My last Pride Month blog post is a Q&A with Poppy Scarlett, the founder of Self & More. Self & More is a woman owned sex toy start-up based in London that doesn’t categorise toys according to gender. I caught up with Poppy talking about the brand’s story, masturbation and sex toy tips just in time for its first birthday.
I’m a Self & More affiliate, so if you decide to buy anything on the brand’s website and fancy giving me a treat, use my affiliate link by clicking on the banner below and my 10% discount code: bloggeronpole.
Whether you buy a toy or not however, please go on and read because Poppy is a badass and I’ve been dying to showcase her and her amazing brand on the blog. Exhibit A – an IG post where she matches her outfits to sex toys. #GOALS
Tell me a bit about you and Self & More.
Before I started Self & More I mainly worked in digital marketing – but for as long as I can remember I’ve always imagined myself working with sex in some capacity.
I found that talking about sex with literally anyone who will listen and digging into what makes people tick was my happy place! I love toys because they’re a great equaliser when it comes to pleasure and can be used in so many affirming ways.
Aside from that – I’m a polyamourous, bisexual, 28 year old woman who enjoys stroking other people’s dogs (that’s not a euphemism) and eating pasteis de nata while reading a book in the morning. It’s the simple things!
When and why did you launch Self & More?
I found myself feeling frustrated by the mainstream toy shops on offer in the UK. To me, the way they displayed the products made sex seem like a seedy thing and that toys were embarrassing objects which should immediately be hidden away deep inside your underwear drawer. Beyond that, it struck me that pleasure was still very much presented from the male gaze – lots of scantily clad models in lacy lingerie with perfect bodies posing with the toys… no thanks!
Masturbation is self care and sex is an incredibly natural thing – why shouldn’t we celebrate the tools that can help make it better in the same way we do other self care items? Self & More is supposed to be a place where people can shop free of shame and get high quality toys that you’re not embarrassed to tell your friends, partners and maybe even mum about!
The business is turning one this week. Party hats at the ready! So we are still very much in our infancy but incredibly excited about where things are going.
You have a very fun and informative education section on Self & More’s website. You’ve called it “Pleasure Ed” as opposed to just sex ed. What do you think is currently missing from sex and pleasure education (in the UK and/or abroad)?
When I think back to my sex ed at school, it blows my mind that we were taught about the location of the fallopian tubes but not the clitoris.
The thing that repeatedly comes up in conversation with both my friends and with my customers who have sex with men is that they’re frequently left wanting more from the experience and frustrated that they don’t orgasm through penetration alone, or that their partners don’t know how to bring them pleasure. The fact that the orgasm gap even exists is proof that something is very broken in our society.
We need to stop looking at the male experience as the default and the hetero experience as the default, so that people don’t fit into those moulds aren’t left wondering: “Am I normal?”
I want to see pleasure on the curriculum! Normalise vulvas. Normalise pleasure. Normalise masturbation. Normalise consent. Normalise being LGBTQI+. I think we’d be a much happier nation for it.
Why is masturbation having a moment (and was having a moment even before lockdown)?
We’ve all been cooped up in our flats with only the Internet and our hands (or toys) to entertain ourselves with! As a nation we’ve been actively encouraged to use ourselves as our safest sex partner, and lots of us have taken the opportunity to break up the monotony of being at home all the time with a lunchtime wank.
Thanks to the Internet, social media and podcasts providing a safe space for people to talk about self-pleasure, it’s becoming less of a fringe movement to be open about masturbation and it’s starting to hit the mainstream (I even saw a feature about masturbating on the local news the other day).
I think beyond that, there’s been a shift towards seeing masturbation as an act of self care, which it totally is.
Podcasts like F**KS GIVEN (which is where I first came across you by the way!) help normalise pleasure even further and cast a light on the wide range of sexual experiences which are completely normal and healthy.
This is totally not a new idea by the way, the concept of masturbation as a radical act of self care has been around for a long time. Look at Betty Dodson, who has run female masturbation workshops since the 1970s: she helps women to become orgasmic and unashamed about giving themselves pleasure!
What type of sex toys would you recommend to beginners who have never masturbated before?
If you’re a total newbie to masturbation I recommend spending some time experimenting using your hands first. Get to know which parts of your body bring you pleasure and what kind of touch feels good – i.e. hard pressure or soft pressure, which specific motions and places feel good? Replicate the kind of touches that you enjoy from partners, or just experiment until you find things which feel pleasurable.
