Written for FLARE‘s 9-5 series.

What was your experience looking through the actual merchandise? When you go on a website or into a store, you see the same thing over and over again and  I didn’t understand what made something good. There are different price points for sex toys that look exactly the same. So I took it upon myself to do a lot of research and figure out what makes a good one and I learned that most of what’s sold is incredibly toxic, which is crazy because these are products that you put in or around your body—yet, they shouldn’t be anywhere near your body.

How did you find safe products? I would buy items. Some things have a very toxic smell, like chemicals or a tire. I’d put these products up to my mouth and they’d kind of burn right away—so yeah, you shouldn’t be putting that inside yourself! I also talked to a lot of my friends in the sex community, including sex workers and people who work in education, and get a sense of what they use. There’s also a lot of great blogs online too, like Dangerous Lilly, who will burn dildos to see if they’re actually made of silicone. [Non-silicone toys will generally catch fire and deform dramatically, unlike silicone ones.]

When did you decide to start your own store? I’ve always wanted to start my own store, any store really, because I’ve worked for a lot of small businesses and done pretty much every aspect of running a small business aside from owning it. I was looking for something that I could be passionate about, and this just kind of fell into my lap. At first I thought that I would just do a store that was curated and cutesy, but when I started researching I realized I could do so much more in terms of making a statement about having gender neutral and body-safe products. It’s kind of sad that that’s a novel thing to do.

Read the full story here.