Table of contents
- Girls Get Off
- Founders - Viv Conway & Jo Cummins
- Founded in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand. Also based in Sydney.
- Started in 2021
- 2 founder, 5 employees
- 78K Instagram followers
- $1M + annual revenue
Viv, what's your backstory?
I grew up in Tauranga, New Zealand and was lucky enough to spend lots of time in the water, which I am forever grateful for. I was heavily involved in competitive swimming & surf lifesaving, which taught me many skills I draw on today.
Looking back, I’ve always been on some hustle. Training aside, I had my first job at 13 and have always had one, from making doughnuts at a bakery to dancing on the street as a human billboard. Money was very tight growing up, and I quickly figured out I had to make my own if I wanted to buy things or go places with friends.
I went on to study at Otago Uni in Dunedin to become a pharmacist, so I could own pharmacies. I quickly failed chem and physics papers, so I went on to study food science instead. I figured people were always going to have to eat (and did end up scraping through that chem paper the second time!).
While at uni, I’d saved up $$ from my job as a kitchen hand and started a sportswear brand on the side. I fumbled my way through marketing the brand online. By the time uni had finished, I was working a ‘real job’ in a Deer co-products factory. People were asking for advice about Instagram marketing. I teamed up with a friend who was also growing her Instagram accounts, and we started to take on clients.
After about a year at the Deer factory and realising I probably couldn’t take much more annual leave to have client meetings, I took the leap to manage accounts for businesses full-time.
It was a shock for my parents (who didn’t go to uni) when I said I would quit my job and ‘do Instagram stuff.
After several years in the agency world, I teamed up with another friend Jo and created Girls Get Off. I now live in Sydney, where my love of the ocean and doing fun things mix perfectly with sharing Girls Get Off with Australia & the rest of the world.
Tell us what your company does?
We exist to normalise female pleasure. We wanted to create a fun & positive experience for women to explore themselves. For women to have good conversations about sex and feel confident in asking for what they want in the bedroom.
How did you come up with the idea?
Jo and I were having some socially distanced drinks on her driveway after the first covid lockdown in NZ. We’d been looking at different ventures we wanted to start together, and she floated the idea of sex toys.
Having seen how our own friends had started to explore sex toys and talk about them more, we realised they were only trending due to reviews going viral and word of mouth.
If you wanted to buy a sex toy, you had to physically go into a seedy store or go online, where the choices were often overwhelming, and toys had names like the Dongblaster 3000.
We figured there was space in the market to sell sex toys as normally as any other product, such as skin care. As a result, women felt good about the experience and were not weird or gross.
How did you go about building and launching the business?
We focussed on finding a reliable supplier with a small minimum order to get going asap and validate the product. In the lead-up to the launch, we started with teasers on our personal Instagram accounts to drive people to the new account.
It was also important to us that we had other people talking about the Missy Mini. So we started working with influencers straight away. As you can imagine, trying to work with influencers posed its own challenges.
I think we reached out to seventy people when we launched, four of whom came back as a ‘yes’ and of those four, two of those we had prior relationships with.
It wasn’t until we started building the community, showing people that Girls Get Off made women feel comfortable, that we began gaining more momentum with collaborations.
How have you grown the business?
We’ve focused from the beginning on providing value to our audience and building a community. Content on our Instagram account that entertains and delivers value, like our Sunday confessions segment has, has led to business growth that we’re proud of.
A lucky break for us was the second lockdown in NZ. As soon as it was announced, Jo and I were on the phone planning our next move. We knew engagement on Instagram would skyrocket like every other lockdown. Hence, we crafted a plan for daily interactive content and giveaways. The 3-day lockdown turned into 10 and gave the Girls Get Off community a huge boost.
What's your biggest selling product?
Definitely the Missy Mini. She’s an external clitoral vacuum, great for beginners and sexperts alike.
What have been some of your biggest failures along the way?
During lockdown ‘21, we’d grown about 20k followers over 10 days as we’d been going HARD on giveaways and content. We worked from when we woke up until we went to bed.
At the time, I was in lockdown with some friends, who were cooking all my food, haha - it was crazy. But we knew it was worth it, so we kept at it.
Then, just as we hit 50k followers, we woke up the following day, and our account had disappeared. We got a pop-up about the content flagged as against Instagram’s community guidelines, leading to the account removal. After calling on any Instagram contact we had and reaching out to our email list to report the account missing, we somehow managed to get it back in 24 hours. What a rollercoaster. It was a great reminder that even though channels like Instagram are fantastic, you must focus and invest equally in other channels. Especially if you ‘own’ them, e.g. your email list.
Safe to say we’re SUPER careful about what we post now and try to focus on as many new marketing channels as possible.
What's next for you and your business?
We’re in a fascinating phase of the business right now. We’re graduating from startup mode and taking things to the next level. We’re looking at how we can make a splash in the industry while tidying up systems and processes in-house to continue growing and reaching more people.
What digital tools do you use regularly?
What books have been a great inspiration to you as a founder?
What do you love and hate about being a founder?
I don’t hate anything about being a founder, haha - even through the darkest moments, I knew I was still headed in the right direction.
If anything gets hard, it’s because there’s a problem that needs to be solved, or it’s just a part of the process. I love having the freedom to work for myself. Even though over the years, that can mean working more hours than most, it won’t be like that forever.
It’s allowed me to build a life that I love & it constantly challenges me to do better. So I love it.
What do you do to look after your mental health as a founder?
Exercise, sleep, journaling, unpacking things with friends, and check-ins with my therapist.
In a few words, sum up what it means to be the founder of a business
"Someone who leaps from their safety net in pursuit of a vision for their business and life."
What are the biggest pieces of advice you’d give to other founders?
"Get started, take advice from people who’ve been there before, make small changes as needed, and keep going. You’re not special - if others have been there, done that, and proven that it’s possible, then why can’t you? Don’t get in your own way."
Where can people find out more about your business?
To get a 15% discount at www.girlsgetoff.com add in the discount code FOUNDEROO at the checkout 😍