Sex Toy 101: Back To Basics

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We have a confession to make. We’re so sorry to have to break this to you, but we’re not perfect. Shocking, we know! Sometimes, surrounded as we are by infinite sex positivity and all the toys of the rainbow, we forget that not everyone knows how fun and pleasurable sex toys are, what the best toy for a specific stimulation job might be, or even what body part(s) certain toys are meant for. That’s why we decided to get back to basics and give a bit of a crash course. We’re going to be defining, explaining the uses of, and giving a little backstory to the best-known adult toys out there. Now, maybe you’re like us, with over a decade’s worth of toy experience under your belt. Maybe you’re thinking “Come on guys, I know all this stuff!” Good for you! But also, don’t be so sure! Heck, we’re still learning ourselves, and we’ll keep learning as new and exciting toys and tools keep rolling, buzzing, and thrusting into our scene and onto our site. We’ll always keep you posted though, that’s a PinkCherry promise!

To our online sex shop newcomers, sex toy beginners, and the sexually curious, welcome! We hope you’ll find answers to your questions, lots of real-talk information, and maybe even your first (or next) sex toy. Let’s get into it!

 

The Dildo

 

What Is It?

A dildo is a sex toy meant to penetrate the vagina or butt. Usually phallic (penis shaped, or sort-of penis shaped), the classic dildo doesn’t vibrate. You or your partner will need to manually move or thrust it. Lots of dildos come complete with a base, faux balls, or both, but some don’t. Sometimes the word ‘dong’ is used in place of ‘dildo’ and vice-versa, but we like the word dildo better.

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What Does It Do?

A dildo just plain feels good. Some people are looking to recreate the sensation of sex with a partner; others just like the full-up feel that a dildo provides. Many folks use a dildo to reach and stimulate inner erogenous zones like the g-spot and prostate.

 

The History:

We had to dig around a bit (as did some geologists researching the Paleolithic period) for info on the very first known dildo. A few years back, those researchers uncovered a 20cm siltstone shape among some Paleolithic  - otherwise known as the Stone Age - artifacts. The object was very obviously a penis; there was no mistaking it! Now, the Stone Agers may have intended their siltstone pecker as a fertility symbol, an object of worship or even art, but some historians admit that it could have been (and probably was) used for sexual pleasure. So there you have it; humans have likely been putting things in their butts and vaginas for millions of years!

 

Dildo Types:

Just like the sex organ that inspired the Paleolithic siltstone dildo / fertility symbol / piece of art, dildos come in all sizes and shapes. Small to large, wide to thin, we’ve got them all! If you’re after g-spot or prostate stimulation, there are plenty of curved and contoured dildos designed to please specific sweet spots. When you’re in the mood for something super-realistic, you’re in luck with these, but if a penis doesn’t appeal, there are lots of non-realistic options too.

 

Best For:

Solo sex, strap-on sex, masturbation, pegging, anal penetration.

 

Tips:

Think about how you’re going to be using your dildo and what body part(s) it’s going to be penetrating. Pay attention to size. Generally speaking, a larger dildo will stretch and stimulate more dramatically, while a smaller one will feel more manageable for beginners and people looking for a more subtle sensation.

If you’ll be attaching your dildo to a harness or strap-on system, pay attention to the base. Read the measurements (we provide lots!) to make sure it’ll work with your harness. Speaking of bases, a dildo that’s going in your butt MUST have one; otherwise you could end up with a very unpleasant hide-and-seek situation.

Balls or (again) a base can help with control and positioning during solo or shared dildo playtime – many now feature a suction cup base to make hands-free enjoyment possible.

We provide detailed measurements: overall length, insertable length, width (diameter) and girth (circumference) to help you size the perfect dildo. As with all our toy categories, you’ll be able to browse by bestseller, featured, newest arrivals or price. Just click one of the options to the right of your screen to refine your search.

 

The Vibrator

 

What Is It?

Aside from the obvious (it vibrates!) a vibrator is a sex toy that can be used for vaginal or anal penetration, external stimulation or both. Vibration comes courtesy of an embedded electric, battery powered or rechargeable motor.

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What Does It Do?

