Liz and Anna + Lioness
Sex is a topic that gets a lot of media play, but is still taboo on an individual level—especially for women. Meet Liz Klinger and Anna Lee, the co-founders behind Lioness. Lioness’s mission is to destigmatize female sexuality—pushing forward both individual women’s own understanding of their own sexual response AND society’s understanding of female sexuality as a whole. To do that, they have built a vibrator that lets women easily visualize and track feedback from their own bodies to easily self-experiment and find what works for them and what doesn’t.
They’re a team of artists and engineers. Liz started her career as an artist whose work has been featured in gallery shows and magazines in settings ranging from northern New Hampshire galleries to Lower Manhattan pubs. Anna was previously a mechanical design engineer at Amazon Lab126 where she worked on the Kindle Voyage and Amazon Dash button.
We sat down with Liz and Anna to ask them six of our favorite questions and to learn more about what they're building at Lioness.
Why do you do what you do?
We believe women deserve better. We believe that women are smart and inquisitive and are looking for new ways to learn, explore, and improve themselves.
I (Liz) remember when I was selling intimacy products through direct sales, many women from college students to retirees came to me with so many questions about their own bodies and their relationships, some questions that they’d never asked for decades—until I showed up.
It was crazy to me that so many of us have such few options to turn when we have a question about sex — and sex is one of the most basic human needs out there. Not having resources to improve your sex life is like not giving people resources to eat better, sleep better, or breathe better. It’s crazy. It’s messed up.
We’re in the business of fulfilling basic human needs and giving people information about themselves that they can choose to use however they need.
How do you balance your working relationship and your friendship?
We spend a lot of time working on both and don’t take them for granted. We’ve done a lot of fun outings (multiple Escape the Rooms at this point), but also sit down and document how everyone likes to work. We did the full Myers Briggs, personality profiles, and wrote down everyone’s pet peeves and how we like to resolve conflicts. It’s all stuff you’d expect from a more “formal” environment, but it helps a lot when working together in how we show appreciation for each other and for resolving conflicts. (Anna: I think it’s working because I’m officiating Liz’s wedding—whoo!).
If you could make one rule that everyone in the world had to follow, what would it be?
To replace the toilet paper when there’s none left. Okay just kidding, to have all people understand and respect each other’s likeness and differences...Or buy a Lioness.
How do you decide which risks are worth taking?
Liz: All of the risks I’ve taken in life I’ve been scared shitless of, but did anyway because it made sense despite my fears. Making the first move in my now-relationship, starting this company, making some drastic changes so I can be healthier and feel better...I’ve learned that the rational part of my brain is usually pretty spot-on.
Anna: I remember a couple of distinct moments when we all look at each other wide-eyed when we had to make a do or die decision for our company. And every time we chose the “do” decision it was because we were all felt like we were in it together to make it work no matter how many sleepless nights it took.
What hidden talent do you each have?
Anna: I’m really good at throwing away accumulated things from Liz’s hoarding habits. Liz is really good at retrieving back things I’ve thrown out. ;)
Liz: I’m not going to contest that. :P Though I think Anna is underselling herself — most people think that engineers have no design aesthetic, but Anna has amazing design aesthetic. A lot of how Lioness looks and feels has been shaped by her taste and direction when working with designers. I still look at our logo and packaging in awe, and I know I’m not the only one who does that.
What's the hardest lesson you've learned as co-founders?
That a lot of times it feels like it’s us against the world of no’s. No to vibrators, no to women’s sexual health, no to women founders... You just have to take those no’s and make them eat it with your greatness.