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!

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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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On Pyjamas, “Aha” Moments & Buying Clothes That Fit

I love those moments in life where you realize that you are completely different than you were a year ago, three months ago, or even three weeks ago.

Call it a moment of clarity, or what have you – but, I had one of these moments the other day. Maybe this has something to do with turning 34 a few weeks ago, or the fact that my three year anniversary of moving back to BC  is steadily approaching, but I realized that I feel completely differently – about life, about love, about myself, about work – than I did three years ago. Heck, even one year ago. It was a really good realization, and to celebrate I decided to do something really big.

You guys, I threw out my leopard print pyjamas.

Those of you who have been reading for awhile, might grasp the significance of this. Up until a few weeks ago, I was hopelessly attached to my two sets of leopard print pyjamas (perhaps, a little too attached) – a reality that was well documented on Instagram & my blog. I’d sleep in them. I’d work in them. The only thing I wouldn’t do is leave the house in them. I started referring to them as my “freelancer’s business suit.” Things got so dire, that my family staged a pyjama-vention of sorts.

pyjamas 2

Although I was finally able to break my pyjama habit when I started to work out every morning, I kept the leopard print pyjamas in my drawer none the less (I had two sets that I’d regularly rotate.) I’d still wear them at night before bed, but that was it.

That takes us up to a few weeks ago, when I put on the older of the two pairs, bent down, heard a ripping sound and realized there was a giant hole in the butt. Luckily, I had another pair standing by! However, they only lasted about a week before the same thing happened.

Being the ever so handy person that she is, when I told my Mom about what had happened, she immediately offered to help me repair both pairs.

“Maybe, I could patch them. We could make the patches a giant bright pink heart if you want…wouldn’t that kind of match your blog?” she suggested.

There are a lot of things that wear out on a semi regular basis: running shoes, toothbrushes, nail files. I feel like pyjamas shouldn’t be on the list. If you’re blowing out the butt of your pyjama pants on a regular basis, you might have a problem. I should know.

“Mom, that’s really sweet but I feel like that would just draw attention to the problem and scream out…well, sadness. Besides, I think both of these pairs are just one rip away from being ass-less chaps.”

“You know dear, you’re probably right.”

“Also, I think it’s just time.”

So, the decision was made: I would throw out the leopard print pyjamas. To prepare for this event, I bought myself a new pair of very grown-up silk pyjamas from one of my favourite stores in Vancouver. However, then the summer got really busy and I simply forgot to dispose of the old pairs, until I opened up my bottom drawer today and promptly declared, “These need to go, NOW!” and dumped them into the garbage bin outside.

I’ll always have a place in my heart for these my well-loved, feline inspired former sleepwear but, they no longer serve me – both as physical items in my home, but also by what they represent.

The girl who lived in these PJ’s was trying to get over an emotionally jarring break-up while starting a freelancing career. She had an idea where she was going, but she was still afraid of a lot of things. She was afraid of really putting herself out there and getting her heart broken again, and feared that maybe she wasn’t good enough to really make it as a writer. She was also kind of lonely. She was happy to have moved across the country to start anew, but also longed for the active social life she used to have. The pyjamas provided comfort and acted as a security blanket to quell these fears. However, three years later I no longer feel like that girl.

I’m still afraid of things (who isn’t?) and yes, I definitely enjoy regular quiet nights in (featuring my new pyjamas and a steady stream of Netflix) but I feel like I’m on the other side of the phase of the one I described above. I go to the gym most mornings, I wear real clothes to work, I date and I have a busy social life. My life might not look that different to the outside observer but it feels different and that’s what counts.

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In case you hadn’t already guessed, I’ve been on a downsizing kick lately. So, while I was still on a high from disposing of my old pyjamas, I did another big thing: I purged my closet and got rid of all the stuff that no longer fits me properly. This seems like a no brainer, but for me it was a big step.

As I’ve mentioned before, my body has changed a lot over the past three years. I’m no longer the size I was when I moved here but I’ve hung on to a lot of the clothes I used to wear when I still lived in Toronto – namely, a pile of size 23 and 24 jeans that I have long since outgrown.

