Interview | Living a Sexy Life with Katrina McKay of Ohhh Canada

When the topic of my job comes up, people usually have the same two questions: 1) How did you transition from a day job to working for yourself full-time? 2) What’s it like talking about sex all day?!

I’m in the process of writing a post for you guys that shares my journey as freelance writer, however in the meantime I thought it would be cool if I spoke to some of my favourite sex-positive entrepreneurs, in hopes that they’d share some of their wisdom. I’ve featured products from Ohhh Canada regularly on this blog, so I decided to catch up with the CEO, Katrina McKay, to get her thoughts on sex positive entrepreneurship and what it means to live a sexy life.

unnamedWhat made you want to leave your corporate job to pursue life as an entrepreneur?

I was lucky to find myself jobs at very entrepreneurial companies at the beginning of my career and worked in an innovative field – marketing. Marketing is all about knowing your numbers, assessing risk and executing on brilliant ideas; and that’s really what entrepreneurship is about, too. At a certain point in my career, I just didn’t feel satisfied anymore… I felt like I could do more. Plus I’ve ALWAYS been an entrepreneur – for me it’s not a job, but a lifestyle, a calling, my purpose. I was born an entrepreneur. I was always that kid with the new idea on how to make a buck… always selling something from lemonade to greeting cards to tickets to a theatre show. When it came to a point where I felt like I wasn’t able to be myself at my place of work anymore, I knew it was time to take the ultimate career risk and go at it on my own. It took me nine months after making my decision to leave to ACTUALLY leave – I made sure that Ohhh Canada and my other endeavours were profitable enough to support themselves…and to support me!

I know you mostly as the CEO of Ohhh Canada (that’s how we met initially!) and as Kat the Sexpert from my Toronto Sun articles, however I know you have your hands in several entrepreneurial pies, so to speak. What else are you up to business wise?

I adore small business – mine and other people’s. Ohhh Canada combines two of my passions perfectly – entrepreneurship and sex. I get to help people “express their sexy”, and I get to be an example of others of what’s possible in small business. The “Kat the Sexpert” site and brand is a natural offshoot of Ohhh, but no longer directly affiliated – as I’m getting booked more and more in the US and internationally it didn’t make sense to have my brand of helping others feel sexier be exclusively part of Ohhh. Sort of related, I’m co-designing a line of leggings and lingerie with my mother, who is also Ohhh’s Warehouse Manager. She’s a costume designer and extremely talented seamstress… so look out for those leggings in 2015 with other lingerie pieces to follow.

I also run an international business growth consultancy. We call ourselves the “un-agency” because we don’t care about winning awards, and we’re not exclusively marketing-related. We’re about driving bottom-line results for the companies we work with. All of that falls under the KatrinaMcKay.com brand. We’re really choosy with the companies we work with, because my team and I (eight strong in total across all of my companies) become much more like an internal team than an outsourced solution and that means that our personalities have to mesh as well.

Lastly I am a business coach to a roster of extremely talented entrepreneurs both involved in sexy businesses and non-sex related businesses. This is something I am very proud of – I love being a small part of the success stories of others. I work with entrepreneurs one-on-one to help them achieve the next level of success. To name just a few of the amazing business I’m involved in – Brass Vixens,  THEIT,  Elixir,  Flores Boticario,  Carmen Rachel and many more (too many to mention here). Coaching is really fulfilling – I get to help others avoid the stumbling blocks I encountered with my own businesses! Coaching has also led to a lot of speaking – particularly on how I left my 9-to-5 to strike out on my own and how to build your small business brand. Sidenote: I was always told I couldn’t talk about sexy stuff AND be taken seriously in business. Good thing I ignored all my naysayers – and hopefully in sharing my story with you we’ll inspire others to do that same!

unnamed-1

Ok, so, whenever I’m talking to people about my writing career, one of the first questions people usually ask when I tell them what I write about is “Why sex?” What made you want to launch a sex-positive business/career?

I wonder if our answer is going to be the same here. I’ve always been the go-to girl for my friends. I went to a private very conservative board school for high school, and I would often have girls knocking on my door late at night to ask me questions about bisexuality and other issues… For example, I remember distinctly one girl really worried that she’d turned into a lesbian because she had a sex dream about her roommate (for the record I believe everyone should feel free to define themselves, or not define themselves, by whatever criteria they deem fit). Plus even as a child I remember always being really interested in sex and sexuality… curious as to what made people tick, and why boobs were considered sexual. I love sex – it’s a fascinating driving force in our personal and professional lives and we need to talk more about it. No one should feel shame or embarrassment about their sexual feelings or inclinations. Talking about sex is important. My business and my work as Kat the Expert, and this blog, all help in little ways to help others open up about sex and enjoy their sexual selves.

