Nov 10, 2016
First Kickstarter-Funded Sex Toy Campaign Grows in Brooklyn
Women of Brooklyn, rejoice: two of your own are breaking the glass—er, silicone—ceiling when it comes to closing the pleasure gap.
Only one in four women feels that their sexual needs are met, and yet, up until last week, Kickstarter had an unofficial, but kind of official, policy when it came to preventing sex toys from crowd-funding on the site.
But a new toy known as “Fin,” the brainchild of Alexandra Fine, a Greenpoint-based psychology grad and “sexpert,” and Janet Lieberman, a mechanical engineer hailing from MIT and living in Clinton Hill, is officially campaigning on the site.
The duo founded Dame Products in 2014 and crowd-funded the now-popular, hands-free couples/solo toy Eva, but their newest invention is very hands-on. It’s meant to be worn on or between the fingers and used by yourself or with a partner, responding to your touch with a series of vibrations. We talked with Alexandra Fine to get the inside scoop on Fin, her work with sex toys, and how, finally, they’ve entered the world of crowdfunding.
Where did the sex-toy journey start for you, personally?
When I was in first grade, the principal told my mom I was the class seductress. She was an amazing principal, by the way, who went on to win tons of awards. Turns out, she was right: she understood me. I’m outgoing, to the point where figuring out friendliness and flirtiness is hard for me, because I’m almost flirty. In terms of masturbating, I was doing it from a young age before I knew what it meant. I liked water jets and stuffed animals. I used to feel a lot of shame immediately after—I would immediately be embarrassed even though I was alone. I would think, oh my gosh, I don’t know why I did all of that, but the older I got, the more I felt it was OK to do that.
Why do you think Kickstarter previously had this ‘ban’ on sex toys?
They never had an official ban, I’d say they had “a non-policy policy.” It meant there was no reason we couldn’t apply, and to cut off an entire industry felt wrong. They essentially get to decide what is ‘pornographic.’ Their policy, from my perspective, is that if you are an honest creative trying to share a project with the world, then you will be approved. They are concerned with quality and positive messaging.
Did you try applying with Eva and get turned down?
We did apply back when we launched Eva, but at the time, they were not allowing sex toys. We used Indiegogo to launch Eva, and they were wonderful.
How did you ultimately get them to come around?
We decided to write a letter since they knew us from the Brooklyn start-up tech scene. We said, “Listen, we’re “makers.” This is what we do. We are just like any of these other companies on your site and we love what you guys do, we’re both mission driven.” We’re in the same community of entrepreneurs in Brooklyn, we work down the street from one another, and we’ve proven we can deliver. We felt that if they were ever going to allow a sex toy onto their platform, it had to be ours.
How did they respond?
They actually responded immediately, saying they’d pass it around, even though we didn’t know who exactly would approve it or how to get it going, but a week later, they came back and said “We’re down to run this, and, how do you guys think we should be thinking about this industry?’ Which I thought was awesome of them.
Do you feel like their hesitation up until now made some sense?
I would imagine it’s a scary floodgate to open, or it can feel that way. Maybe they worry about getting bombarded with graphic things that aren’t thoughtful sex toys that are designed to consider society a whole. It’s just a matter of getting past the word “sex toy.”
What happened after the initial approval? Do you feel like you’ve paved the way for more to follow?
We actually had a meeting with Kickstarter in which they asked us for our advice about what makes for an innovative, thoughtful sex toy company. We provided our feedback and outlined some potential criteria to help inform their decisions down the road. This decision is entirely up them and will be made on a case-by-case basis in the future.
What do you hope the response to be for your campaign?
We of course hope that the response is overwhelmingly positive and that people appreciate the thought we put into the new product….but part of crowdfunding is being open to feedback, so if we should receive useful critiques, we’ll be keeping those in mind as well.
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