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'Don't Make It Personal' and Others Lessons Learnt by a Female Sex Toy Designer

28/05/2014 12:01 BST | Updated 27/07/2014 10:59 BST

The very first sex toy I designed, someone else had already thought of.

I described my vision of the perfect vibrator and the execs of the company which hired me for input, held up a prototype and said 'You mean like this?'

Er, yes.

They went off for a coffee break and I looked forlornly at the prototype in my hand.

It looked fabulous and I was beyond annoyed that I wasn't the first one to come up with it.

I turned it on and let it buzz against my cheek. It felt lovely. All soft and dreamy.

Nothing, in fact, like I'd expected (more a teeth-chatteringly strong vibration)...Hold on a moment!

I then did what any self-respecting future sex toy designer would do: pocketed it and legged it to the nearest loo!

I turned it on, tried it out and my worst fears were confirmed: it was rubbish! The vibrations were so feeble, I doubt it could bring a mouse to orgasm.

Lesson 1: Women aren't the delicate little petals men think they are.

Theoretically, the shape of this new toy was perfect: it cupped the clitoris, the labia and the highly sensitive anal area.

It should have transported me into erotic la-la-land but it simply wasn't powerful enough.

Women like good, strong vibration (or at least the option to turn everything up one notch per vodka & tonic).

I bet my next orgasm, the designer was male - and was right.

Lesson 2: Whatever you do, don't make things personal.

I marched straight to the CEO and told him of my discovery - the 'perfect' vibrator was actually utterly useless.

Then had to sit and smile sweetly for the rest of the conference as they talked about how the prototype wasn't effective at stimulating 'Tracey's clitoris' or 'Tracey's labia'.

After all the humiliation and angst, I'm happy to report the end result of that initial venture was a rather nice range of sex products that did prove highly successful - and the start of a new career for me.

Not so long after that, I got approached by Lovehoney - at that stage a small operation website selling sex toys, now turning over around £30million a year - and asked if I wanted to design my own range.

I said yes and my first range 'supersex' was born. Having just launched Edge' - a range designed to boost men's performance in bed - here's what else I've discovered between then and now:

Lesson 3: If you're a female sex toy designer, you're either terribly popular at dinner parties or a social pariah. This depends on who at the table is having a healthy sex life and intrigued or isn't and doesn't want to be reminded of it.

Lesson 4: The beautiful sex toys that cost a fortune that you've been desperate to, well, rip off for your own range simply because they are so exquisite, haven't been ripped off by other mainstream manufacturers because they actually don't do much other than look good. There's a reason why those awful cheap, black, plastic 'torpedo' vibes - the ones you'd find shoved down the back of your Mum's side drawer when you were a kid - are still around. That hard, nasty-looking material carries vibration beautifully. Sadly, a lot of lovely looking materials don't work for sex toys because they don't. Damnit.

Lesson 5: The second you've thought of something new, you find out someone else has patented it. There's one hell of a lot of creative people in the sex industry since it's become big bucks.

Lesson 6: There's nothing more gratifying than letting someone try out a sex toy for the very first time.

I remember the first time Lovehoney sent me a 'stroker' - a squidgy silcone sleeve that looks a bit like the end of a hairbrush - to see if I was interested in including one in my range.

The 'stroker' imitates the feeling of penetration - you slip it over an erect penis and move it up and down.

I wasn't convinced so got five male friends to try them out.

They all eyed them suspiciously but I got a phone call from the first volunteer within an hour.

"Are you kidding me?" he shouted down the phone. "Why hasn't anyone told me about these before? You're not getting it back."

Lesson 7: Be very proud of what you do.

My very first orgasm was had when I stumbled upon a 'back massager' shoved in the back of my big sister's bookcase.

From that moment on, I was in love with vibrators.

My experience isn't rare - most women learn how to climax using a vibrator then go on to use more partner-friendly methods.

The female sexual response system is a complicated beast - the reason why women were the first to wholeheartedly embrace sex toys.

Human desire - how it alters and morphs with age, different partners, long-term relationships, kids, divorce, remarriage, menopause and the myriad of other factors that affect our sex lives - presents its own challenges to anyone who wants to remain sexual until it's no longer possible (like, you're dead).

One way to achieve this, to keep the adventure and fun and orgasms flowing, is to use sex toys.

I'm proud to have been a part of all that!

Edge - Tracey Cox's new range of male sex toys - is available from Lovehoney. Download the free app.