In terms of what a vibrator (or simply ‘vibe’) does mechanically, that’s easy. A motor causes very fast oscillations of a vibrator’s inner workings. When the oscillation frequency is high enough, it can be felt through the surface of your vibe. Now, if we look at why vibration feels so good physically, things get a bit more involved. When vibration is applied to the skin, it triggers blood vessels to dilate. That dilation does two things; first, it increases blood flow to nerve endings and pleasure receptors. Second, it sparks the brain to release endorphins- otherwise known as the feel-good chemical. As it turns out, some nerves and pleasure receptors down south are particularly sensitive to the vibration effect. When they’re stimulated, they send pleasure signals through the spinal column to the brain and boom! Arousal. Now, as you probably know, you can get pretty aroused all by yourself or with a partner. Vibration simply speeds up the process. That, in a nutshell, explains the magic of a vibrator  

 

The History:

We’ve heard some rumours, read a few articles and listened to some interesting theories about who invented the first vibrator and when. The wildest tale involves Cleopatra, 1st century BC and a gourd full of bees, while the most probable centers around a doctor and inventor in the mid 1800’s. Dr. J. Mortimer Granville patented a vibrating electronic device originally intended for medical and therapeutic uses. Sound familiar? The famous Magic Wand started off as a ‘therapeutic’ device (muscle massager) too!

 

Vibrator Types:

We mentioned the Magic Wand above, and we’ll reference it again to tell you that the wand (and massagers like it) remains one of the top selling and best-loved vibrators of all time. The rabbit vibe is a close second or possible tie. Both are fantastic vibes with very different pleasure purposes. Wand massagers, along with the bullet vibe, clitoral vibes and many finger vibes, are used primarily to stimulate external areas – clitoris, nipples, head of the penis, outer anal areas etc.

The rabbit, on the other hand, penetrates AND externally stimulates. There are all kinds of vibrator styles between the wand and the rabbit; many are designed to seek the g-spot or prostate, others are shaped to look and feel like a penis, some add in a little anal stimulation, and still others don’t use vibration at all. A new era of touchless pressure wave or pleasure air stimulators is upon on us, and our customers are loving it!

 

Best For:

Masturbation, clitoral, prostate and g-spot stimulation, oral sex enhancement.

 

Tips:

The vibrator is possibly the most versatile of all adult toys, and there’s an almost dizzying array of shapes, styles and functions available. Don’t get overwhelmed! When it comes to picking your perfect vibe, preference is key. What kind of vibration are you into? How are you looking to enjoy vibration and what part of your (or your partner’s body) will be on the receiving end of said vibration?


We make it easy to search by bestseller, featured, newest arrivals and price, as well as type of vibrator. We’ve also got lots of real-life customer reviews for you to browse – no matter how great a vibrator might sound / look, it’s always nice to hear from people who have actually used and enjoyed it, right?

 

The Cock Ring

 

What Is It?

A cock ring – also known as a penis ring, love ring, erection ring, or enhancer ring – is a circular band or strap that fits over the base of the penis (or dildo) or base and balls. Some are very plain and no-frills, while others are fancier. Standard cock rings don’t vibrate, but (surprise!) vibrating cock rings do.

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What Does It Do?

In most cases, a cock ring is used to help keep blood in the shaft of the penis. When a man is aroused, blood flow to the penis increases, and that, ladies and gents, is what builds an erection. A cock ring constricts the base of the penis, trapping that boner-blood and keeping him hard for longer. Many cock rings now come with added vibrating features to make sex even more enjoyable for both partners.

 

The History:

The earliest (and grossest) historic example of the cock ring dates back to the Jing Dynasty in China. Back then, men slept with multiple wives and concubines with the intention of creating as many heirs or as possible. To keep themselves up to the task, so to speak, men would tie the eyelid of a goat around the base of their penises. Thankfully, jade, ivory and precious stone eventually replaced the eyelid as an ancient cock ring material. Several generations and an industrial (and sexual!) revolution later, we have the silicone, rubber, and vibrating cock ring versions of today.

