Women in Business Q&A: Naama Bloom, Founder and CEO, HelloFlo

Naama Bloom is the Founder and CEO of HelloFlo, an everyday health and wellness resource for women and girls with sponsorships in place with Tampax, Always, LUNA Bar, and others. You may recognize the company from its viral ad campaigns, Camp Gyno and First Moon Party.

Naama is a 15+ year marketing leader with a significant track record building high performing teams, launching and managing brands, customer acquisition, PR, and direct marketing in her prior roles at Harvest and American Express. In 2013, she launched HelloFlo with the goal of empowering women and girls to manage and celebrate their physical and emotional changes by offering robust and approachable content as well as products for purchase. She has an MBA from Cornell University.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
My professional background spans multiple industries. I've worked in Hollywood, 90's Dotcoms, Fortune 100 corporations, and smaller software businesses.I've had the opportunity to see many leaders in action - some who knew how to inspire and motivate an organization, and others who were leaders in title only. I've taken the best from what I've observes and worked really hard to incorporate those elements into my style. Personally, the most motivating leader for me has been one who is empathetic, understanding, yet demanding enough to inspire me to push myself.

When I was at American Express, I would often hear from people who worked for me that they had been scared of me prior to getting a job on my team. They were always surprised to learned how much I cared about their lives outside of the office and how committed I was to helping them succeed. Apparently I was known as someone who was very aggressive so learning that I was actually a total softy when it came to my teams was always a bit of a shock.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at HelloFlo?
I've worked in multiple industries, so I've had the exposure to many different aspect of business. In my earlier roles I was involved in content development, branding, direct marketing and operations. I've used everything I've learned both in my jobs and in my MBA to help inform how I run HelloFlo.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at HelloFlo?
The absolute highlight was after I released Camp Gyno and I got emails from thousands of women around the world telling me how deeply moved they were about what I was trying to do. I sat at my computer for hours responding to each email. I was moved to tears on more than one occasion from the stories these women shared with me. It's what keeps me going when I get discouraged.

There have been many challenges along the way - and they continue to this day. Many people look at my business and think it's a success but success does not always equal money And money, keeps businesses running. The biggest challenge for me has been dealing with the personal financial risk of not getting paid salary and drawing down my family's savings because I need to keep the business running. I am constantly worried about how much longer we can afford to pay for childcare and our mortgage without me bringing in a salary.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking to start their own business?
Get your financial house in order before you begin. If you're planning on doing something full time you should be aware that most businesses don't survive and those that do don't generate enough revenue to pay salaries until about 4 years in. If you can't supplement your income somehow or don't have a nest egg, your personal finances will put enormous stress on you. All this being said, it's like having kids, there's never a good time to do it but you're always glad you did.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I've chosen to build a business while raising a family - this choice doesn't allow for much in the way of balance. I have a few things I do to keep some separation between the two. Specifically, when I get home I try to put my phone down, out of arm's reach, so that I can engage with my kids without constantly feeling the urge to check emails. Also, I want to eat and have my kids eat home cooked meals most nights so I'm pretty strict about making sure I have time to plan meals, shop, and cook each weekend. I enjoy it and it let's me feel like I'm doing something to keep my family healthy - even if we don't eat together most nights. I think the key is to know what your non-negotiables are and protect them.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
The biggest challenge I found was that I'm aggressive in my work style, I don't like to waste time, I'm efficient, and I just want to get things done. Basically, I behave like many of the successful men I've worked with. Unfortunately, women aren't supposed to behave that way but we're still supposed to get as much done as everyone else. To me, that's a huge problem. In one of my first reviews when I was working at American Express, my boss told me "You don't suffer fools gladly". It was not a compliment. I was gobsmacked. I responded "I'm at work, I have a lot to do. Am I supposed to suffer fools?"

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I have a number of people in my life who I rely on and a number who rely on me. I'm not sure I'd call them mentors or they'd call me mentors. Mostly, they're business associates who have become friends and who want to see me succeed as much as I want to see them succeed. If you surround yourself with great people no matter their level, you elevate your game. Mentors are great but I think the term is overused and has an implicit power dynamic that I don't find useful.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I think Cindy Gallop is doing amazing things professionally and she's also doing everything in her power to elevate the women around her.

I am also awestruck by Hillary Clinton. She's been demonized in the public eye but she's still here and she's stronger for it. She has risen above the hate and never stops fighting.