The OhVenus Team
September 1, 2021
Are you In The Mood?
One of our co-founders, Neta, was recently invited to join as a guest in a very sexy podcast! She told Shea what we’re all about and they went super deep about pleasure, creative energy, and finding ourselves.
Have a listen now or read below for full interview!
Shea: In The Mood Podcast by Shea Graham, is a therapeutic safe space for people who identify as women, to learn a bit more about pleasure. Join me in for an interview with Neta Dvir, Co-founder of OhVenus.
Neta: OhVenus is a British based start-up, launched last year during the pandemic. I am the third partner in the business, and we specialise in women’s self-pleasure, toys, accessories and boxes to encourage more women to take charge, take care and literally take their pleasure into their own hands. Thanks for inviting me!
Shea: So, you have two other co-founders and you started in the middle of the pandemic! This sounds like a really interesting story! Can you tell me how you got to start OhVenus?
Yeah, absolutely. My personal journey and background started back in marketing and tech, and after years of doing that in many different start-ups and corporate companies, I lost my job in the first wave of the pandemic in the UK in 2020. My role was made redundant as the first lockdown kicked in, everything suddenly closed, and the entire world slowed down. So, I decided to take a few weeks to chill and figure out what I was going to do next.
I wasn’t particularly happy in my previous work. While it was very comfortable and I worked with great people that I loved, it didn’t fulfil me or make me happy - it wasn’t the thing that I really wanted to do. Losing my job was a great opportunity for me to explore what I really wanted to do next.
For a period of about eight weeks after losing my job I don’t think I ever turned on my computer! I shut down, didn’t even reply to any emails. I just took a break and it was brilliant. And even though we were in national lockdown, and everything was closed, I took the time to spend at my allotment plot with my husband, which is a communal area to grow vegetables, where I literally spent about a month and a half, not even looking at my screen the entire time. This gave me the time to figure out what I’d like to do next and what is really important to me.
I met a couple of amazing people online through mutual groups, and OhVenus naturally came together as we all realised through lockdown and the opportunity to be completely by yourself, whether you’re single, in a relationship, with a partner or have a family (my two partners are both parents), is a great opportunity to explore yourself, to take care of yourself and how you want to do that - what makes your feel good?
In the beginning of lockdown, I lost my sex drive. I wasn’t really into it. And especially after losing my job. It was a big emotional shift. I suddenly didn’t know what made me feel good. Even though I am in a happy relationship, only married for a year at the time, I didn’t know how to make myself feel good. OhVenus was born out of this need - to give people who are at home the opportunity to explore what makes them feel good, and to empower other women to literally take their own pleasure into their own hands.
The entire experience of self-pleasure is very masculine. For example, going into sex-shops, looking for toys to enhance the experience in the bedroom is quite male-led. The atmosphere is dark and not very pleasant. As women, we wanted this experience to be different - fun, light, easy, accessible, and feminine. OhVenus was launched from this need. We curate toys, accessories, and other feel-good products, put it in a box and ship it to women directly to their home. It’s convenient, easy and comes in a discreet packaging but once you open the box it’s personalised, bright, colourful, and empowering. The whole experience is light-hearted, directed to all women, or people who identify themselves as women, or own a vulva, to explore pleasure. Whether through the space-setting, sensual, candles or bath products, or whether through the toys. We curate different types of toys so that everyone can find their own favourite.
Shea: That is so insightful. Because what I’m hearing is that in order for you to arrive at a place to feel inspired and create, you have to retreat and take time for yourself to heal. You had to unplug and really reflect on what it is you needed - whether it’s stepping back taking time off from the laptop or gardening - or for other women, they need to find retreat whether it’s through cooking, going on a trip, but you’re still quite intentional about how you use that time and as a result you were able to launch this business.
Neta: Yes absolutely. I don’t think I would’ve met my partners, my two co-founders, if I hadn’t taken that time to myself. I don’t think I was particularly looking, but I was open to it.
I was so consumed with my previous career, which was very fast-moving, compared to the year of the pandemic where everything slowed down.
