Rarely in life do we get to have something we’ve been picturing in our heads for a long time come to life in the real world, so this has been an amazing and mind-bending experience. I came up with the concept for The V Store just over a year ago: a comprehensive, approachable concept store for sexual and reproductive healthcare products, services, and information, staffed with sex educators and medical professionals. I can honestly say that the final product was exactly what I had been picturing all this time.
I’ve been interested in reproductive rights and fertility issues for years, and finding this solution space felt like a light bulb going off. What was missing from the conversation around women’s health was sex. The two spaces felt so divided, when they are fundamentally inseparable. The idea of putting everything that you need or use for the health of this one body part was a jumping off point that resulted in The V Store.
Ultimately, we have products for multiple body parts, as well as products for men, but the core idea of merging the sexual sphere and the health sphere never changed. The feedback I got from the weekend all echoed a similar thought: “this is so necessary.” I got a lot of “why doesn’t this already exist?” and “this makes so much sense” comments, but the fact is, this is a new concept, a new market, and a new business model. Which is kind of terrifying as well as exciting.
We had well over 100 people come over the weekend, and had success in selling products as well. The biggest draw, however, were the workshops and conversations. By our last workshop, Sunday’s “Things your OBGYN hasn’t told you,” we almost filled the store. It turned into a great group discussion on topics ranging from birth control to pregnancy scares to STD testing.
We’re working on the community-building aspect of this next. How can strangers walk into the space and end up educating each other? We all have a wealth of experience and knowledge, so we need to pair that with the right environment and people to maximize the impact.
I was fortunate to have been partnered with a great group of people. Lola Baston, Haylin Belay, and Taia Handlin were all sex educators I met through my partnership with Shag, a “sexy” shop based in Brooklyn that advocates sex-positive, healthy products and conversations. Separately, I met Liz Pastena and Virginia Reath, who are both medical professionals and were able to lend their expertise to the event. It was a diverse group that brought different capabilities to the table, and made the V-Store the non-judgmental, knowledgeable, and compelling place I had been envisioning for so long.
If you’re interested in learning more about the V-Store thesis project, visit the website, thevstore.co, and sign up to receive updates. I have big plans for what the next iteration of this store will be, and I now know it’s possible.