Sex toys are a $15 billion industry. Use of these gadgets are not limited to one gender, sexual orientation, relationship status, kink, or interest – they’re far from one-size fits all. But, until recently, the industry (like so many others) was largely dominated by men. Dildos and vibrators designed for women were marketed with pornographic imagery more likely to appeal to straight men, and the designs were based largely on what male executives assumed women wanted.

But that is changing. Recently, more and more women are stepping up to bring the female perspective to the helm of new sex-toy companies that are innovating and finding new ways to make sure everyone has a good time. Kinkly talked to five of these women about what they’re doing to make sure there’s something out there for everyone.

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Alexandra Fine, CEO of Dame Products

Alexandra Fine Dame Products

Kinkly: Tell us little bit about your signature product.

Alexandra Fine: We make two toys both of which are small but powerful. We are focused on making products that enhance intimacy and don't get in the way of you and your partner. Eva, our first product, is a hands-free, strap-free couples' vibrator that tucks under the folds of the labia and uses a little spring force to stay in place, so that you can wear it during sex. The aim of Eva is to provide clitoral stimulation during penetrative sex. Fin, our second product, is a finger vibrator. It is, again, a very simple vibrator with a unique shape that makes it easy to hold and use. It's meant to serve as a seamless extension of your hand in order to offer a natural experience when looking to provide extra stimulation. They are both designed with partners in mind, but they feel great solo as well!

Kinkly: What’s your company’s philosophy?

Alexandra Fine: We're adamant that when we develop our products, we talk to vulva-owners, listen to vulva-owners, and make products based on what we learn. We then test those products before creating them, to ensure that they function the way we intend them to. I'm also very devoted to making sure that we have an amazing company culture that drives everyone on the team to think about these products in a progressive, thoughtful way.

Kinkly: Why do you think it's important for women to be in behind-the-scenes roles in the sex toy industry?

Alexandra Fine: Well for starters, we make products that mainly stimulate female genitalia, so having the parts for which we are designing definitely helps us make better products for those parts. It's worth noting that we also think that it is important to have men behind the scenes. It's really about each individual and creating a mini culture that respects other individuals simply for being human.

Not only do I think that our company culture allows us to make better products, but it also affords us the opportunity to have a powerful brand mission. We're less about a unidimensional message and more about creating thoughtful, smart products that encourage humans to be able to get closer, via sex. We want to empower individuals and eradicate stigmas, and having a team that works together to that end is an empowering, and game-changing, component.

Kinkly: Is there anything else you think readers should know about you, your company, or sex toys in general?

Alexandra Fine: Sex toys are awesome. That said, don't feel pressured to do things you don't want to do. I'd love for people to feel empowered and comfortable trying new things - but that certainly doesn't mean that you're going to love everything. If you try something out and realize it's not your flavor - don't sweat it. Sex is about trial and error, exploration, and fun! Don't get too hung up on goals or "shoulds" - relax and use it as a time to learn about yourself and your partner.

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Stephanie R. Berman, Founder and President of Berman Innovations, LLC, Creator of POP Dildo

Stephanie Berman POP Dildo
Photo credit: Emily Berl

Kinkly: Tell us little bit about your signature product.

Stephanie Berman: POP Dildo is a strap-on dildo with specifically designed inner tubing embedded inside the shaft, with an attached pump, intended for people to be able to mimic intercourse and ejaculation. POP is unique because it offers the ability to replace the embedded plastic tubing with each use, eliminating sanitary concerns about mixing liquids you choose to put into the tube. POP’s patented design allows for the ultimate experience with an ejaculating dildo, and for a superior environment to transfer liquids.

Kinkly: What’s your company’s philosophy?

Stephanie Berman: I have always taken pride in being able to create a product I have successfully used in my personal life, which has translated into something many others have been able to use and benefit from. Education, acceptance, and providing high-quality products have always been the philosophies of my company. When designing POP, I did my best to take into consideration every possible detail, scenario, person and body. While it is nearly impossible to create a product which suits the needs of everyone, I feel confident the technology and quality of POP make it an exceptional choice in the category of ejaculating dildos.

Kinkly: Why do you think it's important for women to be in behind-the-scenes roles in the sex toy industry?

Stephanie Berman: I am a firm believer that each individual - man or woman - brings something unique to the table when it comes to roles in the business world, and that also includes the sex toy industry. I do think it’s important to celebrate the expertise women offer when it comes to designing, engineering and marketing sex toys. I can recall times when engineering was considered a job for “men only,” and it’s refreshing to see that landscape changing. Women are not only capable, but have clearly demonstrated they are a force to be reckoned with. I love seeing more and more women-owned and women-operated companies in our industry; it’s setting a precedent that gender no longer matters. I want my young daughter to know she can do whatever job she wants when she grows up, and her gender will not limit her in any way.

