Empowering women through menopause: Helen Ritchie’s founders story

Bridie Houlihan

Bridie Houlihan | Founder & CEO of Female Health Founders

Helen Ritchie shares her female health founder’s story, covering how her personal journey with menopause and a career transition led to retraining in nutrition and starting her menopause nutrition business: RitchNutrition.

How did your journey as a female health founder begin?

Experiencing brain fog and other menopause symptoms which ultimately contributed to me being fired from my corporate job in international tech marketing, that I had been working in for 30 years. I knew it was time to make a change and do something more worthwhile and that I was passionate about and wanted to educate other women about menopause and what you can do to help yourself feel better.

What inspired you to start your business?

I have always been interested in holistic health and wellbeing, nutrition and alternatives to prescription medication, which prior to the menopause I really started researching in 2014 when diagnosed with breast cancer. I was fascinated about what I discovered and put into place whilst undergoing my treatment. When I lost my corporate job and realised I couldn’t continue in marketing and that it was time to do something I felt passionate about, after a lot of soul searching & life coaching I took the plunge to retrain in nutrition and upon qualifying in 2021 started my business: RitchNutrition

Tell us more about your women’s health business?

I specialise in supporting women to manage their menopause and perimenopause symptoms naturally through nutrition and lifestyle changes, sometimes involving testing and taking recommended supplements. I also see women with other health concerns, specifically for weight loss, digestive issues [IBS] and diabetes, pre-diabetes. I market myself on social media through LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. I also do a lot of networking in my local area [Berkshire]. I organise workshops and talks and also deliver talks to groups and organisations who want to educate their workforce. I am also an ambassador for the charity The Public Health Collaboration [phcuk.org] and run courses with another coach at a local GP surgery. This has helped me raise awareness of my services, as well as volunteering within the nutrition community for BANT [British Association for Nutritional Therapy & Lifestyle Medicine], which is my professional body.

Many of my clients come through these channels as well as word of mouth – friends of friends and contacts and I have a large network of contacts in the Berkshire area.

-Helen Ritchie

I collaborate with other wellness professionals to do talks and workshops such as other health coaches, Yoga & Mindfulness Teachers, Personal Trainers and GPs, particularly those doctors that are also trained in Lifestyle Medicine. I haven’t received any funding, I’ve relied on my own savings.

As a woman in business, what obstacles have you faced in establishing your company? And how have you overcome them?

The greatest obstacle is raising awareness of who I am and what I offer and attracting a steady stream of clients.

There is a lack of education and awareness in the UK [and beyond] of the power of food and lifestyle on our health and how we feel, so a lot of the work I do through talks and workshops is about education on how simple changes can be immensely powerful.

-Helen Ritchie

With a free at the point of use NHS we are also not used to paying for and investing in our own health and wellbeing and we are not encouraged to take responsibility for our health. Plus an over-reliance on medication, which translates into my world as a ‘What supplement can I take?’ question rather than what can I do with my diet and lifestyle approach. To overcome these obstacles I continue with my social media, workshops and publicising my successes through client case studies.

How do you see the landscape of digital women’s health evolving to fill the gender health gap?

I think the wealth of information available online now to women can be immensely powerful and empowering, however, there is so much information via social media influencers with their own agenda which is not necessarily good advice, that I think it can be extremely confusing for women to research their options and understand what to do. We need more independent digital sources of information that women can trust as places to find up-to-date impartial information that informs and empowers.

Can you pinpoint a particular strategy that has been pivotal to the success of your business? How did you develop it? What impact has it had?

I believe my volunteering for the Public Health Collaboration has helped me raise awareness of nutritional therapy and what I do in the local medical community of GPs and their patients.

This has led to paid work within the NHS and now as a Health Coach on the Diabetes Prevention Programme, which I do alongside running my own private clinic of clients.

-Helen Ritchie

I am passionate about community health and value the opportunities I have had within the local NHS area to educate patients and the general public, who otherwise would not be either aware or able to pay for such information if they were self-funding. It has increased my confidence in delivering information to groups, as well as been very rewarding in seeing the difference nutrition and lifestyle coaching can make to individual’s lives.

Helen Ritchie

Which key pieces of kit, technology or software could you not live without for your business?

  • I could not function with my website, created by WebHealer, which is a company that specialises in creating and maintaining websites for therapists.
  • Laptop and mobile phone are essential for running my business and creating and posting content to tall the social channels.
  • I also use a light ring and tripod for webinars and talking to video for social content.
  • Calendly web software for scheduling and allowing potential clients to book in discovering calls with me.
  • Practice Management software that enables me to automate my business processes eg the terms and conditions, detailed health questionnaires, food diaries and payment.
  • I have used PracticeBetter but have switched recently to a UK provider called HealthPath Pro.

3 pieces of advice for fellow female health founders?

  1. Just get started – once qualified you don’t need any additional training, you already know more than enough to help people feel better.
  2. Believe in yourself – imposter syndrome is rife – but understanding that we all suffer with it from time to time can be helpful and once you’re qualified you know much more than the average [unqualified] person.
  3. Be wary of the many expensive health business coaches offering support to build your business and client base. Some are experts in tapping into your insecurities [and imposter syndrome]. There is no one single way to be successful and you have to follow your heart in what you think is right for you.

How you can connect with Helen Ritchie