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Things I Would Tell My 20-Year Old Self #15 – John

Hello Skinny Dippers! I’m working on book stuff today, so my friend John Drake has kindly volunteered to step in with the next instalment of the Things I’d Tell My 20-Year Old Self series. John is my former writing partner, a fellow motorcycle & sex/dating/relationship enthusiast and one of the best dudes I know. I hope you enjoy reading John’s advice! Stay tuned for more dating updates, reviews & other goodies coming later this week!

IMG_4730During my last annual exam, my Doctor asked for clarification of my age as she flipped through my medical file. She laughed as I responded, “Do you mean in birthdays, maturity or mileage?” While I may not feel as sprightly at 33 as I used to after indulging in more than a few Old Fashioneds the night before, in my mind I am still 20 years old.

That was, until the trajectory of my life journey recently placed me in close proximity to actual 20 year olds, at which point I felt as wise as an owl and old as dirt. After being made instantly and viscerally aware of the stark contrast between the limited worldview of a vicenarian (20-something), I began to ponder if I was ever that immature and clueless, or whether current 20 year olds have just been pampered to the point of having far less intellect and life experience.

I may have found myself giggling like a schoolboy at the supermarket just last week when I came across a package of Hung Wang Asian noodles, however I also have RRSPs in the bank, I own a vacuum, pay my taxes on time and don’t have to be told to floss – all hallmarks of maturity in my books.

Just as I wouldn’t tell my six year old self that Santa Claus doesn’t exist, there is much that I would leave a mystery to thirteen years my junior John. I would most certainly leave out specifics; the who’s, the what, the where’s – all of the decisions I have made, even the poor ones, have taught me valuable lessons that I wouldn’t trade. What I would change however, are the times I hurt people I cared about or who cared about me, regardless of whether it was intentional or not. I would also like to set him up for a higher level of success, learning from my mistakes rather than from the School of Hard Knocks.

In that vein, I would offer my 20 year old self the following counsel, in no particular order.

Be Honest

The importance of honesty was instilled in me at a very early age. It was held in high regard, paramount in fact, among other honourable virtues like courtesy, ambition and cleanliness. While I have rarely been intentionally dishonest, we’ve all told little white lies or lied by omission. It may have been innocent, or possibly ignorant, but I know for a fact that I have inadvertently led more than one girl on in my life by not being honest about my intentions or where I saw the relationship going. One lovely girl in particular, who I considered merely a nocturnal recreation partner, unfortunately saw monogamy and likely matrimony in our future and I never did anything to convince her otherwise. Be honest with the people around you, but more importantly, be honest with yourself.

Don’t Waste Time on Fake Friends

Friendship is not easy and it is a two-way street. Even as you get older it can be difficult to discern which friends will stand the test of time, or which ones shouldn’t. When you are young your friendships are based on proximity and musical taste, but life gets far more challenging as years go on. I was convinced that I would have been the best man at my best friend from highscool’s wedding and yet by the time he tied the knot I wasn’t even in attendance at the ceremony. You will experience ups and downs. The friends who help lift you up when you’re down are the ones you want to surround yourself with. Your friends will become your family and your benchmark for success, so choose wisely.

Nobody Has It All Figured Out, Follow Your Own Path

Some people wait patiently until mid-life to freak out about not having their shit together, but on the eve of my 25th birthday I had a full-blown quarter-life crisis. Witnessing many of my friends lock down solid jobs, condos and investments had me reeling with self-doubt about following my unique and less financially lucrative career path. One such friend who was in attendance at that 25th birthday has achieved perhaps the most financial and material wealth of anyone I know. He recently admitted that he was miserable at work and was jealous of the freedom, experience and flexibility I enjoy in my work. It doesn’t matter how big your TV is or how many bedrooms you have, you won’t be happy if you aren’t fulfilled by your work. I’ve made a great salary and I’ve made peanuts, but I always followed my passion.

Respect Your Parents

Age and experience often bring perspective, which in turn provide context and greater understanding. But as my old man has said on several occasions, “Learn from other people’s mistakes, you won’t live long enough to make them all on your own.” You share common genetics and ancestry, learning from their experience and about your roots will serve you well in the future. Whether you learn a family recipe, not to put gasoline in a diesel car or that you happen to have a predisposition to certain health issues, listen to your parents’ lessons and respect the sacrifices they have made in order to conceive, raise and support you – through colic, childhood, adolescence and beyond.

