We live in an era when more transparent conversations about sex are taking place, and we’re finally centering women’s sexual pleasure. With that comes the radical notion of sex-positivity, or the idea that sex should be a mutually safe, consensual, and amazing time for both (or more) partners. Women have long been shamed for engaging in sex, and as we continue to remove the stigma that surrounds women and their sexuality, it’s important to find out what feels good to and for our bodies.
One of the best ways to explore what turns you on and what gets you off is through masturbation, and the sexual wellness market continues to step up its game when it comes to sex toys for solo (or partnered) sex. In other words, there are countless vibrators and dildos available for women to reclaim their sexual pleasure. Bonus: masturbation and the exploration of new ways to get off counts as self-care.
There are a million places to purchase vibrators and sex toys these days, but who would know more about how to design products that truly cater to our bodies than other women? If you’re on the hunt for some good vibrations, check out one or all of the women-owned sexual wellness brands below for your next vibrator or sex toy.
Ever since CEO Polly Rodriguez helped to co-found Unbound Babes, the brand has gone from an idea birthed in its founders’ tiny N.Y.C. apartments to a full-fledged sexual wellness startup. These days, it offers a quarterly subscription box, an online shop, and editorial content via Unbound Magazine.
With a frank and whimsical approach to women’s sexuality, Unbound is “changing how feminists explore and enjoy their sex lives.”
In an interview with La Femme Collective, Rodriguez recounted her story of being diagnosed with cancer in 2008 at age 21 and the struggle to find sexual wellness products to ease the effects of her diagnosis.
“I had a friend who was a nurse who told me to go out and buy lubricant and a vibrator because going through cancer in general really wreaks havoc on your libido and sense of sexuality,” said Rodriguez. “The only place in my hometown of St. Louis that sold [these products] was Hustler Hollywood, on the side of the highway.”
Since then, Rodriguez and Unbound have worked to destigmatize women’s sexuality and make conversations about sex and pleasure products more positive. The company has also worked to radically improve the experience of shopping for a sex toy—too many of our initial experiences shopping for vibrators and sex stuff took place at seedy shops that made us feel uncomfortable and unsafe. Unbound’s website even has a “vibrator matchmaker quiz” to pair you with your perfect vibrator; a fan favorite is the Squish, an egg-shaped vibrator that lets you customize its vibration patterns.
Maude’s tagline is “Sex made simple,” and the brand lives up to that promise. It offers paired-down sex essentials that are sleek, non-gendered, and right on trend with the minimalist millennial aesthetic.
Originally founded by entrepreneurs Eva Goicochea and Dina Epstein, the brand was born from a desire to have a more unisex approach to sex and pleasure essentials, in addition to helping customers narrow down product options, which can be overwhelming when it seems like every day there’s a new sex toy on the market.
In a 2016 interview with Konbini, Goicochea said, “Sex is universal.” She added, “We wanted to create a brand that offers modern sex essentials to all people”
From the looks of it, Maude is winning in that arena by not only offering a gender-inclusive brand, but also a customizable shopping experience—customers can enter their first name/age and answer a few lifestyle questions to build their own sex kit; kits can include the brand’s essentials, such as its organic personal lubricant, Shine, or the slim Vibe personal massager.
If you have plenty of coin to spare, then consider buying the Lioness Vibrator. Dubbed a “smart” vibrator, it features sensor feedback technology that can be synced to an app, which then allows you to explore patterns from your solo sessions and literally track your pleasure.
Co-founders Liz Klinger and Anna Lee are working to offer women “pleasure with a purpose” by helping them to understand and explore their bodies. According to the brand’s website, Klinger saw a need for more resources to answer her and other women’s questions about sex, which her conservative, Midwestern upbringing didn’t really offer.
As for Klinger’s hope for the future, “We’ll look back and see the year 2018 as the dark ages of female sexuality and pleasure, and realize that our understanding of sexuality was (is) very narrow and limited,” she said in a blog post on Lioness’s website.