Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Sex Toy Industry

Written by Precious Nwosu

Pleasure is like a steaming pot of soup that envelops you, makes you salivate and stirs a kind of want in your stomach with its aroma. When it is served, it is left for you to enjoy with the right kind of swallow. And personally, I believe that a suitable swallow along with the soup makes for a satisfied appetite. But I’m digressing, and this article is not about food. Anyway, just as the right combination of ingredients satisfies your appetite, the right elements – be it a lover, partner, or even sex toys – contribute to the ultimate fulfilment of sexual pleasure, akin to savouring each satisfying swallow of a delicious meal. 

A sex toy serves as a tool for enhancing sexual pleasure, ranging from dildos to vibrators, empowering individuals to explore and understand their bodies.  However, their creation isn’t as miraculous as bread falling from the sky in biblical stories. There are industries, innovators, and entrepreneurs who took it upon themselves with the production and distribution of adult toys, navigating legal and regulatory challenges, and ethical considerations to make sex better, and especially close the orgasm gap for women. I recently had the privilege of speaking with four inspiring women entrepreneurs who have delved into the world of the sex toy industry, offering insight into their lives and endeavours.

So what inspired you to enter the sex toy business, and how do you believe your products contribute to sexual empowerment and wellness?

Aliyyah: I was inspired because I want every woman to orgasm. The first time I tried a toy I didn’t know my body could do all the things it did; I wanted more women to experience it. How I believe toys contribute to sexual empowerment is my belief that you truly wouldn’t properly enjoy sex with others unless you enjoy sex with yourself. That way you know your sensitive areas, and you can communicate how you want to be touched. It gives you confidence.

Boluwatife: I have always wanted to sell sex toys since secondary school as I saw it as a very lucrative business but I couldn’t then, as I grew up in a conservative household and couldn’t express myself freely. Now that I can, the aim as a seller is not only to sell my products but also educate and enlighten customers about taking charge of their sexual pleasure. I take my time to recommend products based on information for newbies and rookies so they can explore sexually. What a toy can do, a man can’t do it. Sorry. 

Debliz: Hmmm…I really haven’t thought about this question before. So, I’ll say that I just wanted to explore my fantasy and when I got my first sex toy, oh, it was paradise. Sex toys have this vibe that no one can give you. And I wanted others to feel it too. For sexual empowerment, I wanted to boost women’s self-confidence and their sexual pleasure. Women that are sceptical about the real thing can opt for sex toys.

Tosin: Like I said earlier sapa inspired me to start the business. However, I believe my products offer individuals the opportunity to explore their desires, enhance intimacy, and prioritise their sexual well-being. Through education, inclusivity, and quality products, I aim to empower individuals to embrace their sexuality with confidence and happiness.

That makes sense. It’s more like you need to know how to love yourself to receive love from others. 

Aliyyah: Exactly

Boluwatife: I know right?

Can you share any challenges you have faced navigating legal frameworks specific to the sex toy industry? Have there been any legal issues surrounding your selling of sex toys?

Aliyyah: If it isn’t legal in Nigeria I have no idea lol, so I haven’t had to deal with that. So, no, I haven’t. Not once. 

Boluwatife:  Well to be honest, I haven’t experienced any legal issues in the industry. I’m not sure it’s possible to face those unless you are talking about social media restrictions on sexual content especially on Instagram. However, there is no restriction on Twitter and Flutter wave and that’s why I post there more often.

Nigeria is a country with diverse religious and cultural backgrounds, which can sometimes pose challenges in fostering open-mindedness. With this understanding, how do you navigate cultural and religious sensitivities in your business interactions?  Have you encountered any stigmatisation from friends or family members?

Aliyyah: I just ignore them. I have been called names to my face, and many people even suggest I don’t show my face because of the stigma, they claim, but I don’t care. I use toys. I have to reach orgasm. As for my family, they do not know I sell toys; it would cause too much drama. 

Boluwatife: My family doesn’t know I sell them though. As for my friends, they all patronise me and I’m grateful for the support. And yes, I’ve had my fair share of shaming from conservative and religious people, especially men. The women are usually more open-minded (especially unsatisfied housewives), but I’ve noticed that the shaming and primitive line of thinking stems from the lack of freedom to express themselves sexually. They’re not open enough to try certain things in the bedroom because their entire lives have been controlled by “shame” and fear of what people think.  I usually stand my ground with them especially when it comes to arguments and insults. However, I do feel pity for them because they have never experienced the thrill and the beauty of a toe-curling orgasm from a rose toy.