 

Cock Ring Types:

The classic cock ring is a simple band or strap. It can be worn around the base of the penis only, or around base and balls simultaneously. Most cock rings are soft, but there are firmer options, too. Vibrating cock rings still feature a core band or strap, but add in mini-stimulators above or below the ring. Sometimes the vibrator is built right in and sometimes it’s removable. We’re seeing more and more vibrating cock rings with remote control functionality and we’re so happy – we love watching sex toy designers come up with new ways for couples to play!

 

Best For:

Men, Couples

 

Tips:

Cock rings in softer materials will stretch easily and won’t grip too tight – in other words, a soft cock ring is a great choice for beginners. Larger sized cock rings will grip less firmly in most cases, while smaller rings will feel tighter. Want to know more about cock rings? Great! We wrote about them in detail here.


 

The Masturbator

 

What Is It?

Also known as a sleeve or stroker, a masturbator is a sex toy designed for penetration, usually by a penis. Some are small and meant to be held in your (or your playmates hand), others are life-sized.

PinkCherry-sex-toy-for-men-masturbator

What Does It Do?

A masturbator, to be blunt, gives your hand a break. Usually soft and textured, a masturbator or stroker mimics the sensation of oral, anal or vaginal sex. We know that the term ‘masturbator’ sort-of implies just one person, but don’t be fooled - strokers work great as hand-job helpers, too!

 

The History:

Masturbators boast quite the historical timeline, and as for masturbation itself, it’s probably been happening from day one! Prehistoric rock paintings clearly depict masturbation, and masturbatory images and references show up all throughout Greek mythology. Rumour has it that one of the earliest Greek masturbators was a piece of stale bread hollowed out and soaked in olive oil. Hey, at least they didn’t forget the lube!  


Masturbator Types:

Many of us have seen a masturbator or stroker sleeve, even if we weren’t aware of it! For example, the Fleshlight and many strokers that came (and continue to come) after make a point of being discreet. The soft inner sleeve / hard outer case design is most popular with our customers, but the more exposed ‘pocket pussy’ type stroker comes in right behind. Many masturbators now feature vibration as an option, and some automatic versions even thrust up and down.

 

Best For:

Penis owners and their partners

 

Tips:

Like the vibrator, preference is key when choosing a masturbator. Most stroker sleeves feature a realistic pussy, mouth or butt orifice at the entrance, but others are non-detailed. If you’re in the mood for a quickie, a simple pocket pussy or classic self-contained stroker will do the trick. On the other hand, our full sized masturbators and love dolls are always up for realistic and judgment-free fantasy fulfillment. Auto strokers will do the job for you, and a vibrating masturbator could add that extra buzz you crave.


A note: You’ll need to use lots of a good water-based lubricant with any stroker or sleeve; we recommend stocking up before getting started!

 

The Penis Pump

  

What Is It?

A penis pump is a device that uses suction or internal pressure to draw blood into the penis and trigger erection. Most are manual (you operate it), but some are automatic, powered by batteries or a rechargeable motor. Penis pumps can be used to aid erectile difficulties, enhance erection, or as a means to a quickie boner.

PinkCherry-sex-toy-men-enhancement-penis-pump

What Does It Do?

Contrary to popular belief, a penis pump won’t make you bigger permanently, sorry! It can, however, buy you an instant (temporary) mega-erection, which makes the penis look bigger by comparison. There’s some evidence that continued stretching of penile ligaments and tissues could theoretically gain you a tiny bit of length over time, but we have no concrete evidence of that. Bottom line: if you’re looking to build an impressive erection, penis pumps have you and your cock covered!

 

The History:

The penis pump as a male enhancer or hopeful penis enlarger dates back to the 1800’s. A physician named John King designed an early hand-crank version to treat a condition then known as ‘erectile insufficiency’. Ouch!

In 1913, another doctor, Otto Lederer, patented a similar vacuum device that would go on to inspire all penis pumps to come. Like most sex toys and tools, the penis pump owes its mainstream success to the sexual revolution.

 

Penis Pump Types:

For the most part, penis pumps follow along the same design-lines. A plastic or acrylic cylinder surrounds the penis as a squeeze ball, trigger handle or motor activate inner suction. Many pumps include a soft sleeve or cover over the entrance to cushion skin and ensure a tight seal. Aside from triggering erection, some pumps double as pleasure tools and feature lifelike cover shapes or added vibration. Looking for something a little different? The Bathmate pump has been steadily gaining popularity / traction over the last few years thanks to a unique and very effective water-powered design.

