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This Company Is Empowering Women One Vibrator And Menstrual Cup At A Time

Culture

What if you grew up in a house where sex was dirty and a society where women's reproductive rights weren't even second-class citizens? Do you think you might grow up to sell sex toys and use those sales to help women whose needs and rights were in peril? Well, if you're Sheila Oh you would. Oh is one of two founders of Knotty Vibes, an online store that sells vibrators and has been known to give away menstrual cups. Knotty Vibes cares about taking care of women sexually, reproductively, and all the rest.


Her upbringing certainly didn't point to this future for Oh who grew up in both Nigeria and Ohio, if you can imagine. As a young woman, she attended Wake Forest University where she majored in business.

Oh says people called her a “peculiar" kid. “I was mainly quiet and introverted unless I felt someone was being bullied, oppressed, or disrespected. I have a five-girl squad, which includes co-founder [of Knotty Vibes] Courtney Davis, my childhood friend and college roommate, who I love and lean on for support."

“I've always been considered a rebel," Oh says. “Growing up in a space where women are expected to be quiet, docile, and subservient. Never to be heard only seen. I always felt there was something wrong with having my voice belittled in comparison to boys or men."

When she was a kid, Oh wanted to be a farmer so she could “feed the poor and hungry children." Then, because she learned that food doesn't cure illness, she wanted to be a doctor. “Through my journey of self-discovery, I have always wanted to help others as I recognized that I was fortunate to have had an education, shelter, and sustenance for most of my life."

Oh began her career by interning for a nonprofit for children with special needs. Following that, she moved through the corporate world as a business analyst. “However, I felt I wasn't following my passion for helping others in that capacity. So I'm back to doing what I love; giving back and helping others.

“Women's sexuality and sexual freedom have always been important and essential in the fight for women's equality," Oh says. “Not only are women men paid less but we also have fewer orgasms than men do. Studies have shown that 91 percent of men vs 64 percent of women orgasm through intercourse. Masturbation, which we consider to be a crucial part of sexual freedom, helps close this gap."

And, Oh adds, men are praised while women are bashed and called disrespectful names when it comes to having multiple sexual partners. This social disparity is both sexist and inhibitive to women's full sexual expression. “While we at Knotty Vibes advocate for safe sex, we also advocate for women to have full reins of their body."

Oh and her co-founder Courtney have always been advocates for sexual freedom and bridging the orgasm gap between men and women. They were both raised in very strict homes where sex was a taboo topic. After Oh suffered a missed miscarriage in 2017, she had a $25,000.00 dilation and curettage, which was covered by her comprehensive insurance. After sharing her loss with other women, she found that she was indeed privileged to have the healthcare access. We live in one of the greatest nations in the world, yet our healthcare system is failing us, Oh explains. “The cost of reproductive healthcare is astronomical if you cannot afford comprehensive insurance coverage.“

Many women rely on non-profit organizations such as planned parenthood to obtain sexual and reproductive health procedures, says Oh. “Given that such organizations are being defunded, we decided to combine our advocacy for sexual freedom with fundraising for access to women's reproductive health by selling the best yet affordable sex toys." And, she adds, “To be inclusive of women of all socioeconomic backgrounds in our mission, we also offer free sex toys and free menstrual cups .

The very first purchase made at Knotty vibes was by a former coworker, Oh says, someone with whom she shared business ideas. “She bought her first vibrator in my store because she wanted to 'plant a seed of faith.' She then shared my business with her friend who was hosting a small bridal shower. I was so overjoyed when I woke up to two orders from them. I later got an email from Pledging that I had donated $50.00 - from just those vibrators – to twelve organizations.

  1. Equality Now
  2. Global Fund for Women
  3. Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network Inc
  4. League of Women Voters Education Fund
  5. MS Foundation For Women
  6. Partners In Health
  7. Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  8. Robert R. Frank Student-Run Free Clinic
  9. Sexual Health Innovations
  10. Women Helping Women
  11. Women of Power Empowering Women
  12. WomenOne

I was excited that others believed in women's access to healthcare and that I could be a channel for all to support women's reproductive rights."

Photo Courtesy of Knotty Vibes

When Oh was growing up, she had thirteen cousins who she fondly calls “amazing." As she got older, she discovered that five of the thirteen were not blood-related. “My grandmother had adopted them from various orphanages and raised them as part of our family. In doing so, she taught me to be selfless and to care for those who couldn't. With my innate desire to speak up for the oppressed and the selflessness instilled in me by my grandmother, I am inspired to help other women via Knotty Vibes."

