Melding her family history of medicine and entrepreneurism with grit and determination, Charlotte Creekmore opened Folk, a one-woman medicine practice last December.
Located downtown in a converted Victorian home at 422 W. Spruce, Folk is partially a product of Blackstone LaunchPad and part dream-come-true for Creekmore, 45, who’s an industrious single mother of three and now a family nurse practitioner.
Folk encompasses a modern take on health care that combines traditional Western medicine with progressive holistic medicine. Think of Folk as a one-stop shop for health needs across the board.
“I really like to focus on the relationship with patients and them having direct contact with me as a provider, instead of them having to jump through a lot of bureaucratic hoops,” said Creekmore.
Networking closely with traditional physicians and holistic specialists in Missoula, Creekmore thrives on educating patients about making healthy choices and referring them at times.
“I really love to help people get health care, address lifestyle choices and goals so people can feel their best mentally and physically,” she said. “A lot of my services appeal to people who like to discuss both tradition Western, as well as holistic treatments – so they have the full scope of their choices.”
For patients without health insurance, Creekmore accepts Medicaid and cash pay services in order to share crucial guidance on health care for women and men of all ages, children and families.
Many of her patients are artists and musicians, which is reflected in her art-filled waiting room and office in a building she shares with several other small businesses. Doulas, a counselor and a filmmaker are among the others who rent space from her. She manages an Airbnb on the second floor.
“It’s really interesting,” said Folk. “It’s very cozy, warm, inviting. Lots of artists, paintings, books, prints, woodwork. I put it together in a very hip, savvy way.”
Since she is her only employee, Creekmore is the first and only contact for patients seeking a more personable approach to health care. In old school terms, such an approach was called a concierge model.
Hiking buddy and colleague Blake Nicolazzo, the creative director at Bonfire Brands, said Creekmore “knows her way around our medical system and helps people find solutions in the most efficient and effective way possible.”
Molly Bradford, long-time friend and businesswoman in her own right, once took a doula class from Creekmore and witnessed her compassion for others.
“Charlotte has an amazing open heart and capability for caring for all types of humans,” said Bradford, co-owner of MissoulaEvents.net and other online businesses. “You can see that in her practice. She creates an open environment that is healthy and accessible for all humans.”
Like many successful women entrepreneurs who have adjusted and expanded their skill set to make a living, Creekmore has reinvented herself a few times while raising kids and soaking up outdoor adventures.
“I was a school teacher before and after that, I transitioned into health care just before I turned 30 and followed in my family’s footsteps,” Creekmore said.
A former midwife and board-certified lactation consultant, she eventually earned her nursing degree from the University of Montana, then a master’s in family nurse practitioner from Simmons University in Boston. At the same time, she worked with a naturopath in Missoula.
She completed her graduate-level clinical practicum at several local clinics and hospitals. But in order to realize her dream of owning her own private practice, Blackstone LaunchPad at UM gave her a much-needed boost.
Paul Gladen, Blackstone LaunchPad director, provides coaching, mentorship and “venture creation support,” typical for the entrepreneurial program that guides individuals on realistic career paths.
“Charlotte epitomizes the essential entrepreneurial characteristics of passion for their area of focus, allied to persistence and resilience in the face of numerous challenges,” said Gladen.
Creekmore is the first to say that going to school to study medicine while raising a family as a single parent is not easy. She credits resiliency, grit and hard work in pushing her through the challenges.
“It’s more about the inspiration of the mission and me putting my dream into a reality on paper and physically,” she said.
Gladen mentors her on business financials.
“She has been remarkably disciplined in working with the Blackstone LaunchPad over nearly three years to learn the relevant business fundamentals including marketing, technology and finance, and to map out her path to launching her practice,” added Gladen.
The Techstars-powered Blackstone LaunchPad provides free startup guidance and coaching to students, alumni, faculty and staff. It also connects aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs to other programs, resources or individuals that can help them launch or grow a startup.
Creekmore epitomizes a struggling single parent who eventually realizes her dream. Her children are now in their pre-teen and teen years – and she can appreciate her accomplishments.
But she remains forward-thinking.
“’Progressive’ in medicine is not necessarily about computers and robots,” she added. “It’s about good communication and bringing back the art of knowing your patient well – and educating them about insurance and choices.”