation behind her invention, the Khila Pod – Vitamin & Supplement Organiser. Enjoy reading her founders story!

Starting Out

Hello! The journey’s been a bit of a rollercoaster, to be honest. I kicked off my career in the drinks industry in the UK and the USA, running globally recognised brands. The glitter and glam of VIP events, global travel, and the lively scenes of London, New York, and L.A. had everyone thinking I had it all!

But you know how it goes – not everything that sparkles is gold. Behind the scenes, I was in some seriously stressful and toxic work environments. Bullying, harassment, and sexism were the order of the day. On top of that, I was dealing with fertility issues, adenomyosis, miscarriage, and a laundry list of health problems from asthma to coeliac disease. All this while navigating life with an alcoholic partner.

I’ve been into supplements since I was 13 (thanks IBS). It took me a solid two years, a Yoga Teacher training course at an ashram, an IIN Health Coach qualification, and a deep dive into stress, gut, and hormone health to get myself back on track. Knowing I wasn’t alone in this journey, I set out to help other female leaders survive the corporate battleground while keeping their health – and sanity – intact.

I firmly believe our bodies are like powerful, complex computers. Just like a computer with a bug or a virus, they give us signals about what’s wrong. All we need to do is pay attention, fix the issues, and not sweep them under the rug. 

-Joanne Birkitt

Challenges & Triumphs For Khila Life

Fortunately, my business background gave me a solid foundation to launch Khila Life and develop a market-ready product with minimal additional support. Also I was able to secure some early stage funding which also meant I could progress at a slightly faster rate.

The real challenge though was me! Quite the unpleasant realisation ☺ 

Shifting from a 26-year business mindset to a solopreneur mentality was tough.

-Joanne Birkitt

I’ve always been hands-on, but it’s a whole new ballgame when it’s just you, flying solo every day, mustering the motivation to push forward. I encountered imposter syndrome for the first time, but by embracing networking (which used to scare me more than presenting to 2000 people) and crafting coping strategies for those ‘Fear’ moments, things have taken a positive turn.

Khila Life, Joanne Birkitt,

Tips for Aspiring Women’s Health Entrepreneurs

  • Build a Support Network:

Surround yourself with a mentor, a networking group, a trusted friend, or family member who not only believes in you but challenges your thinking. And who can add value to your business or journey. 

As Steve Jobs wisely put it, “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” Even if your team is just you, recruit wisely – your support network is crucial.

  • Set and Guard Your Boundaries:

Maintain a healthy business life by establishing clear boundaries, covering everything from working hours to investor criteria. Boundaries help foster healthy relationships, prevent burnout, curb resentment, and safeguard your mental health and well-being.

  • Proof of Concept Matters:

Before taking the entrepreneurial plunge, thoroughly research and aim for a market-ready proof of concept. Break down your project into manageable 3-month steps with a budget you can afford. Given that you might not be drawing a salary for a while, be frugal, prioritize finances, and reach the minimal viable product before splurging.

  • Embrace Warrior-Level Bravery:

Put on your metaphorical big girl knickers and keep them on! Warrior-level bravery is a must. Expect failures – unless you’re a unicorn, they will happen. People will disappoint, investors may vanish, and athleisure wear might become your daily attire. Despite the challenges, persevere with those pants firmly in place; your breakthrough will come, reminding you of why you started and reinforcing your eventual success.

  • Bonus Tip:

Don’t forget to do something every day that’s not business-related. Grant yourself the mental time-out you deserve.

Navigating the Industry

In an age of unparalleled connectivity, information is at our fingertips. The challenge, however, lies in the diversity of our individual experiences, where good information often overlooks our unique needs. Moreover, the prevalence of misinformation on social media adds another layer of complexity as well as pressures for women of all ages.

Compounding this issue is the fact that available information often reflects a white middle-class perspective, failing to consider the diverse experiences of women from different ethnic and social backgrounds throughout their lives, from adolescence to post-menopause.

-Joanne Birkitt

Crucial aspects of female health, including health and exercise apps, subscriptions, vitamins, supplements, and mental health support, come with a price tag that is beyond the means of some. Recognizing this, coupled with the strain on our NHS, the development of accessible female health networks and Femtech becomes imperative for the future.

My mission has consistently revolved around making a supplemented lifestyle more accessible and understandable for everyone. Exciting projects are in the pipeline to turn this vision into reality.

