I’m Teal (yep, it’s my real name, my mom’s an artist). I am one who got lucky & has the incredible opportunity to run Lotus Blooms– the sex-positive sex shop on King Street. Typically, I don’t usually get so personal with posts. But today, I’m diving in and giving you a little insight into the lives of my colleagues and I. Sure, my computer history is probably NSFW for most people- full of pictures of bras, bustiers and toys- but it’s not all rainbows and dildos either. Sometimes people assume that in order to work at a sex store, you have to be a wild child, or have a very interesting sex life. Sure can! Annnnd also my coworkers and I probably have a lot in common with you and yours- our regular lives, our work lives, and the things that make us happy and sad.
On a typical day I wake up, groggily make a huge pot of coffee, and take my super-hyper one-year-old border collie out to play so that I can spend the rest of the day hoping she’s tired enough for me to get through my to-do list. Then I spend hours in front of my computer screen responding to emails, searching for new lingerie, researching the quality and body-safety of potential new toys, creating training materials, and creating new content for our websites and social media. Fun fact, ‘researching’ new toys does not mean “testing out.” Sometime between 9:00-11:00pm on most nights my partner and finally I look up from our computers and begin the hardest task of the day- figuring out dinner. We finally open a bottle of wine, sit down in front CNN, and lament the current state of our country over the next few hours until we fall asleep on the couch. Sexy right? (Ok, ok sometimes we have to turn off the news so we watch Marcus Lemonis on The Profit and THEN fall asleep.)
In my “Free Time” I spend a lot of time training Mia, our dog. We’re working on agility and tricks right now. She’s incredibly smart and gets so excited to learn new things. We’re not having kids so she is the center of our world! People (and especially babies- sorry Mia) are her favorite!
On a rare Saturday off, my partner and I will meet our friends at a brewery, and then grill on the back deck with the dogs and kids. We have many friends getting married, so I’m often planning events or struggling to find a dress to wear. No, I don’t show up to my friends’ weddings in corsets and lace underwear. Most of our spare hours are spent cleaning the house, because having a border collie is a mix between having a toddler and a natural disaster in the house.
Our daily work interactions are closer to the “counseling” business than anything else. We aren’t in the business of trying to convince you to “be more adventurous in the bedroom”, we don’t think you need to own sex toys, and we definitely don’t want to push you past your comfort zone and make you feel uncomfortable. Our business is pleasure, including pleasant, comfortable interactions.
Any person in retail knows how annoying inventory counts are. At least ours include a lot of cute panties and vibrators!
As a group, we don’t make or tolerate racist, sexist, ableist, or misogynistic jokes, but we still have a sense of humor. Puns and dad-jokes are rampant. Our work happy hours never fail to include some vagina talk- but, isn’t that what most people talk about with their close friends after a couple drinks? The only difference is, we regularly have these conversations sober.
The craziest part of my personal sex life? How vulnerable, honest, and direct the communication my boyfriend (Partner) and I have. We regularly give and ask for feedback. We talk about when we want more sex and what stops us from having it, or say things like, “I don’t think that is doing what you want it to to turn me on,” and “pressure feels really good, but only at this angle.”
Prank calls I get at work:
“Hi what’s the biggest dildo you have?”
Me: “All our toy dimensions are on the website and if you want to come in an chat with a sex educator, we can point you in the right direction. But, if you’re just looking to talk about sex, check out Scarleteen.com- a website full of great information for teens about sex.”
Him: “I’m not a kid!”
Me: “I give the same recommendations to kids and those who act like them”
Because we sell sex toys, we regularly get denied by companies to advertise with (Yelp and Facebook included), landlords refuse to even talk to us, and credit card and insurance companies won’t let us use their services.
Changes in hormones are real and emotionally exhausting, for sex educators too. One type of birth control messed with my body so much that sex was painful for almost a year, no matter what we tried. Over and over I thought, “How can we not find something that works?! I’m a sex educator for goodness sakes.” Time, talking, finding patience with myself and him, and Uberlube helped a lot.
We get laughed at A LOT. Because we call ourselves sex educators, because sex makes a lot of people uncomfortable, because people don’t take “sex education” seriously or because it’s just not something they value. Even still, it’s hard to be nice and smile when someone laughs at your business, your passion, and your qualifications.
My best friend had her first baby last year, and because of my off-hours retail schedule, it allowed me to spend a lot of time keeping her company during maternity leave- cleaning floors, meal prepping, changing diapers, & giving her a chance to shower. I love being an auntie and so does Mia!
Far and away, my absolute favorite part of this job are the conversations with customers that lead to hugs of appreciation and often tears. It’s the best feeling in the world to be able to talk to someone about something they’ve been struggling with, and have them feeling heard, understood, and confident in their body.
My coworkers are some of the best people I know. They are incredibly patient and kind, and take the time to explain things, even when people are rude. They are supportive, passionate humans who care SO much about making the world a better place. We just happen to think lube is one of the ways to do that, protests are another.
So just remember, sex educators are humans. We have feelings and get sad when we’re treated as a joke and happy when we help someone. We have busy lives, often multiple jobs, dirty houses, puppies and babies, family and friends. We don’t always have amazing sex, are often too tired to even think about it, have insecurities about our bodies, and some of us don’t even like vibration. We have meaningful relationships, fuss over finances with our partners, and stress over the state of the world while trying to make it a better place to live. Next time you get intimidated thinking about coming to a sex store, just remember that we’ve probably been intimidated by the same things too, we just had the benefit of sex-educator coworkers to help us through. And we’re happy to help you too, but only if you want.
Love and lube,
Teal and the Lotus Blooms Team