Alexandra Fine is the Co-Founder and CEO of Dame Products and is dedicated to sexual healing through the world of entrepreneurship. After graduating with her masters in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University, she founded Dame Products alongside Janet Lieberman in 2014 with a line of vibrators for women (by women) that are aimed at closing the "pleasure gap."
SENREVE is excited to partner with Alexandra and Dame Products as part of our Selected by SENREVE series. Coral, SENREVE’s CEO, spoke with Alexandra recently about the inspiration behind Dame Products and her work in revolutionizing sex toys and leading women to sexual healing.
Read on to learn more about Alexandra’s journey and her tips on achieving sexual wellness.
I would love to hear about how you came up with the idea for Dame Products. What was the inspiration for focusing on these types of products for women’s sexual wellness?
My life was the inspiration in so many ways. In general, women contribute tens of trillions of dollars into the world economy and yet continue to feel underserved and unrecognized in the consumer world. Products tailored to women are oftentimes designed by men. I really saw a gap and opportunity there.
Besides that, I think my connection with my own sexuality and sexual energy inspired me. It seems like a really powerful part of the human experience that no one wanted to talk about. I saw so much power there -- so much female power there.
Growing up, I couldn’t wait to strut my stuff in a way that I probably didn’t fully understand. I just knew my body was powerful, and I was being shut down on those types of conversations. That is what got me really interested in sexuality.
I got my Masters in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University, thinking I wanted to be a sex therapist...except I can be very impatient. I have a high sense of urgency in my life— key characteristics of an entrepreneur! It can sometimes be one of our less ideal traits but often pushes us forward. Anyway, this urgency made me take pause on my career track.
I took a break from school and got into retail and loved it. I loved selling products.
As I thought about marrying my interest in consumer goods and sexual empowerment, I realized this big gap in the sexual wellness category. ~80% of my friends owned vibrators, but none had a brand that felt like it understood her or spoke to her in the way she wanted to be spoken to. No brand to engage with beyond the product itself.
I had a lot of wild ideas before coming up with Dame, but this one really stuck. I asked myself, “Why not?” And that’s kind of how it started.
That’s really cool. I think that it takes a lot of confidence to embrace your sexual energy as you described it. I think a lot of women have been told not to be so sexual. Where did the embracing of that energy and your confidence around it come from?
I would definitely say that I got some of those negative messages — especially when I embraced my sexual energy, like being slut shamed during my high school years.
However, I did also receive a lot of messaging about it in a positive way. For example, I remember watching Sex and The City when I was 8 or 10 and thinking that clearly, Samantha was the smartest one. She was very empowered and definitely embraced her sexual energy. To me, that was a way of unleashing her power. I feel like she embraced her sexual energy in a very masculine way, which I also tried to do sometimes.
I’m tiny, and I overcompensate that with my personality. I’ve always been naturally confident. I wanted to lead the conversation and was very extroverted. That really allowed me to explore this side of myself without restraint.
Alexandra Fine, Founder and CEO of Dame Products
I think that’s a really interesting observation. I think we’re trending in the right direction of allowing people to embrace and explore who they are on all matters. I’m an eternally optimistic person so we’ll see. I’m curious with Dame, what do you feel like are some of the key things that make the product special? Is it more of a functional thing?
We actually make a wide range of products. Everything from vibrators to lubricants to a pillow – which I will say is one of my favorite products. I get a lot of great use out of it.
I think that what makes them all collaboratively unique is that we start by listening to our community and making products based on what they’re saying. We have a store credit policy, so you can return your products if you are unhappy, which I think is really unique in this space.
Currently, our industry is not regulated, which is unbelievable when you think about it. This all goes back to the idea of valuing sex. We don’t value sexual health, so we don’t even regulate it. Of course, we focus on delivering quality products — they are made of medical grade silicone which makes them higher quality.
A big part of the function of our products is making an object part of your erotic experience. So we additionally make them look good – we want our products to look inviting and cute.
Finally, our products are really unique. Like Eva, which is the first product we ever came out with. It’s a hands-free vibrator that can be worn during penetrative sex. There is nothing else on the market like it, and it is very innovative.
Now, about The Pillo — sex wedges have existed forever. We just made ours look like a pillow, and that’s the innovative tweak. People were like “I don’t want to feel like I have to hide it,” and now you don’t.
The Pillo by Dame Products
What is your thought around the O word – the orgasm? There is a big spectrum – some women are not able to orgasm and other women can orgasm easily. I’m curious what your thoughts are on that and are there things that women can do to more easily orgasm?
This is a really big topic.
