What It’s Really Like to Design and Create a Sex Toy

sex toy

Like meditation or a weekend message, self-pleasure is an important ritual that belongs in the self-care portfolio. Not only does masturbation work wonders to improve your skin, but orgasms have been proven to improve sleep and support a healthy immune system, among a plethora of other benefits.

With self-pleasure becoming an increasing priority, a new movement towards tech-forward sex toys has taken off. Whereas the sex toy arena received a sleazy marketing treatment in the past, things have certainly changed in recent years to prioritise sleek, chic and tried and tested sex toys for people with penises and vulvas.

Rosewell is one such brand with a simple mission: to make sexual wellness and intimacy products designed for the everyday, human experience.

“We see sexual health as conducive to self-care. Focusing on a safe, comfortable and accessible experience to learn about products and the consideration that’s gone into them is crucial for us,” says co-founder Alisha Williams.

“We want people — of any gender — to be free from judgement and shame and allow them to be their most connected and authentic self. We want people to question outdated narratives and antiquated conversations that typically surround these products and to decide, for themselves, how they should be used. We advocate for simplifying and destigmatising the experience to foster intimacy in everyday moments.”

We sat down with Williams to find out more about what it means to create a sex-positive range of toys and accessories, and exactly what this process entails.

The Latch: Hi Alisha! Can you tell me a little bit more about the decision to launch Rosewell with your own pleasure toys?

Alisha Williams: We are a team of women who have each carved out careers in very traditional avenues prior to working on a sexual wellness brand. Ultimately, Rosewell was born out of each of our own poor experiences in the current sexual wellness market, which also sparked a curiosity within us to start asking questions.

We wanted to know — is this normal? How many other people feel like this? Where were the products that weren’t telling us how to look or behave? What’s in these products? Who are the people behind the leading brands? — and the answers to these questions were far from reassuring. We felt let down from toxic materials misguidedly labelled as ‘body safe’, damaging user information, lack of transparency, and confronting marketing surrounding how users of their products should look and act.

TL: And this sparked an idea to create your own?

AW: The industry really hasn’t moved far from the place it was in 20 years ago. A quick Google search of sex toys will result in large, confusing stores or retailers stocking fluorescent vibrators made of dodgy PVC or thick silicone dildos. Further research into these brands reveals they are mostly male founded, commercialising off female empowerment and sex-positive movements.

We believed that we could do better — where safety, quality and sustainability were non-negotiable, and where sex as a human experience could be nurtured, respected and supported for each individual with no assumptions, stigmas or unrealistic portrayals of what it means to be sexually well.

TL: Love that. Aesthetically, the products are very classy and chic. Was it important for you to follow a more sophisticated appearance?

AW: We looked towards other industries — personal care, beauty and medicine to name a few — to direct the aesthetic of both our brand and products to fit a modern, beautiful and simple experience.

By taking away the confronting nature of a bright pink vibrator and replacing the look with something undetectable as a sex toy was important to us. We knew our packaging, website and branding were all important but we invested our time into creating an entire purchasing experience that felt authentic and unique to each and every person.

rosewell sex toys

TL: So tell me, how exactly did you manufacture the toys?

AW: We spent a lot of time researching commonly used terms such as ‘body safe’, and what this actually means when it comes to materials, manufacturing, testing and Q&A processes. To summarise our findings — body-safe doesn’t mean much at all. Toys marked as body-safe still use cheap, non-porous rubber jelly easily penetrated by bacteria, viruses and fungus. The other popular low-grade alternative is polyvinyl chloride (PVC) found to contain added toxic chemicals called phthalates, which can leak out of toys to impact reproductive health, hormone balance, and have even been linked to breast cancer by breast cancer charities.

It was important to us that our products used the highest-quality medical-grade silicone – the same standard used for menstrual cups or breast implants – which is bio-compatible and non-porous meaning it won’t harbour potentially toxic microorganisms.

TL: How many people were involved? Did you have testers? And how did you engineer the shape and materials?

AW: Not dissimilar to many other industries, it took a lot of trial and error, research and conversations to find a manufacturer whose values aligned with ours. This took almost a year of reviewing manufacturers, requesting samples, testing and asking bigger questions to see how far we could push the process.

When we began sampling, we discussed the products with anyone who was comfortable talking to us. Friends, colleagues, acquaintances, parents — even strangers at a friend’s birthday. We wanted to hear from everyone, including our friends’ younger siblings through to our 60+-year-old mums. We also ran surveys to see what people were looking for and we made product decisions — mainly regarding shape, noise and size – based on this feedback.

These valued and shared experiences made us prioritise our neutral colourways, subtle motors and that the materials were of a quality we were proud of, we began ordering small batches of each product so we can improve frequently.

Rosewell’s range of sex-positive products, including sex toys, oil conversation cards is available to purchase online now