These Sex Toys Are Redefining the Way Women Orgasm

Courtesy of Dame
Courtesy of Dame

Dame Products was founded by Alex and Janet, two women who are driven to create smartly engineered sex toys for women and couples. The Eva is a hands-free vibrator that fits into the female genitalia. The Fin is an unobtrusive, yet powerful vibrator that is attached to the hand with a finger-strap so that it’s easy to handle during intimacy. AWT’s Q&A with Janet offers insight into the smart minds behind these clever products.

Dame Sex Toys, Alexandra Fine and Janet Lieberman
Courtesy of Dame

AWT: Who is behind Dame Products and what was the inspiration for your products?

JANET: I’m a mechanical engineer by trade, and I developed products for 7 years (for companies such as Z Corp and Makerbot) before deciding to start this company. I’d been expecting less quality from sex toys than other consumer electronics and I realized that this industry was therefore profiting from a sense of shame I hadn’t even realized I felt. Where pornography (the primary male sexual aid) drives technology, sex toys (the primary female sexual aid) lagged.

Alex, my co-founder, comes to Dame Products from a sexual psychology and small business background. Eva, our first product, was a product she was already working on when we met. From her studies, she was aware of the orgasm gap (that women orgasm half as often as men). She felt if we could integrate clitoral stimulation into sex without getting in the way, that could be a really powerful way to help couples have more mutually fulfilling experiences.

Eva is a hands-free vibrator with flexible wings that tuck into the labia so it can provide clitoral stimulation without hindering penetration.

Our second product, Fin, is a more hands-on way for couples to play. Fin is held between two fingers and is designed for versatility and dexterity. By not hindering natural hand movement, Fin becomes a vibrator you don’t have to think about holding, and doesn’t require you to change how you’d normally move to incorporate vibration.

AWT: Who are your customers? How do your products empower or add to their lives? How do you market and reach your customers?

Our customers are women and their partners. Almost half of our online sales are to men.

We make vibrators that enhance female pleasure without compromising intimacy. Although we sometimes focus on intimacy between two people, self-intimacy is important, too. It’s all about the toy not being another person in the room. If we’re doing our job right, our products fade away, and it’s about making it easier to have a more satisfying sexual life.

Marketing is difficult. There are a lot of basic e-commerce options, like Facebook or Twitter ads, that are closed off to our entire industry. We’re in distribution and stores around the world, but we compete on shelves with hundreds of other products. We rely a lot on publicity and word of mouth for generating sales.

AWT: In your quest to create a high-quality sex toy, what are a few of the challenges and foibles you’ve experienced? What are the rewards—besides monetary?

One of the things we focus on is user testing during development. Both products have a lot of ergonomic challenges inherent to them, though Eva in particular requires engineering something that fits in most women’s labia. But testing with couples is complicated, so we have to budget a fair amount of time and extra testers for “life stuff.” Anything that might affect sex lives affects testing—illnesses, vacations, working late, periods. We’re working on a timeline trying to collect data, but we’ve had more than one breakup mess up testing (and you can’t exactly get mad at them).

One of my favorite customer responses was from a man who said that in eight years of marriage, Eva led to the first time his wife every wanted to have sex two days in a row. It’s a simple thing, but it’s also very profound.

AWT: Do you have any challenges—being a female-owned/operated company—or do you think that being in the sex industry might be easier for women to navigate? Has there been any stigma in your personal life when you share what your business entails?

I would never say that I haven’t faced any stigma, but it isn’t very many people, and they’re more likely to filter me out of their lives than be antagonistic. On the flip side, lots of people have expressed their support. One night, I was at a fancy gala where I didn’t know anyone but my date. One person at the table didn’t say another word to me after he learned what I did; three people became wildly more interested in talking to me after.

The whole sex industry is changing. The old feeling was very male-dominated and back-alley; the new wave is feminist and in-the-light. We’ve actually found this industry to be very welcoming. There’s even a fairly active NYC-based Women Sextech group that tries to help each other out.

AWT: As a grassroots company, what are the particular concerns in your business— product, employees, production, marketing, etc?

I like to say that with a startup, you never feel successful—you just feel like you haven’t failed yet. It’s very easy to second guess everything because there’s always so much to improve. With limited resources, you want to make every move strategic, but you can tie up all of your resources just determining what the strategic move would be. You just have to put one foot in front of the other and focus on moving forward.

We’re always working on new products, and we’re always working on making our current products better. Eva and Fin are both available through our website, and we’re always looking for more volunteers for surveys and testing.

Eva Sex Toy by Dame
Courtesy of Dame

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