I think the first place I want to start is with this: orgasms are not pleasure. They are definitely pleasurable. However, pleasure is a subjective experience, and an orgasm is only one way you can decide if sex is good.
I really think that the overemphasis on orgasm is a really male-centered view – as men always have orgasms. It’s different for women.
About 10% of women are inorgasmic – but still, a lot of them report having very pleasurable sex. You can be having really bad sex and still have an orgasm. That’s possible.
I do personally believe that almost everybody is actually physically capable of having an orgasm. There are muscles involved, like your pelvic floor muscles, etc. There are a lot of methods out there to help women access them more easily.
How do you remain present? Moments may happen organically but it can be really hard to hang onto that because your mind, or at least mine, is always wandering. How do you make the kiss turn into a beautiful moment?
Meditation is really key because it is about controlling our minds.
I think masturbation is one of our most inherent forms of meditation. You have to stay connected; you have to stay present. Your body is asking you to be present with your body in that experience and the more present you are with your sensations, the fuller you experience them.
Meditation and masturbation practices can be helpful. If you notice your mind wandering, bring it back to the sensation you are experiencing. It may be feeling your partner’s lips on your lips and really noticing that sensation. It’s similar to when experts say that when you feel a lot of anxiety, wiggling your toes can help you bring you back to your body. Noticing those physical sensations can really help.
Additionally, there is also a lot of breath work that is out there designed to activate sexual energy. I like to focus, do some kegel exercises, and move energy into my lower chakras and imagine bringing that energy up through me. But I will say sometimes if I get too focused on moving this energy, I end up not paying attention to my partner anymore.
I focus on whatever I can do to stay present in my body or present to my partner. All of those things really help.
Also, I’d say that wanting to have sex requires prioritizing your desire to have sex.
Something that I do that I didn’t realize was unique is that my partner and I will masturbate next to each other. If he doesn’t want to have sex, he will put his headphones on, and I will have my own sexual experience. We don’t need each other to have our own sexual experiences.
This helps us give our own bodies what they need. I think it’s different for masculine and feminine energy but that’s a whole different talk for another day.
What’s a really interesting, cool sexual experience that you want to share with the SENREVE community?
There are a lot of really cool pleasure practices out there – like orgasmic meditation.
I think vulva massage – touching yourself on a regular basis – without even the intention of orgasming is really powerful.
A great experience is heart gazing. This is where you sit and stare at your partner and breathe together – it’s a nice way of building intimacy with somebody.
The Arc by Dame Products
I’m curious in your study of this topic, what do you find that many women struggle with and how do they overcome that? What are the biggest hurdles you have seen and what is your advice on overcoming those?
I think that one really big challenge is the lack of pleasure during sex. Sex can be painful. I think it’s about 70% of women will experience an episode of painful sex in their lives.
I think that being able to ask for the pleasure you want and getting that is a really big challenge. I hear women say they think that sex isn’t supposed to be pleasurable for them, but it should be!
There are so many common narratives that I hear from women in different life stages.
On the part of women just accepting that it’s painful or uncomfortable – how have you seen people overcome that? What’s your thought on that? Part of the empowerment of women is that we don’t have to settle, we can expect better and we can ask for more. How have you seen people overcome that?
Well first, I think that this notion of being in healthy relationship means having penetrative sex is pretty pervasive. I think people really want to be having penetrative sex because it’s a big way in how we understand intimacy.
There are other ways to have erotic experiences besides penetrative sex, but there’s a big barrier, and eventually I would love to see us break that.
But I think you can overcome this by first understanding and recognizing that it doesn’t have to be that way (a painful or uncomfortable experience), then communicate with your partner and set your boundaries with your partner.
There are some really great options and tools out there too. It also depends what is causing your pain or discomfort because there may be different underlying causes of that pain that are worth looking into. That said, there are also really cool products out there that can help.
For example, going to a pelvic floor specialist is the best way to figure out what you can do for your body.
In order to improve something, as with all things, it requires some investment of prioritizing yourself and your body. I think women often feel guilty about the investment because they think it’s too selfish to be focusing on what is pleasurable for them.
Yes, I think women tend to feel guilty if they are focused on their own pleasure. How do you overcome the guilt?
You call me up, and I will tell you that you deserve it! I think we are entitled to pleasure. I think that with whatever our guilty pleasures are, everybody has that feeling with different things in different ways.
Usually, to me, when that conversation is about masturbation, do you really think you’re doing it too much? What is it really taking away from? You are entitled to that time. What is life about?
We admire Alexandra’s drive to transform the sexual wellness industry and are honored to have her as a Selected by SENREVE partner.