Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Jo.
Stephanie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started out as the manager for a small Business in Wisconsin called Eldorado. They were an Adult Novelty chain spread out through the Central and Northern parts of the state. My initial intention was to work for them part time as I was laid off from my current job as a lab tech.
My husband at the time encouraged me to take the position even though I was skeptical about doing that kind of work and knew nothing about it. I had only worked for them for about two months when they offered me the manager position. I guess It wasn’t so bad after all! We were all given Christmas Eve and Day off to spend with family and upon returning to work everything had been cleared out. Over that year I had become friendly with the landlord so I went to them to find out what happened and in turn they offered me the space. I spoke with my husband and we concocted a plan. We gathered everything and anything they left behind and went to the bank to apply for a loan. We couldn’t tell them what is was for so my husband made up a story about a motorbike and a week later we opened our first store with 100 VHS tapes, slapped a few vibrators on the wall and put some lubricants out. I still remember our first sale , A bottle of strawberry lubricant to our Credit Card machine salesman.
Within three years, we had opened our three locations and Over the next 22 years, I continued to own and operate five different brick and mortar stores. My last store was the biggest one I had ever owned and was bringing in over 600k a year, my plan was to retire with that one but the Department of Transportation had other ideas. An eminent domain lawsuit and half a million dollars in legal fees and losses, I decided to give up. I tried doing upscale boutiques and was one of the first stores in the state to be certified as a pleasure-based Sexual Health and Wellness Center but I learned that you cannot put a cashmere sweater on sex and was sinking in debt. During all of this chaos in my life I started doing some personal work on myself with a company called Back to the Body: Sensuous Retreats for Women. The work was so transformational for me that I started bringing things I was learning there into my own professional work . There was no way I could keep that to myself. When I started selling specifically curated toy selections for Pamela at her retreats I decided I wanted to learn more about somatic sex education and signed up for Intimacy Educator Training in Canada. For the first time in my life I started feeling like I had something special to offer. Something I could offer outside of the four walls of a brick and mortar store. My dissatisfaction of the relationship I was currently in certainly increased my desire for curating something for couples and singles. I wanted to assist others towards living healthier and satisfying relationships.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not always been a glamorous career. The biggest struggle is being placed in other people’s stereotypical boxes. Some people assume that because I work in such an intimate business that I am this wild and crazy, swinging from chandeliers with tassels on kind of gal and It’s just not like that. I used to describe myself as the vegetarian Butcher. I sold it but I wasnt consuming it. For years I let other people’s shame hold me back from any true pleasure in my life. Overcoming these types of obstacles is a lot easier when you have the support and help of amazing peers. The sex educators I work with now have made every challenge worth it.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I currently work with a company based out of New York called Back to the Body assisting women during their transformational journey into sensuality and sexuality. The women I work with vary in their transformation stages anywhere from working through deep emotional and sexual traumas to the basic desire to learn about the pleasure their bodies are capable of having and healing, all things possible through somatic body work and practice. Outside of this amazing position, I run my own online sensual product store and coaching service along with fulfillment for a few other sex-positive communities. My coaching services involve assisting couples and singles on how to practice conscious dating (Yes, this can be done within a marriage), communicate truthful needs, desires and boundaries without shame, Body mapping & acceptance along with weekly, monthly and yearly pleasure planning . The thing that I think truly sets me apart from others is that I have done and continue to do work on myself. I make it a point to keep my own cup overflowing so that I am better able to give and help guide others. I feel like we have so many life coaches and relationship experts out there with tons of advice and ideas but they are not taking any time to step into their own body.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
It goes back to what I feel sets me apart from my peers and what I am most proud of. I do the work on myself consistently. I live it and breathe it. I believe we have to do the work and heal our own wounds before we can help others heal themselves. I think we have to know and be friends with our true selves because otherwise we continue to dance and feed our shadows leaving no room for growth. Be vulnerable, be ok with starting over. Make friends with your failures and be honest with yourself. That is exactly why I am where I am. I started over and I love this new place.
lilyjo photo(1st) Sway Photgraphy (beach photo)