Being a woman has presented issues for Oh and her co-founder. But that hasn't stopped either one of them in any way. It's only served to move them forward. In the past, Oh says, she has seen her opinions and insights dismissed because she is a woman. “This could be done in micro-aggressive ways such as talking over me. I have learned to be more assertive and speak up even if I am classified as 'bossy' by men. I know at the end of the day, I stood up for myself and other women."

As a Black woman, Oh says, she has experienced additional difficulties, including raising capital to start her business. “However, that has made Courtney, my co-founder, and myself resourceful and fiscally responsible. For example, I learned to budget our capital properly throughout the year and cut out any unnecessary purchases. We also use a lean model with our business to ensure that most of the revenue goes donations and not the cost of running the business."

The good news is there to finally be a move toward recognizing the many, many contributions that Black women have been making to society since the beginning. Oh says she believes this is because we are in an era where “social media allows us to see the contributions of Black women (and men). There is a growing appreciation overall for celebrating Blackness and Black achievements. I think social media has allowed more dialogues regarding race, which has prompted awareness of issues that Black people face. This is a step in the right direction. However, we as a nation, have a long way to go."

In terms of doing good by serving and supporting others, Oh says this is absolutely how she imagined her future. But she says, “In terms of being interviewed for a magazine, the introverted seven-year-old Sheila could never imagine that."

Oh says she hopes that one-day “conversations regarding our sexuality and reproductive health will be normalized and celebrated to allow for women to not only fully express their sexuality, attain sexual fulfillment but to also seek reproductive health advice as needed." She also holds out hope that in the future women's reproductive rights and healthcare will become a priority in every aspect. “Personally, I hope that Courtney and I will continue to grow our volunteerism, advocacy, business, and outreach efforts to benefit more women."

As for what advice she would you give to other women – and especially women of color - in terms of turning their dreams into their realities, she has three recommendations.

  • Don't second-guess yourself and your passions. The moment you do that, your dream stays an unattainable dream.
  • Be sure to surround yourself with people who believe in you. They will fuel your drive and eventually help you to get back on track.
  • Obstacles on the journey can be stepping stones to greater things if you stay optimistic.

What matters most to Oh is empowering women, and she has found a myriad of ways to do just that. “I understand that not every woman is very bold about her sexuality or sexual freedoms," says Oh. “But we can all agree that reproductive health is important to all women. As such, a Knotty Vibes provides free menstrual cups in our store! We are here for all women in different stages of their sexual journey."

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Choosing the Right Corporate Structure: Which Business Entity Should You Go With?

Business entities can be defined as the corporate, tax and legal structures which an organization chooses to officially follow at the time of its official registration with the state authorities. In total, there are fifteen different types of business entities, which would be the following.


  • Sole Proprietorship
  • General Partnership
  • Limited Partnership or LP
  • Limited Liability Partnership or LLP
  • Limited Liability Limited Partnership or LLLP
  • Limited Liability Company or LLC
  • Professional LLC
  • Professional Corporation
  • B-Corporation
  • C-Corporation
  • S-Corporation
  • Nonprofit Organization
  • Estate
  • Cooperative Organization
  • Municipality

As estates, municipalities and nonprofits do not concern the main topic here, the following discussions will exclude the three.

Importance of the State: The Same Corporate Structure Will Vary from State to State

All organizations must register themselves as entities at the state level in United States, so the rules and regulations governing them differ quite a bit, based on the state in question.

What this means is that a Texas LLC for example will not operate under the same rules and regulations as an LLC registered in New York. Also, an LLC in Texas can have the same name as another company that is registered in a different state, but it's not advisable given how difficult it could become in the future while filing for patents.

To know more about such quirks and step-by-step instructions on how to start an LLC in Texas, visit howtostartanllc.com, and you could get started with the online process immediately. The information and services on the website are not just limited to Texas LLC organizations either, but they have a dedicated page for guiding fresh entrepreneurs through the corporate tax structures in every state.

Sole Proprietorship: Default for Freelancers and Consultants

There is only one owner or head in a sole proprietorship, and that's what makes it ideal for one-man businesses that deal with freelance work and consulting services. Single man sole proprietorships are automatic in nature, therefore, registration with the state is unnecessary.

