Alexandra Fine Makes Shameless Her Superpower

Alexandra Fine, co-founder and CEO of Dame Products, reflects on the conversations that shaped a career championing passion – and the work that still needs to be done.
Alexandra Fine Makes Shameless Her Superpower

“I think part of my superpower is that I don’t have much shame. I always wanted to talk about sex. I love talking about it.” 

As the co-founder and CEO of Dame Products, it’s Alexandra’s job to talk about sex (and to design sex toys that push these conversations forward), but Alexandra’s passion for passion started years earlier, when conversations around sensuality had a different pitch.  

ALEXANDRA WEARS THE PLUNGE IN BLUSH

“When I was six years old, I went to a drag queen party. My aunt brought me. It was really cool to meet people who had different gender identities. She taught me how to strut my stuff. I learned that if you’re a girl, you don’t have to be a girl. If you’re a boy, you don’t have to be a boy. And if you’re gonna be a girl, this is how. It was really fun. I went back to Show and Tell, told the story, and got in trouble. That was definitely the beginning.” 

“In first grade, the principal told my mom I was the class seductress. I was, though. I was watching these movies, where powerful women were using their feminine power to get things and I was like, ‘that seems smart.’ I don’t know if my seducing was working that well, but I was really friendly and maybe a little bossy. I had no shame. I was very extroverted – still am. Extroverted and curious. Overly trusting. That was just me. 

ALEXANDRA WEARS THE SCOOP IN BLACK

“When I was thirteen, Sex and The City was happening. That was really popular then. And even from a younger age, I had a lot of sexually liberated female role models. On the flip side, I experienced slut shaming –so [this freedom] wasn’t really the reality.” 

The shameless curiosity that got Alexandra into trouble in elementary school would begin to find its power and purpose in her life. Alexandra continued to make noise in these empty spaces, and as the cultural conversations around her began to catch up, she found a path forward, and a way to invite other women along. 

“I think [this inequality between men and women] was something I was continuously drawn to. I think a lot of women are, I was just particularly loud. I knew I wanted to start my own company. And all my ideas were dating apps or sex toys, because that’s what I was passionate about. It felt like an empty space. A hole in our cultural conversation. I knew there was a huge pleasure gap; that over 50% of women used vibrators; that clitoral stimulation was the main way most women get stimulated, especially when they’re masturbating. The potential felt obvious.” 

ALEXANDRA WEARS THE PLUNGE IN BLUSH

“So, I kept following my passion for passion; for human connection. What is that feeling? How do you cultivate it? Why does it feel so good when I touch myself here? I got my Masters in Psychology, had a few internships, then got this startup job at a company called Babo Botanicals. They made all natural baby shampoo for kids. It was three people. I loved it. I did a little bit of everything. I thought, ‘Nobody really knows what they’re doing. If I wanted to start a business, there’s no reason why you can’t start one right now.’ That was really helpful: knowing that all you needed to know was how to learn things.” 

“I had an idea for a product that ended up becoming our Eva. I started making it at home in my kitchen by taking other vibrators apart. There are so many things you have that vibrate. I’d take them apart, so that I had the vibrator, then wrap plastic around it. I also started learning about circuits and electrical engineering, which I’m pretty sure is magic. When I would make a circuit work, I’d say, I’m an elf. Then I met my cofounder, who is luckily a real engineer, not an elf.” 

“My cofounder went to MIT for mechanical engineering and she was able to take the designs I was making by hand and turn them into something we could manufacture, mass produce. We had about fifty couples test them out, then we launched a crowdfunding campaign. We raised $575,000 in 45 days. It was a really great way of starting a new business. That [kind of funding platform] didn’t exist ten years ago. It is so democratic.” 

 

ALEXANDRA WEARS THE PLUNGE IN BLUSH

For Alexandra and her team, the world of capitalism waiting beyond the crowdfunding campaign was not quite as democratic. Getting investors, securing funding, finding space to advertise – the key steps to launching any new business were all regulated by rules and restrictions designed to keep the status quo. Launching a sex toy business brought numerous roadblocks, as outdated mindsets continued to push away these products – and the conversations that they inspired.

“Our story with the MTA goes like this: they said they wanted to go out on a date with us. We asked, ‘Should we wear this dress or this dress?’ They said, ‘You should definitely wear that dress.’ Then they didn’t pick us up.” 

As Alexandra navigated mixed signals from the MTA, she would ride the subway and see hilarious, sexual jokes advertised by moving companies and linen companies. It became clear that it was OK to make jokes about sex, but not to sell tools that help people, particularly women, enjoy sex.  

ALEXANDRA WEARS THE SCOOP IN BLACK

“Rules and restrictions keep the status quo where it is. What we allow companies to advertise, what we think is OK to show --- these things dictate what’s OK in society, and what’s not. And these rules seemed perfectly carved out to stop me. When I say ‘me,’ I mean any woman that’s interested in products that make life feel as good as life can feel. Not that orgasms are the only thing that makes life feel good, but they are one of them for sure.” 

Alexandra sees that these restrictions are rooted in insecurities – not too different than the insecurities that pop up when a woman introduces a vibrator into her relationship. From the boardroom to the bedroom, Alexandra’s work to shift the status quo begins with conversation. 

“For a lot of people, the whole [sex] conversation circles around the penis and what the penis does. Which is problematic, heteronormative, and male-centric. If I’m going to be compassionate, then, like, I get it - [men] can’t imagine what their sex would be like if they didn’t orgasm. But then why do they feel [women] can’t use a tool? You use tools all the time, for so many things, like brushing your teeth – why are we so opposed to using a tool? The key to [moving past these insecurities] is definitely conversation. Expressing your needs and desires and where those come from.” 

ALEXANDRA WEARS THE SCOOP IN BLACK

The conversations that Alexandra has started are indeed changing things - within the startup world, within romantic partnerships, and within a woman’s relationship to her own body. Founding Dame Products has influenced Alexandra’s relationship with her own body, inviting her to find pleasure and pride in the parts she used to criticize.

“I think sex is a huge part of self confidence and body image. Your ability to enjoy sex and the way you feel about your body are really tied together. I’ve learned to love parts of my body that I didn’t used to love, or didn’t think I’d ever love. Like, your lower belly is actually this really squishy, sensual place. It’s so much of where orgasms come from.” 

“You know what I want to add? I love my thighs now. I hated my thighs growing up. That’s changed in the past three years. Part of it was that I looked at my husband’s porn history and saw he liked curvy girls. I was like, yeah! Meaty thighs. And now I think it’s sexy. You know what? Being secure doesn’t mean you don’t have insecurities. I think it’s still OK to look in the mirror and wish [your body] was a little different. But it’s good to also realize what you love about your body. Loving your body is cool, it’s something you can get a lot of self worth from.” 

ALEXANDRA WEARS THE PLUNGE IN BLUSH

While sex remains a physical experience, the work of changing mindsets and embracing sensuality starts with a conversation - with our partners, with our friends, and with ourselves. 

“At the end of the day, I just want to sell vibrators, talk about sex and help people have the best relationships they can have with their own bodies and other people’s bodies. Bodies are cool.”

Interview by Anna Jube. Article by Molly Virostek. Photographed by Stephanie Lavaggi. Styled by Emily Newnam. 

Tags: bodytalk , sensuality

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