SHOP LELO ON FRIDAY NOVEMBER 26TH - 100% of proceeds will be donated to women's shelters.
Using Charlie Sheen as their brand ambassador was the last straw from a company that seemed to be making it their mission to offend and insult every woman they claimed to be marketing to.
". . Lelo was founded on the principle that personal massages intended for women should be designed with women in mind."
It was a direction that created a lot of frustration, anxiety and anger (make that rage) for us. They were our best selling line but who could support a sex toy company that used a serial abuser as part of their branding? I'm still personally sickened and disgusted when I read of Charlie Sheen's long list of violence and vitriol towards women.
Not only that, when a Lelo spokesperson was asked by Gizmodo writer Bryan Menegus at the launch of the condoms what the word RESPECT (visible at the base of every condom) meant, he claimed it was to remind us to "respect the man who wears it." WTF? This company went from a highly respected and adored brand to a piece of shit in the time it takes to put on one of their stupid 'crowdfunded' condoms.
Now, almost three years later, we're taking a small selection back, but not without some misgivings. Those misgivings have birthed 'Passion Projects' - an ongoing enterprise that will transform our frustration into positive change. So why are we bringing them back?
Not because they're still not deplorable in so many ways (scented clitoral vibrators - wow my vagina smells like lavender - the Cock Ring that's "The World's First Sex Toy Exclusively for Bankers" and the pathetic, misogynistic video that went with it, the 'Dry Clean Only. Penis Tuxedo' and so many other dumbass products they've created).
The reason we're bringing back a small selection of their products is because they do seem to be FINALLY distancing themselves from that disastrous time. And there are some products like the Mona 2 that are just too good to ignore.
Of the Charlie Sheen matter they say:
"In the 18 months since the partnership ended, we’ve felt able to defend ourselves from criticism. But, at some point, further silence on the matter becomes indefensible."
"Our heart goes out to victims of sexual assault and abuse everywhere, in all industries, of all backgrounds, in all places."
(Yes they finally addressed the barrage of criticism rather than continue to ignore it).
The other reason we've reconsidered our position is that there are no products on the market at the Lelo standard of quality, design and function and we are dedicated to bringing our customers the products that are exactly right for them. Lelo left a gap in our range that has never been filled (L'amourose did for a while but they have since disappeared).
And to be fair, what sex toy companies are completely ethical? Do we base all our buying decisions on those judgements? Many companies are guilty of sexist, shaming, non-inclusive marketing and most of the biggest manufacturers continue to use toxic materials to make their products. There's a good 'shit list' here.
Being an unregulated industry, sex toy companies are notorious for making grandiose claims like 'guaranteed orgasm' (Zumio), ripping off their competitors (Lelo of We-Vibe, Satisfyer of Womanizer), providing incorrect information such as stating the material is 'body safe silicone' when it isn't, using toxic chemicals in their products, underpaying staff and failing to provide adequate working conditions. (Having said that, we would never sell toys that we knew were not body safe).
At this point we would have only one, two or three brands that we could wholeheartedly endorse. If we censored all our suppliers we wouldn't have a business. The reason we've been so angry with Lelo, we're guessing, is because betrayal is so much worse when it comes from someone you've loved, trusted and admired.
To counter what we believe are unethical practices in the adult industry, we make it our mission to call out companies that we feel are breaching ethical standards and regularly send letters asking them 'please explain'. For example, we have notified Tantus many times regarding our dismay at the excessive use of plastic in their packaging, even though we love their products.
In 2019 we are going to petition the Australian government to ban all sex toys containing toxins and to regulate the sex toy industry.
As we are all increasingly aware, it's difficult to always make the most conscientious buying decisions. Coffee cups (coffee!), ethical fashion, organic, ethical food, environmental policies, inclusive workplaces....there are so many ways to support and not support the people we buy from. As a very small business, we try to always do the best for ourselves and our customers and it's a balancing act, just as it is in everyday life.
Contemplating the ethics of the adult industry has led to the creation of 'Passion Projects' - an initiative where we hope to raise awareness about bad business practices and in doing so, raise much needed funds for associated charities.
Lelo still have a lot to answer for. Boycotting them was the right thing to do. As a retailer, we want to sell you the products that we think are the best. We want to support companies that make beautiful, functional vibrators and who value their customers and staff.
We're hoping Lelo are returning to their core values. We're admitting that as much as we've deplored some of their decisions, they produce some of the most wonderful sex toys in the world. Black banning all the sex toy companies with dubious morals will mean we cannot run the business we are dedicated to providing.
Continuing the crusade of body safe, ethical, functional and user friendly products is still our mission. So it is with some reluctance but ultimately a happy countenance that we've decided to reintroduce Lelo to the mix.
We understand that there will be some resistance to our decision and we welcome your feedback. Meanwhile, stay tuned for our upcoming petition to the Australian Government to regulate the sex toy industry.
And lastly, on Friday November 30th, we'll be donating 100% of all Lelo sales, both in-store and online to local women's refuges.
Passionfruit want a future free of violence and full of pleasure #pleasurenotviolence #100%passionfruit #supportingwomen #passionprojects