THE SEX FILES: An Interview With Jimmyjane Founder Ethan Imboden
So, you want to buy the most innovative adult products made today? Well, look no further than the Jimmyjane company. With their cool designs and world-changing ethos, the J.J. brand is in stores like Babeland here in NYC (where J.J. Founder, Chairman & Chief Creative Ethan Imboden is appearing for a talk this very night) to Good Vibrations in San Francisco, to too many other high-end shops to name. I had the pleasure to speak with Ethan about Jimmyjane products, what they are about and why they are what they are about.
It’s obvious that Jimmyjane products are not the typical sex toys. Do you even like to use the word ‘toys’?
The word toy is really just a euphemism of sorts. If what we make are vibrators, then let’s call them vibratos. Sure, there is an element of play to this, but these products really are not toys. I guess overall I prefer not to use the word ‘toys’ to describe what we sell since in the past that typically allowed a diminished accountability to a product, that it didn’t have to perform or retain a lasting utility.
Do you find form follows function, or function form with what you produce?
We really start from the inside out. We think first about what experience we want to produce; what function fits in seamlessly into a person’s lifestyle, is entirely safe, emotionally cognitive. We let the aesthetic resolve itself from the function and the form of what we present.
But there is an overall Jimmyjane credo, a world-view if you will?
These days I’d say design and sexuality are particularly relevant to changing people’s relationships to their products. Years ago customers avoided buying something because they had to go through channels that made them feel uncomfortable when purchasing a sex product, but over the past couple of years accessibility has grown where it hasn’t existed before. Now we see an overall theme where the manufacturer, distributor and customer are actively participating in the process together. People have a vote now on what they want to see made and what they spend their money on. They are discussing their needs and we listen as does the distributor, then the media chime in. Consumers are in control of making and creating communication between us all, and it all makes for a healthy evolutionary marketing process. This is definitely one aspect of the current business ethos that drives us.
What’s your specific background? How do you come to be designing the toys and running Jimmyjane?
I studied electrical engineering as an undergad, worked on the human genome project actually, but engineering lacked the soft human element for me, so I left, traveled, then eventually ended up at Pratt in NYC for my graduate in design and from there I began working for a few well known firms. I wasn’t in control of what I was making though, which caused me to question contributing to driving consumer demand. So I opened my own firm-eliminating the middle man-working on designs for flat screen T.V.’s, footwear, then three different people approached me about sex products. It was strange how it came up at the same time, really.
Well, I went to a sex product trade show in 2002-basically the same one I just came back from -and realized why not have beautifully designed products that engage our sexuality, something so closely tied to ourselves and is so important. So I started sketching ideas, mulled over my business plan-I really wanted to transform the industry from the inside out-then I raised some money from friends, my mom, and we launched end of 2004, basically for Valentine day 2005.
And what’s in the future for Jimmyjane?
Well we have the Form 3 coming out in September and we’re simply going to continue to push boundaries, reach as many people as possible, grow better innovations to an ever broader audience in our first stages to total world domination.
And Jimmyjane is well on it’s way, there truly are no other products available today quite like what Jimmyjane produces. Check them out here or at stores like our friends at Babeland.