Frances Tang

Founder, Awkward Essentials

Tell us about where you work and what you do there.

I founded sexual hygiene company Awkward Essentials, launching with our marquee product dripstick. While there is an array of products focused on foreplay and sex itself, we’re building the post-sex category, addressing that often-awkward, messy time between the afterglow and the aftermath. And we’re doing it by telling my own story that inspired dripstick with the goal of helping women embrace the messy parts of life we don’t often discuss.

How would you describe yourself?

I’m a multipotentialite — I can’t just do one thing (or even a few things) for the rest of my life. Before inventing dripstick and starting Awkward Essentials, I had more than a dozen different jobs: hula dancer, event planner, baker, and co-founder of a tech startup to name a few. I love spending time with my husband, family (my parents are my biggest supporters!), and friends. I love grocery store cake and can eat a whole box of cereal in one sitting. I’m always attempting new hobbies that require flexibility that I don’t have, but I digress.

It’s important for employees to learn by doing, so I empower them to take charge and work fearlessly.

Frances Tang

Founder, Awkward Essentials
Frances Tang

What is your leadership style?

It’s really important for employees to learn by doing, so I empower them to take charge and work fearlessly. As someone with many interests, it’s also very important to me that our team has interests outside of work. To foster that, Awkward Essentials offers a hobby stipend that pays employees to try out new activities that intrigue them. This drives creativity, new connections, and different ways of seeing the world. We’re also big on continued education; everyone gets a Kindle membership and a continued learning stipend.

What do you think has been your biggest professional success so far?

My biggest success has been creating a product from start to finish that I ideated all on my own. I was able to invent a solution to a problem faced by many but discussed by few. What’s the problem? It’s not sexy. It’s not romantic. It’s… drippy. Sex is wonderful, but always ended the same way: crossing my legs, rolling off the bed, and sprinting to the bathroom. Hovering over the toilet, I would grab mounds of toilet paper in a futile attempt to clean up, and ultimately just take showers — naked, cold, and annoyed. I always wondered why there wasn’t an easier way. As an avid baker, I pondered why there was not yet a product that could make post-sex cleanup as easy as a spatula makes removing batter from a bowl. So I invented dripstick: a soft, medical-grade sponge purposefully designed to help women clean up after sex by removing excess fluids from the vagina. It has an easy-to-grip handle and is safe, simple, and quick to use.

We’ve been very fortunate to have the support of MakeLoveNotPorn’s Cindy Gallop, a personal idol of mine who encourages brands to provide real solutions to real issues women face. Meeting Cindy for the first time felt like how I imagine a normal person would feel if they met Keanu Reeves. I was star-struck and so excited that we were able to bring her on as an advisor.

What goals do you have for 2021?

We’re spending 2021 developing new products that other companies just don’t want to touch. At Awkward Essentials, we’re focused on tackling the problems that many face but few discuss.

What do you think is the next big trend in eCommerce?

We’ve all spent the last year buying more and more of our products online, and consumer expectations are increasing. We’ve got to work even harder to make the online shopping experience easy, intuitive and convenient, and ensure we’ve got the supply chain in place to meet demand.

Name an eCommerce brand you admire and why.

I’m always inspired by products that are the first of their kind, and I’m especially into products made by women, for women. One that I love is Lorals, a direct-to-consumer brand that produces silky latex panties that allow consumers to get intimate without skin-to-skin contact. A lot of times when women turn down sex, they don’t actually want to turn down sex — maybe they just got back from a run and they fear that oral sex will be too messy, or maybe the stubble from their partner’s beard causes too much irritation when they’re getting down and dirty. The concept for the product is revolutionary and, much like Awkward Essentials, fills a need that most women didn’t know they had.

What do you geek out over?

I watch cake-decorating videos like people watch TV. As an avid baker with a sweet tooth, I am mesmerized by the whole process. I’m also addicted to YouTube videos showcasing back-of-house commercial bakeries. The sound of pots and pans clanging around is almost nostalgic for me and reminds me of being a little kid, hearing my Mom moving dishes around in the kitchen. It’s like my version of ASMR.