Take Good Care of Your Body

Education is wasted on the young. Unfortunately, so too is the innocence and stupidity of youth.
Your body is by far the most amazing tool you will ever encounter but much like any appliance it requires care and maintenance. I wish I’d worn earplugs to loud concerts, I wish I had applied sunscreen more often, I wish I’d never tried smoking or eating fast food. These things don’t make an impact when you’re young, but they compound exponentially over time as you age.

Live Within Your Means

It wasn’t until very recently that I became even mildly financially responsible. I bought a sports car and a new motorcycle before I paid off my student loans, I used my credit card like an ATM and I took vacations I couldn’t afford. Long story short, I placed a higher priority on things than I did on experiences or peace of mind. If I was to do it all again with the information I have now, I would have been more frugal and enjoyed the simpler things in life.

The reality is that I could spout off advice until the cows come home, but I can say with complete certainty that 20 year old John wouldn’t have listened. He was invincible. Immortal. Unstoppable. With age, experience and opportunity comes pain, politics, cynicism, regret and self-doubt. Sometimes being an adult means carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. I wouldn’t want to trade places with my 20 year old self and I feel like I have a great deal of valuable information to pass on to him, but something tells me he could teach me a thing or two about perspective as well.

 What would you tell your 20-year old self? 

On Anxiety, Brain Vacations & Changing My Story

Three years ago I wrote a blog post called I don’t want things to be like this anymore which chronicled some of my experiences with  anxiety. Three years seems like a lifetime ago and lots of things have changed since then. I’ve mentioned in passing that my issues with anxiety have improved a lot over the past 1.5 years, but I haven’t told the whole story of how I got from point A (crippling anxiety) to point B (feeling like I can function without losing my shit) So, today I’m going to re-tell the story I told you three years ago, only this time it has a different, much happier ending.

Let me start off by saying this: I have an anxiety disorder. There, I said it. The secret is out.

Although it’s easy to talk about now, it took me a long time to own up to the fact that I had anxiety issues and get properly diagnosed – 31 years to be exact. When I first wrote about my struggles with anxiety, the story I told myself was that it was a “bedtime thing” because that was the time of day when my anxiety often felt the strongest. However, looking back I now can see that my anxiety was really a “all the time thing” – one that I had been struggling with for most of my life. The funny thing is that when you feel anxious all the time, that becomes your “normal” and it’s only when things get really out of control that you’re like, “hey, something is going on here!” That was the exact point I was at when I wrote that initial post. I knew something was up with my body and I wanted it to stop.

To give you some background, I was a very energetic, creative kid – so much so, that I never wanted to sleep.  My Mom used to always tell me, “Simone, you just can’t seem to let the day go!” whenever I’d have a hard time settling down, which was almost always – bedtimes were never my forte. The idea of sleep – of losing control of my body, of slipping into an unconscious state – scared the shit out of me as a child. Many nights I would lie awake in bed fearing that moment of letting go. I’d figure out a million reasons to get up out of bed: another glass of water, another 5 trips to the bathroom, did I remember to brush my teeth?! However, what I didn’t mention before is how out of control the repetitive behaviour became sometimes. I wouldn’t get up to use the bathroom 5 times, I’d actually get up 30 times. As a child I spent many nights with my heart pounding, doing the same things over and over, feeling like I was unable to fully control my actions. Although I felt ashamed and like something was wrong with me, I was able to hide it well. It wasn’t until last year, when I  shared the things I’ve just described with my Mom, that she fully understood how bad things were for me at that time.

My anxiety continued on into my teenage years and my adult life. It would ebb and flow, sometimes more severe than others – however, when it was bad, it was really, really bad. There would be nights when I would just lie awake all night, not sleeping, feeling like my heart and mind were racing. Not being able to calm down and sleep is one of the most frustrating things ever. Sometimes it got so bad that it would feel like I couldn’t breathe and my then-boyfriend (bless his heart) would have to wrap his arms around me so I would stop shaking. When these anxiety attacks would happen, I would cry, so completely frustrated by the fact that no matter what I did, it still felt like every neurone in my body was firing all at the same time and like a tiny miniature football team was playing a never ending Superbowl game in my brain. It sucked.

At the time though, I tried to cope in the best way that I could. Usually this meant reaching for some Benadryl, NyQuil or muscle relaxants – anything that might produce drowsiness – at bed time. In extreme cases, I’d wash it down with a night-cap of Pinot Grigio – all habits I realize are not exactly healthy.

