Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Caroline Reis, Co-Founder of flossy, located in Seattle, WA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
flossy is a pleasure-first community supporting you to feel good, your way. We exist to inspire everyone to find their unique pleasure through high-quality pleasure products, open conversations, and a safe space to explore.
Our customers include anyone looking to explore their pleasure. Many of our customers are women and people with vulvas who are interested in enhancing their sexual wellness and normalizing their experience of pleasure.
Tell us about yourself
After an unpleasant experience in a ‘seedy’ adult store, Annie Miller and I set out to make an inclusive, approachable sex shop where pleasure, free of shame and stigma, is priority number one. As best friends turned co-founders, we share the belief that prioritizing pleasure fundamentally impacts the way we connect with ourselves and the world around us. Together, we aim to create a unique space where everyone feels worthy of exploring what feels good.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
So much of our mission is based on giving our community a safe space to express and explore their pleasure. After launching our sexual wellness platform feelflossy.com in 2020, we knew we wanted to expand and deepen the pleasure education for our community beyond the online space. We've recently launched in-home pleasure experiences where groups of 8+ people can connect, learn and explore pleasure products in the comfort of their own homes. These in-person experiences embody a radical acceptance of each person's desires. These are currently offered in our flagship locations – Seattle & Brisbane, Australia – but we plan to expand to metro cities across the US and Australia in the coming year! Join the Pleasure Movement today.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Two things come to mind. The first is both a challenge and a great source of fulfillment that comes with running a business. Having complete control of how I spend my energy on flossy is thrilling. Being at the helm of the business allows me to wake up and decide exactly what I get to focus on that day – often asking myself, "what is inspiring me today?" or "what will move the needle most on our mission today"? On the flip side of this coin, the overwhelm of this can be almost crippling at times because there are an infinite number of things to focus on! Taking a moment to pause, breathe, and intentionally decide what is most worth my energy is one of the most challenging yet rewarding things about being a business owner.
Second is the unique challenge we face in building a business in the sexual wellness space. Whether it's judgemental glances at a dinner party when I tell people I sell sex toys for a living or a complete ban on advertising anything pleasure-related on social media, there are numerous unique barriers that come with working in the sexual wellness space. We are constantly trying to backbend and contort ourselves to fit into what society defines as 'acceptable' when it comes to talking about sex... which, if you can believe, is pretty much nothing! While it's a longer growth trajectory, the opportunity and impact – if you succeed in this space - are far greater than any other industry that doesn't face the same barriers.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Many businesses that you see cropping up that seem to quickly gain followers, investment, or recognition, have some kind of financial backing or someone at the helm who has years of experience starting businesses, and this isn't their first go. If you plan to start a business, you will likely have many moments of wondering if/when things will be successful. There will be many times when you have to do something you have no idea how to do (heck... I've already had two this week!!). Get your grit on and be ready to dive into things you're unsure of and make decisions without knowing exactly how they'll turn out. If you like being in control of everything (like me), get comfortable with not being able to control every aspect of how your business takes shape. And remember, there are no failures - only opportunities to learn!
- Accept the fact that no one will care about your WHY as much as you do. When things get tough, or you feel like you're shouting into the void, come back to why you wanted to start a business in the first place. What impact are you hoping to make? What would a world look like if your mission was realized? Take a pause and remember to fuel your business from a strong belief in these core values, and don't worry about what anyone has to say about you or your business.
- Abundance mindset vs. Scarcity mindset. One of the things I hate most – especially for women in business - is this idea that somehow we have to tear each other down to get where we want to go. Approaching everything you do with a mindset of genuine support and encouragement of peers around you will expand your sphere of influence because people will want to be around your energy. It's the energy of abundance that will set you apart from others who may tend towards competition and envy of others' success.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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