Lucy Wark from Normal: The Modern Guide To Sex | #294

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Lucy’s journey from corporate to start up and sex ed (plus toys) for all!

Ep 294 Lucy Wark

Lucy Wark is the founder of NORMAL, an Australian sexual wellness brand launched in 2021 to give everyone the information, confidence and tools to explore their sexuality. NORMAL makes a range of shame-free, beautiful modern toys and essentials, to support the creation of free, inclusive and evidence-based digital sex education resources (their introductory course, The Modern Guide to Sex, is now used in over 40 countries). Lucy studied social science at university and began her career in management consulting at McKinsey before moving into the startup world. She is also passionate about supporting diverse hires to thrive and succeed in the workplace, and recently launched cohort-based courses teaching negotiation skills through the Minnow platform.

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Lucy Wark, Founder of Normal

Did you know that approximately 2  million Australians have gone through some kind of traumatic sexual experience? The numbers aren’t entirely clear because there is a difference between how often sexual abuse occurs and how often it is reported. It is clear that there is a lot of work to be done – not only in preventing this trauma but in helping the healing post trauma. This drives today’s guest, Lucy Wark, founder of sexual wellness brand, Normal. On the surface, Normal is a sex toy brand who is reinventing what sex toys look like and are made for. However, as you will hear today their mission drives them well beyond product and into education, research and dare I say it, advocacy and representation. 

In today’s chat, Lucy shares how she took the leap from her safe consultancy job at McKinsey over to starting Normal. She also shares how attaching education into the product journey has helped her grow Normal beyond a retail business alone. And we hear how she has a vision for working with universities and schools to reshape what sex education looks like for the next generation. 

“We think that physical products can fund content in really exciting ways”

Lucy Wark

Over 2 million Australians have experienced sexual assault over the age of 15.

“Any experiences of sexual assault in Australia, the statistics like vary a little bit based on reporting rates and which data set you look at, but it’s somewhere between one in three, four, and one in six women have experienced sexual assault after the age of 15, one in 25 to one in 15 men have experienced sexual assault after the age of 15. So that’s over two million Australians who have gone through incredibly traumatic experiences which there’s not a ton of useful support and which affect your experiences of intimacy for the rest of your life. 

If you think about things like sexual dysfunction, they’re twice as common as mental health issues, we don’t talk about them in public because they are stigmatized. I think a lot of people feel really alone with those questions. 

Once you start diving into the statistics, there is this huge hidden iceberg of which we only see the tiny bit that is what we talk about on the surface.  Maybe we talk to friends, maybe we see things in pop culture, maybe we talk to our partners, but we do not appreciate the scale and volume of the set of issues here that need support.”

Start Mate Women’s Fellowship

“I left McKinsey not sure what I was going to do. I sent an email to the entire Australian office that was, let’s be clear, I don’t have a job I’m going to, I’m just leaving because this is unsustainable work and I don’t care this much about corporate strategy. 

I met lots of awesome colleagues, learned a lot, but I don’t think that this is the thing that I want to spend my life doing and I don’t think I’m going to have the capacity to figure out what I want to do while I’m working 60, 70 hours a week here. So, I started doing some independent consulting, mixed in with pro bono work on a lot of topics I was interested in and social impact topics like human rights, civil liberties. 

And then eventually found myself a year later starting the Start Mate Women’s Fellowship, which I have to give like a huge plug to if anyone listening is interested in getting into the startup world. There are a series of different fellowships they’re not all for women that there is one that’s specifically focused on like bringing women, high potential women often out of corporate careers into the startup ecosystem. Really, really awesome program, life-changing for me.”

The new sex ed

“Our biggest course that we’ve made to date is called The One Guide to Sex. So it’s movie length. It’s 16 video episodes as a 200 page ebook that comes with it.  It covers the pleasure anatomy that you missed in school. It covers topics like arousal, libido and orgasm and how those actually work, which is not how you think. It covers how to have good sex So P on P, V on V, oral, anal and penis and vagina or vaginal sex.  So we really want to make sure that it’s actually diverse and inclusive in the sex it covers. It covers sex and gender, it covers sexual health, it covers how to communicate and talk about consent in a really practical way.”

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