Why I’ve Removed Blush Novelties from my Blacklist
My Blacklist of companies I don’t support is long and growing – companies seem to only be added, not removed. Until now. So why now, why Blush Novelties? The answer is complicated, yet simple. The answer is Ducky Doolittle. She recently started working there and she is a long-time sex educator that I have immense respect and adoration for. She is basically Saint Ducky of the Doolittles, Sex Toy Company Whisperer. She has ethics that line up with my own1, but she has insight into the industry that most of us don’t have: behind the scenes. I did not make this decision lightly; I took 5 months to wait and watch and ask questions.
January 2016 – Blush got on my Blacklist last year when it was discovered that they’d copied the Tantus Uncut – they’d copied other Tantus designs years prior, but this one was new and happening in the age of social media call-out. Yet they didn’t get put on my Blacklist because of the copycat designs – that was probably 40% of my reasoning. Shevibe doesn’t carry the Blush products that are copycat designs so I figured I would simply never recommend those designs. The seething rage came from what happened as a result of that Twitter call-out. Their social media manager at the time denied the accusation but the dildo designer confirmed how they’d come up with the design and how it was impossible that it was anything other than a direct copy. The social media manager in charge of accounts during this Twitter call-out proceeded to lose their shit on Metis Black and every single blogger supporting Tantus. They hurled accusations and sharp words. Their behavior on Twitter was so reprehensible that it caused many bloggers to boycott them. My anger was evident in last year’s post, to say the least. We didn’t know who in the company had said those things, if it was a “random employee” or someone higher up. Over a year went by, quietly, before Ducky arrived on the scene. Because no one knew what to do with the social media accounts until she came aboard I remained blocked on Twitter for quite some time!
March 2017 – Ducky reached out to me via email, knowing how I felt. I asked a lot of questions and I wasn’t shy about sharing my opinions. This one answer from her five months ago made me open to working with Blush in the future: “The work I do is very subversive. It’s not about one sex toy. It’s not about one sex toy manufacturer. I work first for the end consumer. Second, for the undervalued worker. Being a feminist and working for a feminist adult company is the easy street. I prefer moving mountains, one little nudge at a time. And that is why I said about Blush, “this is a company I can really help.” They are trusting me and I am going to do right by them.”
August 2017 – Then at Woodhull I had the chance to talk to her more; I decided that an interview was the best format because her words are what changed my mind and I want to pass that on. Ducky doesn’t take jobs where she can’t educate and make a difference and speaking with her it was crystal clear that Blush is the right mix of everything she needs – a good foundation and willingness to be bettter. I trust Ducky to guide this company and keep them on the right path. I believe Ducky when she tells me of the changes that have been made and the different direction this company is taking. I have been impressed with their new, affordable silicone sex toys and now feel comfortable recommending those items without any reserve.
Can you tell me a little bit about why you chose to work for Blush?
I have a unique insight into North American pleasure product companies in part because I had been working as a buyer for a large distributor. This meant I worked with all the major brands. I had meetings with their team and got to know the companies more intimately. When I was ready to leave my position with the distributor I gave a lot of thought to who I might want to work with. Blush was at the top of my list.
The simple answer why I choose Blush is because it is a young company, with lots of potential. Blush also has a very creative, diverse team. The owners like my frankness and value my experience, my integrity, and my creative input. I felt like “here is a company that needs me and that I could have a real, honest impact on”.
Some of the older companies are buried deep in their mindsets when it comes to the products they create. They are big and when it comes to change and innovation it’s like asking an ocean liner to turn; they are slow. Blush is open minded, nimble, and full of unstoppable energy.
An issue some bloggers have had with Blush is their copying of the designs of other brands. Can you tell us how this happened?
I was not with Blush when that happened, but I did have honest conversations with the teams inside the building over the impact that has had on our reputation. One of the issues I believe Blush has faced is that we are not a large company, but the company has ambitiously sought to be competitive with the larger companies.
With larger pleasure product brands, creating “like products” is very common. Often, they are importing from the same manufacturing facilities and just putting their brand on the packages. Other times big sex toys companies move more like the fashion world. By the time one designer has a style hit the end of the runway at a show, there are multiple companies drawing and cutting a pattern for something of that style. I am not saying it’s right, but it is the way big business often runs. It doesn’t matter if it’s potato chip flavors, make-up pigments and packaging, book publishing, fashion, or sex toys. Big business is brutal.
Today Blush is pulling away from that model. We are very tuned in to consumer reviews, we spend a lot of time with retail store staff members to get their feedback, we have grown our creative team, and we have more designers who work to engineer our own motors and casings with a lot of care. I can say that Blush hears loud and clear how making like products impacts both bloggers and loyal consumers. I hope sexuality writers feel proud and continue to give honest feedback. As for how Blush products are being designed today? Almost every product in production moves across my desk as we move it though the prototyping phases. I get to assess the worth for the buying public. I get to give feedback on design, and how to enhance designs to best fit pleasure anatomy. I get to write the product descriptions and features for upcoming Blush products.
