Fierce

Why This Latina Started The Bloomi, The First Digital Marketplace For Clean Intimate Care

Would you put something on your vulva that hasn’t been tested by a government agency? Turns out, it’s likely you already are. While our genital organs are extremely sensitive, oftentimes the everyday products we use to keep them clean, safe and itch-free are unregulated and filled with unexamined ingredients that could be causing our private parts more harm than good. You wouldn’t know this because most personal hygiene products are also not required to list its ingredients on its packaging. Luckily, the Bloomi, a digital marketplace for clean intimate care, has taken on the job for the sake of all our vaginas.

Launched in 2018, the Bloomi is the first and only online shop selling and informing people about toxin-free hygiene, menstruation and sexual products. While there are many big-name brands at pharmacies selling items that are “pH balanced” or for “sensitive skin,” because these trusted goods are unregulated, many are deceitful and include components that could lead to adverse effects. Unlike your local CVS or Walgreens, the products on the Bloomi’s digital shelves are tested, so every sensitive wash, tampon or condom the market carries is safe.

This was essential for the company’s founder and CEO, Rebecca Alvarez Story, who dealt with pH imbalance and vaginal dryness for years because she was unable to find products that were as “gentle” or “hygienic” as companies advertised. The Mexican-American businesswoman, who spent her career working in sexuality wellness and research, was aware of the loopholes that existed for intimate care brands and how this has led to mass-produced products that had harmed, not helped, the women around her. Knowing that people were interested in curated clean products, she thought it was time to give them what they wanted and deserved.

“I think a marketplace like the Bloomi is essential from a public health standpoint. For women and femmes, looking at it as a wellness topic, we need to be able to trust that the products we are putting on our bodies and in our bodies are healthy, and right now that’s not happening,” Alvarez Story, 33, told FIERCE.

According to Alvarez Story, most intimate care products fall into the category of cosmetics, which isn’t heavily regulated in the US. As a result, big companies, which tend to use cheaper ingredients or include components that make their products smell “fresh” or have long shelf lives, sell products that are loaded with elements that could be harmful. Because these brands aren’t required to disclose ingredients on their packaging, they’re also able to throw trendy words like “organic” or “sensitive” on their items and hide all the toxins that are actually festering inside its bottles.

“A product for our labia lips has the same rule on labeling that lipstick does, even though our bodies have different areas that need different things,” the Oakland, Calif.-based entrepreneur said. “Testing for products is minimal and some don’t even need to be tested, giving companies a lot of leeway. They can kind of make anything. As long as they are not putting a couple extremely harmful ingredients in it, there’s no governing agency telling them they can’t sell it. There are no rules for intimate care products.”

The negative outcome of untested products varies. For some, it’s minor: some dryness, irritated skin or pH imbalance. But for others, Alvarez Story says, it can be more extreme. Some of the ingredients can cause vaginal infections, skin damage on the vulva, pelvic inflammatory disease and could even lead to cancer. For example, in December 2018, Kimberly-Clark recalled its U by Kotex Sleek Tampons after several reports that the hygiene product was unraveling or coming apart inside some users’ bodies. The unwinding caused some women infections, vaginal irritation and vaginal injuries, among other symptoms.

“If we talk about the body, the vulva and vagina are the most absorbent parts of our body. Everything we put on and in it ends up in our bloodstream in seconds, so we should be aware of what we are putting into our bodies,” she said.

This is especially true for Latinas, and other women of color, who Alvarez Story says have a higher risk of experiencing adverse effects from intimate care products. Due to early messaging that menstruation is dirty and lessons that overwashing is good for the skin and smelling “clean” is a reflection of being clean, women of color tend to purchase fragranced products, which are usually the most harmful, and overclean their sensitive vulva skin. Even more, Alvarez Story says that Black and brown women often already have slightly higher pH levels than white women because of our diverse microbial profile. As a result, women of color are both culturally and anatomically more susceptible to vaginal irritation, infection and pH imbalance triggered by hygienic products.