Although we’re still very busy and very fast-moving at OhVenus, that feeling of chasing-your-own-tail doesn’t exist. Now I’m taking charge, living the life that I want to live, and I’m very intentional with that. The same goes with pleasure, and self-pleasure in particular. Before I was quite passive around my own pleasure, and now I’m very conscious and taking the time for myself, no matter how busy I am or how many things I have to do - I’m putting myself first. I wasn’t able to do that before because I was very consumed with work which didn’t really serve me.
Shea: This is so interesting. Clinically, what we say when someone is sacrificing their own self-being in order to serve someone or something else, we call that coach. So, when you lose that “something” else it almost feels like identity has been shattered. Would you say that when you worked in marketing/tech you were in a codependent relationship with your career?
Neta: Oh yeah, absolutely. Because I needed that to exist. And of course, a lot of us obviously need work, jobs, finance to exist, but I was very dependent on it. Whereas now I am finding different opportunities. Financially I’m not better off, I’m actually worse off, but I’m okay with that. I know it’s stepping stones and building blocks. I know that I’m building something that is going to last, something that is really inspiring that I love doing and that a part of it is a part of myself and my co-founders - a part of the business is their own. So, we want to sacrifice our time, our energy and a part of ourselves into the business.
It’s brilliant to work with other people to create this. I think creation is so sexy. Creating something also drives and increases the libido because it’s coming from the same energy. It’s coming from the same matter - you create and put something in, you get inspired, and you feel good about yourself. So, you feel more desired and more sexy and you feel more desired by yourself, you don’t actually rely on anyone else to want you - you kinda want yourself.
Shea: I love the way that you framed that. Because you discovered the perfect formula of self-pleasure - which is that feeling empowered and taking matters into your own hands, creating a space where you feel safe, which will lead you to feeling more pleasure or getting intellectual productivity - all of those things are connected. And that reflects your business model at OhVenus, right? Because it was born out of the shared interest of self-pleasure and empowered where you share that mission.
Neta: Absolutely. And I think it’s also solving a problem that there’s a lot of taboo around self-pleasure… and there’s a lot of taboo around us as a business. It’s not easy. We didn’t really choose an easy area to focus on. it actually winds me up because… sex and sex products have been sexualised for the benefit of men, even though it pleases women. You can see that even in advertising… For example, we have a lot of challenges advertising and marketing our business because of the content of our boxes, and the content of our products - its intimate toys and products. So, we’ve been banned… by a few platforms that blacklisted us and we can’t do paid-advertising. But you can do paid advertising for a car, with really sexy half-naked women… so sex sells, but it sells for men.
It’s been a real eye-opener in how to do business around that market our products with all the limitations on sex products for the benefit of pleasure for women.
Shea: Are you willing to call-out some of those platforms that blacklisted you? That they’re okay with sexualising women but not okay with appraising women’s sexuality or celebrating women’s sexuality?
Neta: Yeah, I mean, the excuses we got was around controlling age restricted content and all that, and maybe that’s a part of that… but young people are exposed to sex in any platform and that’s a really old argument. Facebook in particular has been a main challenge. we’ve not been able to do paid advertising on Facebook. So, we mainly work with influencers and other channels to be able to market it but it’s been really difficult … but where there are challengers there are also opportunities.
It just showed us how this topic is still very much tabooed, restricted and limited. It reminds me similar experiences of going into sex-shops and having bras and sexy lingerie at the front but if you want to see sex-toys, you need to go into a dark room at the back and it’s not in the front of the shop because it’s limited… But why? Why wouldn’t you want to see toys? Why wouldn’t you want to be exposed to accessories that can make you feel good? Whilst it’s okay to have lingerie at the front or on a billboard, but not sex-toys.
Shea: Because men can benefit from lingerie, right? It’s for them to see that, and that’s the thought. I’m surprised to hear that Facebook banned your ads, because their reputation is one that they have very high tolerance to not just criminal activity, but to inflammatory content and violent imagery… and we’ve seen - there’s so many documentaries where Facebook’s allowing hate-speech on their platform and providing a voice to millions of people who want to incite violence, but when it comes to celebrating female sexuality that’s where they draw the line.
Neta: We’ve been banned for paid advertising.
Shea: I’m sure there are many businesses who focus on women’s sexuality that face this issue - but I want to ask about your history. Not just about OhVenus, but about how you arrived at a place where you realised that female sexuality and pleasure are great things that should be prioritised? What went into that journey for you?
Neta: I’ve done a lot of work on myself in the last few years. I’ve been inspired by my husband who’s also a therapist who’s done a lot of work on personal development and healing… and together we’ve done workshops that really opened my eyes on how I see myself. We went to weekends away together in group settings and what the key takeaways from those were the power of our bodies is phenomenal. We have different vibrations in them.
There’s a great book by Wilhelm Reich, called The Function of The Orgasm. where he wrote that the orgasm itself is energy… and that energy itself is life-energy… whether it’s to create the next generation and children (through sex), or literally creation, to create movement or something new. It is the same as orgasms, the same as pleasure, it’s the same energy.
I feel really inspired when I create, and if I’m feeling blocked then an orgasm will release it. If there’s a block in the body, or there’s a block in the movement of where a pair or a person wants to go, then an orgasm will help release that. It’s not necessarily the same as sex, because sex is co-creation. When I’m talking about an orgasm, especially by yourself, then it’s really about you, it’s really about creating something for you within and expressing yourself - expression is great and I don’t think we do enough of it - really show our true-selves, out authentic selves and what we’re capable of, especially women. We’ve been oppressed for a long time, growing up in a patriarchal society, and it’s been coming up in the last few years where women are speaking up, women are showing up, women are there for one another. A lot of that is coming within, though releasing blocks, releasing something that has been really held up inside us, through orgasms. I think it’s all connected. I’ve learned that myself through the experiences that I’ve had, and I love sharing that, and I love seeing other women showing up. We work with other women and create networks and communities - whether through our customers, suppliers, or artists we have their prints in our boxes. I love being surrounded by this sisterhood and female creation.
Shea: What’s one thing you’ve learned from your clients as a result of doing the work with OhVenus?
Neta: I think there’s definitely a need for this. The exploration of different types of product that they maybe haven’t tried or thought about trying before. I feel like it’s a girlfriend-to-girlfriend conversation. We want to be there for our clients in their journeys - to support them and empower them and I feel like we’re doing that. And actually, as I talk a lot about women, we also have quite a few male customers and husbands who bought for their wives - we had one in particular who was brilliant… he messaged to say he’s working nights, leaving his wife alone with the kids most evenings and he wanted to treat her, for her to have a good-time when he’s not there. I think it’s so sexy. It’s brilliant when you can be in a relationship and explore self-pleasure together and give each other these types of gifts - it’s amazing. Giving each other the opportunity to be themselves and explore their own pleasure individually and feel good in your own body.
Shea: It’s so heart-warming when you have a partner who cares about your orgasm, right? I Want the best for your pleasure. Hats off to that guy - that’s A+!
Neta: I know, right? I have to say that with my husband in particular, I mean... our living room is full of stock and toys and at the beginning I was worried that it’ll take a big part of our mutual home together for the benefit of the company, but he’s been brilliant… I think sometimes he actually loves it more than me! He loves telling people about what we do, and he loves trying our products out with me and it’s really hot. It really improved the way we see each other and also the way we see ourselves individually. I love that and I would encourage anyone in a relationship to try that with their partners.
Shea: That’s such great advice…. I want to ask one more question - which I ask everyone who’s in my podcast - what’s one thing that gets you in the mood?
Neta: I love this question and I love all the other answers you got from your guests.
I’d split this question - there’s in the mood for sex, and there’s in the mood for self-pleasure and masturbation. For sex, there’s the intimacy and connection with the other partner - whether that’s through touch, or thoughtful conversation even, being in the right moment and being fully present with each other, that definitely gets me in the mood, where we can both just take the time to just be with each other.
And then for self-pleasure, I think I touched on that earlier. It's about creation. So, if I’m feeling inspired, if I’m feeling good about my body, if I’m feeling active and physical, whether that’s through gardening or exercise or whatever that is, and I create something then I’m definitely in the mood. The creation and feeling really good about what I do which makes me feel good in my body.
Shea: Thank you, Neta!
Neta: Thank you for having me. And to everyone who's listening - give yourself the gift of pleasure today. You can find us on our website and on Instagram.