Janet Lieberman is Designing the Future of Pleasure

Janet Lieberman-Lu

This entrepreneur is creating the ergonomic toys for sex you never knew you needed.

When you picture a sex toy, what comes to mind? Perhaps, the Sex and the City-made-popular rabbit or everyone’s favorite “back massager,” the wand (also seen in Sex and the City). But would you ever picture something you could wear between your fingers or something that could actually stay in comfortably during penetrative sex? Well, you can stop using your imagination because there’s a company on the market that creates what they refer to as “toys for sex,” and these toys are sophisticated, yet playful, and designed based on extensive research for ultimate pleasure and comfort. The company is called Dame Products, and fun fact: their product Fin was the first-ever sex toy on Kickstarter (and raised nearly $400K on the platform!). The brilliant founders and sexual wellness warriors behind Dame are Janet Lieberman, an MIT-educated engineer, and Alex Fine, a credentialed sexologist who attended Columbia and WashU. We chat with Janet below!

Let’s talk about Dame. What landed you in the wonderful world of sex toys?

I was working as a mechanical engineer designing products when I had an epiphany – sex toys were consumer product, but they weren’t developed, made, or marketed at the level of other consumer products.

What makes Dame different than other brands on the market?

I think we’re a really unique brand, but then, of course, I’m biased. Everything we do, from marketing to product development comes from real wants and needs. We try to be a brand that people from different backgrounds can come to, and feel like this is a safe place for them. We develop our products in house, using feedback from surveys and prototype testers from our Dame Labs community to drive our design. I don’t think that anyone in the space puts the work that we do into user testing, or has quite the same voice as we have.

“Our mission is to make the world a happier place, one vagina at a time.”

 Fin, a vibrator worn between the fingers | SOURCE: Dame Products
Fin, a vibrator worn between the fingers | SOURCE: Dame Products

Do you like the term “sex toys” or do you have another term you prefer?

We often use “toys for sex,” but we don’t have an issue with “sex toys.” I think it’s important not to be euphemistic in your language, but I also think there’s a lot of valid terms for the category, because there’s so many ways that people use them. They can be pleasure objects, marital aids, or adult products. On the one hand, they’re not “novelties” – they’re products that make people’s lives better, so there can be an urge to give them a more serious moniker than “toys.”  But, we also try to combat pleasure erasure – the concept that there has to be some other goal (health, orgasm, etc) besides pleasure to validate the products. They’re about increasing pleasure, so “toys” seems accurate.

Can you tell me more about the intention behind your design decisions (color palette, shapes, etc.)?

A lot of our design is about making the person looking at it comfortable. Sex is messy and complicated, and there’s all sorts of baggage and backgrounds. So from ergonomic shapes to the waves that show up throughout our graphics, we try to keep things feeling human and organic. It isn’t always the prettiest or sleekest, but that’s part of what can make it inviting or approachable. Intimacy is a focus in our design – we’re heavily focused on ergonomics, so that we can make products that blend into the experience without becoming the second or third person in the room. We don’t avoid the feminine, but we like to target womanly over girly.

You have brilliant articles on your site ranging from The Shame Around STIstoMerging Wellness and Masturbation. What role does content play in your business and mission? Do you have a favorite article?

Our mission is to make the world a happier place, one vagina at a time. We want to do that by being a resource, not just for products, but also for information. We’re big believers in nuance and respecting sexual variety, so we try to reflect that in our blog. Some of our posts are about trying to provide accurate information, like the one I wrote about sex toy material safety, after reading one too many guides that were full of misinformation. But some of my favorites are ones that shine a light on things that affect millions of people, but no one seems to want to talk about, like our two part series on Sex and Disability.

Any tips for people who might be nervous or embarrassed to bring sex toys into the bedroom?

I find comfort in statistics. A 2009 study showed that 52% of women and 45% of men in the US had used vibrators, and that was 10 years ago. Using a vibrator is nothing that most people would judge you for. They’re wonderful tools, but they’re not cure-alls for all of your sexual and relationship issues. If you want to try them; try them – you’re in good company. If you don’t, that’s fine, too. But they are, by definition, mainstream.

What is your number one tip for building sexual confidence?

I think it’s good to remember that there is no normal. Nothing is universally sexy or unsexy. Whatever it is that you’re into, most people aren’t but tons of people are. No one is everyone’s sexual ideal; everyone is someone’s, as long as you can own the person who’s in your skin.

How do you maintain your mental health as an entrepreneur?

There’s an inherent assumption there that my mental health is maintained! For me, the key is to let myself have time with my brain off. I watch a lot of TV to unwind. I try not to drive myself crazy about the things that don’t get done. And I try to spend one day a week in bed to recharge.

Images edited by Leonor Carvalho | SOURCE: Dame Products

To learn more about Dame Products and snag a cool new toy for sex, be sure to check out their site!

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