As I sit here in my hotel room, a range of products around me, having just completed 38 meetings with buyers from all over the world and next to brands that have been established for years – I had to reflect on exactly how I got to this moment.
It has been a journey like many others have experienced when starting a new venture complete with ups and downs and twists and turns. Ultimately, in this moment, I couldn’t be prouder. Not because of the money, or the potential orders that will be coming in, but because of the hurdles overcome and the commitment to my dream.
In the past two years I have:
Separated from my husband after 20 years together. Gotten divorced. Remained best friends with my ex and established an amazing relationship that our daughters can thrive and spend as much time as possible with both parents. Flown to China alone to meet a young man who I had no idea who he was and visited factories. Hopped on a train in mainland China not knowing where I was going and having met the supplier five minutes prior. Flown to Hong Kong alone and walked the sex industry trade show to meet potential suppliers. Flown to USA to Las Vegas alone to attend AVN twice (Industry porn and pleasure product event). Once to just see who was who and the second time to debut my first product at the Adam and Eve booth (biggest sex store in USA). Flown to Denver and Phoenix to meet distributors. Woken up at all hours to monitor production of my products and speak with potential buyers. Lost significant amounts of money learning the processes of manufacturing. Cancelled an entire project (with no refund) because I didn’t believe the quality would be great. Spent a ridiculous fortune on quality control to ensure products are always at an amazing standard. Spent time with doctors and pelvic floor physios understanding women’s bodies. Conducted interviews and focus groups with women to learn my target market. Changed jobs and managers in my 4 day a week job. Sent my daughter to kindergarten at a new school . Raised 2 girls (now 7 and 3). Taken my 2 kids to USA for 2 weeks alone on a girls trip with no itinerary, no bookings and no support. Worked with (and driven mad) a range of designers to create packaging, brochures, banners, flyers. Learnt how to update back end of wordpress for my website. Helped design website (drawings and all). Sourced distribution and drop ship agencies in USA to send products. Been a human being (somewhat).
It has not been easy and at times, with much encouragement from those around me, it would have been easy to give up. The divorce alone has been the single most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. After spending 20 years knowing someone and having them be your person, growing up with them, blending families and relying on them, to separate and pull apart is heart wrenching. However, being happy and both of us being able to recognise that we can still love each other and go through this, has been outside of my girls and this business, the proudest moment of my life. It was capped off with out combined divorce party which we had, to show our girls how much we love them. Here was our invitation.
This may seem weird and unconventional….but then so are we! We want everyone to come and celebrate with us the milestone of officially being divorced and still being friends! Join us with our kids and your families so we can set the example for our girls that their happiness and support will always come first.
We are going to do a BBQ. Feel free to bring some drinks ????
Ps – this pic was taken on our 10 year anniversary and the day we filed amicably for divorce ????”
Without his support, I would never have been able to do what I do and create this brand. With all the assumptions that the products and nature of the brand is the reason for the divorce, it could have been tough and yet, he rose above it and continues to support, champion and push me to achieve all that I have and will.
So why did I start this? I get asked all the time. I’m not sure as a young girl we dream of starting a brand of sex toys for women. However, after years of painful sex and multiple visits to the doctors, I met a wonderful pelvic floor physio. She had suggested toys as a way to relieve the muscles. And it worked for me. I found the stigma attached to women’s pleasure and toys unbearable and the range of products at the time completely dire. This is thankfully starting to change and my range is certainly not alone in creating beautiful pieces. I started speaking to more doctors to find out how the vagina worked and the incidence of pain. 4/5 women have experienced painful sex at some stage. At least 10% of consults to gynecologists are around or mention pain. There is no quick fix. It is often a combination of physical, psychological and emotional factors that need to be addressed holistically. Couple this with the incidence of sexual assault (1 in 4 women) and our experiences with sex have often been negative which can have lasting impressions on our ability to enjoy sex. Most women (around 60-70%) claim to not enjoy sex. Low libido, lack of intimacy, pain, all these things are part of these dire statistics.
So I set out to create a range of products that encouraged women to explore their bodies, to have fun, to reintroduce play to sex. A range that was beautiful, that served a purpose and that was user friendly for women who maybe hadn’t used a toy before. I also wanted to be true to my commitment to women being given the opportunity to enjoy sex and to be able to consent. This is why I decided to donate a portion of all profits to charities that work to stop sex trafficking. And thus, Elixir Play was born.
It has taken many years, many attempts at products, many experiences, many tears, many laughs and a lifetime of memories but our journey is beginning. Sitting at this expo and having people who buy from all over the world, big brands, smaller brands, old brands and new brands come and talk about my products and their possible fit with their own stores and customers has been exhilarating. Learning the processes of all these things has been amazing.
I hope you continue to follow us and our journey. I will be doing snip-its of each of these experiences intermittently so you can be part of my story.
My advice to anyone. If you have a dream, follow it. Success does not come easy and you often have to redefine what success looks like. But it is worth it in the end.