One of the Babes: Jennifer Aldoretta

Photo via Jennifer Aldoretta

Photo via Jennifer Aldoretta

Meet Jennifer Aldoretta, the co-founder of Groove (an app that tracks your period and fertility) and the creator of Humans with Periods (a project that "humanizes periods" by pairing images of women with quotes about their menses). Read more below to learn about what inspired Jennifer to start her own business and dedicate her time to a period-positive movement. 

Q: What inspired you to start working in this field? Did you have any role models or learn from someone, in particular?

A: My obsession with periods and reproductive health started after my messy breakup with the birth control pill. I had been on it for 10 years when I started experiencing nasty side effects, so I started to do some research about potential alternatives. I ended up learning things about my body that completely blew me away, and I honestly felt a bit betrayed that nobody had ever taught me about how my body works. So my boyfriend, Brian, and I cofounded Groove to help bring that education to others.

Periods are still quite taboo, so pretty much everything we’ve built we did on our own. But Brian’s support has been a major force in my journey with Groove. We have such a deep, mutual respect for one another and for the work we’re doing, and I think that really shines through in the things that Groove puts out into the world.

Q: Do you have any tidbits of advice for people with passions, in general?

A: Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re not good enough to make a living doing what you’re passionate about. I can’t tell you how many naysayers I’ve encountered. For a long time, it really bummed me out when people in my life didn’t take Groove seriously. But, at the end of the day, I’m the only person who can hold myself back, and I’ve never doubted for a second that I can build something amazing. If you’re passionate about something, don’t let anything or anyone hold you back.

"In college, I did a lot of self-work with body image and self-love, and I’m so happy because now I’m reaping the benefits. As women, we really do have to repair what we’ve been taught through childhood and from society. I think that has to be an active journey and active work — at least for me it was. I had to flood myself with love and reshape my language and my thought process to retrain my brain. I studied voice in college, and there were times when I couldn’t sing — not because I didn’t have the skill or the ability or the potential, but because I was so hard on myself that it was completely debilitating. I would go into a lesson, and I couldn’t get through it because I was so hard on myself. I knew it had to change, so I did a lot of work. Every time I sang something in the practice room, I would make myself say a positive thing before I said anything negative. I would stand in the mirror and say mantras before a practice session. It was a lot about music, but it was a lot about other things, too. It was about my relationship with myself. I forced myself to love myself, honestly. When I started consciously working towards being kinder to myself as a singer, I started to become kinder to myself as a woman and a person. I had to decide that I was going to change the way I spoke to myself. And now, I love myself. I think I’m beautiful in every way. My old self would have thought that it’s conceited to say that, but that’s bullshit. I can totally say that, because I am." — via the Humans with Periods Facebook page

"In college, I did a lot of self-work with body image and self-love, and I’m so happy because now I’m reaping the benefits. As women, we really do have to repair what we’ve been taught through childhood and from society. I think that has to be an active journey and active work — at least for me it was. I had to flood myself with love and reshape my language and my thought process to retrain my brain. I studied voice in college, and there were times when I couldn’t sing — not because I didn’t have the skill or the ability or the potential, but because I was so hard on myself that it was completely debilitating. I would go into a lesson, and I couldn’t get through it because I was so hard on myself. I knew it had to change, so I did a lot of work. Every time I sang something in the practice room, I would make myself say a positive thing before I said anything negative. I would stand in the mirror and say mantras before a practice session. It was a lot about music, but it was a lot about other things, too. It was about my relationship with myself. I forced myself to love myself, honestly. When I started consciously working towards being kinder to myself as a singer, I started to become kinder to myself as a woman and a person. I had to decide that I was going to change the way I spoke to myself. And now, I love myself. I think I’m beautiful in every way. My old self would have thought that it’s conceited to say that, but that’s bullshit. I can totally say that, because I am." — via the Humans with Periods Facebook page

Q: What have been your favorite moments of creativity?

A: My most recent burst of creative energy led to Groove’s new initiative called Humans with Periods. It’s a photo series that exposes the diversity of experiences with menstruation, and my goal is to shed light on a variety of social issues that have an impact on self-identifying women and individuals who menstruate. Most of my best ideas tend to come to me when I’m spending time alone. Humans with Periods came to fruition after reading a Humans of New York post and wishing something like that existed to help break down the social taboos surrounding menstruation. So I thought, “Why not me?” That same day, I made a plan, bought a camera and started recruiting subjects.

Q: What have been your most challenging moments in your career, thus far?

A: I think most of the challenges I face are just me hitting my own limits, or things I perceive as limits. There have been times when I felt like I wasn’t a “good enough” coder to build something or lacked the confidence to really talk up all of the badass things I’m doing. It can be hard to get over that, especially as a woman. We’ve been conditioned by society not to be confident in ourselves and our abilities. But when I do find myself in one of those moments, I always remind myself of this powerful Steve Jobs quote:

“When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That's a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it. Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again.”

Q: What's your day job (if this business isn't)?

A: I’m very fortunate to be able to work on Groove full time, and I love the work I do. It’s definitely not easy because everything Groove has was built solely by Brian and me. He works full-time at another startup, so anything that doesn’t have to do with maintaining/improving our period-tracking app falls to me. There are always a million things that need to be done, but I honestly thrive on being overwhelmed. That’s such an odd thing to say, but it’s true. I love being busy.

Q: When you're discouraged, what do you run to or away from?

A: When I’m discouraged, I tend to run away from my work. But it’s honestly a really great thing for me. It gives me the time and space I need to center myself and regroup. I always use that time to remind myself of Groove’s mission and why I’m doing the work that I’m doing. It helps me put things into perspective and come back ready to kick ass.

Your favorite band at the moment: I don’t think it’s possible to choose a favorite, but I did recently see Jack Garratt perform at SXSW. I hadn’t heard of him before then, and he was incredible.

Your favorite book at the moment: I’m currently reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It’s a fantastic look at the psychology behind why we do what we do and form that habits that we form. I’m only a few chapters in, and I’m already seeing the ways that it will help me improve both myself and my business, which is exactly what I want in a book.

Your local Austin gem: I do a lot of my work at coffee shops, and my current favorite spot is Alta’s. I’m definitely at my most peaceful when I’m outside, so their patio overlooking the lake has quickly become my favorite spot to hang out. There’s something so energizing about working on something you love while there’s sun on your back. I love it.

Your social media handles: You can find Jennifer on her personal accounts (Twitter and Instagram), or keep up with Groove on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Check out Humans With Periods on Instagram and Facebook, too!