When I wrote that first blog post about my anxiety, I knew something had to give yet, part of me was scared – scared of what I might unearth if I went to therapy, scared of how medication might affect me, scared that I might do all of those things and nothing would change. As I mentioned before, we tell ourselves stories about our lives. For years I had been telling myself, “I’m just naturally anxious. I’ll always be the person who has trouble sleeping. This is just my personality. It sucks, but I’m just going to have to suffer through this for the rest of my life.” Repeat any story to yourself enough and you start to believe it. However, knowing what I know now, I’d love to go back and tell myself:

“Simone, you don’t want things to be like this anymore…and guess what they don’t have to be!”

Although I wrote that post in January of 2010, it wasn’t until November of 2011 that I finally decided to take action and seek help for my anxiety issues. I had just gone through a heartbreaking breakup and after 30+ years of feeling anxious all the time I was exhausted. When it came to dealing with my anxiety, it was either now or never. As I’ve mentioned before, when I came home to BC following the big breakup I started seeing a counsellor which helped tremendously. However, the piece of the story that I haven’t shared on the blog until now is that I also started taking medication for my anxiety. And you know what?! The combo of counselling + medication have changed my life for the better in ways that I could never imagined.

Initially I was really nervous to try any kind of medication because I was afraid they might somehow change my personality. When I expressed my concerns to a good friend of mine, she asked me: “Do I seem any different?! I take it for anxiety issues very similar to yours and it’s helped me so much.” This was all the reassurance I needed.

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Guest Post | Lessons for my 20 Year Old Self: Be Careful With Your Money

If you’ve caught any of my recent Instagrams, you might have guessed that I am on vacation this week! While I’m enjoying some down time in the beautiful Okanagan, my friend Sara has stepped in with a guest post. I hope you enjoy Sara’s savvy advice. These are all things I wish I’d had tattoo’ed on my arm when I was a 20-something.  Since writing about how Carrie Bradshaw is the most unrealistic freelance writer, ever, I think most of these tips are still very relevant to those of us who are now 30-somethings (& beyond!) 

There has been a series on Skinny Dip about the things we all wish we could say to our twenty year old selves. We’ve talked about love and loss and today, let’s talk about money. If there’s one thing we can probably all agree on is that we wish we were smarter with our money when we were twenty.

College students are virtually preyed upon by credit card companies. They set up tables on campuses and harass students passing by to fill out applications. They talk up great deals and the importance of building credit. The problem is that very few students understand how to approach credit correctly. Even if they understand, intellectually, that a credit card isn’t “free money,” they often give in to the temptation to simply pay the minimum amounts due. After all, they can make bigger payments later when it’s more convenient, right?

We’ve all been there. We’ve all been tempted by the siren song of credit, especially when we are young and we want to be able to keep up with our more well off friends.

Unfortunately, for most of us, what this does is set us off on a path toward a terrible credit rating—one that will prove problematic when we grow up and want to buy homes, start businesses, etc. When you’re starting up your first business, you’re going to be trying to find investors and will likely need a business credit card.

I wish I had access to a list of the best cash back business credit cards in order for me to earn rewards while funding my purchases. I had to learn about managing money through my own mistakes back then. But now I’m older and wiser.

So here’s what I’d say to my 20 year old self about money

-Get one card. One. That’s it.

-Pay at least $10 more than the minimum amount due on your credit statement

-Pay your bill as soon as it shows up in your email box or in the mail.

-Remember the physical limitations of your dorm room—can you really fit all of the things you want to buy into it?

-You are not a lesser person if you don’t have the most current fashions, accessories, electronic gadgets, etc.

-Share—share music, share movies, share books. Share instead of buying your own. You’ll look like a genius when you help your friends save money too.

-Saving is not stupid. Putting even $5 a week into a savings account is better than nothing.

-Take a course in personal finance and learn about saving, investing, retirement plans and basic economics now. You’ll look like a genius when you already understand all of that stuff your friends probably won’t bother with until they get their first jobs.

-Get a job and pay off the interest on your student loans each month. Yes, it isn’t due until later but you’ll be thousands of dollars ahead of the game come graduation time.

About the Author: Sara is freelance writer who most often writes about personal finance. In her spare time, she enjoys maintaining a healthy lifestyle through swimming and practicing yoga.

What are some of the financial lessons you wish you had learned when you were 20?

Ask Simone | I Feel Like The Girl From “He’s Just Not That Into You”

Hello & welcome to another episode of Ask Simone where I attempt to answer your questions about sex, dating, relationships & other life stuff. Today’s question comes from K. in the USA.

