To celebrate International Women’s Day on the 8th March, we spoke to some of the women behind our best-loved brands. From what it’s really like in the industry and the biggest lessons they’ve learned, to what advice they would give to other females, join us as we celebrate our leading ladies.
After a Robotics Innovation Award was rescinded due to the product being cited as “obscene”, Lora DiCarlo quickly became a vocal advocate for sexual wellness brands, kickstarting a critical public conversation about gender equity in tech, and pleasure for all people.
Her namesake brand, with its passionate and diverse workforce, constantly strives to change archaic ways of thinking and destigmatize sexuality on a global scale.
She talked to us about what should’ve been a detrimental blow to her company, actually turned out to be a pivotal turning point in her business, and why her mother is the ultimate role model.
Why did you start Lora DiCarlo?
Human anatomy has always fascinated me. When I had the holy grail of orgasms — a blended orgasm, all I could think was, how can I do that again? There were limited products on the market that spoke to vaginal physiology. In 2017, I changed career tracks and founded Lora DiCarlo to design a way to produce the perfect orgasm and introduced the world to sex tech inspired by human movement.
I always felt I had to justify why I was qualified as an entrepreneur, and part of that, I think, is attributed to identifying as a woman.
What do you think has been your biggest challenge so far?
One primary challenge I have faced has been establishing myself in the role and image of a CEO. I come from a non-traditional educational background that took many twists, turns, and pauses over the years. Internally, I always felt I had to justify why I was qualified as an entrepreneur, and part of that, I think, is attributed to identifying as a woman.
The pressure around starting a business increased my fear of failure, and the thought of letting others down held me back for quite some time. However, hindsight is 20/20; I look back and see plenty of mistakes and have found myself thinking “if I only knew then what I know now.” But I believe the mistakes and missteps are the only way we truly learn. If everything went according to plan and we don’t make any mistakes, what knowledge would we walk away with beyond what we already knew before?
And alternatively, what’s been your biggest achievement to date?
In October 2018, we were awarded the Robotics Innovation Award from Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is run by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). One month later, they contacted us to say that Osé was disqualified, and the award was being rescinded. They referred to it, our first product, as “obscene”, “profane” and “immoral” - and that because of this, Osé should have never received an award. They backtracked every notable accomplishment that put femtech on the map at CES that year.
We did not take this double-standard lightly and fought back, because ultimately their argument was a systemic dysfunction that was deeply rooted in a long history of sexism within the association and within the greater technology industry.
We discovered our purpose; to empower people of all genders to explore, educate, love, and accept themselves and others, providing them with the confidence to create a more equitable world.
A few months later, the CTA contacted us to apologize, and ultimately returned the award. We experienced what could have been a debilitating blow to our company, and another strike against the sex tech industry. Instead we were able to utilize the opportunity to stress the importance of innovation within the space of sexual health and wellness and raise awareness around the lack of gender diversity in tech.
We didn’t just design an eloquent and innovative technological marvel. We discovered our purpose; to empower people of all genders to explore, educate, love, and accept themselves and others, providing them with the confidence to create a more equitable world.
Do you look to anyone else for inspiration, or have a role model?
My mother is my inspiration and role model. It is remarkable to experience a mother’s strength being passed down to her daughter. She always identified as a feminist, and I have so many experiences throughout childhood of my mother advocating for equality. My first memory of this was when I was invited to join the honor choir in the fourth grade. I was so excited, however, my mother strongly disagreed with the rule that all girls were required to wear skirts while the boys could wear trousers. However, she knew how badly I wanted to participate, so she worked with the conductor to allow girls the choice to wear either.
Little did I know, I’d be doing something similar nearly two decades later with the Consumer Technology Association during our battle for equity at CES. My mom embodies compassion, humour, determination, stubbornness, strength, and integrity. I’ve always admired those qualities in her, and seeing them in myself have helped me embrace my individuality through the years.
Our mission is to continue destigmatizing the taboos surrounding sexual health and human sexuality on a global scale.
Is there a piece of advice you’d give to other women?
The first thing that comes to mind is to trust yourself and your power. If you have aspirations of being an entrepreneur, do not wait to put them into motion! Start somewhere. The hardest part is getting beyond the self-talk and self-doubt and just taking the first step. It’s not going to be perfect right away, so get that out of your head immediately and just jump into action. There will always be an audience who desires what you have to offer, no matter how niche or eccentric you think your idea is. As long as you put the work in, show up consistently, and stay true to your authenticity, your ideal audience, customers and community will find their way to you.
What’s next for Lora DiCarlo?
Our mission is to continue destigmatizing the taboos surrounding sexual health and human sexuality on a global scale. Growing every level of Lora DiCarlo through wellness coaching, valuable sexual health content, and product innovation are just a few ways that we strive to expand within our arena. The approach to our core mission is ever-evolving, and the next phase includes integrating holistic and experiential avenues for individuals seeking to understand the connection between sexual pleasure and day-to-day mind + body wellness.