I was a junior in college the first time I heard about sex toy parties. It was a crisp September evening, and I was celebrating a friend’s birthday. As echoes of male jesting filtered in from the deck, a group of us lounged in the kitchen, trading stories about college shenanigans and, of course sex. The conversation shifted and turned almost reverent when my friend’s cousin pulled out two catalogs full of sexy goodies I had only ever heard about.
Little did I know this was the first of many hushed kitchen conversations about sex toys.
About a year later, after hosting several parties, I became a Passion Parties consultant. [UPDATE: As of January 2016, Passion Parties no longer exists]. I knew very little — just what I had learned from personal experience, that initial tipsy conversation, and the parties I attended. But I really wanted what they were offering.
Making my own hours and getting paid to talk about sex was a dream I didn’t know I had.
Passion Parties did a fantastic job teaching us how to sell but provided no formal sex education. I read their book, memorized product information, and reached out to veteran consultants on my team. At first it was enough.
However, I quickly discovered something my minimal training hadn’t prepared me for: close friends and strangers alike divulging all their sexual secrets, desires, and fears. This took me by surprise and I let my shock and judgment show far too often in those early days. So like the geeky neuroscience major I was (still am!), I immediately devoured any and ALL sex information. My goal: read the kinkiest stuff I could find so no sex act would shock me again.
Years went by and my passion for everything sex-, relationship-, and pleasure-related increased. However, as I learned more about the sex toy industry, something unexpected grew alongside this passion: tension between my knowledge and what I sold.
I knew there were better, safer, higher quality sex toys and adult products.
Thankfully, Passion Parties was making changes. They sourced toys without phthalates, rid most of their bath and body products of parabens, and added toys made of body-safe, nonporous materials like medical grade silicone. At first it was enough.
I kept reading, researching, and learning. By the time I went to graduate school for my Master’s in Public Health, three years after becoming the “sex toy lady,” I was certain my work with the company would end soon. I knew too much about sex toys and their impact on sexual wellness to endorse the majority of the Passion Parties’ products. It felt inauthentic to sell products I didn’t believe in and wouldn’t use myself.
I wasn’t quite ready to leave. I needed time to grieve. This was the company that set me on a whole new life path! My teammates were like family. I loved selling sex toys and, at the time, Passion Parties was the better option. Plus, I could make in one night what my classmates did in 10+ hours a week of work study. So I kept doing parties, showing a small selection of the quality products we did have.
When I discovered My Secret Soiree in Spring of 2014, some part of me knew immediately that it was my next step. After many phone calls, tearful goodbyes, and four months of deliberating, I joined the company as the Director of Education and Training.
One of my mentors at Passion Parties once confided that she saw me doing so much more. This was my chance. With My Secret Soiree, I stepped into a leadership role. Beyond doing soirees, I train fellow concierges, write curriculum, and create blogs, vlogs, and presentations.
More than that, the company’s values about sex positivity and sexual wellness match my own.
We sell only body-safe sex toys and accessories, focus on education instead of sales, offer ongoing sex education for concierges, and provide services such as workshops and private consultations. The opportunity to advance my career and work with a company who shared my values ultimately sealed the deal when deciding to switch companies.
I wouldn’t change my 5 years with Passion Parties. They represent my first tentative steps into the fabulous and fun world of pleasure-inclusive sex education. But as I learned more, I needed to do better. That’s just what I feel I did when I switched to My Secret Soiree.
So, I also wouldn’t change my decision to leave. I’m happier now selling products I once again believe in and focusing on educating consumers and fellow sex educators alike.
If you a full-time sex educator, nurse, therapist, social worker, relationship or intimacy coach or sex blogger interested in learning more about becoming a Concierge/Sex Educator with My Secret Soiree, please fill out an application here.