When menstruation attacks—according to any generic pre-teen girl—all nightmares become reality. From unpreventable shark attacks to tampons getting stuck in one’s body forever, every teenage girl has a mind full of period myths. But a New York–based e-commerce startup, HelloFlo, aims to debunk these myths and change the way society is handling that time of the month.
On July 29 HelloFlo released its first promotional video “The Camp Gyno,” in which a girl earns her popularity by becoming the first in her camp to get her period. Power-hungry and full of PMS wrath—the girl turns the camp into a period concentration camp. She eventually falls short because the campers are no longer in need of her services—they have HelloFlo.
Launched in March out of Brooklyn, New York, the company offers a subscription service based on each woman’s individual, well, flows. Shipments come three to seven days before periods start—and, in the beginning, the arrival date is based on when the woman’s last period started. Dates can always be changed, because every woman knows periods are as reliable as Anthony Weiner. The standard subscription service is aimed at women in high school, college, and beyond. Shipping is included and the subscriptions range from $14 to $18 for a woman’s package-of-choice.
Naama Bloom, chief executive officer and founder of HelloFlo, got the idea for her video as she talked with a friend who worked at an ad agency. The second he said “The Camp Gyno” she knew that was it. “I just think it’s better to go to an informed parent to get this kind of information than an uninformed friend and that’s how the video came about,” she said. Virtually every woman can talk about the factually wrong and incredibly awkward conversations they had with pre-teen friends about the crimson tide.
In addition to its subscription service, HelloFlo plans in September to start offering a “Period Starter Kit,” according to the company’s website. This starter kit is aimed at the younger population, girls ages 8 to 12, she said, just like the girls in the promotional video. HelloFlo aims to bring in parents of these girls— before they get their periods—so when it’s time there’s less confusion and stress for everyone.
Bloom, a 40-year-old married mother of two, said, “It opens up the dialogue and then you don’t have this generation of girls growing up believing these myths about their bodies about their periods.”
Mom can get on board, too, she said. Plans, according to the website, range from “Low Flo” for $14 a month to “Heavy Flo” for $18 and “Short & Heavy” for $14. The tampons, pads, and pantiliners come in a discreet white box, and include some “delicious treats”—coconut milk caramels one month and saltwater taffy another. HelloFlo offers tampons from Tampax and pads from Always—though there is no official partnership with the brands. Bloom, a Cornell MBA and University of Wisconsin graduate, said there is also a high-demand for organic products. Bloom, who worked in marketing at American Express and Harvest, an online tracking app, is married to a fellow startup founder, David Bloom, of Ordr.in, a platform for online food ordering.
In the Period Starter Kit, girls will get a carrying case to make those trips to the bathroom in class a bit less conspicuous, as well as lip balm, nail polish, and other products to make it seem more like a “positive milestone.” According to a mommy blog, Inspired by Savannah, Bloom spends one day per week packing boxes, the rest she spends responding to emails and trying to get press for her business. As for how she got the money to start up her business, it has been a struggle.
“It is expensive to go without my salary and to invest in the business,” she said in an interview with the blog. “I’ve always been a real earner so I am constantly worried that rather than saving money for my kids, I’m depleting our resources.”
But is there truly a need for a tampon-by-mail-order service? Bloom thinks so. “One day it kind of dawned on me that there’s really one product that women need every single month without fail,” she told The Daily Beast. “I don’t have any friends that talk about going shopping for tampons and pads like it’s an exciting thing.”
As for the future of the business, Bloom said: “I want to launch my own line of organic feminine care products—tampons and pads made with unbleached, organic cotton that are marketed toward young women and moms who want organic but are looking for a brand they can relate to.”