My Friend Polly

The power we have when we talk to each other, when we work together, when we support each other is limitless.

Polly Rodriguez is the co-founder and CEO of Unbound Box, a company known for their quarterly boxes of sex toys curated around female pleasure. I had the pleasure of meeting Polly a few years back in New York. The story of how we met is heart-warming.

How I Met Polly

I had just launched thefemalecondition.com. When I first launched, my mission was to create a web magazine with an intoxicatingly honest and unapologetic look at the female experience with a hyper-focus on normalizing female sexuality. As part of that mission, I was seeking out other women to collaborate with for The Female Condition. Since I was already an Unbound Box subscriber and loved their products - most of the sex toy reviews on thefemalecondition.com are from Unbound - it was logical for me to reach out to Unbound to collaborate.

One night I got brave, probably from a few glasses of wine, and emailed the general inbox at Unbound asking if I could interview their CEO. This doesn’t sound like a big step, but for me, it felt huge. At the time, I was newly living in New York and I hadn’t had a whole lot of luck networking and building a tribe there. I was over-the-top excited and (fingers & toes crossed) hopeful about my vision for thefemalecondition.com. But, I also had that malicious little voice in my head saying ‘no one cares about your stupid, small web magazine.’ I wanted to reach out. Yet, I was terrified that everyone was going to reject me.

In our time together, Polly and I talked about how female sexual health and pleasure is left out of conversations. Even when it comes to our health.

A few days after I sent my initial email requesting an interview, I got an email back from Polly Rodriguez herself. She introduced herself and was willing to take time out of her schedule to do a video interview with me. We made a two part video series in my small New York apartment with my friend Jacob as the entire camera crew - check out the videos here

In the video, Polly tells her story of going through early menopause as a result of being treated for cancer. Polly was diagnosed with stage III cancer at 21 years old. She beat the cancer (YES!); however, as a result of the treatment, she was left infertile with early onset menopause. The doctors helping her with her cancer, certainly helped save her life. But, they didn’t help prepare her for what living with early onset menopause was going to be like. They didn’t prepare her for the changes that her body was going through and the changes to her sex life that were on the horizon.

In our time together, Polly and I talked about how female sexual health and pleasure is left out of conversations. Even when it comes to our health, if Polly was a man whose treatment resulted in erectile dysfunction, he would have been talked to about that immediately. It wasn’t just Polly’s story and business success that inspired me. Polly actually listened to me as I told her about my goals for my brand and normalizing female sexuality. She gave a shit about my vision and started linking me with other women in the community who shared my mission.

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Over the next few months, Polly invited me to numerous events. Through Polly, I’ve made countless connections to other like-minded women and female founders. I was even invited to join Women of Sex Tech, an inclusive community of sex-positive women changing the sex tech industry. The women in this group are bad-asses who continue to amaze me. I count myself lucky to be mentioned among them.

Building a Female Network

One night, Polly invited me to attend a product launch in New York for a new period product. When I stepped onto the subway to head to the event that night, I had no idea how important this night was going to be.

It wasn’t just Polly’s story and business success that inspired me. Polly actually listened to me as I told her about my goals for my brand and normalizing female sexuality. She gave a shit about my vision and started linking me with other women in the community who shared my mission.

At the event I met Lauren Schulte and Erika Jensen, co-founders of The Flex Company. The Flex Company produces FLEX, a menstrual disc and alternative to tampons. I hadn’t heard of a menstrual disc before so I was curious to hear more about the product.

During the event, Lauren Schulte gets up in front of the room and tells us about why she founded the company and FLEX in the first place. She tells a deeply personal story about her struggles with yeast infections. I was frozen. I couldn’t believe that she got up in front of a room full of people and told them that she had a yeast infection once, let alone a problem with getting yeast infections regularly - you can’t just say that in public. I was embarrassed for her. And, then I started looking around and realized that everyone in the room was cool with it. Lauren got up on stage and talked about her vagina and the world didn’t explode.

I realized that I was so horrified for Lauren, because I had struggled with and hidden my yeast infections for years. When Lauren finished speaking, I couldn’t get through the crowd to run to her fast enough. I had so many questions. She sat down and talked to me. At her own launch party, surrounded by people, she took the time to tell me everything she knew about what I was going through. She also told me the part of her speech I had missed while freaking out over her openness about her struggle with yeast infections: that she started FLEX because there wasn’t a product on the market to help her. I hugged her. I was so happy. She gave me her card and contact information. I went home that night feeling starstruck and hopeful.

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I ordered my free trial of FLEX from their website, www.flexfits.com. That day, I ditched tampons for good. Well, I put them in a bag and donated them to Pretty Little Purses, a non-profit organization that benefits homeless women based in Chicago. But, you get the gist - I ditched tampons that day. Once I started on FLEX I stopped getting yeast infections with my period. Talk about life changing! For context, I had brought this problem to at least 3 doctors and had been told 'chin-up, buttercup. It is just something you have to deal with.'

Action is Everything: Help Women Rise

The power we have when we talk to each other, when we work together, when we support each other is limitless.

Meeting Polly changed my life. The thing that Polly did for me that meant the most was to truly listen to me and connect me with a network of people who could help me further my mission. These have been vital pieces to my success and they didn’t cost Polly a thing, she just had to care about helping me rise… You can be someone’s Polly.

Truly listening to what another person has to say is one of the most powerful things we can do to help each other. Kind words go a long way, as well. And, if you have it, supporting women in cash is always appreciated.

But, don’t get it twisted, you don’t need to give money or call everyday or have the perfect life advice in the exact right moment to help other women. Be there, be real, and connect like-minded people. Let the universe take it from there.

Female networks are key. Whenever I meet women on a mission, I always think to myself, who else does she need to meet? Because I have to know at least one person who could help her.  

Be scared, be completely terrified, reach out anyways - send the message, try to meet your idols. More importantly, meet your peers. In a 2017 interview, Issa Rae gave the most important networking advice I’ve heard all year - “network across.” We often get caught up in meeting our idols and meeting the success stories of our industry. Find the women at and around your level, band together, commit to supporting each other, and be amazed and how much farther we can go together.

What women in your life can you help today?

 

Read a note from the founder :) It's me, Jaz. It's a note from me.