Interview with Rebecca Alvarez Story
Rebecca is a passionate women’s health advocate with more than a decade of experience leading sexual health research projects. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a major she created, Women’s Health & Sexuality, and completed her Master’s in Sexuality Studies. She has used her expertise to develop new products and lead clinical trials at various women’s health companies in Silicon Valley.
In 2016, Rebecca was inspired to make a conscious lifestyle change to live and eat as organic, plant-based and non-toxic as possible after caring for her mom with cancer. She also shifted her focus to intimate care products in the cosmetic industry to understand the impact of the heavily unregulated market. She was shocked to discover that up to 98% of intimate care products contain toxic ingredients, many of which, have been linked to various women’s health cancers. In 2018, she launched The Bloomi
, a trusted e-marketplace that provides the healthiest intimate care products on the market (hygiene, menstrual cycle, sexual wellness and pregnancy). Their mission is to inspire women to the CEO of their body.
What's next for the Bloomi? Any big projects or partnerships coming up?
So every month that The Bloomi we do have a fun partnership with a brand. This month we're highlighting Luna Pads which is an awesome brand out of Canada that has reusable pads and period underwear. So right now that's really helpful because it drives a lot of traffic and awareness about that special product that we're highlighting each month. So come back next month so you can see what we're highlighting then. In general, I will say we also have some exciting new steps coming up for us where we are going to be making some products also for you guys. So stay tuned for that.
What advice do you have for other female founders looking to establish their own women's health and wellness brands/companies?
If you are a woman and you are considering starting a business I would tell you to go for it if you are ready. The space in general business just needs more women CEOs. So from a woman supporting other women I would tell you to go for it. I will say that the hours are pretty crazy. They're very long. And so it's something that requires a 110 per cent commitment on your part. I have also learned that as a female founder we need to be very flexible meaning that when we put out our product or our idea onto the market if the data comes back and says that it's not quite there your customers are telling you that they want something different. You do need a pivot. You need to be flexible and create a product that people want. And so your initial idea might not be exactly what the business ends up being but if you believe in your idea if you have that energy and the passion to follow it I say go for it. Another woman also gave me really great advice and she said build your team early. And now I know that's kind of tough, early on when it's just you but if you can build your team even if it's just some support it really helps you as a founder. Focus on the things that you need to do and then other people can focus on areas where they have their strengths and they can help continue to grow the business as well. And lastly, I would say female founders should connect with other female founders. Some of the best advice I have gotten has been from other women in business. And even though I have my close friends and people that I go to just to unwind, and go to dinner, or have happy hour, you really do need other businesswomen in your life and in your close circle in order to have that network and that advice.
What is the biggest misconception women have about feminine hygiene and sexual health products?
So as women I do not think we talk about sex and our sexual wellness enough and it should be something that is just part of our health. So one of the biggest misconceptions is I think women just assume that the products that they buy are good for them and that is not true. These companies that make your washes and your wipes they're considered cosmetic products and they are not regulated. So as women I think we really need to help each other understand what's healthy and what's not healthy. And I think the way to do that is to talk and so that does require us talking about our sex lives and talking about our hygiene. And I cannot wait until that's more of an everyday regular conversation vs a taboo thing that is rarely discussed.
Could you tell us a bit more about the Bloomi and what led to your founding the company?
Hi everyone. I'm Rebecca the founder and CEO of The Bloomi. I started The Bloomi because I could not find healthy products that I loved. I hated getting PH imbalance, yeast infections, dryness, irritation and I hated getting that from the products that I used and it was a few years before I decided that I didn't want to do that anymore and I needed a change. I needed to find healthier products. So what I did is I started asking my friends "what do you use and where do you shop". And I didn't realize how frustrated my friends were as well because I don't think we talk about this often enough. And what ended up happening is, I thought this was going to be like a fun project for me to just go out and find some good products but because of what I found it had to be a global search because even in the U.S. I couldn't find everything that I wanted. I shared those with friends and then they shared it with friends and it turned into this whole word of mouth thing. So it was an informal sharing of products and then around the same time, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. And so as a researcher I naturally went out and I did some research about what causes breast cancer and how can they prevent it, how can I help my mom live a healthier lifestyle. And the top thing, besides you know eating healthy and exercising, is getting rid of toxic ingredients in your products. And so I was surprised to find out that the vulva and the vagina are so permeable anything that we put on them could go into our bloodstream within a few seconds. And so over time and over the years as reusing these products, they have so much gunk in them it can build up in our system and it can cause diseases. So I wasn't okay with that and I started building The Bloomi officially online as an e-marketplace and it really has just taken off in this country. I really think that women love being able to shop in one place and knowing that everything is non-toxic.
We love the saying, "Inspire women to be the CEO of their body." Could you tell us how women can take better control of what goes into their body and how they can stay alert of potentially toxic chemicals in everyday products?
So at The Bloomi we love saying that we inspire women to be the CEO of their body because one I don't think that there's enough discussion that is educating us as women about our bodies. We tend to have the one big sex talk when we're younger and then that's it and then we just figure out hygiene, and periods, and sex on our own. And I don't think that that's healthy. As a nation, I think that when we talk to each other about healthy products, healthy habits, healthy relationships I think that that then creates stronger foundations for other relationships and for being in tune with your body. So we really are taking the first step in teaching women what is healthy and what is not healthy when it comes to the products that you're using every day or every month. And from there hopefully, that sparks conversations about your sexual wellness, conversations with your partner. Overall improving communication with your friends and your partner about sex and periods and all of the things that we deal with as women. So, in general, I really want women to feel like they leave our website feeling empowered that they learned something and that they're going to either, one avoid a certain ingredient or to take a tip from our sexual wellness category and apply that to your life so that you can live a better life and that overall you start to see that sex, periods and hygiene is just part of our health.
What makes the Bloomi's products unique from others in the market?
All the products that you can find on The Bloomi are non-toxic and they are screened specifically for your sexual wellness, your vulva area, your vagina and any product that contains any toxic ingredients at all is screened out so they won't be on the marketplace. Basically, the nice thing about shopping with us is you know that everything is healthy and a lot of the products on there are things that women haven't seen before. So, for example, there's a vibrator necklace and we talk about foreplay jewellery on the Website and it's one of the best sellers so Crave kudos to you. That is an awesome line. Also, some of the washable products are new, so period underwear is becoming popular. But a lot of women are hesitant and curious. So the nice thing about us is we carry some of the traditional products, so the tampons and pads and the washes but we also carry some of that up and coming new trend products and all of them again are screened so you know that everything that you look for on there is healthy. It doesn't have any toxic ingredients.