About a year ago I mentioned, to a friend, an idea I had for my business. Rather than stocking well-known brands, like other adult shops, I wanted to shift to stocking mostly independent adult toy brands. I thought it would give me a point of difference in the adult business world, and allow me to support other small businesses. I felt it was an ingenious idea, it wouldn’t be easy, but I was enthused!
I found myself a smidgen ticked off, to say the least. Enough to write angry blog posts, numerous posts I should say…in my head. But with a giant F-U to them, I began changing my business model, into that of a handmade sex toy specialist. Indie brands, here I come!
Moving forward about six months.
I was reminded, by the lovely Emmaline Peaches, that perhaps I should write a blog about my experiences with indie sex toy brands, particularly why I found them to be necessary for the adult industry. I immediately began drafting a blog post again. But this time I wrote it down. It’s changed about 50 times, and including rewritings reached over 10,000 words.
I’m trying to analyse and build a picture of something, that to me is just is. It’s a given that people would buy handmade. It’s one of those moments when I respond with an intellectual ‘derr’ and look at people like they’re the crazy ones for even asking why handmade.
I feel a bit like the sweet, yet out of his field, lawyer Dennis Denuto from the Australian movie The Castle. Remember the infamous court scene, and Dennis is trying to explain which area of the constitution has been breached? And all he comes up with is ‘It’s the vibe of the thing, your honour…’. Now that may sound a little out of context for some, but the same confusion Dennis has explaining and finding the answers, is the same as I feel when trying to justify and defend supporting indie sex toy companies – anything handmade for that matter. Why wouldn’t you? They’re awesome, and don’t you want to support small businesses? Derr sums it all up for me.
By the way, if you haven’t seen the classic film The Castle, please find it and watch it, it will fill you with the warm and fuzzies.
So insert some montage music here, and allow me to jot down a few reasons I believe we need to support indie sex toy brands, or any indie business for that matter, like mine (shameless self-plug there) and why they’re invaluable to the sex toy industry.
They’re the bomb!
I understand most people would put this at the end of their list and use it as the ‘and finally but not least..’ section. But damn it! It’s my blog, and I’m putting it first!
Indie sex toy brands, in my opinion as a sex toy user and retailer, outdo major brands AND they achieve that without the teams of marketers, designers, time, and money behind them. Most of the indie brands are a made up of a team of one or two, with the odd help from friends and family. They’re often doing this while maintaining a full-time job or studying. They’ll all have a home that needs attending, and possibly a family. I know exactly what that’s like as I’m a team of one business myself, I find that empowering beyond words. Remember also that they’re working in a field which has a rather large negative stamp on it, things like finding a bank to work with you is a fight; social media promotion is a fight, society is a fight. To enter a field like this, I think that makes them pretty amazing.
They help keep the industry accountable
The key element to indie brand, well, it’s in the name really, is its independence. While it does have a few cons – what small business doesn’t though – it’s heavily outweighed by its pros. The very nature of an indie sex toy brand is the very thing a bigger brand is consistently chasing. Uniqueness, quality, fun, integrity, creativity, authenticity, a wow factor, and sex positivity. All these ingredients are at the core of an indie brand, yet rather elusive to established adult sex toy brands. Regardless how much money is spent on market research and marketing, big brands rarely will have all the above elements, but they want it. Let me quickly insert here, there are a few important adult brands that are moving in a positive direction, I’m just generalising over the entire adult sex industry.
This need for a big brand to be the top dog, and outperform their competition, has lead to positive changes in the industry. They’ve had to remodel their businesses, develop new products, become more inclusive (at this stage this means becoming ‘women friendly’), and give the consumer what they want. Well, attempt to. In the long run, we, the consumer, end up with safer, higher quality products. Not to mention an improved advertising and packaging, fewer boobs and crotches, and more about the product. Yay!
The threat that indie brands have caused to larger companies, may not look very big on the surface, but I guarantee you, under it, market research departments are going nuts trying to emulate the ‘feel’ of an indie brand. They’ll be able to create a certain amount, money can buy a lot, but it will all be artificial, and not compare to the what the indie brands naturally have. And consumers these days are savvy shoppers and can tell fake from the real thing. I feel the rise of indie adult brands has ruffled many a feather and increased the safety of products being produced. Thank you inie brnads.
