The Stress-Free Way to Find Your Vibrator The Stress-Free Way to Find Your Vibrator

The Stress-Free Way to Find Your Vibrator

by Emily Gaynor

Still life images: Unbound

Valentine’s Day can conjure up some pretty divergent thoughts depending on how you feel about the holiday. For some, it’s a festive day filled with (too much) candy and (just enough) love (whether that be with an S.O., friends, or family). For others, Valentine’s Day exists as a negative reminder of what you might not have. At Milk Makeup, we’re taking the positive parts of V-Day and running with them. Whether you choose to acknowledge the Hallmark aspects of the day or not, we think it can be a great time to shoutout your crew, gift people who make your life a bit better and take a moment or two for yourself. The Milk Fam got together to share who makes them glow, but we also linked up with rad people who have shaken up their respective V-Day-related industries to get their perspectives on the saccharine-filled 24 hours. As it turns out, V-Day has evolved in a pretty cool way. Meet Polly Rodriguez, CEO of breakthrough sex toy and accessory shop Unbound.

Milk Makeup: How did you start Unbound/get the idea to turn your industry on its head?
Polly Rodriguez: For me, Unbound needed to exist. I had cancer at the age of 21. Part of my treatment involved going through radiation. My doctor told me that I’d never have children. I didn’t fully know what it meant. I went through menopause at that young age. As I learned what all of this meant for my body, I also started realizing that there were no brands that made products for sex that weren’t sold in a sleazy or embarrassing way.

Career-wise, I started by working for Senator Claire McCaskill, then on Wall Street, and then at a dating startup. I noticed that there were many direct-to-consumer brands coming up in verticals like sunglasses, makeup, and razors, but nothing related to sex. I started Unbound in 2014 when I met Sarah Jayne and it’s been a little over three years since we kicked off. It began as a subscription box. We had a hypothesis that women wanted to try products in this category, but there was a paradox of choice. Then, we decided to give customers products a la carte. This past December, we took the information from our three to four years of learning what women have been loving and not loving and came up with our own products.

MMU: What has been your biggest career milestone?
Polly: Coming out with our own products has been a huge milestone. It takes a lot of money to make hardware for any product. We are the first company that makes vibrators, lubes, and sex accessories to raise venture funding. Coming up with the products and raising the money to do so has been huge for us.

MMU: How did you convince people you were doing something different/cool?
Polly: It still takes time. After Trump got elected, we huddled as a team. We hadn’t been very political at that point, we stayed pretty natural. When the election happened, we doubled down on our values. We sent Planned Parenthood a check for $12K. We decided to be a little controversial and talk directly to a group of people that love the brand and what we stand for over being bland, or neutral, and not having an opinion. We attempt to be both fearless and also relatable…and hopefully funny sometimes. Sex is hard to talk about! We always say, “Don’t address the elephant in the room, lean into it.” Be honest and find the humor in being brutally transparent about things. There is a lot of humor in shared human experiences. That, plus, being thoughtful, inclusive, fact-driven in language, and non-apologetic. We don’t advertise on Facebook, Instagram or in the MTA. You can have Trojan, or breast augmentation ads on the subway, but female pleasure and vibrators are considered inappropriate. So, we also made our online magazine for our customer. It allows us to speak to our audience as a resource. Millennials are Googling their sexual questions, so we’re there.

MMU: Was there ever a time when you thought you fucked your career up or felt scared about the direction of your future?
Polly: The first three months to a year that I started Unbound, every other week, my mom would call and say, “Why are you doing this? Why are you throwing your career in a trash can?” She’s from a different generation. Back then, women being openly sexual ruined their reputations. The older female demographic had to separate sexuality from their professional selves. She feared that if Unbound failed, I’d never be able to get a job elsewhere. And it wasn’t easy. We couldn’t get a co-working office space. We faced so many hurdles because of stigmas associated with female sexuality. There were times when I wanted to give up. I put my whole life savings into the company.

MMU: What does Valentine’s Day mean to you?
Polly: I used to hate Valentine’s Day. I’m perpetually single. But I decided I was going to take back the holiday. Now, I send out Valentine’s Day cards to people I love like my mentors, family, and also to guys I’m dating. I think it’s important that we stop selling the narrative of a cis/hetero Valentine’s Day. It’s always good to remind the people in your life how much you love them. I used to make handmade cards, now I’ll go to amazing card shops, like the one in Chelsea Market, to pick mine out.

MMU: How do you celebrate?
Polly: This year, we’re celebrating at Unbound with a campaign called Give a F*ck. If you buy a vibrator, you can gift one to anyone in your life for free. In this age, there’s so much necessary focus on sexual harassment and sexual assault. But, I also want a positive narrative surrounding vibrators and sexuality. We need to learn how to have these conversations in the right way and to have them with the people that you love.

MMU: What are you giving your people for V-Day this year?
Polly: I have given vibrators to so many of my friends. They all love it. Whenever we have new products at Unbound, I will buy them and gift them to my all of my friends. I’ll always ask them if they want that first, of course. But this year I’ll be giving our Oh! To Go Bag.

MMU: What does self-love mean to you? How do you practice self-love?
Polly: I really do believe that masturbation is important. I think this new wave of mindfulness and meditation is great. And masturbation is one of the most important forms of self-love. I make time for myself in my own life and make sure that I practice what I preach.

MMU: How does Unbound stand out/be fresh for V-Day?
Polly: We focus on the narrative that the holiday is not limited to couples. It’s about women and femme-identifying people loving their bodies. The last few years, we’ve done this piece of content that’s Valentine’s Day from different perspectives. It’s what does it look like as a single person, as a person who is dating, as someone who is in a committed relationship. It stays fresh and relevant because we try to focus on self-love regardless. The holiday isn’t defined as how other people perceive you, but more about how you see yourself. We’re trying to focus on people encouraging other people that they’re worthy of self-love in a non-trite way. You don’t need a vibrator, you deserve one.