‘Accidental activist’ CEO grinningly depicts grim new motherhood

‘Accidental activist’ CEO grinningly depicts grim new motherhood

Hello Flo’s Naama Bloom is a businesswoman on an intimate mission to help women embrace their discharge

Amanda Borschel-Dan is The Times of Israel's Jewish World and Archaeology editor.

Founder of Hello Flo Naama Bloom is a businesswoman on a mission. (Sam Khan)
Founder of Hello Flo Naama Bloom is a businesswoman on a mission. (Sam Khan)

Not every company head would promote her products with an ode to a bowel movement. But it’s not any bowel movement: It’s the first postpartum poop, a monumental moment for new mothers. And obviously Naama Bloom’s Hello Flo is not just any business.

The former corporate marketer first envisioned Hello Flo as a convenient subscription service for pesky monthly feminine product needs. But after the launch of the company’s period starter kits and viral “Camp Gyno” video — a cheeky depiction of a girl’s first menstruation while at camp, which has been viewed almost 10 million times on YouTube — Bloom soon assumed her role as a conversation starter for these icky, somewhat taboo subjects.

This week Bloom released the ickiest of them all with a pair of new videos, “Postpartum: The Musical” and “Postpartum: The Poetry” that highlight the rough edges of new parenthood, so glossed over in the stereotypical archetype of blissful motherhood.

“I’m like an accidental activist,” said Bloom in a phone conversation with The Times of Israel Thursday. “I feel like I’m doing important work.”

Although initially looking for venture capital after the success of “Camp Gyno,” she settled instead for corporate sponsorship from Procter and Gamble, a good fit since she was already using Always and Tampax products in her kits. This deal has led to other sponsorships as well, which Bloom says allows her to focus more on the content her website provides for this uncharted territory of frank, yet informative discussions of the ever-changing female body.

“The sponsors know it’s not just about getting the products out there, but also the message,” said Bloom. “The companies understand the community and the audience needs to be spoken to in a different way.”

Hello Flo followed up “Camp Gyno” with the even more popular “First Moon Party.” The short, but extremely funny two-minute movie portrays a girl who faked her first period and her mother’s subsequent sneaky “punishment” for lying — a hilarious vagina-themed rite of passage party — a sort of bloody bat mitzvah.

Viewed over 30 million times on YouTube, it is the forum in which Bloom introduced the content side of her operation. In addition to the expected maxi pads and tampons, the Period Starter Kit featured two Get Ready Guide booklets — one for parents, and one for the teen.

The kits were prepared after consultation with a pediatrician. Hello Flo also added experts to its blogging team to answer customers’ intimate questions, including pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson, OB/GYN Dr. Sheryl Ross and Chinese medicine practitioner Margaret Sikowitz.

‘From young girls, new mothers, older women — every life stage — I realized that there’s no place that women can turn to get advice about their bodies’

From customers’ emails, Bloom saw, “From young girls, new mothers, older women — every life stage — I realized that there’s no place that women can turn to get advice about their bodies… There is a huge opportunity to serve up information for women about their health.”

Bloom, the 42-year-old New York-born daughter of expat Israelis, said this new project comes from her experiences after the births of daughter Orly (5) and son Micah (3) — and the resulting unexpected misery and painful isolation she felt postpartum.

However, unlike her previous two hits, “Postpartum: The Musical” isn’t going viral in the same way and has “only” reached 200,000 views in the three days since its release.

“Interestingly, it hasn’t exploded and found the same audience,” she said. “But I think the audience it has found is so passionate about it.”

The “Postpartum” series depicts a slightly deranged looking new mom who turns to “art,” writing a musical and poetry, to come to terms with the pain, gore and what happens “after the afterbirth.”

With a classic mockumentary vibe, “The Musical” portrays numbers such as “Vaginal Fallout” in which the mom and support cast dance with maxi pads stuck to their crotches while singing about heavy bleeding and urinary incontinence (two extremely common postpartum side affects).

It continues to “The Sex Week Check-Up” and accurately depicts the dismay felt by many women at the news that they may resume sexual relations. “It’s basically like being told your war-torn vagina’s been cleared for drone strikes,” says the new mom.

In “Postpartum: The Poetry,” released Thursday, we see the new mom and her backup trio at a spoken word event — complete with bongo.

I pushed a baby out of my love rug,
It hurt… a lot.
But no one told me about the postpartum poop.
Butt on the toilet seat
My hemorrhoids killing me
My stitches breaking free
My bowel is the enemy.

Like many working moms, finding balance between home and the job is not always easy. Bloom knows her business is smaller than it could be because she cannot devote the resources and time to fundraising, but that’s a choice she made to spend dinner and bedtime with her kids.

“I’m blessed with two amazing kids who are relatively easy and have no significant issues that require extra help. I’m really lucky and honestly thankful everyday,” said Bloom.

Her former kibbutznik mother, whom Bloom says kvells at every press mention, told her the other day, “You know, Orly has no idea what you’re doing,” which is ironic for someone who, as Bloom puts it, has “this very, very empowering female-focused brand.”

“I hope when Orly is old enough to understand, and Micah, they’ll know that I’m doing something that’s actually important.”

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