Empowerment in the Age of the Eggplant
It’s been a year since she began her second job, revolutionizing how people consume their vegetables. Stemming from the tongue-in-cheek reputation of the eggplant emoji, the original Emojibator was born. Alongside cofounder who goes by the purposefully androgynous pseudonym Jaime Jandler, Kris Jandler dove headfirst into the sex-tech industry.
The Emojibator, a totally safe, totally adorable, totally affordable vibrator hit the market and became an internet sensation with the tagline: “Go fuck yourself. Literally.” With their humorous take on a healthy habit, the small aubergine earned a lot of attention quickly. It took only a few months before they were making headlines and getting celebrity attention. The purple plant was soon joined by its spicy friend, the chili pepper vibrator. The two found a spot in NYC’s Museum of Sex gift shop and in thousands of nightstands within just a few months of production.
This plant production was not a get-rich-quick idea, nor was it designed to replace any other career paths. What drove her was the opportunity to be able to promote her ultimate intention: self-love.
“It sounded like a good idea,” she puts simply, “and why not?”
The first time she found herself in a position of power was in college as a sorority girl. She got deeper involved in the group when she became T-shirt chair, but it only took a few semesters before she took the leap to the president of her university’s chapter. Being the representative and decision-maker for a group of so many young women came along with endless amounts of projects apart from creating the look of their shirts and finding the perfect house for them. Retrospectively, she knows the real goal was to make everyone happy so the organization was appealing to the next class of recruits.
“A lot of women in this organization means that there are a lot of feelings to appeal to,” she says. "The more fun we were having the more people wanted to have fun with us. It's a basic human attraction."
It was this position that gave her her first taste of what she calls “being on all the time.”
Post-graduation, she found herself working in Washington DC. It was short-lived. Within 15 months, she had moved back to her home state of New York, found an apartment in Bushwick and a steady day-job doing something she was already well-equipped to do: marketing. Seamlessly, she transferred the experience of leading and representing her own sorority to representing the vision of her new employer in a flavorful way.
Then, she went home and got to work on her own brand.
Emojibator launched in August 2016 and the founders behind it continue to navigate the booming industry of sex-tech.
“I’m learning you can make money in a lot of different ways and it doesn’t have to be the most dinner friendly,” she says.
Emojibator has proven not to be a get-rich-quick project, but a labor of love. She spends hours of her evenings perfecting the concept, FaceTiming with Jaime, networking with like-minded entrepreneurs, and giving as much care to customer emails as she does to web design.
For Kris, representing the smiling eggplant and its chili pepper counterpart was something she knew she was equipped to do until she realized that she’d have to step out of the conventional ways of marketing she was used to. Labeled as an “adult product,” the most accessible ways to advertise suddenly became out-of-reach. The two person-team was banned from sharing their ads on a majority of social media sites, leaving them pickled.
Luckily, New York City is not at a loss for others who are equally as driven to promote healthy, safe sex. They soon realized that there was a global community of like-minded entrepreneurs working to spread the love. They’ve been at events like Emojicon in San Francisco, Valentine’s Day Expos in Brooklyn and are slated to arrive at a trade show in Berlin later this year, putting them squarely in front of their target audience.
This community is like any other in that it comes with a slew of competitors trying to make the most buzz.
“There is the pressure to do what your predecessors have done because it’s worked for them,” Kris says. “the whole point of competing in a market is to be different.”
Amongst a throng of other vibrator-sellers, Kris was pleasantly surprised to find an incredibly healthy amount of support.
“While everyone is so afraid of the [sex toy] industry, everyone in it is so full of laughter,” she says. “Emojibator is so different than anything else. ‘Adorable sex toy’ is not the phrase you usually hear people say. I love that. I am excited that people are talking about it in that way. I want to see where that goes."
As for her day job and her political science career, she says they’re still important, just not the only things that are.
“There are different ways of accomplishing happiness and success; I don’t buy this one path track,” she says.
Kris has found empowerment in being able to represent the next community: those who have sexual desires. Their latest campaign has drawn more attention to the fact that women deserve to have their physical needs met as often as anyone else. Self-love in all ways is important to her, so being able to provide a tool to help make at least one way of doing it a little easier is a triumph.
“Penetrating this market - pun intended - with a product that defies all mainstream stereotypes about sex toys has been the greatest thing I've ever done to practice self-love for myself.”
Buy your own Emojibator and check out the full gang at emojibator.com