Hygiene startup Awkward Essentials has found success by addressing a problem typically considered too awkward to discuss, but in fact, it was a conversation with friends that actually led the founder, Frances Tang, to develop the product. What's the problem, you ask? It's not sexy. It's not romantic. It's . . . drippy.
Dripstick from Awkward Essentials is a soft, medical-grade sponge purposefully designed to help women clean up after sex by removing excess fluids from the vagina. With an easy-to-grip handle, it's safe, simple, and quick to use. While there are an array of products focused on foreplay and sex itself — how many flavored and scented condoms do we really need? — Awkward Essentials is tackling the postsex category, addressing that awkward, messy time between the afterglow and the aftermath.
Awkward Essentials' growing success — the company's number of repeat customers for its dripstick sponge has risen five-fold this year — can be traced to Tang's willingness to tell her own story. It's her own personal experience that was the catalyst for dripstick and what made her want to help women embrace the messy parts of life we don't often discuss. The company itself is evidence that it takes a woman to solve a problem women face.
Dripstick customers have also shown that they're empowered to share their own stories as well — nearly 300 reviews rate dripstick with an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars. One reviewer, who dubbed dripstick the "savior of sheets," said: "No more tip-toe creeping towards the bathroom with my legs awkwardly pinched. The dripsticks are comfortable enough for me to remain in bed for a few minutes as we both, ahem, soak in the moment. Love these things and 100% recommend that everyone try them out."
Tang said sex with her husband always ended the same way — she crossed her legs, rolled off the bed, and sprinted to the bathroom. She hovered over the toilet, grabbed mounds of toilet paper in a futile attempt to clean up, and ultimately would just take showers — naked, cold, and annoyed.
Sex was wonderful, but the clean-up was irritating, time-consuming, and not always successful, leading to the occasional surprise later in the day. Every time she was stuck in the bathroom, Tang wondered why there wasn't an easier way. She thought back to her time working at a bakery and kept coming back to the idea of the spatula that cleans cake batter from bowls. There needed to be something just as effective for women. But it wasn't until a low point in life that Tang commiserated with friends and brought up her idea for Awkward Essentials.
Armed with encouragement, Tang took to the internet and found validation in forum after forum, where she found countless women describing dealing with the same clean-up issue — relying only on towels and toilet paper. She knew there was a better way. After inventing dozens of designs and prototypes, the solution took the form of dripstick — a small sponge with a handle. Insert the sponge in the vagina, gently swirl it around to absorb everything (it usually takes just a few seconds), and remove. No more extra fluids, dripping, smells, ruined underwear, or emergency trips to the bathroom.
Dripstick made sense to Tang and her friends, but would strangers be willing to try it? She placed a big order and waited. Initial sales exceeded expectations — they were so strong, in fact, that they convinced the self-taught Tang, who succeeded without a degree from a big-name business school, to ignore the advice of a business accelerator and manufacture a massive number of dripsticks.
Encouraging her was femtech luminary and MakeLoveNotPorn Founder Cindy Gallop, who has long pushed for more female founders with the goal of better addressing issues facing women. Inspired by Gallop's support, Tang's large number of dripsticks filled her and her parents' homes, which briefly became logistics central. She said people often ask what her parents think of her business. They are her biggest fans, she said, and the inspiration for both her frankness and entrepreneurial determination, as her father is also an entrepreneur.
Tang never intended to build a sexual wellness company — and disrupt the postsex industry while she was at it. But now she's already at work growing Awkward Essentials' offerings, focusing on the many health and hygiene problems that no one wants to discuss.
Dripstick is available in packs of 10 for $15, 20 for $25, or 69 for — you guessed it — $69. Visit awkwardessentials.com to learn more.
This content was created by Awkward Essentials