We *virtually* sat down with Dame's CEO, Alex Fine, who is probably one of the coolest women you'll ever meet. Her own personal experience of women’s sexuality being second, along with no dialogue around women’s sexuality was her main incentive for starting Dame. We talked about everything from closing the pleasure gap and breaking the stigma around female pleasure to Dame's mission and how that came about...
Tell us about the wear-testing process. How does this affect the final product? How does feedback play a role in your curation/development process?
When developing any of our products, we apply extensive research, smart design principles, and – perhaps most importantly – empathy.
Through our research arm, Dame Labs, our customers inform so much of our product development process. From the type of stimulation a product provides to where each button is placed, we test every detail with real people to ensure we’re providing real solutions for the bedroom – not just prescribing what we think people want/need. The Dame community is working to humanize a product space that isn’t always speaking to the audience it serves
When building the brand. How did you look to ensure Dame was set apart from the other sexual wellness companies?
We believe that our careful approach to product-design, branding and messaging have made this an accessible category for many who might not otherwise have considered it—and in that sense, set us apart from other companies. We're constantly striving to make our brand and messaging more mainstream-accessible, whether that's through getting coverage in outlets like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Wired, selling in retailers like Free People, Urban Outfitters, Goop, and Revolve, or creating shame-free, tasteful advertising.
Any pro tips on introducing sex toys into the bedroom? Feeling confident? Making sure partner’s don’t feel intimidated.
If you want to find intimacy (in the form of sex toys) with a partner, I suggest taking a little time to sit together and talk about your relationship and what cultivating intimacy looks like to you. Focus on what you’ll be exploring together. Start with “I” statements, such as “I’d like to try something new with you.” and “I saw this sex toy online. Would you be interested in trying it with me?”
Make space for your partner to express any hesitations or insecurities. It’s also helpful to have these conversations outside of the bedroom, as we often feel extra-vulnerable when we’re naked in bed.
How did you curate a community around Swell?
We’re so lucky to have an incredible community with Dame Labs already. When it comes to Swell, it’s so easy to rally folks around sexual health and wellness education (which may seem surprising!). By having a diverse range of voices, several experts weighing in, and compelling content where folks can come to answer their questions around sex (and more), we’re thankful to be a go-to source for a well-informed community when it comes to sexual wellness.
We know there’s been a number of hurdles for you (and other brands) advertising via traditional streams. How have you got around these antiquated standards?
Advertising has been incredibly challenging. We set out 6 years ago to change the pleasure gap. We cannot fully execute on our mission while being blocked from sharing our story by outdated (and inherently sexist) advertising regulations. This includes social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, physical spaces like the MTA, banks, office spaces, and fundraising platforms (we overcame the latter and became the first sex toy company to advertise on Kickstarter in 2016). However, we’ve been allowed to advertise on the streets of New York — which has been amazing. Otherwise, a majority of our “advertising” comes from the press, a candid social media presence, and word of mouth!