A mysterious van parked in your backyard isn’t always a welcome surprise. It could contain a violent predator, a dirty homeless hippie, or a gaggle of Guatemalan children smuggled over the border to shine the shoes of the rich elite.
The van parked in my backyard, however, contained the best surprise anyone could ask for: a pop-up vibrator facility. Inside the orange aluminum trailer was the Crave Design Factory, complete with inspirational posters about masturbation and a build-your-own-vibrator workbench.
Inside, I was greeted by Ti Chang, co-founder and industrial designer of Crave. She invited me inside her sex toy Airstream, where I could construct a vibrator with my own two hands. Finally, I could experience both the labor of a Chinese assembly line worker and the luxury of an American high-end sex toy consumer.
“We want people to see all the components that go into their vibrators,” Chang explains to me. “We hope that can reduce the stigma surrounding sex toys.”
The same mission inspired Chang to design the Vesper, a glamorous vibrator necklace. She’d been wearing one around her own neck since the moment I met her, and I never once suspected her jewelry could be used to fast-track a female orgasm.
“That’s the entire point! The Vesper has two lives: it’s making a statement but it’s also very discreet and subtle,” Chang says. “Fashion is a form of self-expression and an extension of who we are. Usually, we don’t talk about pleasure or display it in any way because of the stigma, but this lets you own your sexual identity and be proud of who you are. Women really seem to gravitate towards this.”
It’s true — search #VesperStyle on Instagram and prepare for hundreds of examples of sex toy fashion statements. The Vesper is her best-selling item, but all the gorgeous little gadgets on the wall of the Crave Design Factory offer the same benefit: “pleasure in plain sight.”
“It sucks to use a product that you feel you have to hide or be embarrassed about, so all these products are incredibly discreet,” Chang says. “You can easily leave these out — or even wear them around your neck — with no one knowing what they are.”
By the time I’d finished assembling my vibrator, I felt a real sense of value and attachment to it. I hand-made this machine and would be bringing it into the most intimate corner of my life. Other sex toys had failed me in the past, I confessed to Chang, and she empathized entirely.
My Hitachi Magic Wand, the vibrator recommended by nearly every sexpert I’d met, is restricted by a short power plug, and only has one setting, which is so powerful it hurts. The Duet, the Crave vibrator I crafted, is entirely cordless and has customizable vibration settings. Finally, I wouldn’t have to masturbate within 3 feet of the nearest outlet and feel like my clit was being jackhammered like a piece of pavement on a construction site.
I took my new vibrator home and instantly fell in love. It was the excuse I needed to throw out my failed sex toys. It was the successful stimulator my boyfriend was thrilled to add to his sexual toolbelt. It was the golden ticket to multiple orgasms I never knew I needed until it fell into my lap — or more accurately — drove into my backyard.