 

Best For:

Men, but their partners will definitely enjoy the results!

 

Tips:

Pumps are generally pretty user-friendly. You’ll insert your non-erect penis into the cylinder, get comfy, and start gradually increasing the inner pressure by squeezing the ball, pulling the trigger handle or activating the motor. Beginner pumpers should start slow, gradually increasing suction while getting used to the sensation. Always follow the pumping directions and safety precautions included with your pump.

 

Anal Toys

 

What Is It?

An anal toy is any sex toy designed for safe penetration of the rectum and/or anal canal. In other words, it goes in your butt!


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What Does It Do?

It’s no secret that the anal canal and opening is positively packed with sensitive nerve endings. We’re not quite sure why, but it may have something to do with the butt’s…ahem…main function. Regardless, stimulation of the anus and its surrounding and inner areas feels really good for a lot of people. That’s just a fact! The anal canal houses the prostate gland and runs parallel to the g-spot, so no matter the body, a properly chosen anal plug, dildo, probe or massager can inspire some seriously pleasurable sensation.

 

The History:

The butt toy backstory could fill a whole blog (and probably will), but suffice it to say that anal play has a long history of disapproval behind it. Most sex toys and tools have risen from the ashes of ridiculous misconceptions regarding erotic pleasure and sex for fun, but anal toys deserve to be crowned king of these. We’re not quite sure why people were (and sometimes still are) weird about the butt;  it probably had to do with lingering stigmas that declared anal penetration to be sinful sodomy or unforgivable deviance.

 

The first recorded evidence of a buttplug we can find pops into history around the late 19th century (side note: this time period seems to have inspired quite a few of the toys we enjoy today!) in America. Just like the vibrator and penis pump, Dr. Young’s Ideal Rectal Dilator was marketed as a medical device. The four bullet shaped rubber instruments were supposed to help with constipation, mental clarity, nervousness, acne, anemia, hemorrhoids etc. Spoiler: they didn’t, but we’re pretty sure people were using them for pleasure! The FDA stepped in around 1940, seizing shipments of the Ideal due to mislabeling and misleading medical claims. Maybe the government caught wind of the inappropriate (according to them) ways Ideal was being used and tried to put a stop to it? We’ll never know for sure, but our theory makes sense when we found out that the shipments were destroyed!


After the industrial and sexual revolution, like most sex toys, the butt plug and other anal play tools became more readily available. Let’s hear it for those revolutions, guys!

 

 Anal Toy Types:

The best known of all the butt toys would have to be the plug, no contest. Tapered and generally smooth, the main function of a plug is to stretch, stimulate and provide a nice full feeling that many folks adore. Sized small to very large, buttplugs come in all sorts of materials, colors and shapes. Anal beads also stretch and stimulate, but in a very different way. Shaped into several little spheres or swells, anal beads add a pleasurable little (or big!) pop as they penetrate. You can leave them in place during sex or mastubration - some people swear that pulling them out quickly during orgasm feel amazing. Like plugs, beads come in all sizes and shapes, and can work for beginners to the very advanced. Technically any dildo can be used for anal penetration, as long as it has a base! A good anal-intended dildo (and any toy going in your butt, for that matter) will feature a big base, and for one very good reason: the anal canal doesn’t have an ‘end’, so if a toy slips too far inside your butt, it could become hard to remove.   


Of course, we can’t neglect to mention pegging! Put simply, pegging happens when a woman straps on a dildo and anally penetrates her male partner. The term may be (relatively) new, but the act itself has definitely been around for much longer than many people felt comfortable talking about. We’re very happy to see buttplay normalized and encouraged, because it can be incredibly enjoyable, exciting, empowering and bonding for both partners. For beginner pegging purposes, your best bet is a smaller, smooth dildo.You can always size up when/if he’s ready.


