Interview: Alicia Sinclair
Below is an interview with Alicia Sinclair, founder of b-Vibe. b-Vibe is a premium, certified body-safe collection of healthy anal sex products founded by this Certified Sex Expert. Their high-end design is combined with engaging branding and marketing, which is focused on conveying sex positive education with a fun, friendly approach.
Bitter Blush: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got to where you are now?
Alicia Sinclair: This is my 16th year in the pleasure products industry; my first job out of college was in the business. I started as a receptionist and didn’t think this was going to be a long term position for me, but I honestly fell in love with the industry. At the time I knew that the pleasure products industry had so much potential for growth, just in terms of how the products were packaged, produced, and developed. After working as a receptionist, I worked in other administrative roles before becoming a Sales Assistant, then Sales Director, then VP of Sales.
I used to work for a really well known luxury brand, which was acquired by a private equity company. This caused the company dynamic to change pretty significantly, but I expected this because of previous experience with private equity acquisitions at brands that I’ve worked for. At the time I was also going to school to become a certified sex educator; I just felt that there was a real lack of connection between sexual education and the branding of sex toys. This felt like a huge problem to me: how do we teach people to use these products if there’s no comprehensive sex-positive education to accompany it? So, from all of these experiences, the brain-child of b-Vibe was developed!
I was learning a lot in a class called Non-Vanilla Sex, which is basically anal play. They spoke a lot about how much pleasure there is in the anal sphincter and how all bodies can experience pleasure. This class really appealed to me because it connected with my own experience with anal play, and feeling like there were no resources for the answers to questions that I had. I would often wonder: “How do you get a penis in there?” or “Is it supposed to hurt?”. There was no single company making products specifically for anal play at the time, and there still isn’t aside from b-Vibe. We’ve really innovated this category of sex toys through our bright, colorful branding and incorporating what we call the Equal Opportunity Orifice into everything we do. This explains that regardless of your gender or sexual orientation you body can experience pleasure.
BB: How can people have anal sex safely or use b-Vibe products to do so?
AS: Every b-Vibe product comes with a little booklet called The Guide to Anal Play, which you can also download for free on our website. It’s essentially the CliffNotes for all things butt stuff. It’s totally non-gendered and is made for all people. We talk about hygiene, anatomy, using the right sized products, lubrication, how long a plug should stay in the body, etc. It covers all the basics for when you’re getting started with anal play.
On our website we also have an anal play advice section that we update monthly, with over 25 different articles answering questions like: “Does it hurt”, “Is it dirty?”, to more specific questions like: “I’m a heterosexual man and I like it when people play with my butt, does that make me gay?” or “As a woman, does liking anal sex make me a slut?”. Education on the subject of anal sex is super important, and we have tons of resources available for folks! Everything is written by sex educators and is very sex positive.
BB: What would you say are your most popular products? Is there a couple or one that really stands out.
AS: Yes! The Rimming plugs, which come in two sizes (original and petite), are pretty popular. The original is about the size of an average penis; it’s about 5.5 inches of insertable length. The petite size, while smaller, has the exact same features. What makes them really special is that they both have dual stimulation: the anal sphincter has about half as many nerve endings as the clitoris, and about the same amount as the head of a penis. All manufacturers have pretty much ignored this area as a potential pleasure zone. Essentially the Rimming plugs are like the Rabbit for your butt, it has rotating beads in the neck so you can stimulate the anal sphincter, and the option to go left or right, fast or slow, etc. Additionally there’s a vibrating motor on the inside so you can experience pleasure inside the anal canal as well.
The Snug Plugs are actually the only butt plugs that are marketed for comfortable long-term wear, which sounds weird to say but a lot of folks wear butt plugs for more than just their sexual experience (they might wear them during the day or as a warm up). They have a super comfortable base and a torpedo-like shape and are weighted. We have five sizes, each increasing in weight. You get sensation from the movement of the weight, but that sensation of heaviness is really hard to find for something that’s wearable.
