Paradigm Shifters is a series of interviews with a select group of women and men from eclectic walks of life. It will highlight unspoken, real life insights on how they have been able to turn weakness into strength. A naked soul point of view of how their breakdowns were really a preparation for breakthroughs. They are your quintessential Paradigm Shifters; internal shifts converted into genuine change.
Everything I have ever done has been focused on this underlying theme of shifting the paradigm because, "what we think determines what we feel and what we feel determines what we do." Hence why Empowered by You takes lingerie, which has traditionally been seen merely as a tool of seduction and redirected that energy as a tool of empowerment.
I hope from these stories you will look at your own situations, struggles and accomplishments through a different lens. At the very least you will be more equipped with real life tools to change your own paradigm. At the end of the day we are our own Alchemist turning the silver we were born with into the gold we are destined to become.
Naama Bloom - Founder & CEO of HelloFlo
Tell me about HelloFlo.
I started HelloFlo two years ago and the original idea was very simple: a subscription service for your period. I decided to do a video and when I released that video, which was about six months after the company launched, something happened that was completely unexpected. I got thousands of emails from women around the world. The emails were all about how the video turned something that was once considered shameful into something that was empowering. Then there were the emails asking for more: more content and more life stages. I thought the business was a subscription business but actually what I opened was this wellspring of desire by women to have frank and honest conversations about their bodies. I realized that HelloFlo wasn't just about sending tampons through the mail. HelloFlo was about giving women a place to learn about their bodies.
There are also ways we celebrate what is happening to these women. We have period starter kits, which is a box for parents to get for their daughters before their first periods. It has educational materials, pads, lip balm, and jewelry from Beads for Life, which is a nonprofit that employs women in Uganda to make bracelets. [The box] just has some stuff to make the girls feel like they're joining the club and it's not a bad club. We have these new mom kits now too. When you have a baby, everyone shows up with stuff for the baby. Meanwhile you need nipple balm, breast pads, and regular pads. You buy all this stuff for the baby but you don't think about you. It's about educating women on what's to come and also creating packages for the new you.
What inspired you to do this?
I was looking around and I was seeing all these subscription services. I thought to myself, "This is really cool, but none of these are things that I would spend my money on every month." For example, I have a lot of friends who love Birchbox. But I don't wear make-up so I don't want samples in my house because I'm already throwing stuff out all the time. Birchbox doesn't really work for me but I love the idea. I thought, "Is there anything that I have to buy every month that I don't like buying?" I realized [that the answer to that was] tampons. I always have products at home but then I get to the office and I get my period and I don't have anything with me. I began thinking about someone who would just show up at my door and hand me tampons a few days before my period and say, "Put these in your bag." That was really the idea, a reminder service plus a product.
Were you looking to be an entrepreneur?
I was looking to do it as a side business, I never intended for it to be my full time job. I came up with the idea and I started talking about it. I'm a marketer so I asked everyone about it. I was gathering data and doing research. My husband kept saying, "Just launch it. Do something that's not that expensive, get something up there and see what happens." It launched in March of 2013.
What empowers you?
The more I have gotten into this space, the more I have learned. I have had the good fortune of working with a lot of really interesting, female doctors. The more I learn, the more I feel like a healthier person who can make healthier decisions. What's been really incredible is that my little tiny company has managed to be a part of this big movement to make periods a "thing" that people talk about. When we released Camp Gyno and First Moon Party, it was kind of like it gave permission for women to speak differently about their bodies. People are like, "Yeah, we don't have to be embarrassed, we are allowed to talk about this, it's totally natural." It's been very interesting to play a part in that. No one is getting rich off my business right now. But the impact... I receive thousands of emails from women.
What's your breakdown to breakthrough moment?
I feel like I have those daily. I struggle with feeling like an abject failure all of the time because I get told "no" a lot. I tried to fundraise a couple of times and admittedly I gave up pretty quickly because I couldn't handle constantly being told no. I just kept thinking, "How are these people saying no when I have thousands of women emailing me and asking for things. Shouldn't that mean something?" I constantly feel like I'm on the brink of something big but also on the brink of failure. I know that if I got a job my life would be much easier but now that I've built something I can't walk away. I struggle a lot with that. I live in NY, I have 2 kids, and I have no savings. I'm constantly thinking, "I don't have the risk tolerance that I need to do this."
Some days are great - I meet with people and they totally get what I'm doing. They want to be involved and they want to give me money to do stuff together. Other days people are like, "I don't see the value." On those days I feel like my back is against a wall and I either have to be really creative or I have to give up. What I will say is, while I'm not really making money right now, I get emails from girls who my company is touching... One girl emailed us and she said, "I'm 13 and I hate my body. My friends have pool parties and I don't want to go." It's so sad. We can respond to her by way of our blog and we can help her and other people like her. Or I will meet moms who will say, "I was having such a hard time engaging with my daughter about puberty and then we watched one of your videos together. We ended up spending two hours together in the bathroom going through products. It was a door opener." That's when I think, "Ok, this is what I'm doing, this is what I am here for."
What do you want your legacy to be?
Knowledge is power. I don't want girls and women to feel ashamed of the things that our bodies do that feel messy. You can live such a better life if you know your body. There is a certain level of health and empowerment and pride that you can feel about who you are if you understand this thing that you're walking around in is actually a magical thing. I think my legacy is about giving women the language and the tools to feel confident in the bodies that they are in.
Naama is shifting the paradigm by turning a taboo into a conversation. She empowers girls and women to know and embrace their bodies. HelloFlo has become a reference in women's health and their award-winning female-oriented ad campaigns have taken the stigma out of women's health questions and turned them into a movement.