Create & Cultivate 100: Entrepreneur: Erica Chidi

January 22, 2018
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THE COMMUNITY BUILDER. 

Name: Erica Chidi 

Instagram Handle: @ThisIsLoom @ericachidi

If who a company follows on Instagram is any indication of what they’re about, we’re absolutely digging Loom, the pathways to pregnancy, parenting, and reproductive empowerment from doula turned founder Erica Chidi. From I Love My Baby, But mom, Whitney Eve Port to the artist and activist Zoe Buckman to Rihanna to female-founded, sexual wellness co, Get Maude to plant-based feminine care line The Honey Pot… it goes on. It’s all about women’s wellness, reproductive health, and family. 

For Loom, which opened last October in Los Angeles, these things are intrinsically linked. In a profile on the LA Times, Erica described the 2,000-square-foot space as a “progressive, contemporary, inclusive approach” to wellness. Loom holds classes and counseling sessions for anyone invested and interested more in learning about reproductive health. It’s an inclusive space where any vag talk is fair game. 

And we’re not the only ones taking notice. Chidi just raised a $3 million seed round to build a digital platform for reproductive education making her one of the rare Black women to have raised more than $1 million in venture capital. In her Instagram announcement, Chidi wrote “we’re building a world where women can understand and thrive in their bodies at every stage of their lives.”

Whether you are reproductively curious, pregnant, or new-to-parenting, Erica wants you to come to build your community, access resources, and demystify the next chapter with a little guidance. As they say, it takes a village. 

More from Erica below.

From doula to business owner, what has been the most surprising aspect of your career path?

How slash-y it’s been. Prior to going to college, I went to culinary school. Then I graduated from college with a bachelor’s in Visual Art History and Media and Communications. From there started off working at a contemporary art gallery and from there moved into public relations. At times I found myself confused by all of the different avenues and skills I was picking up. However, all of those skills and experiences ended up having synergy and supporting my growth. Having the ability to communicate made me into a great health educator. Having a culinary background allowed me to think consciously about food and nutrition and its importance to pregnant people and anyone trying to improve their reproductive health. And lastly, my appreciation of art and design uniquely lent itself to creating LOOM because I knew that inviting aesthetics and environment would help people get excited about their reproductive health and wellness.

What was the turning point that convinced you, it’s time to take matters into my own hands? Loom needs to exist.

I think the turning point for me happened in my first year as a practicing doula. I looked at the pregnancy, parenting, and reproductive health education industry and looked around and realized there was inertia. There had been very little innovation and didn’t reflect what I or other people like me would want. It still felt hyper-feminine, dogmatic, essentialist, and polarizing. There wasn’t a fresh, moderate, evidenced-based, and inclusive brand that brought together a lot more untraditional modalities and yet worked side-by-side with the medical community to give people better overall outcomes in their pregnancy, their parenting, their reproductive health experience.

What are the common challenges you’ve seen among female business owners and entrepreneurs?

Burnout. We all try to juggle being good. Good at a partnership, leadership, friendship, etc. And we tend to forget to nurture ourselves.

What are some of the common challenges you’ve talked to mothers (and those preparing for motherhood) about?

Pushing back on perfection, making ample room for mistakes, and learning to ask for help early and often.

Where do your drive and passion come from?

I would say it comes from my parents. My parents are both immigrants, they’re from Nigeria. My dad came here to studied medicine and became a doctor and my mom went to nursing school. They came over in the seventies and both came from villages where there was no electricity. My parents always encouraged me to work really hard and they worked hard, and so I do feel like that ethic comes from them in terms of my drive. I’m passionate about helping people feel confident about their bodies and be able to effectively advocate for their health and wellbeing.

You do you. How have you championed this concept in other women and for yourself?

It’s about looking forward and allowing yourself to be inspired by what other people are creating and at the same time not distracted by anything that doesn’t inspire you. Give negativity little to no oxygen.

 What are your biggest fears about running a business?

Failing at it. Have to close our doors and letting people down.

What’s something you’d like people to know about your job that they probably don’t?

Being a doula requires you to be on call 24/7, it’s actually a very monastic lifestyle. You go to bed early, you try to eat healthily in order to keep your immune system in good shape, that way you are ready to go to a birth at any time. Doulas are definitely calming and supportive in the moment but in order to do that my lifestyle is very measured.

What about your career that makes you feel the most complete?

Helping people feel empowered, seen, and less alone.

If you had to trade jobs with anyone else in the world, who would it be and why?

I’d trade jobs with Nicu nurse. They are incredible people and work closely with families that are dealing with the hardest possibilities and are some of the most empathic people I know. I’d love the chance to support families in that way

At what point in your career did you find the confidence to really take charge and become the woman you are today?

There isn’t a specific moment. I think confidence is always being reinforced hour-by-hour sometimes. It’s a long-term process and accepting that has helped me realize that even if I don’t feel confident now, I can build it down the line.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Or your favorite piece of #realtalk?

Don’t be afraid to seek pleasure and feel good about it.

What song do you sing in the shower when you’ve had a bad day?

New Edition – “Can You Stand The Rain.”

Photo Credit: @davisfactor

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