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On Love, Dating & “Hardboiled” Non-Negotiables

When you start to approach your mid-thirties and the topic of “eggs” comes up, it usually goes in this direction: “I wonder how many I have left?” “I don’t want to reach the point where mine go bad. Aren’t you worried about that?” “Should I freeze them?” However, I’m here today to talk about eggs of a different kind: mainly those of the hardboiled variety.

Yes, this is a post about hard boiled eggs.

(I was hanging out with a friend the other day and when she heard my thoughts on hardboiled eggs, she encouraged me to share them in a post. So, here we go.)

Dating & Non-Negotiables 1

I’m not exactly a picky eater. I’ll eat almost anything once (like that time I ate raw Geoduck – a local variety of clam that basically looks like it has a giant, uncircumcised penis attached to it. Fitting, I know) and I don’t have very many hang ups when it comes to food. If I don’t eat something very often (like steak) it’s because my body has a hard time digesting it. There’s only one food that I truly despise and that’s hard boiled eggs.

“What’s wrong with hardboiled eggs?” you ask.

Many, many things. 

The texture: the rubberiness of the egg white, paired with the pasty, powdery yoke. I can never figure out which is worse, because to me, both textures are equally horrific (although I’d wager the gelatinous white is just a little bit worse.) If I was Detective Boyle from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I’d give the hardboiled egg a big, fat zero on “mouth feel.”

That weird grey part: You know exactly what I’m talking about – that grey outer layer that often appears in between the white and the yoke. Yes, that disgusting thing. Grey is not a colour that I associate with things that are edible. The grey layer has always seemed decidedly alien and brain-like to me — as if, by biting into a hardboiled egg I’m consuming tiny, alien brains.

The smell: To be honest, I might be able to get past my other objections if it weren’t for the smell of hardboiled eggs. Just a whiff of a hardboiled egg is enough to actually  make me gag. This is coming from a woman who survived a summer in Toronto during a garbage strike. If I get close enough to a hard boiled egg to actually smell it, I have to stifle a heave.

The taste: As far as I’m concerned, it’s basically one and the same with the smell. Why do we eat these things?!

hardboiled eggs 3

My utter fear and loathing of hardboiled eggs is nothing new. As these things usually go, it’s something that started in childhood. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t find them absolutely repulsive.

When I told my friend about my hardboiled issues, she asked what most people do.

“What about Devilled Eggs?”

“No. Absolutely not. That’s like putting lipstick on a pig. There’s no hiding what it is, they’ve just dressed it up.”

“What about egg salad?”

“Are you serious?”

The problem is that I was born into a culture that seems intent on making you like hardboiled eggs. As I was writing this post I remembered the “hardboiled egg mice” of my childhood. These were a regular feature at kids birthday parties in the 1980’s. The first time I saw them sitting on a table, next to a plate of finger sandwiches and a veggie platter I thought “How cute!” I grabbed one and took a bite thinking that they’d be filled with something delicious like chocolate or cheddar cheese, only to realize once it was in my mouth that it was actually a hardboiled egg. To this day, I still consider hardboiled egg mice to be a culinary war-crime.

hardboiled eggs 2

With that said, my life is not devoid of hardboiled eggs. There have been times I have eaten them out of necessity – like, when they’re the only option available (I just try not to inhale too deeply) and other times where I’ve actually found them “edible” – like when they’re in a delicious Nicoise Salad. I’m not one of those people like on My Strange Phobia that starts hyperventilating and screaming as soon as they see a hardboiled egg. I can eat around them. However, they will never be something I love. This is non-negotiable.

So, what exactly does this have to do with dating?

Well, lots of things. I promise.

Last Spring, when I was still trying to date Fitness Guy, I remember the topic of lunch came up.

When he told me, “For lunch I usually eat 4 hardboiled eggs and some carrot sticks while sitting at my desk” I nearly threw up.

All I could think was, “And you kiss me with that mouth?”

Besides the fact that that sounds like the saddest desk lunch ever, I struggled with the concept that someone I was attracted to could eat something I hated so much and in such excess.

