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.
What 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!
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.
As for founding Ohhh and becoming a sex speaker, those were natural evolutions. There are some amazing sex stores based in Toronto that I admire, but none really spoke to ME. I’m girly, I’m sometimes silly, and I wanted a sex store that was upbeat, fun and femme. I get that this means that Ohhh’s brand doesn’t appeal to everyone, but my team and I are okay with that. We accept everyone, and love helping everyone and anyone express their sexy, but the DNA of the brand is unapologetically girl. So I guess you can say that getting into the sex biz was all about taking what I love about myself and making it into a company – I love entrepreneurship, I love sex, I love innovation and information, and I’m girly with a sense of humour.
I agree – there are a handful of great sex stores in Toronto however, what I love about Ohhh is that it definitely appeals to my girly, femme side. Plus, you guys have lingerie too (which the other boutiques I’m thinking of don’t!) I’ve written a bit about my experiences as a woman who writes about sex and some of the (often hilarious) misconceptions/assumptions/attitudes that I’ve had to face. What kinds of reactions have you had from people in regards to being a sex-positive entrepreneur?
I identify with your post SO MUCH – oh so much. People often think ’m going to look like a porn star. I love porn, but I’m definitely no porn star. On a good day when I’m all made up by Carmen Rachel I look like a cross between Katy Perry and Christina Hendricks…or so I’m told. Secondly, people in my own industry are surprised when I show up to buying meetings; some are even so bold as to say “you’re SO young… I thought you’d be older” because I “run a tight ship” (quote from a lingerie company… true story). I think that despite my bitchy resting face, I look pretty friendly and approachable (and yes, young) so people are sometimes thrown a bit as I don’t look like a smart, focused CEO. To top it all off, I’m a smart, focused CEO who sells sexy stuff, proudly talks about anal sex to audiences around the world, runs a consultancy with some VERY conservative clients (hi there! I won’t name you, don’t worry), and works with all kinds of other businesses that have nothing to do with sex. So tell me… what am I supposed to look like?
The other thing that happens is that customers, friends, fans and random strangers believe I am into absolutely EVERY single sexual activity possible. This is just not true. Everyone thinks that my partner and I are poly or avid swingers. We’re technically monogamish, and really lazy. We’re open to interesting new experiences (that’s how we grow!), but those most often involve just the two of us. Also, I really hate temperature play. Keep that hot wax drip candle AWAY FROM ME. Likewise with that frozen dildo. Nope, not even slightly interested. Love that other people are – just not MY thing, personally.
I can so relate to everything that you just said. I’d also argue that you have the Katy Perry look, with Christina Hendricks’ swagger 🙂 What advice would you give Skinny Dip readers who are hoping to quit their 9-5 day jobs and strike out on their own?
Entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint of heart. You have to WANT to hustle. Grow your business while you’re still at your day job until you get it to a point where it can support you. Yes, this is hard. Yes, it is tiring. But if you have it in you, it’s well worth it. Oh and when you go to take that big leap have someone by your side who “gets it” – if you don’t have someone in your network, then find a mentor or hire a coach. Most people will tell you you’re crazy. They’re right. Be crazy and use your fear to fuel your desire to succeed. There’s always a way.
The word “sexy” gets thrown around a lot. What does “living a sexy life” mean to you personally?
For me it’s about staying connected to the things I find sexy about myself – these change, but off the top of my head they are my curvy body, my drive and my sense of adventure. it’s about showcasing these attributes and taking advantage of what I think is intrinsically sexy about me. I choose activities, clothes, people and places that bring these out in me. And if I start to feel like I’ve lost touch with my sexiness, then I do something about it – I change something up, seek new experiences or go back to old ones that make me feel good. I think sometimes we get really hung up on finding “the answer” to why we don’t feel sexy anymore. I don’t know that that’s useful. Follow your intuition and try stuff ‘till you find stuff that makes you feel good. Simple advice for complicated times. Too simple? Maybe.
Lastly, because we love hearing about this kind of stuff at Skinny Dip, what are 3 of your favourite products that Ohhh Canada carries?
Revel Body Sonic Vibrator V2 – I know this one is really pricey, but it’s so worth it. It’s a cool looking sphere with interchangeable attachments that doesn’t leave your hand numb. I’m more of an external vibe fan, so this is my new fave.
Speaking of external vibes, another new fave of mine is the BodyWand Rechargeable Wand. It’s so much prettier than the original Hitachi wand, and it’s cordless. While this is probably not the sexiest idea, I really like it on my neck and back. it’s hard to get your sexy on, if you have sore stiff muscles. It’s nice to have a toy that does double duty.
And I’m obsessed with this invisible thong in leopard. Firstly, leopard is a neutral, as we all know. Secondly, it feels AMAZING on and doesn’t show even through yoga pants. And it looks like it’s been painted on which in my house means it’s partner-approved. Plus the matching strapless backless bra was featured in The Loop (see slide 6)- who is known for their good taste (as am I… obviously).
I have so many faves, actually, but these are some of my newest faves. Speaking of which, your readers can always check out the very latest at Ohhh here.
Thanks Katrina for the great interview!