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How She Got There: Naama Bloom, Founder & CEO of HelloFlo

Name: Naama Bloom
Age: 40
Job Title and Description: Founder, HelloFlo
College/Major: University of Wisconsin-Madison/Communication Arts
Website: www.helloflo.com 
Twitter Handle:
@naamabloom and @helloflo

 
What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

Naama Bloom: There definitely is not a typical day. Because my business has many moving pieces and we’re a very small team, I’m constantly shifting from one task to another. On any given day, I might be responding to customer service, working through logistics with our warehouse, looking for content for the blog and having meetings with potential partners and investors.

What is the best part of your job?

NB: There are two things that I love about this company. First, I’m so excited that what I’m doing is changing the relationship that girls and women have with puberty and their bodies. I spend so much of my time talking to young women and their parents about ways that the experience could be improved. When I hear from people that HelloFlo transformed their periods into something they no longer hate, I’m so gratified.

The second amazing thing is that we’ve just launched a partnership with an incredible organization, Zana Africa, where each six-month HelloFlo subscription supplies a girl in Kenya with sanitary products, underwear and educational materials to get her through a school year. The fact that a company I started in my kitchen can help an organization like Zana fulfill its mission makes me so proud of the work we’re doing.

What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

NB: I was a film studies major in college and moved to Los Angeles right after I graduated; I wanted to make movies. My first job was as a production assistant on a sitcom.

I moved to LA without knowing anyone. I had a few names of friends of friends and that was it. I got the job by talking to everyone I met and telling them what I wanted to do. I did a few free jobs on shoots and eventually met someone who introduced me to the producer of the show I ended up working on. Getting that job was pure hustle.

What is one thing you wish you knew about working and about your industry when you first started out that you know now?

NB: When you’re first starting out and you get a really interesting assignment, you may be afraid of failing. You assume that everyone else knows what’s going on. What I know now is that none of us know what we’re doing in the beginning; we’re all faking it at first. I was never a founder or CEO before starting my business. I had some skills but I hadn’t done the job, and there are many things I had to figure out on my own.

If you knew everything, you’d be bored. When you see a job description and you see the requirements, you shouldn’t think about whether or not you’ve already done those things; instead, ask yourself the question, “Do I want to do those things and do I have the skills needed to get them done?”

Before starting HelloFlo, you worked for a large financial corporation. When and why did you decide to make the switch from working at a corporation to creating your own startup?

NB: I had the idea for HelloFlo for more than a year before I acted on it. I spent that year talking about it to everyone I met. Eventually, my husband pointed out that I’d been discussing it for a year and that I clearly had the passion for it. Then he scared me by saying that someone else would do it if I didn’t. That’s when I started moving.

Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?

NB: This sounds so cheesy, but it’s my husband. He’s an entrepreneur and also happens to be one of the smartest, most strategic people I know. Being able to have someone smart to develop my ideas with who is also my biggest fan was what allowed me to take this risk.

What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?

NB: I heard Sara Blakely (Spanx founder) speak at a conference about eight years ago. She shared her journey of getting Spanx on the market. She never gave up even though she had very few believers, and she was tenacious. When I’m feeling down or insecure about my business, I think about the fact that she was there too, and now Spanx is a household name.

HelloFlo’s “Camp Gyno” commercial went viral, getting more than 6 million views on YouTube to date. What was it like to be behind such a popular video?

NB: The two weeks after launching the video were the most insane two weeks of my life. Of course we hoped the video would go viral, but my aspirations were much lower. I would have been thrilled with a few hundred thousand hits. I was absolutely blown away by the response to the video. What was most gratifying was that the media attention shone a light on the way we talk about our bodies and our periods and how ridiculous all the euphemisms are.

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

NB: I have made so many, and I make them every day. I’d say that the biggest mistake I’ve made so far has been to focus on too many things at once. I have so many ideas for the business, but we’re a small team, so we really have to be ruthless about prioritizing.

What do you look for when considering hiring someone?

NB: The three most important attributes for me are intellect, tenacity and attitude. A small business means that we’re thinking about big strategic issues at the same time that we’re packing boxes for shipments. No job is too big or too small for anyone.
 
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

NB: If you have an idea for a business, think about what skills you’d need to make it successful. For example, HelloFlo requires a lot of marketing expertise. I’ve spent my post-MBA career in marketing roles, so I know what needs to be done. You need to know what the core of your business is and focus on it.

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Lily is a member of Wesleyan University's class of 2016, where she double majored in government and sociology. She's a writer, editor, and social media manager, as well as co-founder of The Prospect (www.theprospect.net), the world’s largest student-run college access organization. In addition to her work with Her Campus, she also serves in editorial roles at HelloFlo and The Muse.
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