For toy beginners I tend to recommend getting something that does one thing well, rather than something with lots of bells and whistles and a million features.
If you enjoy putting your focus on your clit then get an external toy like a simple bullet or an air pressure clitoral toy. If you find more pleasure from inside your vagina then a firm G-spot vibe is a great first buy. If you enjoy both? The Svakom Iris is a super simple vibe that can be used both internally and externally and has a nice rumbly motor.
If you have a penis then a masturbation sleeve like a Tenga Egg is a cheap and simple way to experiment with different stroking sensations. Oh, and lube! Whatever toy you’re using, lube is your best friend and can heighten sensation and reduce friction.
Why and how can couples use sex toys?
As well as being an incredibly valuable tool for experiencing pleasure, sex toys are also hella fun – for both partners. It can feel like a big deal to suggest sex toys to a partner but the thing is, sex toys are tools to enhance pleasure – not to replace a partner.
A vibrating penis ring feels just as good for the wearer as it does for the partner being penetrated and wand-style vibrators can be so powerful that if they’re being used externally on someone’s clitoris, the penetrating partner can often feel the vibrations while inside them.
If you’re unsure where to start then ask them if they’d like to go shopping for a toy together! Sending each other links to pleasure products you’d like to try is especially fun if you’re in a long distance relationship. Most vibrating toys can be used externally on any body or type of genitals, so if in doubt start with a simple vibrator.
What are Self & More’s most popular sex toys and why do you think they do so well?
Our ultimate best sellers are air pressure massagers, (or clit-suckers as they have been affectionately coined). Especially during lockdown, we’ve seen sales for these power-houses skyrocket! The two at the top of everyone’s shopping list have been the Satisfyer Pro 2 and the Lelo Sona.
Their popularity can in part be put down to the rave reviews that almost everyone who uses these toys happily shares – once you’ve experienced an orgasm using these toys you just want to tell everyone you know!
Plus, something about the way they ‘suck’ instead of vibrate seems to help people who have previously found it quite difficult to orgasm to reach climax.
Self & More’s toys are not categorised according to gender. Why do you think that’s important?
Let’s be real – the main reason toys have been categorised into genders for so long in so many shops is because it makes them easier to sell.
We categorise toys by the body parts which they can be used on or the type of sensation they provide because as a retailer, we don’t believe that we get to make decisions about what toys people can use depending on their gender identity.
If you identify as a woman but you have the sexual organs which society equates with men, then I imagine it could cause someone to have dysphoric feelings when faced with the choice between ‘for men’ and ‘for women’ on a sex toy website.
How has lockdown impacted your business?
To continue to open up the conversation about sex and continue to normalise masturbation!
What’s next for Self & More?
Beyond equipping the nation with lovely vibrators – I want to open up the Pleasur_Ed blog section of our site to more voices. I’ve been writing most of the content myself but now our platform is growing it’s time to give space to different voices that represent different experiences that I can’t personally speak to.
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Read My Review of The Lelo Sona (#gifted by Self & More) Below
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The look, of love. My last #PrideMonth post is about @selfandmore, a woman owned #sextoy start-up based in London that doesn't categorise sex toys according to gender. Click on the link at the top of my @linktr.ee to read my Q&A with the founder, @poppyscarlett_ , who tells me about the brand, masturbation tips for couples and for beginners and about why sex toys should be #genderneutral 💖 This month, Poppy has #gifted me with the @lelo_official Sona, a clitoral suction toy that you can get (together with any other item on Self & More's site) with a 10% discount through my code: bloggeronpole. A lot of you have asked me about my thoughts on this #sextoy when I posted it in my stories, and let me tell you: IT'S EXPLOSIVE! Everything you've read about it before it's true (no matter how outlandish the reviews). The #lelo Sona is slick, stylish and tiny… and I have never come so fast and so much using a sex toy. Generally my sex toy orgasms take a while and last very little, but with the Sona I came super quickly and felt a long, extended sense of pleasure (sorry not sorry neighbours). It was INSANE. Definitely taking this with me to Sardinia as I'll be going solo for a while again 😱 RECOMMEND! No wonder it’s one of Self & More’s bestsellers 💖 #review #gifted #pride🌈