Anyone who’s shopped for a sex toy knows that searching for a safe, beautiful, well-designed toy can sometimes mean wading through a sea of products plagued by off-putting marketing, questionable safety, or both.
But quality sex tech is out there, and some of the most exciting offerings come from women working to make the industry more approachable.
A new way to vibe: Dame
The products: Dame offers two very cute vibrators meant for clitoral stimulation: The the teeny Fin ($75) which sits between two fingers, and the Eva II ($135), which is worn hands-free thanks to “flexible wings that tuck under the labia while [it] sits on top.” Both can be used alone or during sex.
The story: Dame is brainchild of Alexandra Fine and Janet Lieberman. Fine, who holds a masters degree in clinical psychology from Columbia University, tells Mashable she met Lieberman, a mechanical engineer and MIT alum, in upon learning that each had separately planned to start her own sex toy company.
Fine says their combined talents – her interest in branding and market research and Lieberman’s interest in designing a safe, high quality toy – led them to launch an Indiegogo campaign for their first vibrator Eva in . By late e shipped its first round of products. It’s since expanded its line, launching Fin in , and a redesign of its first vibrator, the Eva II, in .
For Fine, running a sex toy startup is the culmination of a long-time interest in sexuality – she’d originally planned to become a sex therapist – and a desire to bring something to market that she felt was more women-focused in its messaging than what was currently on offer.
“None of [those products] even really resonated with me and how I felt these toys should be branded,” she says. “You still see a lot of them with women in lingerie, taking off their high-heels. It often has a very male gaze that’s hard to deny in their branding. It just never related to me or how I felt about masturbation or using a toy.”
Plus, Dame wanted to build a sex toy that was well-made in an industry where Fine says products are largely unregulated.
“It was kind of epic, I’m not gonna lie,” she jokes. “I think I bragged about it. But it’s because the products aren’t well made, and people don’t value it, and there’s no regulation when there should be.”
In keeping with a focus on quality, both of Dame’s vibrators are designed in-house, made with medical-grade silicone, and are water resistant.
Aesthetically pleasing essentials: Maude
The products: Maude’s line includes rise. condoms ($12 for a 10-pack), two forms of lubricant (both $25), and the vibe. massager ($45).
The story: “Maude is very much a gender inclusive or unisex brand,” says CEO Eva Goicochea. “We aren’t a women-for-women company, per se – we’re more of a women for everyone company.”
Before launching the company alongside her co-founder, CPO Dina Epstein, in early April, Goicochea says she spent more than 10 years working in branding, including a stint at clothing retailer Everlane.
She befriended Epstein, an industrial designer who’s worked for lingerie retailer Kiki De Montparnasse and for sex toy retailer Doc Johnson, and together they decided to launch Maude, a company that sells minimalist products for the bedroom.
Two years later, the product line features lubricants — “an absolute must-have,” says Goicochea — housed in chic Aesop soap-like bottles and artfully packaged condoms.
Says Goicochea: “When you look at the orgasm gap, women often have to go to a sex shop to get a toy. That’s a really uncomfortable experience, it’s over-assorted, it’s confusing, you don’t really have any options that are minimal. Everything’s quite bright and loud. And we were like, this is an absolute must-have for many people in order to have an orgasm, so why isn’t it created and treated like an essential?”