Meet the Couple Who Built a Sex Toy Empire
Brian and Suki Dunham are the kind of couple you'd expect to see at a Sunday night potluck. What you wouldn't know about the pair upon first notice, however, is that they're sex toy moguls.
In 2006 Brian and Suki started OhMiBod, an award-winning company that specializes in tech-focused pleasure products. In layman's terms, remote-controlled vibrators. So, why did this couple leave two high-paying jobs to embark the world of battery-powered stimulation? We got the chance to talk to Suki and she answered our burning questions.
Talk about your lives pre-OhMiBod.
Brian and I are both products of corporate America. I worked at Apple in worldwide product marketing for close to a decade. There, I learned a lot about creating and marketing great products. Brian also worked for a Fortune 100 company where he was responsible for supply chain solutions management, finance, and a host of other roles that make our partnership in the business we run together today work extremely well.
Why the jump to vibrators?
The concept of music-driven vibration emerged from personal experience. After working at Apple and before starting OhMiBod, I was a stay-at-home mom. At that time, Brian was still in his corporate role and traveling quite a bit. For Christmas one year, he bought me what I call "my two favorite stocking stuffers of all time"...my iPod and my vibrator. When he was away, I found myself listening to the music on my iPod and using my vibrator.
Music became a vehicle to allow me to relax and "enjoy" myself. It allowed for an easy transition from mommy-mode to sexy woman-mode. After the kids were taken care of and tucked into bed, I would use my gifts. The music would play a role in transporting me to a different place mentally and emotionally..
My two favorite stocking stuffers of all time: my iPod and my vibrator.
Once while Brian was away on business, we began to talk about how I used my iPod and vibrator together and how cool it would be to combine music and pleasure to create a truly amazing dual-sensory experience. Voila, the concept was born.
How did your tech backgrounds contribute to the success of your toys?
Both in what we knew, but more importantly what we didn't know about the toy industry. We approached everything we did with a fresh set of eyes. From product design, to packaging, to technology integration. We believe that this approach allowed us to develop our brand and products without the influence of the history in the industry and how things were done in the past.
...the only difference that separates [sex toys and Viagra] is the power of large pharmaceutical companies.
What toy in your line are you most proud of?
If I had to choose I would say our Lovelife collection as a whole and our blueMotion product. The Lovelife collection was designed and developed as a celebration of [me and Brian's] love life. Last year we celebrated 26 years together, so we decided to deviate from our technology driven path for a bit to develop a simply beautiful line of adult toys.
The products speak to the values that we believe are critical in any successful love life. Each piece in this collection won an award this year and even the Lovelife packaging has been awarded a design award.
What's the biggest problem with America's sex toys at the moment?
We don't really see a problem with America's sex toys, but instead with the social stigma that is still attached to them. Inherently, sex toys have been dogged with the misconceptions of yesteryear. Far too often, people think about sex toys in a negative, threatening way. These misconceptions create unnecessary barriers which prevent singles and couples from exploring and enjoying these products in a very sex-positive and healthy way.
Far too often, people think about sex toys in a negative, threatening way.
Over the last seven years, we've been working to tear down these barriers and to communicate the benefits of self-pleasure and the reality that a healthy sex life is part of a healthy existence.
Well, the other obstacle faced by the sex toy industry in America is double standards. For instance, a Viagra commercial faces no problem running on major cable networks during prime time television, however, pleasure products are somehow considered "prurient" and cannot enjoy this same marketing advantages.
A healthy sex life is part of a healthy existence.
One has to ask, how are these so different? Both are, in the end, promoting a healthy sexual life. You might say that the only differences that separate the two are the money and power of large pharmaceutical companies.
What's your end goal with OhMiBod? Is there one?
OhMiBod's mission has been very simple from the start: to play a significant role in shifting cultural attitudes about sexuality and self-pleasure. We work everyday to move this mission forward by producing beautifully designed and packaged products and marketing them to women, men and couples in a very sex positive way.
We want the consumer to feel that purchasing products like ours is not only fun, but healthy for themselves and their relationships.