Erica Chidi has long had a calling for helping women and people feel more comfortable in their bodies. Growing up, “I was always the girl that people would ask questions to about their health,” the founder of women’s health app, LOOM, explains to ESSENCE. “I always felt very connected to women and helping them in their bodies,” the Nigerian-American entrepreneur continues.
After LOOM being a physical space in Los Angeles from 2017 to 2019– offering classes on topics like sex and periods, the organization has now transitioned into the LOOM app. Now, all of your burgeoning health questions are available at your fingertips, thanks to weekly podcast episodes, daily roundups of health news stories and so much more. “We really set out to digitize the experiences we had within the physical space,” she says. “The app makes this accessible to everyone through evidence-based, factual, and trustworthy information alongside real stories about sexual reproductive health from women across the world.”
The journey to get here was no small feat for Chidi. Shortly after LOOM’s launch in 2017, Katerina Schneider—the founder of supplement brand, Ritual—inspired Chidi to keep going. “She told me that she felt I was helping people with really important issues,” Chidi says. “She helped me make my first investor introduction.” From there, Chidi was able to raise $3 million in 2020—becoming the 34th Black woman ever to raise over $1 million—that went toward building the platform she has now.
Before LOOM, Chidi thought she wanted to be an art curator after getting her undergrad degree in art history in South Africa. Upon graduating in the early 2000s, she pivoted into fashion and landed internships at places like Alberta Ferretti and PR company, BPCM. After facing the cattiness in the industry and her own mental health battles, Chidi was inspired to go back to South Africa to rethink her goals. “My dad thought it would be great for me to consider a career in midwifery because it would be a blend of things I care about,” she recalls.
After this conversation, Chidi decided to get her doula training under a midwife, while doing some reproductive justice work in the San Francisco jail. In more recent years, Chidi has been found writing books like Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, and Early Motherhood. Meanwhile, you can also find her featured on The Goop podcast and vulnerably sharing her own health battles with fibroids online. “I think it’s important to remind people that they’re not alone,” she says. “I also just wanted more women to know about this and feel more comfortable talking about it because I think a big, unfortunate part of illness is not having an outlet to talk about it.”
And with years of serving and educating her community under her belt comes the importance of a solid self-care practice. For Chidi, that includes regular exercise, meditation and daily walks. An in-depth skincare routine– that focuses on tackling hyperpigmentation with Dr. Dennis Gross LED Light Therapy and Biologiqie Recherche products– is vital, too. “Self-care is a non-negotiable for me, especially as a neurodiverse, interdisciplinary person,” she explains. “I think the only way I can function properly is by taking care of myself. I’ve made self-care my hobby.”
Up next for Chidi and LOOM? There will be some in-person events coming down the pike. “They’ll be much more focused around women getting the care they need and less about gathering in a community space,” she says. “But we will still make time for fun IRL moments, too.” Regardless, Chidi is just excited to continue giving women an opportunity to care for themselves. “That’s always been the drive for the work I do,” she says. “It’s helping people.”