At the Bloomi, each of the 100-plus items sold on the digital marketplace has been screened. In fact, when Alvarez Story began working on her business in 2017, she tested 5,000 products, and only 2 percent met her clean criteria. While each category is reviewed against their own “clean categories,” meaning menstrual cups are examined with a different standard than wipes, bath salts or sex toys, there is a list of banned ingredients, which include toxic components like glycerin, parabens, petroleum, phthalates, synthetic dyes and more. Additionally, all liquids, like washes, moisturizers, ingrown concentrates and lubricants, are tested in an independent lab to ensure the product matches the brand’s claims.

The lengthy screening process has limited how many items are available on the marketplace, but Alvarez Story hopes to have at least 200 products for purchase by the end of 2019. As the small team builds its inventory, it’s also working on its own affordable intimate care line that they hope to introduce in 2020, recognizing that many people don’t buy clean items not because they don’t want to but rather because it’s more expensive than pharmacy store products.

Alvarez Story wants the Bloomi to be a trusted go-to place for all intimate care needs, including information and materials that educate people and destigmatize their bodies and sexuality. On Intimate Talk, the Bloomi’s blog and newsletter, a team of professionals share modern, research-based intimate health articles and guides on topics ranging from Black motherhood, using and cleaning period underwear, the causes and prevention of painful sex, how to practice body positity and the different types of condoms, among so much more.

“I don’t want people to just come to our site and buy from us. I want people to come in and feel like they’re adding value to their lives, and not just from a product,” she said.

With the slogan “be the CEO of your own body,” the Bloomi ultimately wants to offer women and femmes information and products that can help them make decisions about their health, pleasure and reproductive lives for themselves.

Read: This Puerto Rican Illustrator Uses Art To Explore Her Sexuality

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El Pollo Loco Creates Hispanic Heritage Month Grant To Support Latina Small Businesses

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El Pollo Loco Creates Hispanic Heritage Month Grant To Support Latina Small Businesses

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Covid-19 has devastated millions of Americans with job loss. Unemployment skyrocketed as the federal government failed to create and execute a plan to combat the pandemic. El Pollo Loco is stepping up and giving our community a chance to keep business doors open and community members employed.

El Pollo Loco is giving Latina business owners in the greater Los Angeles area a lifeline in these uncertain times.

The Latino community is the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs and business owners in the U.S. According to a Stanford University study, Latino business owners grew 34 percent while every other demographic grew 1 percent over the last ten years.

However, Covid has changed things. Latina-owned business are some of the hardest hit and the sudden loss is impacting our community. According to the Pew Research Center, Latinas experienced a -21 percent change in small business ownership and jobs since the Covid downturn.

El Pollo Loco is offering $100,000 in grants to different Latina-owned businesses because of the pandemic.

The fast food chain has started a GoFundMe to keep the donations going. El Pollo Loco has already pledged $100,000 to help Latina small businesses and the GoFundMe promises to keep the donations flowing. For every $10,000 raised in the GoFundMe, El Pollo Loco will donate it to a Latina small business. The GoFundMe has raised over $100,000 at the time of this post.

#WeAllGrow Latina partnered with El Pollo Loco to give Latina business owners this lifeline.

#WeAllGrow Latina and El Pollo Loco are asking the Latino community to help find Latina small businesses that deserve the grants. Instead of making the decision themselves, #WeAllGrow Latina and El Pollo Loco want you to nominate your favorite Latina small business for the grant.

“This year has been unlike any other, leaving Latina-owned businesses disproportionately impacted,” Bernard Acoca, President and Chief Executive Officer of El Pollo Loco, said in a statement. “Given the critical role brands are expected to play during the pandemic and on the heels of Hispanic Heritage Month, we felt compelled to find a way to support the people and city we call home.”

In order to nominate a business, here is what you have to do.

Credit: weallgrowlatina.com/fundlatinafoodjefas

Using social media, nominate your favorite LA-based Latina small business and tag @elpolloloco and @weallgrowlatina while using #grantcontest and #FundLatinaFoodJefas. You can nominate the business up to five times.

