Each month, industry news media organization XBIZ spotlights the career accomplishments and outstanding contributions of Women in Adult. WIA profiles offer an intimate look at the professional lives of the industry's most influential female executives.
Offering a carefully curated selection of sophisticated pleasure products and an information-packed website that avoids using sexualized images of women (or any human body); Unbound has made a name for itself as an advocate for women’s sexual empowerment.
To be relentlessly stubborn in your pursuit of success, that’s how I try to live.
Polly Rodriguez, Unbound’s CEO and co-founder, is also aiming to empower fellow female entrepreneurs through her Women of Sex Tech organization that she co-founded with Lidia Bonilla of House of Plume. Both women — along with others that are part of the new generation of female entrepreneurs in the pleasure products biz — were profiled earlier this year in a New York Times article. In the extensive article, Rodriguez discussed the challenges women face when trying to establish their sex-related companies.
Although gender inequality and lack of sex education may continue to try to hinder female-fronted sexual wellness companies, brands such as Unbound and women like Polly Rodriguez are here to educate and empower more women to think outside of the box. In our exclusive Q&A with this month’s WIA Woman of the Month, Rodriguez reveals her inspirations and what’s in store for Unbound.
XBIZ: As the CEO and co-founder of Unbound, how would you describe your daily responsibilities? How involved are you on a day-to-day basis?
Polly Rodriguez: My primary responsibility is supporting each person on our team so that they can be the best at what they do. As we’ve grown, my responsibilities have shifted from being the person doing all the things, to being the person supporting the people who are doing all the things. Each day, I’m working to prioritize what initiatives we want to focus on from an annual, quarterly and monthly perspective and then working to ensure we have the resources and strategy to execute it well.
XBIZ: How did you get into the business?
Rodriguez: I got into the business in December of 2014 after growing a YCombinator dating startup for two years. It always surprised me that there weren’t more women in the industry who were building brands akin to beauty and health companies.
XBIZ: What challenges have you confronted in your career and how have you overcome them?
Rodriguez: In this industry there’s no shortage of challenges — everything from getting a bank account to advertising is harder because of the nature of what we sell, which I find incredibly frustrating and quite frankly, dumb. It’s been maddening to be a company growing at over 750 percent year after year and consistently denied access to something as simple as insurance or payroll software to pay our employees. We always find work-arounds and we always get it done, I just wish it didn’t require so much work to do something that should be pretty simple.
XBIZ: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Rodriguez: Being surrounded by brilliant women (and three brilliant dudes) every day who are committed to changing the way the world views female sexuality. The team we’ve built gives me more pride than anything else.
XBIZ: What is your personal motto or mantra that you live by?
Rodriguez: “Stubborn resilience in the face of adversity.” I first heard Barack Obama say this in his State of the Union address in 2010. I had just returned to college after taking two years off for treatment from a cancer diagnosis and it struck such a chord with me. To be relentlessly stubborn in your pursuit of success, that’s how I try to live. (The full quote is included below for context.)
“So we face big and difficult challenges. And what the American people hope — what they deserve — is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences; to overcome the numbing weight of our politics. For while the people who sent us here have different backgrounds, different stories, different beliefs, the anxieties they face are the same. The aspirations they hold are shared: a job that pays the bills; a chance to get ahead; most of all, the ability to give their children a better life. You know what else they share? They share a stubborn resilience in the face of adversity.”
XBIZ: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
Rodriguez: Raising venture capital as a woman in the sexual wellness space. Less than 6 percent of venture capital funding goes to women, and essentially none of it goes to women in the sexual wellness space. We received well over 200 “no’s” before we finally closed our seed round.
XBIZ: What are your professional goals for the rest of 2017 and beyond?
Rodriguez: We’re incredibly excited to launch seven new products in early November! Stay tuned.