Interview; Lauren Clair
Founder & director of Nikki Darling
“Being a small business owner who promotes sexual health and pleasure, really exposes you to the social stigma that exists around sex.”
(Illustration by Matto Lucas)
When people come to ND, what will they find?
Online, people will find a clean, accessible website with a curated range of body-safe products, plenty of useful product care information and a growing educational component. We allow folk to search for toys by type, by body usage or by collections like Under $50 or Ergonomic & Disability. We are also often available to chat with via our website chat function. In person, a big smile and an ample supply of demo models of the toys and accessories we sell online, so you can ask questions and see new and interesting toys up close (and sometimes selections from my personal collection of vintage vibrators!)
What's been the driving force behind starting Nikki Darling?
When I started Nikki Darling, there were no stores in Australia that didn't have a gendered approach to toys. That never made sense to me - firstly, anybody can use a vibrator, and secondly, these are products that do not need to be gendered, and do not benefit from that categorisation. I also wanted to bring exciting indie brands like New York Toy Collective to Australia. I knew I had the drive and support to start my dream sexual health and pleasure business, so I put my money where my mouth was and Nikki Darling was born!
Colourful, Playful, Educational.
In Nikki Darling's core values, you talk about accessibility. Tell us a bit about what this means and how do you incorporate this into ND?
Our tagline is Sex Toys are for Every Body and I try to incorporate that ethos into the product selection and the way I talk about the toys on the site. In person, it means working with accessible venues for our events, always honouring companion cards, making sure there is appropriate seating for larger bodies, and so on. Accessibility is one of our core values because everyone has the right to information about sexual health and pleasure.
Do you see sex education changing within the next 2 years?
I think sex education is always changing. Slowly, and sometimes moving backwards before moving forwards, but always shifting. I'm looking forward to digging further into the future of sex education in 2019 as part of my Postgraduate studies in Sexology.
What are some of the things you have done to help sex positivity and how can others incorporate this into their day to day?
Sexologist Dr Carol Queen describes sex positivity (in part) as a way to critique our current sex-negative culture, and as an attitude that one has regarding people's sexual rights. Kate Kenfield, the founder of Sex Geekdom, talks about being a 'Beacon of Permission' to people who are learning about sex. I try to incorporate these ideas into my work, and how I live my life. I try to create spaces that affirm people's sexual rights, hold space for the complex feelings we may have around sex, and give people permission to experience and relate to their sexuality in the way that is right for them. I'd encourage folk to read Dr Carol Queen's 'What Sex-Positivity Is -- And Is Not' and Kate Kenfield's 'What is a "Beacon of Permission?"' Both are great starting points to thinking about what leading a sex-positive life looks like.
Lastly, where do you see ND heading in the next 5 years?
I have lots of exciting plans, but all I will say for now is that you can expect to see a lot more of Nikki Darling in Melbourne in the next five years! ;)