We get lots of sex toys sent to us at The Frisky’s office. Like, lining-the-bookshelves lots. Don’t get us wrong: we’ll never say no to a new vibrator or free condoms. But truth be told, the packaging and aesthetic of so many sex toys give us a seedy vibe. We don’t want our sex toys to make us feel like we’re lurking around at the tawdry XXX Love Emporium on the side of the highway. We want our sex toys to remind us of the classy, sexy, sensual women that we are. [Unless we're using them as decorative conversation starters, that is. -- Amelia]
Right from the get-go, the Unbound box felt different: it’s a nondescript white box that arrives in the mail through a subscription service and is filled with sex toys all geared towards women. The toys hail from quality companies like Babeland, Lelo and Glas Toys and are meant for use with partners of any gender or sexual orientation. My Unbound box came in the mail with a clitoral vibrator, a glass dildo, lubricant, condoms, a lingerie bag, and a spare contact lens case to carry in my purse for “sleepovers” — score! When I found out that Unbound is a women-owned startup and that the three founders — Greer, Sarah Jayne and Katie — select all the sex toys themselves, I knew I had to talk to them.
Here’s what a couple of the Unbound cofounders Greer Goldenberg and Sarah Jayne Kinney have to say about their great idea:
The Frisky: What’s an Unbound box and what might I find in it?
The Unbound Girls: An Unbound Box is a quarterly delivery of vetted and adored erotic products. We explore a new theme every three months and center our product selection on that idea (past themes include Anticipation, Escape, Power). We generally include five to seven items — we pack essentially anything that exists under the sexual pleasure and sexual health umbrella. In every box you’ll also get some helpful guidance to get things going.
How did you all meet each other and come up with the idea? And why are the boxes just for women?
Well, some of us met in college in the Midwest. Once we made our way to New York, we reconnected and over drinks (of course) and got into a discussion of how bleak and unwelcoming the entire sexual product sphere can be for women. There are amazing brands doing wonderful and innovative things in this space and yet some of us are still buying vibrators at a sex toy shop on I-75 or Sixth Ave and have little opportunity to ask questions about using them. Unbound answers that “Am I doing this right?” question that we all inevitably ask ourselves. As for forming a company, I think we just really liked each other and thought, this might be a little crazy but we should just DO it.
How do you choose the toys? Who chooses the toys? What’s the point of having different themes for different boxes?
We start by picking a theme, which we arrive at based on our own curiosities and feedback from our subscribers. We have really wonderful subscribers that are excited to try new products (and adventures!). They definitely guide the direction of the product selection as well. And the theme helps give some context around the products so they all make sense together. The decision on actual product comes from a variety of factors: we may have a specific company in mind that we’d love to feature, or we might decide on a type of product that fits the theme and then explore what the market offers there. And of course, we test the products (woo hoo!), assess every aspect of the product (sex toy spreadsheets!) and discuss their pros and cons as a group.
I know that you’re a startup, technically speaking. Has it been difficult raising funding for any sexist reasons — A, that’s women’s sexual pleasure-centered but B, because you are women, period?
We haven’t actively pursued funding as of yet but its something we’re hoping to do in the future. Of course, the funding statistics surrounding female-founded startups are not pretty. We heard from an angel investor at the Women’s Leadership Summit this morning that 5 percent of venture capitalist funding goes to female-founded companies. When the time is right for us, the best thing we can do with a statistic like that is change it and not let it deter us. Our experience so far with the startup community has been a positive one; we hope to have that same experience when we seek funding. Plus we have a physical product not just a website or an app, so we are really looking forward to presenting a panel of potential investors with a box with some of our favorite saucy products. We’ll let you know how that goes!
Your FAQ section says, “We think there’s more to exploring female pleasure than just vibrators.” It sounds like you think some toys or practices are ignored or even maligned? Can you expound on that?
While a vibrator might be the first thing that comes to mind when people think of sex toys for women, there are a wide variety of interesting products and companies to try. We don’t want subscribers to think they’ll just get a new vibrator every three months. We want to challenge you a little, and maybe even get you to love a product you never pictured yourself using.
Do you consider yourself feminists? Sex positive feminists? Can you expound on that?
We absolutely identify as feminists individually. As far as Unbound being a feminist company? I think that just happens when you have a company started by people who are feminists. It should go without saying that women should face as few barriers as possible when it comes to enjoying and exploring their sexuality. Whether Unbound does this by introducing new products or by publishing sex-positive content on the site that encourages women to feel confident about their bodies and tastes. We’re partner-agnostic and don’t assume to know who our readers are sleeping with, and we’re very intentional about making sure that no one is alienated by our word choice (if you ever see us slip up, please call us on it — there is always room to be better at this). We’re huge advocates of safer sex and send a condom in every box because we want women to feel confident carrying, buying, and using condoms. To us, it’s the most obvious thing in the world that sex should be a good thing — maybe the best thing. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.
There’s also an online magazine on the Unbound web site. What’s that about?
We publish helpful product information, original erotica, and other sexual lifestyle articles on our site to complete the Unbound Box experience. We want to do more than just send a box with a, “thanks and good luck!” What’s the point of sending Kegel balls if you don’t provide a FAQ … how else would people know if you can pee with them in? The point is to start and continue a conversation with our Unbounders in a tone that’s honest but informed. We want women to be just as comfortable and savvy about discussing their sex toys, as they are about cosmetics or clothes or any other consumer good.
The next Unbound box has the theme “Power” and includes toys like Ben Wa (luna beads) balls, arousal balm, and a sexy silk blindfold. Check out more about the Unbound boxes and the Unbound magazine at UnboundBox.com!
Follow me on Twitter. Email me at Jessica@TheFrisky.com.
[Image of roleplaying woman via Shutterstock]