Dear Simone, 

Ok since you write and are so wise about dating things – I have a question – though the answer is pretty obvious. I met a guy earlier this month (friend of a friend of a friend) and we hit it off the night we met. Really awesome conversation mixed with some old school dancing. Fast forward two weeks later and we go out on our first date. The conversation was awesome again, great back and forth no awkward pauses. We even got dessert. He paid. and offered to walk to me my car. We did the whole “thank you for coming” “thank you for dinner” hug conversation. Then I start backing away to my car…and then I’m like what the hell am I doing. So I walk toward him again, hug it out and then we stop look at each other and smooch. It was total PG stuff because we were in public. So, clearly he didn’t have to pay, walk me to my car or kiss me.

Then last week I texted him, “hey stranger want to grab drinks tomorrow?”  He was booked but said “maybe sometime next week could work” Awesome. I bounced the ball back in his court by asking him to let me know what works for him….annnnnd its been crickets ever since. I understand it’s a busy time for him, he’s leaving his current job to go back for his masters and he’s moving. So maybe he’s just busy. Simone, girl, I’m starting to feel like the girl from He’s Just Not That Into You. It’s pathetic.

-K

Oh, K. Thank you for saying that I am wise even though I don’t really think it’s true! Like you, I’m just trying to figure out all this dating stuff. First of all, let me just say that having read the book and watched the movie (don’t judge me), you are nothing like the ladies in He’s Just Not That Into You because most of those chicks were crazy.  You’re not a crazy. I’ve met you in person I know that you are a smart, sassy, gorgeous woman.

I understand how this situation can be confusing. I’ve been there. Many, many times. It’s so rare that I actually meet someone I’m attracted to. When it happens, I tend to get really excited and I sometimes let extreme optimism get the best of me. There’s nothing wrong with being optimistic, it’s just that sometimes when you want something to work out, you miss certain signals – or at least I do. For example, when I was dating Fitness Guy I wanted things to work out so badly that I think I ignored a bunch of signs that he just wasn’t that into me. It took (literally) being left on the side of the road for it to sink in that the dude wasn’t in it for the long haul. Although I’m getting better at reading people’s signals, it’s a process.

Because of this, I thought it would be fun and helpful to get a male’s perspective on your situation. Luckily I was able to track down my colleague John Drake for a comment. John and I are both Sex Files columnists at Sun Media. As a fellow writer, motorcycle enthusiast and single-man-about-town, I thought John would be the perfect person to ask about this. Here are his thoughts on your situation:

“I’ve been there, it can definitely be frustrating. I’m sure they got along well and perhaps they hit it off but I’m guessing if he hasn’t taken the time to even respond to a text that he didn’t feel sparks flying.

It’s not like he’s being coy or ambiguous – not responding at all is a pretty clear message. Generally if a guy is into you, you don’t have to ask yourself if he’s into you…

Maybe he’ll message in a week saying his grandma died or his dog was in a coma but if I were her I’d move on.

Thanks for sharing John! For more dating tidbits & advice from a guy who knows how to rock a fedora, follow John on Twitter @john_d_drake or read his columns here.

Although it’s probably not what you want to hear, I agree with John. Unless something super serious has happened to this guy, I’d let this one go for now. When I’m interested in someone, I want to hang out with them and make plans as soon as possible – even if I’m super busy. For example, years ago I was seeing this one guy. We’d text often and it was always very flirtatious (bordering on obscene). It was during one of these marathon texting conversations that I asked him, “Where are you right now?” and he replied, “At my grandpa’s funeral” Ok, so clearly this revelation signals BIGGER ISSUES (like, why was even thinking of sexy times with me at a funeral?!) but it goes to show that if a guy wants to contact you he will (even if it’s wildly inappropriate)

As I was reading John’s response,  Joe the Intern took a break from his afternoon push-ups to come over and ask whether he’d be able to contribute his opinion to this post. Since Joe is also single (Yes, ladies. You read that right!) I figured one more opinion couldn’t hurt.

Thanks for sharing Joe! These kinds of situations are hard and I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I’ve gone out with people like The Chef  that I had so much fun with, but there just wasn’t the right spark (and the situation ended in hurt feelings.) I’ve also dated people who clearly weren’t as into me as I was into them. Unfortunately you can’t know what people are thinking or control their behaviour, all you can do is control your reaction to it. Taking a page from Joe the Intern, remember that you are awesome. If someone doesn’t appreciate that from the get-go, then they were never the right person to begin with. In other words, don’t waste the pretty.

I hope that helps!

Love,

S.

Did I miss anything? What advice would you give K.?

Got a question for me? Send it here!

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