Could I date and fall in love with someone who loved hardboiled eggs? Sure. However, this little egg-centricity (har har, I couldn’t resist) was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to our differences – for example, his politics and that he likes to hunt & kill some of my favourite animals – you know, the big stuff.

When it comes to dating, we all have our non-negotiables.

Although a love for hardboiled eggs isn’t necessarily a non-negotiable in a partner (unless they force me to eat “egg mice”), I do have my share of non-negotiables. They’re pretty simple:

-Healthy lifestyle.

-Agreement on major issues like abortion & gay marriage.

-No smoking.

-Positive outlook on life.

-Kind.

In my twenties, I definitely ignored some of these non-negotiables in the spirit of adventure and experimentation. I dated a series of smokers and even a hyper-conservative, pro-life Christian (I know, right?) However, the older I get the more I realize how important these core non-negotiables are.

So, the question is – what are your non-negotiables?

January Came In Like a Wrecking Ball

I think Joe the Intern‘s Miley inspired New Year’s greeting was somehow prophetic because January has been one crazy month. My expectation that January was going to be a mellow four weeks of work, writing & going to the gym was totally smashed when it unexpectedly turned into a month of crazy work schedules, Vegas adventures and a lingering post-Vegas cold that just won’t quit. So, I have some catching up to do!

If you were reading this blog last year, you might remember that I participated in the Stratejoy Holiday Council. In preparation for 2013, I let go of 50 things and I chose a theme for year: “Shine.” I wanted 2013 to be a year of to be a year full of healthy living, travel, mindfulness, creativity and sparkle, so I could fall deeper in love with my life. I decided that to make this happen I’d adopt the personal mantra of “Do more of what makes you awesome.”

When I look back at 2013 I am really proud of how everything turned out and do feel like I embraced my themed in all it’s shiny glory. I made health & fitness a much bigger priority in my life, started taking Barre classes again, joined a challenging new fitness program and made some helpful tweaks to my diet. I really grew my freelancing business a lot in 2013, worked with some fantastic companies and after a lot of blood, sweat & tears landed my dream gig as a Nationally syndicated relationship columnist. I learned that when I exercise my willpower I can do anything I put my mind to, which has given me a new sense of confidence that I didn’t have a year ago.

I have some really big goals for 2014. I want to finish a big (still kind of secretive) writing project I started before Christmas, make a habit of being fiscally responsible & saving money, travel as much as possible & revitalize my dating/sex life. I want to carry a lot of the good things from 2013 into the New Year, but go bigger. I remember reading a quote a long time on Nicole‘s blog that went something like this:

What would you do if you were no longer holding yourself back?”

This question has been dancing around my head for the past few months, so I used it as inspiration for my 2014 goals. I’ve decided that this year’s theme will be “GO. ALL. IN” – with my work, but also with my heart. No more sitting on the sidelines or holding myself back!

To make things happen, I’ve decided that my top 5 priorities or “ways of being” for 2014 are as follows:

1) Be Focused and Consistent – Make consistent forward progress on my big, kind of scary (but exciting) writing project. Get things done. Grow my business. Eat well and stay active. Keeping in mind that consistency & getting shit done, is better than perfection.

2) Be Healthy – Continue with the healthy eating and exercise habits I started in 2013. Challenge myself at the gym and push my body beyond it’s comfort zone. Practice self compassion and love my body no matter what (i.e. whether I have a six pack or not.)

3) Be Brave – Say “F*ck the Fear” and have the courage to put myself & my story out there. Write fearlessly. Love, let my guard down, and give myself permission to not hold myself back. Allow myself to be vulnerable.

4) Be Abundant – Save for my future by putting a set $ in savings every month. Be intentional with my purchases. Surpass my current monthly income. Move into my own apartment.

5) Be a Sexy Adventurer – Get my drivers license (yes, I am 33 and don’t drive. I blame it on the 12 years I lived in Toronto where I didn’t need a car.) Travel as much as possible. Take that trip to California. Go to the East Coast to visit friends. Attend Catalyst Con. Take a trip overseas. Embrace new experiences. Take charge of my dating & sex life. Find a meaningful connection with someone.