BB: Wow this is cool! It sounds like you’re being very considerate and inclusive of all of the reasons why someone would want to wear or use your products. I know you spoke about straight heterosexual girls asking if they were a slut for liking anal play and straight heterosexual men asking if they were gay for liking it too. Are there other common misconceptions about anal play or questions that people ask about it when trying to get engaged with this kind of stuff?
AS: Some common questions or scenarios that we hear of pretty often are often fear-based. For example, there are lots of folks who have a vagina in heterosexual relationships that are on the receiving end of anal play, who think that it’s something that they’re doing for their partner. When we do Anal Play 101 workshops with retailers, that’s a common sentiment that we hear. To combat their fears and anxiety about anal play, we try to redirect that conversation by asking questions like: “How did you learn about your vulva? Did you just put something in your vagina on day one? Or did you experiment with your clitoris a little bit? Did you hump a doll or a pillow? Did you start off with a small vibrator and work your way up to a big one?” That’s the same way we want people to think about their butt; maybe start with your fingers or rub a vibrator on there. Don’t make it a zero-to-penis scenario or a zero-to-dildo scenario; take it easy and build up time to experiment.
BB: Okay, let’s say someone wants to try anal play but they may not be able to afford certain toys or products. What is a cost-effective way for them to engage in this type of sexual activity without spending a money?
AS: Your fingers are your best friend! We really heavily recommend this because you get to be the giver and the receiver. When we do consumer shows and talks, we often ask people how many fingers they play with in order to gauge what kinds of toys might be good for them. Your fingers belong to you, they’re free, and you’re able to stop if you experience discomfort or continue if you like what you feel. We also recommend the shower as a great place to start discovering your anal sphincter because some people are worried about hygiene or getting poop on their fingers. The caveat that I want to mention though is that anything you put in your butt needs to have some sort of flared base or a retrieval handle. This is because products can get sucked inside the body, it’s not an old wives’ tale! And because the colon is very long and leads into the intestines, we want people to be safe and avoid trips to the emergency room. Also, anything that has a handle that’s at least as wide as the widest part of the plug works well too.
Our cheapest silicone product is $45, but if that is still too much to spend folks can definitely find products for $20 from retailers like Babeland or Good Vibrations.
BB: That makes a lot of sense! So, b-Vibe makes a huge effort to educate people on inclusivity. Could you talk a little bit about the tools that you’ve created and distributed? How do you know what to teach people? What tools are you making and how effective do you think they are at educating people on anal play?
AS: Education is part of our core mission, and you’ll see that reflected in pretty much every part of the product. It’s a learning opportunity! If you open a box for one of our products there’s more than just a user manual: there’s a guide to anal play (which is encased in the product because we want people to see it) and then there are the 5 key points about the product as you open the box. They’re right there, you can’t miss them, they’re like a table of contents. The outside of the packaging has a profile with multiple couples, probably somewhere between 18-50, to emphasize that anal play really is for anyone. We feature couples of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and ages; it’s really an educational moment for everyone.
BB: Is anal play becoming more popular these days, and if so why do you think that is? Or is it just that the stigma is lessening over time?
AS: They’re both true, but I also think that there’s more access to information and more press now. Personally, I write a lot and have been featured in publications such as PopSugar, Marie Claire, and Cosmopolitan. A lot of these brands cater more to cis and heterosexual people, and it’s been really great to work with them to help break down the barriers that a lot of people have about anal play. Also, millennials tend to be more open to new information and adult store spaces are getting better and better over time. As we say in our office: anal is the new oral! We’re really looking at a new frontier.
BB: So what’s b-Vibe’s next frontier? What should people be looking out for or looking forward to.
AS: We’re changing all of our marketing and packaging for 2019, and we’re going to really be emphasizing that everyone has a butt and that everyone can experience pleasure. We’ll also be partnering with key influencers to help spread that message. Also, we’ll be coming out with more products; they’ll be more innovative and some at a lower price-point. We have a really aggressive schedule for next year with lots of stuff planned for different folks, so stay tuned!