Photo by Nate Burgos. View More.
At meet-ups, there are giveaways, and there’s SWAG (in marketing-speak, Something Worth Actually Getting). At the April 2014 gathering of Chicago’s chapter of CreativeMornings, tubes of lube were placed on each of the seats. They were optimal gifts—Something Worth Actually Getting—considering that CreativeMornings’ global theme, for the month, was “Sex.” They prepped the audience for a talk by Searah Deysach, founder of Chicago’s first woman-owned sex-toy store, Early to Bed. With straightforward charm, Searah spoke frankly about her experiences of realizing her business that was both pleasurable and fun, like sex.
It was her time absorbed as a frustrated sex-toy customer that inspired Early to Bed. She observed that the sex-toy industry was void of knowledgeable reception, a friendly tone, and, most of all, an open heart and mind. She seized these gaps as an opportunity and stated her intention: “I wondered, ‘Why isn’t there a sex-toy store in Chicago that’s cool and friendly?’”, she told the audience. “Then I thought, ‘Fuck it! I’m going to open Chicago’s first woman-owned sex-toy store!’”
When envisioning Early to Bed, Searah acted like a designer. She recognized an unmet need in the area of sex toys—how they’re packaged and presented—and sought to change this through her shop. Here, adjacent to the sale of sex toys is the information about their use for all customers—be they experienced, curious, or aspirational. This educational approach is wise in almost any shopping experience. In a recent story “Small Businesses Fight Big-Box Stores by Specializing” reported by Sonari Glinton for National Public Radio, retail analyst Marshal Cohen described a reinvigorated state of customers: “They want their money spent on the perfect product, the right product, and they want to speak to people who not only are knowledgeable about the product but passionate about it as well. That’s what’s starting to happen. Consumers are looking for the local merchant with a great deal of knowledge.” Searah’s Early to Bed store provides a frustration-free atmosphere for people to explore, find, and discuss sex products without feeling intimidated.
Searah fiercely reminded us about the importance of taking a chance—to satisfy an unmet need.
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It was highlighted by some CreativeMornings/Chicago attendees that Searah’s talk was refreshing in that it was different, not directly related to design. To me, it had everything to do with design, a historically horny discipline.
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Big thanks: to 1st Ward Events (host) and Basecamp for sponsoring Chicago CreativeMornings #29; to organizer Kim Knoll and operations manager Kyle Eertmoed of Knoed Creative, who spoke at Chicago CreativeMornings #7, and to the Chicago CreativeMornings crew—Joy Burke, Pedro Carmo, Rusty C. Cook, Benjamin Derico, Erick De La Rosa, Steve Delahoyde, Chris Gallevo, Neftali Morales, Jeremy Mumenthaler, Isaac Steiner, Martha Willis—for their volunteer work in making CreativeMornings happen in Chicago.
Especially big thanks: to Tina Roth Eisenberg—Swissmiss—for inventing CreativeMornings in 2008. The fifth chapter was launched in Chicago, June 2011—my write-up and photos.
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While writing this blog post, Liz Phair’s song “Supernova” was a part of my soundtrack:
“…You walk in clouds of glitter and the sun reflects your eyes
And every time the wind blows, I can smell you in the sky
Your kisses are as wicked as an F-16
And you fuck like a volcano and you’re everything to me…”
• • •Read more Chicago CreativeMornings coverage.
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2011 was Chicago CreativeMornings’ debut year. Download the entire collection of selected insights.
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