Erica Chidi Cohen Is Championing Reproductive Empowerment & Self-Love

November 13, 2018

Today’s creativity interview is with Erica Chidi Cohen. Erica is a Los Angeles-based doula, author and co-founder and CEO of LOOM. Upon meeting Erica, I was immediately struck by her warmth and kindness. I attribute this to her success as a doula and her ability to connect with people. Her presence is welcoming even in the first moments of meeting and resonates long after. Erica is championing work in self-love and reproductive empowerment—not something you hear often, yet Erica does it so naturally. Through her work, she’s using her creative magic to eliminate social stigmas from periods, sex, birth, sexual identity and other topics we should reclaim and define for ourselves. She wants us to intrinsically know our bodies and I find this so liberating and inspiring. We need to stop the narratives we tell ourselves that are often rooted in shame, and start a new conversation filled with self-love and respect. With such brilliant work, I wanted to get to know the woman behind it and find out about her creative mindset.

 

Photography by Scotty Vance

Tell me a little bit about you. How did you get to where you are today?

My journey wasn’t a straight shot. I dabbled around in the food field, the art world and public relations before deciding to focus on doula work, reproductive justice and health education. I think my parents (both being medical providers) deeply informed my trajectory and made the shift from the arts less foreign and intimidating because in many ways it felt native to me.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

One thing I always wanted to be was a baker. I loved to cook growing up, which is the reason why I went to culinary school before I went to college. The culinary world never fully meshed for me, but I still love to cook for myself and for others.

What is creativity to you?

Risking likeability and conformity in order to pursue something you’re passionate about. It is also about cultivating joy and connecting with your inner child.

What’s the first thing you notice about someone?

I usually notice people’s teeth. I love teeth. Not really sure what that’s about.

Where do you get inspired?

There isn’t a particular place. I am a daydreamer, so inspiration usually shows up unannounced. However, listening to music usually triggers expansive thought patterns.

When I create, I create for myself. That always feels like a safe place to begin. So I made the book I wanted to read—that was the guiding energy of my creative process. I wanted to create something that felt current, warm, evidence-based and inclusive.

Do you think creativity involves putting your heart and soul into your work or is it more like letting your mind flow freely to witness sort of surprising results of your actions?

I think it’s a blend of both. You let the mind flow freely, get to the core idea and then put your heart and soul into it once you’re fixated on what it is that you want to create.

How do you keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?

It’s not that hard to stay motivated with my work because there is so much positive volatility built in. No two days are ever the same. I’m always experimenting playing with the boundaries of what we’re doing at LOOM, which keeps things energized.

 

Risking likeability and conformity in order to pursue something you’re passionate about. It also about cultivating joy and connecting with your inner child.

Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?

Of course. However, I think that doubt is a part of the process. Therefore, it’s less about me working through the doubt and more about just accepting its presence. When we start to feel like doubt is something we have to work through, it’s exhausting and keeps us from making leaps. Learning to coexist with doubt and still function is key—it doesn’t necessarily need to be exercised.

You wrote an amazing book, Nurture. Writing a book is a big undertaking. How did you prepare for it and how did you explore what would make the book creative and your own?

When I create, I create for myself. That always feels like a safe place to begin. So I made the book I wanted to read, and that was the guiding energy of my creative process. I wanted to create something that felt current, warm, evidence-based and inclusive.

LOOM is such a special place—it’s very inspiring. Tell us about it. What was the inspiration?

Quinn and I both wanted to help shift the conversation around how people were navigating their reproductive health and transition or potential transition into parenting. We both felt that there was a lack of education and community resources that matched where our cultural and ideological zeitgeist was moving. We wanted LOOM to wedge in and make a difference and create a continuum between periods, sex, miscarriage, abortion, pregnancy and parenting.

How do you tune out all the noise and focus on being authentic?

Cutting back on social media helps. It’s basically a necessary evil for advancement and awareness. I don’t spend a lot of time checking my feed. I usually will just go to accounts that I really resonate with and draw from in a positive way. I also try to spend a good amount of time alone when I can. Tuning into my own energy and needs is very restorative.

Favorite daily ritual?

Taking a shower and just feeling water on my body and being in my body. I try not to take showers in an autopilot mode. I make an effort to try to unfurl and connect because it’s something I know I’m always going give to myself. It’s one of those easy non-negotiables.

How do you deal with creativity blocks?

Again, I don’t necessarily deal with them. If I’m feeling blocked around something, I typically will just put it down and come back to it. That’s the best thing for me. Time away usually is enough for me to be able to push through.

Favorite read for when you’re feeling uninspired?

Women Who Runs With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés.

Three films or shows to watch to get inspired?

How do you usually start a new project?

New projects usually just come to me. They’re usually ideas that I can’t get out of my head that feel like they need to be exercised for better or worse. That said, I always make an initial written plan, even if the plan is not completely fleshed out. I’ll write down the top 10 things I need to achieve the project and keep iterating from there.

How does working with mothers and mothers-to-be inspire you?

Over the past few years, my work has expanded from working mostly with pregnant mothers and new mothers to working with women and people all along the reproductive spectrum. However, the feeling is still the same: helping support people as they discover ways to improve their well-being is inspiration personified.  

Favorite quote?

“Start where you are. Use what you can.” —Arthur Ashe

Erica’s playlist to get her creativity flowing: