We’re thrilled to launch our first sale with Jimmyjane, whose products speak for themselves. Nevertheless, we had a lot of fun researching the various design choices, unique materials, and functionality of the Jimmyjane line. These products have a lot of facets; they may be taboo to some or beautiful collector’s pieces to others, but for most of their users they provide a moment of joy and means to connect with your partner on a new level.
We got lucky and scored an honest, open, and incredibly informative interview with Founder and Chief Creative officer of Jimmyjane, Ethan Imboden. Here’s what he had to say:
Is it someone’s job to test out the new products? What are the qualifications? Where can one apply?
Of course! Indeed, it’s many people’s job. We have a diverse group of test pilots we rely on to put our designs and pre-production prototypes through their paces. There are perks (we deliver that John Glenn rush without the high stakes of supersonic maiden voyages), but it’s demanding work. We require a lot of testing and a lot of feedback. The most important qualification is a willingness to experiment and an ability to communicate clearly about one’s interests and experiences.
As you might imagine, we get a lot of volunteers. If you think you’re up to the task, you can queue up at the entrance to our underground testing facility in Area 50 (right across the landing pad from our development partners over at Area 51).
We were curious about your pitch to high end specialty retailers like Fred Segal and Selfridges. As far as I know, these stores have never carried vibrators before. How did it come about?
Many of the partners we work with have never dealt with vibrators or other sexual products before, but when they discover Jimmyjane, they recognize that we’re speaking to the same audience that they are. Jimmyjane resonates with retailers like Selfridges and Fred Segal because whether the conversation is about apparel, lingerie, jewelry, cosmetics or design objects, these retailers are looking for quality, innovation, attention to detail, and above all, an exceptional experience.
How did you and Yves Béhar begin your collaboration? Any plans for future collabs?
Our collaboration started through our friendship. We had talked for years about doing something together, but decided to wait until we found an opportunity to take on a major project. The project ended up being more “major” than intended – we set out to create one vibrator together, but fell in love with too many ideas. As a result, the Pleasure to the People series includes three designs, each with their own unique power to please.
As for new collaborations, yes – we always have a few in the works… They present a great opportunity for us to do the unexpected.
One of your Company Values states: We feel it is crucial to be curious and to explore, and we encourage this through our company. How exactly is this encouraged?
This openness is prominent throughout our brand and communications, but perhaps most tangibly, curiosity and exploration are encouraged through our designs.
Each person’s sexuality is as intricate and individual as their fingerprint. Instead of dictating what’s “sexy” or being overly prescriptive in our designs, we seek to celebrate this inherent complexity and individuality. Each of our products offers numerous provocative possibilities, so curiosity is richly rewarded. We consciously leave room for exploration and interpretation, and often discover unforeseen opportunities through our customers’ candid feedback.
Jimmyjane products are a huge hit. I was under the impression subtlety, power, and versatility were priority for these kinds of products. Jimmyjane’s got the added element of amazing design, but why is that important to your customer?
For Jimmyjane, design isn’t an added element, it’s at the very heart of the success of our products and brand. It’s an approach, never an aesthetic appliqué, and it’s the key to how we deliver the power, subtlety and versatility you describe. We focus on delivering an amazing experience, and when we solve that problem appropriately, the aesthetic pretty much resolves itself. Ultimately, it’s what’s inside that counts.
When we shop today, we have sophisticated options for almost every product we choose – Fab.com is an amazing demonstration of this. But why would it be more important to have a well designed stapler, toothbrush, computer or shoe (all products that I’ve previously spent a great deal of time designing) than it is to have a well designed vibrator?
Are you working with any new opulent materials? Details please!
Materials have always set our work apart, and they will definitely continue to do so. While I can’t give you specifics on our current R&D (would have to kill you), I can offer a bit of the thinking behind it.
We choose our materials (which range from platinum silicone and double-fired porcelain to stainless steel and 24k gold) not for their beauty, but for their sensory characteristics, durability, medical certifications and bio-compatibility. With Jimmyjane, what you see is what you get. If it looks like metal, it’s metal – never plastic with a “faux” metal finish. And if it looks like a diamond, well… it’s a diamond.
Jimmyjane is like the Chanel of sex accessories. Do you have a favorite fashion designer?
Thank you! It’s funny (and flattering) that you say that – I had a Chanel quote in the early brand documents I put together for Jimmyjane, and a different one that I included in a presentation I recently made. The first quote (paraphrased) was, “Luxury lies not in richness and ornateness, but in the absence of vulgarity.” The more recent one was, “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”
I don’t have a favorite designer – that’s too limiting. That said, I do have a favorite fashion curator, and that’s my friend Al Abayan, aka Patron of the New.
Patron of the New – http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/26/the-new-new-thing/)