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LeAnne Black, Vice President of Operations at Clean Light Labs

LeAnne Black Uvee Clean Light Labs

Kinkly: Tell us little bit about your signature product.

LeAnne Black: UVee is the only complete care system for pleasure products. UVee comes in two models, HOME Play which is designed to hold a collection of adult toys, including large body wands; and portable GO Play which can accommodate a standard vibrator or a few couples' toys. Both systems feature a discreet design with a privacy lock and UBS charging ports. Our UV-C sanitization systems kill 99.9% of germs that may cause an infection in 10 minutes or less.

Kinkly: What’s your company’s philosophy?

LeAnne Black: We really wanted to design a sanitizing storage system that people would be proud to have out in their bedroom and not be embarrassed, while adding some very important and practical features. The look and feel of UVee is sleek and sexy while being discreet. No one would know what you have hidden away inside the locked box, including your kids or mother-in-law. We also feel very strongly about solving problems that every sex toy owner has, and want to empower more people to use them by easing some concerns they might have about owning a sex toy.

We are big believers in using adult toys to enhance your sex life but wanted a practical, and more convenient, solution for taking care of them. People don’t really want to think about making sure they have a properly cleaned or charged up toy while in the heat of the moment. And we’ve all heard stories about kids playing doll dress up or sword fighting with mommy’s favorite rabbit vibrator! We take that worry away and solve the three problems that every sex toy owner has - proper sanitization, secure storage, and convenient charging.

Kinkly: Why do you think it's important for women to be in behind-the-scenes roles in the sex toy industry?

LeAnne Black: For decades, men overwhelmingly dominated the sex toy industry. Packaging and marketing was sexist and even pornographic - for items being sold to women. Materials were often toxic and poor quality with little consideration for designs that appealed to women. As more women jumped into in the market, and in leadership roles, we have seen a massive cultural shift in the industry. We are leading the movement toward sexual wellness through the design of body-safe and smartly designed products that enhance your sex life. With this cultural shift we are now opening the sexual wellness conversation up to mainstream media and reducing the stigma of adult oriented businesses.

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Alicia Sinclair, Founder & CEO of b-Vibe

Alicia Sinclair b-Vibe

Kinkly: Tell us little bit about your signature product.

Alicia Sinclair: Our signature product is the Rimming Plug. This plug is our most popular product because it is the first, and only, butt plug to incorporate rotating beads in the neck of the plug for a “rimming” sensation, with powerful vibration in the tip of the plug. The combination of rotation at the entry to the anus and vibration of the interior anal canal results in exhilarating dual stimulation. This is a large size plug that is geared for more experienced anal enthusiasts looking to try something totally different. And - great news for folks that want this sensation in a smaller size - the Rimming Plug Petite is slotted for release on November 1st.

Kinkly: What’s your company’s philosophy?

Alicia Sinclair: The mission of b-Vibe is to provide sex positive education, decrease social stigmas, and elevate the anal play category. We design products for the user experience. We consider how the consumer will feel from the moment they see the packaging, to how it will function during sexual play. We aim to provide a superior experience though the creation of original product designs and premium manufacturing processes, while always partnering these with sex-positive education.

Kinkly: Why do you think it's important for women to be in behind-the-scenes roles in the sex toy industry?

Alicia Sinclair: I think it’s important for women to be involved in all roles in the sex toy industry. As the majority consumer of sex toys, women should be in leadership roles such as development, marketing and sales. Our contributions bring a different thought process and approach and, IMHO, are often more thoughtful and appealing to other women.

Kinkly: Is there anything else you think readers should know about you, your company, or sex toys in general?

Alicia Sinclair: I truly want out customers to enjoy their product and the experience with it. As a Certified Sex Educator, I firmly believe that comprehensive, sex-positive education is important. As such, I’ve worked to make our website a resource for people to educate themselves and feel empowered. We want people to feel good about their bodies and proud of their sexuality.

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Rianne S., Founder of Rianne S

Rianne S

Kinkly: Tell us little bit about your signature product.

Rianne S.: I started five years ago with the RIANNE S vibrating apple, Forbidden Fruit. Plenty of people remember that item. These days, we have a lovely vibrating heart that’s doing really well for us and fantastic booty plug sets as well.

Kinkly: What’s your company’s philosophy?

Rianne S.: From the beginning, it was my dream to do something good for women and their sexual lives. I have always believed that women deserve some extra attention when it comes to sexual matters. I find it sad that 10% to 15% of all women have never experienced orgasm. I am not saying that a vibrator is the optimal and only solution for female sexual well-being, but I find that pleasure products in general can help with exploring what you like sexually and accepting your body in a loving way. Design-wise, I think products should be ergonomically designed, good quality and well-priced so they are available for lots of women.

Kinkly: Why do you think it’s important for women to be in behind-the-scenes roles in the sex toy industry?

Rianne S.: I think women are the best ambassadors, really, for female products. We know best how it feels and how it works for our own bodies.