Every now and then you come across an idea and you bite your nail – or a pillow – because you didn’t come to think of it yourself. Every so often you also come across a person that simply makes it happen. Meet Tea Latvala, the CEO of Teatiamo Industries. While she has been making it happen ever since I first met her over ten years ago, lately she’s truly been giving people a lesson on what ”sisters doing it for themselves” is all about. Just few months ago she launched Teatiamo, and almost immediately her idea attracted investors.
So, what is the fuss all about? It’s very simple. She designed something others had not thought of: an object that functions as an art piece – one of them could be on the top of your design magazines right beside your bed, perhaps couple of them in a bowl in your living room – and at the same time it can be used to pleasure yourself. Here’s a sex toy you don’t need to hide in your drawer. Teatiamo wooden designs do not scream sex like most adult toys, they are discreet handmade design elements: true crossover products that could revolutionize the way we look and think about sex toys. And even if you never get that itch, it can still serve you well as a piece of art. It’s your secret, out in the open. I had a chance to interview the busy CEO who is currently in Miami, USA, to find new opportunities for her rising brand.
Where did you get the idea to design luxurious adult toys?
I wanted to design something elegant and timeless – something that would break boundaries between the sex and design industry.
Can you tell us something more about the designs themselves and your thoughts behind them?
It’s all about the design and shape. The shape is smooth, silky and aerodynamic. You can have one or more and pile them up on a table to make it an art piece.
Did you do a lot of research on the history of sex toys, considering wood has been used for similar purposes (though much differently) in the distant past? Or was the process more organic?
I did a lot of research on the history of sex toys. My first idea was to do a Ferrari of sex toys which would have been the same banana shape, but in pure gold with a vibrator. However I didn’t have enough money for the production and testing so I ended up experimenting with wood and found out that it was actually perfect material in many ways.
How has it been so far? What would you consider the best thing about designing luxurious adult toys, and what has been the worst?
Like in everything in life there are pros and cons. For me it is clearly easier to do business outside of Finland. It’s more natural. In Finland it seems no one really takes you seriously before you’ll make it outside of the country, or work with the gaming or computer/IT industry.
Have you been faced with prejudices while trying to market your products, for entering a business that many designers shy away from?
Unfortunately, yes, it’s easier for me to work outside of Finland.
Teatiamo recently became Teatiamo Industries. What are your plans for the future?
At the moment, I have just started a crowdfunding campaign with INDIEGOGO to get more attention and to market the brand here in the U.S. I am also searching for places where I can see my brand in. I already got into one gallery here in Miami and I am negotiating a deal with one hotel. I am moving step by step but my goal is to make TEATIAMO a big brand within few years and selling it with a good profit. Last week I got another call from an interested investor so I am very happy of what I have achieved in a short period of time.
You have a background in fashion design, can you tell us more about it?
I have a Master of Arts in Fashion. The past 7 years I worked as an Art Director for two Finnish companies. I organized photoshoots, campaigns, designed web pages and graphics and I still have clients in Finland to whom I design all kinds of visuals through my other company (Tea Latvala Design.)
What do you find is the most challenging thing when it comes to designing adult toys?
Well, it’s all very challenging. I work with materials, sizes, shapes and safety but it always comes down to people you design them for. The most challenging is to get the message through to the customer.
What are the benefits of using wooden materials? And what wood types are you using?
Wood lasts a lifetime if kept well. I use several different wood types such as Rosewood, Ash Tree, Nut Tree, Wenge, Rubber Tree, Finnish Birch etc. All wood types have their own special spirit.
What is the most common misconception that you’ve had to debunk time and again while promoting your wooden designs?
Are there splinters? OF COURSE NOT! They are finished with organic varnish.
The wooden designs are beautiful and elegant and if you’d see one on a table you wouldn’t even necessarily think of a sex toy, you’d just think of an art object. I assume that was a goal of yours, to create a product you wouldn’t need to hide, a product that can be easily used as an interior design element as well as something to pleasure yourself with?
Exactly the point. I am happy you got the essential heart and idea of the brand right there. You know what you are talking about. (smiles)
The product descriptions on your website are very tongue-in-cheek. Is it one of the ways you are trying to express that sex should be fun?
Yes. In general I think sex is fun and straight-forward. Sex should be approached responsibly but there should be a humorous twist to it.
What sizes do the design come in? Some of the designs seem quite large. Is that how you wanted them or does the manufacturing process affect it as well? I also need to pop the age old question: does size matter?
The wooden pieces come in 2 sizes – the bigger is 27 cm (10,6 inches) in lenght and the smaller is 20 cm (7,9 inches) and the shape is designed in a way that there is always the narrow and the thicker end. So although it might look big it is easily approachable. Size has nothing to do with the general quality of lovemaking, however for some larger items cause more pleasure.
What does Teatiamo designs have that others don’t?
Elegance, harmony and life-lasting quality.
Where did the shape of the design originated?
I just started drawing random shapes. So it came out of my pen. (smiles)
You’ve already taken part in fairs in Finland and Teatiamo designs have been showcased in a gallery in Miami. You’ve also started a fundraising campaign with INDIEGOGO. Is there a difference in the way people react to your products, depending on location?
Yes, there is a big difference. Every single person I have talked about TEATIAMO here is very excited and interested, and cheerful. They see the potential and the opportunity and they are very positive. Let’s leave it at that. (smiles)
What would you like to say to those who are still virgins when it comes to adult toys? Perhaps someone who would like to try one of your products but is still hesitating?
We are all born equal but different. Adult toys aren’t for everyone. I would recommend to start with a small Mister Rosewood. If you end up not using it – it is still a beautiful piece of art.
Do you have a design philosophy that you would like to share?
Keep the shape simple but the mind full. Meaning that the thought behind the design can be very tricky, complex, exciting etc. but when you are able to combine that with a beautiful timeless shape, that is when the magic happens. My other one is a quote from a Finnish poet Tommy Tabermann: ”paint yourself a paradise and step into it.”
Who would you say are your main customers, based on the experience so far? And who would you like to attract more?
At the moment it is 50/50 male and female. I always want to spread the message of equality.
Are the wooden designs made of one piece of wood? How is the actual process of manufacturing one?
It is a secret method just like a recipe… (laughs). Every single piece is handcrafted in Finland by a very talented craftsman. One item is made of one piece of wood, which is suitable for a specific shape. Not all wood qualities suit the shape.
You are trying to find Amy Schumer. Why in your opinion would she be the best spokesperson for your designs?
She speaks openly about sexuality which I find both fun and liberating, like my brand. She is the best spokesperson for it.
For more information on TEATIAMO & Tea Latvala, go here:
Social media pages:
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Phone: USA: +1 305 440 7350 FINLAND: +358 400 910051
Support TEATIAMO via INDIEGOGO:
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