We had the good fortune of connecting with Arielle Aquino and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Arielle, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I started my business the way most founders do: I started it to create the solution for something I was looking for. When I was first exploring my sexuality, I could not find a store that spoke to me or brought the level of elegance to sexuality that I was looking for. I was only in my late 20’s but already I felt too old for the industry which seemed to cater mostly to very young people. I really didn’t resonate with pink, bright vibrators that promised me the “fastest orgasm ever”. I was in an exploration stage (and still am!) and wanted something that spoke more to the slow unfolding of sexuality: arousal, all of the senses and something a little more intriguing. That’s why I created The Sensualist – a place to arouse all five senses.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The Sensualist is not your typical business for many reasons. Anyone who works in the sexual wellness space knows how difficult it is to make it in this industry. We face societal stigma, censorship rules and roadblocks when it comes to advertising. What many people don’t know is that sexual wellness products for pleasure are not allowed to advertise on social media at all. Only family planning type products are permitted to advertise. This puts our industry at a huge disadvantage in this day and age. You have to get creative and it can be extremely frustrating to be constantly banned, risk your page being shut down etc. all for just trying to promote safe, healthy and consensual sexual pleasure. I’ve learned so much about the barriers to the industry, and have made lots of mistakes. Although this really gets me down, I keep moving forward because of how important this is. Sensuality is our most unifying human experience – whether we choose to have intercourse or not – it is how we experience the world, how we experience pleasure. I am committed to creating a community for people to connect and learn from one another, and I am committed to creating the shopping experience I want to see in the world; an experience that makes sensuality beautiful as it should be.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take them to Archipelago which is an incredible members club founded by some of my closest friends. You can count on them to host some of the most interesting experiences in wellness, entertainment, community and play.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Not who you would expect, but my father was the main person who inspired me to create The Sensualist. We would both laugh about how cheesy the sexual wellness industry was and how it was clearly male-dominated. He encouraged me to create me own niche in the space and believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself! I’m also inspired by the Women of Sex Tech which is a group of founders in the sex tech space. I’ve met many incredible womxn from that group who have inspired me to keep going.
Photos by Justin Rosenberg, Inna Shnayder, Isabella Bejarano