Debliz: Selling sex toys generally is not a problem. However, religious people find it hard coming around to that fact and they are highly discriminatory. In fact, when I started, my mum had an issue with it but she eventually came around. Some people think that sex is something to be ashamed of; others are very open and comfortable about their sexuality.

Tosin: While we acknowledge the diversity of cultural and religious beliefs, we remain committed to promoting sexual wellness and empowerment in a respectful and inclusive manner. We approach cultural and religious sensitivities with empathy and understanding, seeking to engage in constructive dialogue and education where possible. While there may be occasional challenges or stigmatisation, we prioritise open communication and advocacy for sexual health and wellness, aiming to promote greater acceptance and understanding over time.

Now, that sounds exciting; the toe-curling orgasm. 

Boluwatife: I know right.

Do you see the sex industry evolving in the next decade in cultural acceptability?

Aliyyah: A decade isn’t that much time, so my answer would be no. Maybe in 10 decades, but we definitely will get there one day, and hopefully, I am alive to experience it.

Boluwatife: Yes, a lot of awareness is on social media and the times are changing very rapidly. Everyone wants to try something new nowadays. I’ve seen what happens underground; nobody’s fooling me.

Aliyyah, you don’t have much faith in your country? (laughs)

Aliyyah: At all. If you listen to so many of them talk, a decade is too small for us to make that much progress. 

But surely you think education can play a vital part in this quest, right? And how do you incorporate it into your business model?

Aliyyah: I doubt education can do much because the problem is religion. For education, I do my best to educate about sexual liberation honestly. I have been able to convince a lot of women and men to not see using toys as a sin or a problem in their sex life.

That’s nice. So, do you think sex will be pleasurable if both parties use it for pleasure?

Aliyyah: Yes, it makes sex a whole lot better. I 100% recommend it.

Boluwatife: I’d actually recommend it because some women cannot orgasm via penetration alone; they need clitoral stimulation to make the encounter more pleasurable. So yes it can be used with your partner.

And also, can you offer practical advice and tips for users to make informed decisions when choosing sex toys? For research purposes, of course. 

Aliyyah: For starters, a bullet and wand is the go-to toy for women that love clitoris sensation and women who believe their clitoris isn’t sensitive. A lot of people tend to go for cheaper ones when they start out, and I honestly advise against it. You can get cheaper toys when you have original toys as back up because their vibration mode is not as strong and wouldn’t give you as much satisfaction. For women that like penetrative sex, I would recommend a vibrating dildo because the frustration to thrust themselves as starters would discourage the usage of toys. Also, I would recommend a curved upwards Dildo (very rare) but very important as the G-spot is at the roof of the vagina. That way the toy can caress the G-spot as it vibrates.

Boluwatife: Yes, I can. Well for a newbie I recommend the bullet vibrator; it’s very discreet especially if you’re living with family. The second option is the vibrator wands, easy to use and you can use it as a massager. The classic rose toy is another one although it comes in various forms e.g the rose toy with thrusting egg, the jagged rose, the rose toy with licker, the rose toy with sucker, and the rose wand. They get the job done. Pretty expensive for a beginner but if you’re looking to splurge on pleasure tools then it’s a perfect option. Also, some sex toys can be used as massage tools – especially the wand – so if you’re looking for something like that I recommend the classic wands.

Which do you advise couples to use together?

Aliyyah: Definitely a wand. There are different sizes of wand toys; the smaller sizes are best for the bedroom.

If given the chance, would you choose this line of business again?

Aliyyah: Yes, because of the lack of knowledge about sex amongst youth. I would love to become a sex therapist and a big sex toy distributor, no matter what age I get to before I start.

Boluwatife: I’d do it in a heartbeat. The plans I have for the next few years are all very exciting and I cannot wait to unveil them but for now, I keep grinding hard.

Debliz: Yes, I don’t think I can settle for any other business that isn’t related to intimate apparels. Logistics won’t be bad to compliment it also.

How do you ensure the privacy of your customers? Or do your customers not prefer privacy?

Aliyyah: I honestly don’t need to post about them except it’s an important review and even if they don’t ask, I always make sure I keep it private.

Boluwatife: Oh they all do. And I make sure their information is 100% safe.

Before we end this interview, Is there anything you would love to share with our readers?

Aliyyah: I want to encourage more women to try out toys because you would discover different things that you thought your body couldn’t do, plus toys can be very very addictive and like so many other addictions you need to strike a balance or create a calendar.

Boluwatife: Do not allow anyone to shame you for exploring your sexuality, do not allow your life to be controlled by fear and shame. Always seek ways to satisfy yourself and your partner and don’t forget to always be on the same page as your partner.

Debliz: Invest more in your pleasure. Prioritise your orgasm and boost your sexual activities.

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