So, there you have it. In 2014 I want to feel focused, healthy, brave, abundant and sexy. I’ve learned that creating a roadmap for how I want to feel for the year is so much more productive than writing down a laundry list of “resolutions” that I want to accomplish. What do you guys think?

What’s your theme for 2014?  

How To Get Ready For a Night Out as a 30-Something

Last week, when the Universe sent me a sign that I’m likely headed towards a life of living alone with an extensive collection of cat figurines, I decided to take matters in my own hands. Within a few minutes of publishing my last blog post I was on my phone texting one of single friends to arrange a girls night out.

Although I still love a good night of drinks and dancing, getting ready for a night on the town as a 30-something is an entirely different operation than getting ready for a night out as an early 20-something. When I was in my early 20’s party prep usually involved getting drunk in the shower, putting on clothes & eating a piece of 3 day old pizza so I wouldn’t throw up later. Party prep as a 30-something involves considerably more pre-planning.

Game day – 

The key to a successful night out relies on establishing the perfect caffeine to power nap ratio. You want to have just enough caffeine in your system to feel human, but not enough that you feel too jittery to have a late afternoon power nap. Failure to power nap before heading out will likely result in your getting the nods at 11pm or worse, copious pre-game consumption of red bull. You’ve learned from your twenties that the latter never ends well.

You look in the mirror and realize that your roots are starting to look way more like Barrack Obama circa 2013 than 2009. There’s no way you can go out like this, which means you’re going to have a to schedule in a trip to the drugstore to buy hair dye.

However, be careful that you don’t linger at the mall and whatever you do don’t say yes to that second latte – you wouldn’t want to risk missing out on your precious nap time! You end up lingering at the mall anyways (“Oooh, free tea testing at David’s Tea!”) leaving you only a 2 hour window to eat, dye your hair and get ready. Colouring your hair under tight time constraints: what could possibly go wrong?!

Forgo nap time. Make coffee instead.

Nutrition – 

You’ve learned from an unfortunate incident in your twenties where you spent two hours throwing up in the washroom of Woody’s that eating before drinking is imperative. To ensure optimal stomach comfort you eat a healthy, protein rich meal with just enough carbs to make you feel full without making you feel sleepy. Now it’s time for the grooming portion of the evening!

Grooming – 

In effort to get the hair dye on your head in the most efficient way possible you manage to drop the applicator. The dye splatters everywhere. There’s purple goop on the counter, on the floor, on the ceiling, behind the toilet.

Purple? That doesn’t seem right.

20 minutes later: Your hair isn’t purple. However, in the haste of cleaning up the bathroom, you’ve also managed to get the dye all over yourself. Your arm now has this weird purplish black pattern that looks like a cross between a bruise and a prison tattoo gone wrong. If you keep your right arm glued to your body the whole night no one will notice. Yes, that will totally work.

Your beauty routine hasn’t changed that much since your early 20’s. However, as a 30-something you’ve developed an addiction to $50 YSL Concealer. When you worked in your cushy day job you wore it everyday, however now that you’re a freelance writer you dole out your YSL with the same discretion as Elaine Benes deciding whether a guy is “Sponge Worthy.” It’s time to bring out the big guns. You apply your YSL liberally and hope it’s worth it.

Wardrobe Selection – 

Your hair & make-up are done and you’re feeling pretty awesome. Now, comes the tricky part: deciding what to wear. As a woman of the world, you know exactly what to wear for a night out in Toronto, Las Vegas, or even Miami. However, when it comes what to wear to go out in Sleepytown you always draw a blank. You know that whatever you decide to wear, you’re likely going to be overdressed or look out of place. If you show up in jeans and heels, everyone will be in sweats. If you show up in a cocktail dress, everyone will be in jeans. If you show up in a Elie Tahari suit, everyone will be in skin-tight body-con dresses. You can’t win.

At 8:01 pm you decide to say “Fuck it!” and go for a look you call “downtown cool” – a white Alexander Wang silk blouse, a vintage Tibi mini-skirt & a Miu Miu clutch. At 8:01 pm you put the Alexander Wang blouse back in the closet after you have visions of someone spilling Jungle Juice all over you. At 8:02 the Tibi skirt also goes back in the closet when you remember what a bitch it is to dry clean.

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