Unique Perspective

My journey into the realm of female health stems from a bold leap out of the corporate drinks world. I embarked on this path with the firm belief that my knowledge and experiences could make a difference in the lives of other women.

I’m sure I’m not the only female entrepreneur reading this who has been on a conference call or in a meeting during or right after a miscarriage. There are countless women out there, like me, who couldn’t afford IVF, yet the financial gap wouldn’t exist if our pay equalled that of our male counterparts. Who else can relate to balancing the demands of running a business and a family while navigating surgical (or early, or natural) menopause, where sleep becomes a rare luxury? We are often not alone  in life’s challenges.

My passion revolves around dismantling stigmas surrounding female health, empowering women to make informed decisions about their health and wellness journey. I know first-hand that it’s possible to stay healthy on the go; you just need to know the ropes. Together we can break down these barriers and make wellness a reality for all. 

Khila Life, Joanne Birkitt,

Key Strategies For Success

Our success is a work in progress – we may not have reached the pinnacle yet, but the foundations we’ve laid are the bedrock for continuous growth.

Here are my key strategies for navigating the path to success:

  • Embrace the Side Hustle:

Maintaining a side hustle not only provides financial stability but also keeps the motivation flowing as energy transfers between projects. Take the leap into full-time entrepreneurship when you’re confident you can weather the storm for at least two years without a steady income.

  • Craft a Strategic Roadmap:

Break down your grand business plan into bite-sized, achievable three-month milestones. Focus on the journey rather than fixating solely on the destination. This approach not only makes the path more manageable but also allows for a more agile response to challenges.

  • Expand Your Network:

Don’t let the fear of competition hold you back. Learning from and building relationships within your industry is vital for success. Remember, women support women! Cultivate a network that not only opens doors but also propels you forward in your entrepreneurial journey. After all, collaboration often leads to greater heights than competition.

Key Technologies & Tools

  1. Calm – start with you, get your headspace in the right place.
  2. Calendly– a good place to start for meeting scheduling. 
  3. Seedlegals – these guys are the best for all things legal, financial and fund raising. Everything you need in one place and the fees are very very reasonable and they’re great to work with.
  4. – Great for project management, whether you have or are solo
  5. Xero or Quickbooks – you don’t need an accountant when you start.
  6. Canva & Later – love these for being creative and for scheduling all things social media 

Most Rewarding Moment

The Khila journey has been quite fulfilling, and recently, we clinched a Bronze Award for our design and packaging.

When I initially sketched out the Khila pod organiser on an in-flight napkin, the goal was clear – create something stylish and functional, but also sustainably made. Although we could have opted for cheaper materials like plastics, it didn’t align with our values.

Being acknowledged by Pentawards for our commitment to sustainable materials and functional design was a moment of pride.

-Joanne Birkitt

Additionally, receiving positive feedback from our customers is genuinely rewarding. A 5-star review along with comments about how we contribute to people sticking to their healthy habits makes the hard work and challenges worthwhile.

Future Outlook

Well, Bridie, you know my brain is always on, and the future is looking really exciting. But, taking a leaf out of my own book, 2024 is all about laser focus on building our foundations.

In my quest to make a supplemented lifestyle more understandable and accessible, we’re focusing on a few key areas. First up, it’s all about collaborations and partnerships. I’m reopening my coaching business, specifically for C Suite females. And finally a dream might come true —a project close to my heart involves setting up a charitable arm for Khila Life.

So finally here are my  top 3 tips for fellow female health entrepreneurs:

Craft Your Health Map: You can’t be a superhero for others if you’re not in top-notch shape yourself. Create and stick to your own health plan, set those boundaries, and ensure you’re making time for yourself amidst the hustle.

Network Like There’s No Tomorrow: Finding and building your tribe is key. Surround yourself with those who believe in your dream. Don’t shy away from asking for help—word of mouth is pure gold in a Founder’s life.

Value Your Time Like a Boss:

Here’s a secret not many female entrepreneurs realise—your time is gold. Assign a value to it, say £1000 per hour, and suddenly your task list gets a new perspective. It helps you decide where your time is best spent and where you could delegate or streamline.

-Joanne Birkitt

…And of course very excited to be part of Female Health Founders and to a future filled us all supporting each other!!

Connect With Joanne & Khila Life