My internship search started off a bit shakey. I honestly had no idea where to even start looking. I asked some professors and classmates for places they recommended, I e-mailed a few small businesses, and I even conducted some internship searches through Campus Philly, but I either had no real interest in the company or I unfortunately didn’t hear back from them. World – 1 Brittany – 0. It just wasn’t working out. Until one day I got an email from Arcadia’s Media and Communication page, with links to blog posts that previous students had written about their own internship experiences. I saw that two girls had written about a place called The Velvet Lily, so I checked it out. Immediately I knew I wanted this internship.
The Velvet Lily is a female-owned erotic boutique and novelty store in Philadelphia. I emailed the owner Khara and set up an interview. A few days later, I caught the train into Philly and made my way to 1204 Chestnut Street to meet with her. The store has an alluring and sensual vibe from the moment you walk in with an assortment of products ranging from lingerie and candles, whips and handcuffs, condoms and lubes, vibrators and strap-ons, fleshlights and cockrings, anything you could imagine. I was led to the back room to sit and wait on a luxurious black couch until Khara came to the back, pulled up a chair, and told me to make myself comfortable. After we discussed the position, I met another girl who had previously interned and was now employed there and we all sat around the couch brainstorming ideas for the stores future videos. I got the internship and started later that week. It was really fun and exciting to hear all their ideas and be able to share my input. I left the store and caught the train home feeling like the Carrie Bradshaw of Philly.
My first day was just as interesting as I imagined it to be. It started out slow with some video editing on a promotional video. Then I got to search for youtube videos about fleshlights to post on social media. The next task was where my skills were really put to the test- I had to plug in a bunch of vibrators to test if the batteries were working. The lovely little task paid off well when I got to pick whichever one I wanted. Of course I took the LELO Mia 2, a cute little pink one that looks like a lipstick and has a USB charger so it’s discrete and travel-friendly. But that wasn’t all… I was handed a fleshlight and asked if I wanted it “for a friend maybe”, and boy did I have the perfect person to give it to. That’s when I knew this job was perfect for me.
The next few shifts were pretty similar. I had to do some minor but crafty little tasks like tying ribbons around the Kama Sutra boxes we were selling to some fancy hotel, which I then had to deliver on my way home. But I also started writing product descriptions, and of course I was asked to write one for my new toy. I had to come up with a list of ideas for videos we could shoot for the store’s website/blog and then edit those videos. I got to search youtube and buzzfeed for more videos we could use to post on social media sites, specifically videos relevant to “cock rings” and “beginner vibrators”…never a dull moment. And my favorite part was definitely the customers. Although I was usually in the back working on media related tasks, I often overheard some interesting things. Like men trying out different whips or crazy old ladies, or sometimes old men, trying to return underwear.
One weekend after a staff meeting, I decided to stick around for an event we were hosting called Fifty Shades of Play: an introduction to bondage. (Check out my blog about it here ). It was mostly an introduction to all the kinky things out there and different toys to use but also some valuable information about the media’s portrayal of sexuality and what is considered normal and how to become comfortable in talking to your partner about things you want and don’t want to do. The woman who led the workshop is a licensed social worker and sexual health educator who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in human sexuality from Widener University.
Overall, it’s been a really fun experience. I’ve learnt a lot more than I ever expected to know about sex toys, but I’ve also learnt a lot involving different aspects of media that I want to work with in the future. It is also refreshing to work with so many empowered business women who are comfortable with sex and sexuality and make it their job to help others feel comfortable as well.