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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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 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?

On Sex, Videos and Blurred Lines

One of the most challenging parts of being a blogger and writer is keeping up with the ridiculously fast pace of the news cycle. Thanks to the internet, stories spread faster than wild fire. If you don’t jump on a story right away, you can guarantee that someone else will write it. Life as a writer is busy. I always put my clients first, so often I’ll come across things in pop culture or the news that I want to write about, however by the time I have the space in my schedule to cover it on Skinny Dip, the moment has passed and it no longer feels relevant. This is exactly what happened when Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines video was released last Spring.

A year later, the video still makes me throw up in my mouth every time I see it. However, I’ve been patiently waiting for Robin Thicke to show up in the headlines again so I can write about it without seeming completely late to the party. Lucky for me, that opportunity has arrived! Last week Thicke was the target on an online petition to have him removed as one of the performers at this year’s Juno Awards (The Canadian equivalent of The Grammy’s) Shortly thereafter, Thicke conveniently backed out of the Juno performance “to rest his voice.” 

For those of you who have been living in a yurt in Antarctica and/or cut off from civilization for the past year, Thicke  has been the target of widespread criticism because of the song’s lyrics and video which promote misogyny, rape culture and the degradation of women. The lyrics of the song suggest that there are “blurred lines” when it comes to sexual consent with it’s repeated refrains of “I know you want it.”  The song’s four-minute video, an unrated version of which has racked up more than 31 million views on YouTube, features topless women dancing around Thicke, Pharell Williams and rapper T.I. However, when it comes to inducing vomit, the piece de resistance is the mylar balloons that spell out “Robin Thicke has a big dick” near the end of the video.

To make matters more disturbing, Thicke has responded to the video’s backlash by saying the song is “a feminist movement within itself.” Clearly, someone needs to school Robin Thicke on the definition of feminism. Thicke told GQ,“We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women.” He later noted, “What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before.” I find that hard to believe.

From Macleans to Jezebel to Vice, pretty much everyone has weighed in on the Blurred Lines situation. So, I’m not sure what I can add to the argument that hasn’t already been said and said very well. The video is gross and creepy. The lyrics are undeniably misogynist and “rapey.” And the whole thing just makes me want to slap the smug grin right off Thicke’s stubbled face. However, the video is merely a drop in the hat when it comes to the shift that’s taken place over the past 15 years in regards to the sexual politics of music videos.

When I think back to the music videos that I remember from when I was a teenager in the early to mid-90’s, things were different. Salt-n-Pepa suggested “let’s talk about sex.” TLC sang about “giving you the red light special” while in baggy pants adorned with condoms. Madonna discussed sexual expression, homosexuality, AIDS and asked us “Would this sound better if I was a man? Would you like better if I was?” all while proclaiming to be nobody’s bitch in the song Human Nature. Even the less mainstream R&B artists I was really into – like Adina Howard and girl group Nuttin’ Nyce – had songs that were really sexually explicit but in a way that was fun and empowering. With the exception of maybe Madonna, these women managed to do all of this while wearing what now seems like a shocking amount of clothing. Between the ample eye candy and groups like Jodeci literally ripping their shirts off on stage, if there was skin to be shown, a lot of it was male.

Don’t believe me? My inner anthropologist couldn’t resist digging up some evidence. Behold exhibit A, B, and C taken from some of my favourite songs & videos from the 1990’s.

1) One of my favourite girl groups of all time: TLC. It took me far too long to realize that it wasn’t a fried egg attached to Left Eye’s shirt, but a yellow condom. Now I think it’s cool. 2) From Salt-n-Pepa’s “Whatta Man” video – a fun, ear-worm of a song that extolled the virtues of being in the company of a good man (& provided equally nice visuals) Once upon a a time, men were shirtless in videos too. 3) From Nuttin’ Nyce’s “Froggystyle” video which features a man in a doggy collar, surrounded by a bunch of women wearing actual jackets and shirts – imagery I doubt you’d see in a music video from 2014. 

Although I don’t watch that many music videos these days, when I do, I feel like the dynamics have completely flipped over to the other extreme. Today’s videos have swapped “sexuality” for “sexy.” Miley Cyrus sings about heartbreak while nearly naked. Lady Gaga (whom I actually kind of adore) sings bubblegum pop while in get-ups that would be better at home in a futuristic Siouxie and the Banshees video. Rihanna sings about “strip clubs and dollar bills”, while women expertly twerk and spin on poles in the background. The words and images often don’t connect, resulting in a kind of cognitive dissonance. When it comes to sex and music, we’re saying less but showing a whole hell of a lot more.

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