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Meet Dr. Berkley Luck of Milkify in Houston Heights

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Berkley Luck.

Dr. Luck, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I moved to Houston after college to attend a Ph.D. program at Baylor College of Medicine. As a graduate student, I studied the important role that bacteria in the gut have in various aspects of infant health. I am a strong believer that these bacteria play many roles that we are only beginning to understand, and these effects depend largely upon which bacteria are present. Our diets have a huge impact on which bacteria reside in our guts, both in infancy and in adulthood, and one of the main ways that we receive our first bacteria as infants is from our diet of breast milk. This can’t be replicated by infant formula and is one reason why breast milk is referred to as the “gold standard” for infant nutrition.

As a student with no kids, I was honestly shocked to learn about the lengths that women go to after the birth of their child to continue breastfeeding once they return to work. I remember one colleague who struggled daily not only to find the time and an open lactation room but also to haul the pump and cooler in and out every day to keep the milk refrigerated. I had never realized that this was such a challenge for so many women returning from maternity leave. I researched the process of pumping and stockpiling milk a bit more, and learned that even after all the effort, the breast milk stored in the freezer degraded over time. I was familiar with freeze-drying from my graduate work in lab and knew that this process (used to powder other products for long-term storage) should also work for breast milk. Milkify therefore started with a simple idea – “Why don’t we freeze dry breast milk?”

After I graduated, my husband and Co-Founder, Pedro, encouraged me to explore this idea, and nearly every woman that I talked to confirmed that this would have helped them out when they were breastfeeding. I decided to quit my consulting job and to use my skills to try and turn the idea into reality: Milkify, a service that powders your breast milk for longer storage, more convenience, and better infant nutrition. Milkify’s mission is to increase the number of infants who receive breast milk in their first year of life by helping to make the storage of breast milk easier and more convenient. We want to enable moms to save their breast milk in a better way, so their little ones can benefit from every last drop.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Starting a business isn’t easy. Starting a business that challenges the current way of doing things, with your significant other, during the Covid-19 pandemic, also isn’t easy. The idea of freeze-drying breast milk is unfamiliar to many people, and in the beginning, it was difficult to find people willing to try it out. As we have grown, our positive reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations have really helped moms become more familiar with what we do and how they may benefit from it.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Milkify – what should we know?
Milkify enables nursing mothers to save their own breast milk as a safe and convenient powder. Powdering breast milk makes storage easier and extends its shelf life. It also prevents nutrient degradation and preserves more of the vital immune components and probiotic bacteria present in the breast milk. The breast milk powder can be stored for years without refrigeration and is as convenient to use as powdered formula.

We are proud to have designed every aspect of the service ourselves, with the health and well-being of our moms and their infants as our number one priority. The best part of offering this service is hearing the stories from happy moms and their happy infants! Moms have told us that their infants prefer the taste of powdered milk over frozen milk, and some infants who were refusing breast milk altogether for months have taken readily to the powdered milk. When the road gets rough, hearing stories like these keep us going and make us proud of what we have built.

We currently serve Houston and the surrounding areas. Interested moms can just sign up on our site (www.milkify.me) and create a request. We then send them bag seals with individual tracking codes. They seal and package their milk and store in their freezer. We then arrange for Milkify courier pickup of the frozen milk. Each bag of frozen breast milk is powdered and shipped back to their door in protective packaging that keeps the powder safe from moisture, oxygen, and contaminants.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Unconventional and collaborative thinking has been key to turning this idea into reality. We have depended on feedback every step of the way and will continue to listen to how others think we could do things better.

Pricing:

  • $0 free trial – 1st bag powdered for free!
  • $8 per frozen lactation bag (up to 6 oz.)
  • $99 per box of frozen lactation bags (up to 96 oz.)

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Bethany Johnson

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