Prostate massage is another anal specific type of play we wouldn't dream of leaving out. The male prostate is sometimes known as the male G-spot, or P-Spot. It’s a few inches inside the butt - insert a finger, angle it upward, and bingo! Prostate massage is another one of those categories that’ll probably be the subject of its own blog at some point, so let’s look at the p-spot from a toy perspective for now. There are tons of prostate-appropriate toys out there - any firmer dildo, vibe or probe with a curved tip can technically work as a prostate massager. There are also some toys specially designed for p-spot massage; the Aneros was one of the first and remains a bestseller. Speaking of bestsellers, NJoy’s stainless steel Pure Plugs, Pfun and Pure Wand are 100% worth the investment. Oh...did we forget to mention that prostate massage feels really, really good? Some men claim that having their prostate stimulated brings on a much deeper and powerful orgasm than external stimulation alone. Yes, please!


Best For:

Anyone! We all have butts, let’s have fun with them!

 

Tips:

First and most important: LUBE. Lots and lots of lube! The anal canal doesn’t self-lubricate, and in this case, spit won’t cut it. A lube designed for anal play is your best bet (it’s thicker than regular lube, and doesn’t dry out as fast), but any good water based or silicone based formula (don’t use a silicone lube with a silicone toy, though!) will work just fine. If you’re a butt play newcomer, we recommend an anal trainer kit or starter plug. Take your time, relax and enjoy.

Quick PinkCherry Anal Safety PSA: Always make sure that your toy is meant for anal use. Look for a wide or circular base that will protect against too-deep penetration. Nothing, we repeat NOTHING kills the mood quite like a trip to the ER!

 

Bondage  

 

What Is It?

Bondage, BDSM or S&M is a type of play that usually involves one partner being submissive and the other dominant. The world of bondage is vast and multifaceted, but informed consent is always a key factor. Both partners need to be comfortable with the scenario at hand and all it might entail. Our PinkCherry bondage & fetish offerings focus more on the lighter and more playful side of bondage, but don’t worry, we’ve got plenty for more advanced kinksters as well!

PinkCherry-bondage-equipment-sex-toys

What Does It Do?

Bondage tools and accessories can help couples their explore their fantasies safely and pleasurably.

 

The History:

In the 60’s, the term ‘BDSM’ began being used to describe bondage as a sexual practice, but according to historian Anne O’Nomis, BDSM began in Mesopotamia circa approximately 4000-3100 BC. A goddess named Inanna would force her followers to dance for her. As they danced, she’d whip them into a sexual frenzy. Hot, sweaty and full of lust, Inanna’s followers would have lots of sex. The resulting pleasure and passion was intended to ensure the continuation of Mesopotamia. It didn’t work, unfortunately! The Kama Sutra details the many ways lovers can respectfully inflict pain for pleasure, and the ancient Greeks and Romans practiced ritualistic flogging. We’ll skip forward a few generations to the 50’s. Maybe you’ve heard of Bettie Page? The original alternative model and pinup queen famously posed for some very risqué (for the time) bondage inspired photographs.


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We’d like to think that those photos helped bring bondage play out into the open just a little. She’s a hero of ours, and we’ll quote her by saying “I think you can do your own thing as long as you’re not hurting anybody else.”

 

Best For:

Couples

 

Tips:

As we mentioned above, our bondage collection is geared more toward more playful and beginner friendly bondage scenarios. A classic pair of cuffs can be surprisingly sexy and a great place to start exploring some bound-up fantasies. Our bed bondage set has been a bestseller from day one; it’s extremely user friendly and, although it comes with some soft Velcro cuffs, can also be used with lots of other bondage gear. A soft eye mask or blindfold is a must-have for playful couples, same goes for a tickler or two. If or when you start craving something a little more advanced, we’ve got gags galore, lots of whips and paddles and a great selection of nipple clamps and stimulators. Browse our bondage tools by bestseller, featured, newest arrivals and price by choosing your preference to the right of the screen. Play safe, friends!

 

Sex Toy Materials

Toys can be very hard or very soft, depending on what they’re made of. Softer toys are usually made of silicone or treated rubber (TPR or TPE), and harder toys come in glass, plastic, acrylic or steel. Firmer vibes, dildos and plugs won’t flex or bend, making them perfect for g-spot/prostate massage, while softer versions are more forgiving, and will better adjust to different positions and individual body shapes. If you’re allergic or sensitive to anything, you’ll want to keep that in mind, too. Latex – a common allergen - isn’t used much anymore, but if a toy does contain latex, we always mention it. Glass, steel and most silicone toys will generally be safe for anyone.

