Beyond selling sex toys (even if they are super-fun ones), these women-led companies share a loftier goal: to facilitate honest conversations and maybe even change the way we think about female pleasure and sexual health.
Maude‘s mission is to “make sex better for all people.” Frequently referred to as the “Everlane of vibrators” (which is appropriate, considering one of the founders was an early Everlane employee), Maude often praised for its super-minimalist aesthetic. The design and overall vibe of Maude definitely doesn’t scream sex toys. Their line of vibrators and and personal lubricants look more like they belong inside a spa—calm, simple, and aesthetically pleasing.
That’s intentional. Founders Dina Epstein and Eva Goicochea wanted to create a more inclusive line of sex products that felt less outdated and gendered. You won’t find hot pink rabbit-shaped vibrators at Maude—everything is designed to fly under the radar if you want to leave it out on your nightstand. From essentials to a custom sex kit to a quickie set, Maude has it all. Best of all, everything actually works (really well) and everything ships for free.
Dame Products‘ focus is on couples’ toys that even out the playing field between penises and vaginas. (Currently, it’s an uneven one: Research shows straight women have the fewest orgasms, while straight men have the most.) Dame started with just two toys, and they’ve both made history. Eva, a hands-free couples’ vibrator, raised more money through Indiegogo than any other toy on the platform, and Fin, a finger vibrator, was the first sex toy ever to crowd-fund on Kickstarter. (The site actually changed its rules to allow that to happen.) Since then, they’ve released three more sex toys, most recently the Kip, and one very cute O-face hat.
Though they come in wildly different shapes (and cute colors), all of Dame’s toys share a common goal: empowering people to get what they want in bed. “I want to make sex more pleasurable for all, but particularly for those individuals with vulvas,” says CEO Alexandra Fine. “I want to make quality, reliable tools that help vulva owners achieve more pleasure—an act that I’m 100 percent positive will increase pleasure for all, decrease stress, and make the world a happier place.”
Women-run start-ups aren’t just getting us to talk about sex more—they’re aiming to change how we talk about it. In that spirit, MysteryVibe cofounder and chief pleasure officer Stephanie Alys created Crescendo, a vibrator that adapts to each user’s vagina by bending and twisting. Its versatility is meant to eliminate taboos about who uses sex toys and how.
“We felt for too long that pleasure had been segmented and categorized: separate toys for men, for women, for couples, G-spot toys, clitoral toys…the list goes on,” says Alys. “We wanted to make something that better represented the huge diversity of human bodies and the ways that we experience pleasure.”
Lioness cofounder and CEO Liz Klinger has a different way of facilitating discussions around sexual health and pleasure: She wants to track them. Her company’s smart vibrator collects data about users’ vaginal temperature and movements through an app, which keeps them informed about how their body works and what techniques work best for them personally. Think of it as an Apple watch for your vagina.