People are already nominating their favorite food places in LA.

You have until Sept. 15 to nominate your favorite Latina small business. You can help them win $10,000 and mentorship from El Pollo Loco to help Latina business owners in LA keep their doors open. You can learn more here.

READ: California Is Poised To Become The First State To Offer Unemployment To Undocumented Workers

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Users Shared The Best Sex Advice They Ever Got And Get Ready For Some Fun!

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Users Shared The Best Sex Advice They Ever Got And Get Ready For Some Fun!

Sion Touhig / Getty

So you’re in quarantine, holed up at home all day, and the sex (either with your partner or quarantine buddy) is getting tedious. Likely this has nothing to do with your mate but a whole heck of a lot do with your current pandemic stress. And we get it, having sex under pressure (particularly when every day is uncertain) can be kind of a hard thing to do.

Fortunately, we came across a few threads on Reddit with some helpful tips not only on how to spice things up, but also how to do things the right way.

Check out some of the best pieces of sex advice Reddit users have received below.

“Sister in-law told us to ditch the PJs and sleep naked. Frequency of sex increased almost immediately.” – Smartyandfarty

“There was a story on reddit where this guy said a girl his dad pointed out was out of his league abd the dad said something like ‘Son, let her decide if she won’t fuck you.’ Pretty good advice.” – Pakyul

“Cut your finger nails.”- Reddit user=

“Making it fun is usually the answer to whatever happens in bed.” – TalkingFromTheToilet

“70-year-old give-no-fucks biology teacher at a Catholic High School: ‘Ladies never trust the man. Use a diaphragm.'” –kalechipsyes

“I tell my kids, “If you think getting a condom ruins the mood, imagine what a crying baby will do for it.” – AFuddyDuddy

“Tell him exactly what you want him to do – a guy I was casually seeing. After two long term relationships (3 Years & 4 years) with 0 orgasms, this little tip made orgasms regular with my current BF. Seems obvious, but I know lots of other women who have experienced something similar.” – FluffyRadcliffe

“Always use a condom, otherwise you have an accident and have to name it.” –Drulock

“Stop trying to **** **** like they do in porn. Find your own style and comfort level and it’s a win/win. I used to be so awkward and now I actually enjoy doing it. Also enjoying it is half the battle. Men like it much more when there’s some enthusiasm!”- Daisy716

“No teeth, lots of slobber, make it look really fun, and do it for him regularly.” – Girlwhofliesoften

“Don’t be afraid to discuss what you like and don’t like in bed, including weird kinks. Never gonna live that fantasy out of your partner doesn’t even know about it.” – EpicBlinkstrike187

“Strap on. Get one.” – pancakemixes

“Yo, imma let you finish, but the spiderman finger position is the best fingering position of all time!” –FlowersOfSin

“I suggest looking at the lyrics to the song “lick it” by God-des and She. Have fun.” – sugartea

“I’m a woman and I recognize this might seem self explanatory to others but to me it took some talking out. Move! Literally just move! Friction feels good and a lot of men will be very surprised and impressed if you actively participate in the sexing, by moving your hips back and forth, touching them, etc. Surprise! Men like a partner that doesn’t lay there like a fish! I regrettably used to lay very still and let him “have his way with me”. While sexy in theory, no one wants to fuck a dead fish. My ex-boyfriend gave me this advice while we were fucking.” – ExoticNoodle

“Start very slowly and look at her the whole time.”- IngridDruslan

“You have to feel it out. There is no tutorial for sex. It’s practice. The best thing that you can do is to do what you might want done to you, at the same time take in how she’s enjoying it. The no.1 thing that’s horny about sex is the getting to know each other. I’ve been in situations where I had no clue what I was doing when I was young but my energy was enough to make them cum, if not my skill. Just feel it out.”- gemaliasthe1st

“My only tip is to not take it so seriously. If you fumble or feel awkward, just laugh about it. Have fun and take it easy. Even if neither of you orgasm, the important part is that you both enjoy it.” – astroboletos

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