The 'uncomfortable' dinner conversation that inspired sex toys
Luciana Burke and Claire Deeks created their sexual wellness brand to start the conversation about female pleasure.
It was an “uncomfortable conversation” over dinner with girlfriends that inspired a pair of 24- year-old best friends from Western Australia to launch their own sexual wellness brand.
Despite having a “very close relationship” with those in their group, Claire Deeks says there was one particular topic that caused the table to fall silent.
“I started talking to the girls about finding my first sex toy and my experience with it and how much I was enjoying getting to know my own body,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle Australia.
“I remember the girls went very quiet and both of them, who were in five-year-plus relationships.. one of them turned to me and said, 'I don't know if I've ever had an orgasm before', and then the other girl spoke up and was like, 'You know what, I don't think I have ever had one either.”
Tackling the stigma of self-pleasure
For Claire who grew up in a very “sex-positive” and open family, the idea of not talking about the importance of orgasms sent her into a “spiral.”
“I just couldn’t believe that these women, who were in such long-term relationships, were finding sex, masturbation and pleasure, even within our friendship group, a bit of an uncomfortable conversation to have,” she said.
“Why is this not a really frequent thing that we're talking about between each other?”
Stuck on how to change that and tackle the stigmatisation of self-pleasure, it kept coming back to product for Claire and her soon-to-be business partner Luciana Burke. It was then in 2021 My ilo was born.
Two years later, the company, whose acronym stands for I Love Orgasms, has reached over 5,000 women and turned over nearly half a million dollars through the sale of natural, safe and environmentally-conscious sex toys and accessories including vibrators, wands and body and play products.
But for the two founders behind the brand that seeks to empower sexual explorations and educate on sexual wellness, it’s the personal stories they find “really touching".
The secret to spicing up your relationship without having sex
“We had a woman the other day in her 60s, recently divorced, and she bought one of our products,” Claire said.
“It was the first orgasm she'd ever had.
“I think there are a lot of women who haven't experienced orgasms,” Luciana added, “or even
had the confidence to explore their body.”
The end of the ‘enormous pink dildo’
From early on, Claire and Luciana’s goal was clear. To end the stereotypical male-dominated sexual wellness space with its sex toys made by men and not for women or any sort of gender diversity.
“Why would you make a massive, enormous pink dildo when you know that 80 per cent of women find pleasure through external stimulation?” Claire said.
“It just makes no sense. Like, what is going on here?”
While Luciana went on to explain that portraying sex toys as ‘naughty’ and ‘promiscuous,’ often using a woman in latex to advertise them, is also seriously damaging.
“I think all of the connotations surrounding that, in sex toys being something that you should hide away, something that you shouldn't show people and something that you’re going to get in trouble for, I think that has really created a stigma and stunted that conversational side,” she said.
“We want to break that cycle and make women feel confident to buy one.”
Prioritising sexual wellness
While there’s still a long way to go, Claire and Luciana insist the tide of talk is turning on self-pleasure.
“When we think about sex, it's often about the male finishing or the male masturbating,” Luciana said.
“We never really think about women pleasuring themselves or masturbating either.
“But now we're educated on the holistic benefits of masturbation, like body confidence, better sleep, reduced anxiety and it drops your cortisol,” Claire added.
“Mainstream media is also starting to talk about self-pleasure too and I think it really is creating a huge shift in this landscape.”
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