*Lilly’s Note on this topic: It may be “how things are done” in the business, but I don’t like it. I do, however, have faith that Ducky’s conversations with the owner about this topic have happened, blogger & consumer input has been noted and I feel that it’s unlikely to happen again. A promise? No. But if they do it again my support may be pulled and Conversations Will Be Had.
A larger issue that caused a number of bloggers to dislike Blush and stop recommending them had little to do with their products and much to do with the way one social media manager treated us in 2016. You obviously weren’t there and don’t know the mindset of that person but does Blush understand overall that that can’t happen again? Even when you’re someday not working for them?
I know it was very hurtful for the bloggers who were engaged with Blush at the time. I am sorry that happened. It is my understanding there was an immediate shift that happened inside the company when the social media upset happened. I want the bloggers who were involved to know you had a positive impact on the Blush brand. We appreciate you for it.
The first thing Blush did was let that person go. The company then pulled back from social media for a while to assess how and why it happened, and how we could work to make sure it never happens again.
It’s kind of like when you have a bad experience at a restaurant. If it’s just one receptionist or server who does you wrong, it’s easier to forgive them and go back to that establishment again. But if the whole restaurant is full of rude and thoughtless personnel, then I would be forced to look at the top of the company, the managers and owners to see where the real problem lies.
Blush has made mistakes, but we own them and we work to be better and do better. I am happy to say I really trust and enjoy the owners at Blush. They are ambitious, but they also have open minds and hearts. The Blush staff is happy. My experience is that is hard to find in any industry. I can’t make any promises for what the future holds for any of us, but I have put my career and my family in their hands. As long as I am here, I will always seek to care for consumers, bloggers, retailers, and the Blush staff to the best of my abilities.
Many folks have lumped Blush in with companies like Topco, Doc Johnson, NS Novelties due in part to the many more-porous materials used and the titillation packaging used on their older lines. Can you tell me how Blush is different, now? I understand they’ll never go fully silicone but are they making a shift to using better materials more often?
We make products to meet the market demand. To be honest, most of the market is not buying the products that bloggers love to own and review. Your average per customer purchase in a brick and motor store is about $35. At Blush, we seek to please the average consumer by making higher quality products at affordable prices.
We love the highest quality materials. And the highest quality materials have been gaining more and more space in our catalog, for sure! The only porous material we use is our own proprietary blend of TPE. We use TPE because we can create the most realistic feeling strokers and dildos with soft TPE. Yes– it’s porous, intended for single person use, needs to be washed with care, and will not have a very long lifespan. As long as consumers enjoy TPE, we will seek to make the highest quality TPE on the market.
Most of our products however are made of non-porous silicone, ABS (hard) plastic, bioplastic (recyclable and corn starched based), or our proprietary blend of non-porous PVC2. Everything is tested by a Bay Area Compliance Laboratory Corp, an independent testing facility. These tests confirm all Blush products are made from body-safe materials3 and meets or exceeds international safety standards as set forth by CE, RoHS, REACH, and POP directives.
For the readers: Blush Novelties talks about their porous products being body-safe, but a Swedish Chemicals Agency tested random sex toys purchased at European retailers and found a supposed Blush product that failed one of their tests. After notifying Blush, who noted that they don’t sell products to that retailer, they found out that their products were being cloned (right down to the packaging) but made using unsafe materials. Since this does and will happen (with any brand), how can customers be sure that they’re getting a genuine Blush Novelties product?
At this moment, it would be hard to know. Most of the knock off business happens on Amazon and Ebay but if you are buying from a quality retailer then you can feel safe. Soon you will see our packages coming out with anticounterfeit labels. Each product will have a unique code that you can submit on our website to ensure you have a legitimate Blush item.
And finally, what products are you the proudest of right now that you think bloggers should review and talk about more?
Oh my… the list is long! I love our dual density, silicone Real Nude collection. I love every single piece! Our Hop dual action, rabbit style vibes are beautiful, with deep rumbly motors. Our Noje collection is giving every vibrator on the market a run for their money! Our Aria collection is full of powerful motors in silicone designs. And they are very affordable too!
I’ve already tried, and loved, one of Blush’s newer silicone vibrators, the Nude Impressions 01. Because I’ve reviewed a lot of higher-priced sex toys this year (and have more still in my queue) I’m going to be trying out some affordable options from Blush. Their silicone dildos are already listed on my guide to silicone, suction-cup dildos and a few of their items are on my Sex Toys Under-$35 list – but I need to test these for myself. I’ll be reviewing the Real Nude Suko, Hop Trix, Aria Hue G, Luxe Purity 2, and the ultra-affordable Gaia Eco. Despite knowing that their porous sex toys are non-toxic, I just still can’t bring myself to recommend those materials 90% of the time on this blog so I’m trying to elevate the affordable, non-porous items.
Overall, this isn’t a 100% perfect resolution but I never expected perfection. In my conversations with Ducky (and a few others) I simply feel truly convinced that Blush has learned from their mistakes and are on the right path to being a better company. If you want to talk about it further with me, please let me know. If you have questions for Ducky, leave em in the comments.
Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post.Images courtesy Blush Novelties because I don’t own enough Blush products yet to take my own collage photo!