Sex bloggers and sex educators alike have been working together to help promote sex positivity, shame-free sex, inclusivity, body positivity, alternate lifestyles. Spreading a general message of your body, your rules, and wherever you’re at on your sex exploration journey, that’s ok. The fight for sex positivity could not be achieved without the continuing support, intentional or not, from the indie sex toy brands. Through their openness on social media, their words, and sex toy designs, they have become an important ally in the pursuit of sex positive and inclusive sex education. Go team indie!
The fight for sex positivity could not be achieved without the continuing support, intentional or not, from the indie sex toy brands. Through their openness on social media, their words, and sex toy designs, they have become an important ally in the pursuit of sex positive and inclusive sex education. Go team indie!
Celebrating the non-traditional and non-normative
If you pop on over to an online sex shop or wander into a ‘traditional’ sex shop, what do you see? I see a never-ending supply of toys with a two colour option, the inevitable purple and black. I see a plethora of ‘realistic’ toys in a variety of skin tones – and by ‘tones’ I mean white. I see toys which are 300+ dollars with questionable ethics, which makes me say WTF to the ones being sold for $20. I see the bulk of products relying on a sentence to hide behind if something goes wrong – ‘Novelty item only’.
I see a shop which is, plain and simply, designed for white, cis people and ‘couple’ (if we’re lucky) oriented.
Let’s look at an indie brand sites – which I’ll pop links at the bottom of blog – I see creativity flowing, I see body-safe products, I see they’re to be used and enjoyed, I see colour, odd shapes, inclusive, pleasure-positive, body-positive language. If you’re into fruit, vegetables, tails, horns, tentacles, eggs, dragons, nuns, guns, posable toys, colourful, actually anything society says isn’t ‘normal’, there will be an indie sex toy company making your dreams come true – and they’re body safe! How cool is that? As the youth say ‘way cool!’ That’s worth celebrating!
Innovative & Healthy
Celebrating the non-traditional and non-normative leads me nicely into innovation. Indie sex toy brands may not have the budget of bigger brands, nor do they incorporate vibrators into their product line. But they have created numerous products which just scream, WOW!, which the big brands aren’t doing – well of late. Toys which can create a blowjob sensation for non-bio penis owners, egg-laying aliens, a posable dildo which can act as a packer for trans guys. Or pastel coloured harnesses, vegan harnesses, knickers beyond the size of ‘one size fits all’, there’s just so much innovation I’m going to be innovative and invent a new word to describe the excitement behind all this innovation. It’s totally Wankabedoodie!
As for being healthy, indie sex toy brands are usually made from body-safe platinum cured silicone, never tested on animals, planet health conscious, and body positive and shame free. We all need some of that.
Have you found a sexy toy and wished it were in a different colour? Or a little bit longer, or shorter? Perhaps you’ve seen an object, maybe a branch, or chocolate bar and thought ‘OMG! That would be great as a dildo!’ Well, sit down for this, because indie brands, the majority of them, can do that for you. Actually, with a quick email and exchange of funds, you can have a custom dildo made just for you with some indie sex toys brands. Wahoo! Talk about serving the people. I love being different, I’ve been it all my life – my hair alone hasn’t allowed me to blend in – and to be able to custom make a dildo, be it from scratch or colour and size, I think is a pure treat. How many big brands can you think of that do that?
So there you have it. Just a few reasons why I feel indie brands are important, and why they’re invaluable to the adult industry. I encourage you to go seek them out, or if you’re planning on buying a sex toy, BDSM gear, any sexy product, do a bit of research first, because there will be an indie brand out there making them. The product you end up will be more distinct, handcrafted, just better than one you can buy in any adult shop. I guarantee it.
Happy orgasms everyone!
Narelle Minx x x x
Time to reveal the Indie Adult Brands! – Toys, BDSM gear, and more!
I’m listing just a few, there are a lot out there. I hope you click on their links, show them some love, and continue to do further research 🙂 Feel free to comment with more if you have a favourite.
In no particular order: (anything in bold is available at my shop theslinkyminx.com.au you can have a peruse there too)