A highlight from How Rebecca Alvarez Story Built a Sexual Wellness Brand
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But I'm glad we waited for this moment when, like many of my very favorite conversations, we find Rebecca and her company Bloomy, a wellness brand focused on clean, intimate care essentials, at an inflection point, asking the very familiar question, will what got us here get us to where we want to go next? Rebecca, finally, thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for having me. I'm glad it worked. I'm so happy to have this conversation. Rebecca, among the things you say about intimacy is that so much of the root of intimacy is unlearning bad sex ed. What was the bad sex ed that you grew up with? My bad sex ed was actually no sex ed to start with. I definitely saw love, and my parents modeled that so well. But in terms of, like, in my community, in my school, did we have sex education? Not really, because it was abstinence -only education in high school. It's wild that someone goes from growing up in an environment that is abstinence -only to, I mean, by the time you are in college, you're very clear that you want to study sex and sexuality. I sit at the intersection of so many things, being Latina, a woman. I was a single mom at that time. I just felt like I could relate to so many people's intimacy journeys. And I wanted to create the spaces where we could talk about it. I didn't know exactly what it was going to look like. But yes, in college, I tell this story, you know, I was apprehensive about sexuality because my first year in college, I was actually assaulted. And I ended up transferring home. I ended up at Cal, a very liberal, very progressive school where I could take so many wonderful classes that were holistic, and I shared with people that it was very healing for me. I had great therapy. I had great all of that. But the education, it just transformed my life. When did it become clear to you that you are an entrepreneur? To be honest, I feel like I've always known this since I was little. I had that spirit of, oh, that should be a business. And why don't we have a solution? I would just see things differently than like the cousins I grew up with, I think. They would joke and say, why do you always have so many ideas? Why are you always so bossy? But it was just little. I was little and I was like taking initiative to create things. Talk me through the evolution of Blumey, because as I understand it, the original idea was a multi -brand marketplace. How did it morph from that concept to a place for education, advice on intimacy with a line of sexual wellness products? I had been in the industry for 10 years. I was working as a consultant for startups, helping them with their product development. And I was coaching both singles and couples, learning so much about intimacy challenges, intimacy goals, and really helping people in a lot of different ways, where at the end of so many of my sessions, my clients wanted solutions. They wanted the book, the product, the toy, the whatever it was. And so I would manually send this to them. I started creating a list, but it was a little bit like it was a lot of work on my end to always curate. And so what I did is I said, I'm just going to put these products that I recommend that are clean, because it's very important that these products be healthy, especially for these areas of the body, put them all on a page. And that was the beginning of Bloomie, where I had multiple brands. They were my favorite clean brands that I would recommend in the category. And then when I developed our first product with our team, it was called Bloomie Arousal Oil. We still sell it. It's a bestseller. That was just the beginning of a pivot for us. And that's why we fundraised and why we ended up really focusing on Bloomie's products, making solutions for products that I wish I had 10 years ago. The question I'm about to ask you seems particularly relevant given the timing of your and my conversation, but I want to take us back to April 2022. Your line is set to debut at Target and your funding falls short. How does that happen? Funding for women of color entrepreneurs is severely lower than what it should be. There is less than one percent of funding that is going to entrepreneurs of color and Latina founders. So I never use that as an excuse. But when I went out and I fundraised, I did everything by the book. I trained, I did accelerators, I did boot camps. I had a cis white male co -founder. I had everything you're supposed to, and I'm using quotes, to have. And we fell short. We wanted to raise two million. We raised one million. So what did I do? I ended up seeing that there is no standard for my industry. This is new. Intimacy companies were not being venture backed at that time. And I just realized I'm going to have to do things differently. So we crowd raised. We basically opened up part of our round to the community where they could invest one hundred or two hundred dollars minimum. We raised almost a million dollars that way, two different times. And then we also I took out personal loans. We had a few angels give us personal loans. I took out a line of credit. Like I did everything to make sure that we could have sufficient capital to meet the demands of going into retail. And even with that, I'll say when founders ask me, what does it take to go into retail? It's so big of a question. I want to sit down and go through things with people. But you have to estimate how much you're going to need to be on shelf, stay on shelf. That's even harder. Mark it and to not plan to be profitable right away.