 

How To Clean and Care for Your Sex Toy(s)

Let’s give new meaning to the phrase ‘good clean fun’ and talk sex toy care, shall we? Now, if all goes according to plan, any fun you wind up having with your favorite sex toy won’t be clean at all. Your toy, however, needs to be clean. Very clean. No matter the toy, it’s going to be coming into very close contact with your body. The tips below will work for most adult toys BUT it’s always a good idea (we highly recommend this) to read over any manufacturer clean and care instructions.

Most vibes, dildos, plugs, strokers, cock rings and more can be washed with mild antibacterial soap and warm water. Be sure to get right into any texture or crevices. As an alternative to soap and water, you can also use a cleaner designed specifically for sex toy use. Ours is fantastic, by the way!  Some cleaners foam, others are liquid and come in spray form. In either case, it’s important to fully coat the toy surface. Once that’s done, let it sit for a few minutes to let the cleaner work. Some cleaners can be simply wiped off while others need to be rinsed off with water. Read the label on your cleaner of choice to be sure.


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A note: All toys should be dried before you store ‘em away for next time, but toys made of lifelike materials (Cyberkin, ULTRASKYN, FantaFlesh, TPR etc.) need to be dried very thoroughly. Since they’re porous, drying can take a little longer, so leave them out to air dry somewhere safe for a few hours. After a wash, some porous materials can feel a little tacky – don’t worry, that’s normal. You can sprinkle a little pure cornstarch or a special renewal powder to bring back the softness.

Storing your toys can take a little thought; after all, you want something that makes you feel so good to stay safe, right? We have some secure locking options for you, as well as some very special pouches that help resist bacteria. A drawer, chest or even a suitcase works just fine, too. You’ll need to be a little mindful about storing certain materials. Soft toys should always be stored away from other soft toys, since contact can make the materials ‘melt’ together and no one wants that! Silicone toys need to be kept separate from their silicone friends for the same reason. Toys made of glass and steel should be wrapped in something soft to keep them smooth and chip/ding free.

A quick note on batteries – please use fresh, new batteries with any new toy. You’d be surprised at how often people think their toy is defective, only to find that the batteries were dead! Don’t mix and match old with new, and be sure they’re inserted properly. Rechargeable batteries are a great choice IF your toy is compatible with them. Some rechargeable batteries are a little larger than standard ones; so if you try to insert one and it seems like a tight fit, please don’t force it!

 

Lubricants & Toys

When it comes to lubricants, we’ve got one hot tip: go water based! Water based lubricants will work with any toy material. Feel free to use a silicone lube or a hybrid (water+silicone) formula with rubber, glass, ceramic, plastic or steel toys, but please don’t use a silicone lubricant in combination with a silicone vibe, dildo, plug or ring. We know it’s a bummer - we love silicone lubes, too! Unfortunately, when silicone comes into contact with more silicone, a wicked-witch worthy toy-destroying melt situation can happen. Some hybrid lubes claim to be safe for use with silicone toys, but why risk it? On that note: never ever use an oil based lube with any toy, oil based lubes are strictly for massage and external masturbation.


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*Bell rings*

Hey, congrats, class! Now you know lots of sex toy related things. If you were just in it for the info, awesome! You’re all set. If this new knowledge has inspired you to pick up something new, great! Here’s one last piece of PinkCherry advice: not every toy will work for you and your body, and that’s okay. Even some of our rave-reviewed bestsellers fall short for some folks. Speaking of reviews though, they’re all from real people; the majority of our products have ‘em, and they’re a great way to find out what might work for you. Don’t forget that you can always search for toys on our best-ever online sex shop by newest toys, toy price, best selling toys, and featured toys. Oh, and in case you were wondering; none of this will be on the test! We definitely encourage a little sexy extra credit research of your own, though. A+ for everyone!

 

PinkCherry-sex-101-adult-toys

Melanie Pollock is a Hamilton, Ontario based writer, photographer, trainee beekeeper and long-time PinkCherry product specialist. On an average day, you’ll find her wrestling socks away from her chocolate lab, growing backyard vegetables, and creating weird Spotify playlists.