Sole proprietorships are also suited to a degree for singular teams such as a small construction crew, a group of handymen, or even miniature establishments in retail. Also, this puts the owner's personal financial status at jeopardy.

Due to the fact that a sole proprietorship entity puts all responsibilities for paying taxes and returning loans, it directly jeopardizes the sole proprietor's personal belongings in case of a lawsuit, or even after a failed loan repayment.

This is the main reason why even the most miniature establishments find LLCs to be a better option, but this is not the only reason either. Sole proprietors also find it hard to start their business credit or even get significant business loans.

General Partnership: Equal Responsibilities

The only significant difference between a General Partnership and a Sole Proprietorship is the fact that two or more owners share responsibilities and liabilities equally in a General Partnership, as opposed to there being only one responsible and liable party in the latter. Other than that, they more or less share the same pros and cons.

Registration with the state is not necessary in most cases, and although it still puts the finances of the business owners at risk here, the partnership divides the liability, making it a slightly better option than sole proprietorship for small teams of skilled workers or even small restaurants and such.

Limited Partnership: Active and Investing Partners

A Limited Partnership (LP) has to be registered with a state and whether it has just two or more partners, there are two different types of partners in all LP establishments.

The active partner or the general partner is the one who is responsible and liable for operating the business in its entirety. The silent or investing partner, on the other hand, is the one who invests funds or other resources into the organization. The latter has very limited liability or control over the company's operations.

It's a perfect way for investors to put their money into a sector that they are personally not experienced with, but have access to people who do. From the perspective of the general partners, they have similar responsibilities and liabilities to those in a general partnership.

It's the default strategy for startups to find funding and as long as the idea is sound, it has made way for multiple successful entrepreneurial ventures in the recent past. However, personal liability still looms as a dangerous prospect for the active partners to consider.

Limited Liability Company and Professional LLC

Small businesses have no better entity structure to follow than the LLC, given that it takes multiple good ideas from various corporate structures, virtually eliminating most cons that are inherent to them. Any and all small businesses that are in a position to or are in requirement of signing up with their respective state, usually choose an LLC entity because of the following reasons:

  • It removes the dangerous aspect of personal liability if the business falls in debt or is sued for reparations
  • The state offers the choice of choosing between corporation and partnership tax slabs
  • The limited legalities and paperwork make it suited for small businesses

While more expensive than a general partnership or a sole proprietorship, a professional LLC is going to be a much safer choice for freelancers and consultants, especially if it involves risk of any kind. This makes it ideal for even single man businesses such a physician's practice or the consultancy services of an accountant.

B, C and S-Corporation

By definition, all corporation entities share most of the same attributes and as the term suggests, they're more suited for larger or at least medium sized businesses in any sector. The differences between the three are vast once you delve into the tax structures which govern each entity.

However, the basic differences can be observed by simply taking a look at each of their definitive descriptions, as stated below.

C-Corporation – This is the default corporate entity for large or medium-large businesses, complete with a board of directors, a CEO/CEOs, other executive officers and shareholders.

The shareholders or owners are not liable for debts or legal dispute settlements in a C-Corporation, and they may qualify for lower tax slabs than is possible in any other corporate structure. On becoming big enough, they also have the option to become a publicly traded company, which is ideal for generating growth investments.

B- Corporation – the same rules apply as a C-Corporation, but due to their registered and certified commitment to social and environmental standards maintenance, B-Corporations will have a more lenient tax structure to deal with.

S-Corporation – Almost identical to a C-Corporation, the difference is in scale, as S-Corporations are only meant for small businesses, general partnerships and even sole proprietors. The main difference here is that due to the creation of a pass-through entity, aka a S-Corporation, the owner/owners do not have liability for business debt and legal disputes. They also are not taxed on the corporate slab.

Cooperative: Limited Application

A cooperation structure in most cases is a voluntary partnership of limited responsibilities that binds people in mutual interest - it is an inefficient structure due to the voluntary nature of its legal bindings, which often makes it unsuitable for traditional business operations. Nevertheless, the limited liability clause exempts all members of a cooperative from having personal liability for paying debts and settling claims.

This should clear up most of the confusion surrounding the core concepts and their suitability. In case you are wondering why the Professional Corporation structure wasn't mentioned, then that's because it has very limited applications. Meant for self-employed, skilled professionals or small organizations founded by them, they have less appeal now in comparison to an LLC or an S-Corporation.