The Dripstick® by Awkward Essentials
“A multipotentialite? No, I have not heard of it,” I said, when Frances Tang, the chirpy founder of Awkward Essentials asked me if I knew the term. Frances told me I had to watch it, she said she is one, and I seemed like one, and I would understand how she came to creating her brand’s signature product, the Dripstick® or um, cum sponge, as we will refer to it in this article.
So, I did. I watched the TED talk “Why some of us don’t have one true calling” by Emilie Wapnick, and I did understand.
Frances is a superheroine!
In the talk, Emilie Wapnick introduces the multipotentialite, a person with sprawling interests and jobs over one lifetime. They have three superpowers: idea synthesis, rapid learning, and adaptability. They can combine knowledge from different fields and create something new from the intersections, they step out of their comfort zones, and they have the ability to morph into whichever role the situation calls for. Their kryptonite is being pressured to narrow their focus.
That’s me! Oh, and apparently it’s Frances, too.
Frances relates that she’s had 12 jobs over the past decade. This wide breadth of knowledge that she has amassed from the different types of work is more help than harm.
She tells me the cum sponge was not a lightbulb moment. At the time of product development, like many women, Frances was in a long-term committed relationship (she’s married now), and on birth control. The post-coital clean-up is always a messy and awkward operation.
Do you just clean it up with a few pieces of toilet paper? Ok, yes, good idea. Crap, the toilet paper is in the bathroom. Ok, so you run walk, hop, waddle with bowed legs, hands cupping your vulva to not drip on the floor because you know he’s not cleaning that up. But wait, do you cuddle now, or later, or not at all? Ugh, now you need to pee.
And it was not just her with this problem, it was worldwide. People even talk about it on Reddit. She tried looking for a solution, especially a fast one. “I’m lazy,” she admits. “Going to the bathroom is just an additional step I don’t need.” But there was nothing.
She says that the concept for the cum sponge came from her time working as a baker. Her cum sponge is made from medical grade polyurethane sponge that soaks up cum in your vagina after only a few seconds, so that post-sex cleanup is efficient and thorough. Much like how a spatula scraps out batter from a bowl (though, do not mistake the cum sponge for just a piece of plastic, it’s got some pretty rad credentials). Except here, I probably would not lick it afterwards.
And that’s the Clark Kent-newsroom answer. When, really, you and I know that it was Frances applying her superpower of idea synthesis, cultivated over years of switching industries.
After a co-founder bailed on her at her last business venture, Frances was tired. She had one last idea in her, she tells her friends, “and it’s crazy,” she warned. But they were very supportive, exactly the push that she needed.
Make it personal
She and her cum sponge successfully applied to GRID110, an idea-to-product programme in Los Angeles, California. Here, she was advised to verify she had a market before putting her money where her head was. But every time she tried to explain the product, no one understood. Even her cohort mates thought it was a wipe. She knew in her gut, that it had to be seen to be believed.
But there was no research on the topic. She hacked information from condoms and tampons – products that women willingly inserted into their vaginal canals –, bit the bullet, and ordered 20,000 cum sponges from a medical manufacturer.
She also refined her pitch with the help of a fellow programme mate, “an actor, because it’s LA,” from a statistic-driven one to an entertaining, humorous, personal story about a sensitive topic. Armed with a new pitch and product in hand, she attended events and talked to everyone about cum and cleanup. If this sounds difficult, it is because it is, especially for someone who turned beetroot red on stage as a kid.
Awkward Essentials went live in October 2019. That same night, a Huffington Post writer had found the website through sheer luck, wrote about it, and before Frances knew it, Awkward Essentials went viral. Products started to fly out of her dad’s car and her parent’s house.
Today, Frances counts legendary sextech pioneer Cindy Gallop as one of her advisors, and secured a US$800,000 funding from a venture capital fund out of Austin, Texas, earlier this year. A deal she said started from a cold email!
The move into the spotlight always seems instantaneous, but, the truth is, if you have not been hardened by years of rejection and explaining unconventional career choices, the spotlight might blind you.
Luckily, superheroines can all take a beating or two.
all images from brand.
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