Join Forces | Couch Sessions with Simona

Empowering women at all times.

Together with Nike, we celebrate 40 years of Air Force 1 by highlighting five creative, independent women that paved the way for the next wave of creatives. We asked them how today's community of diverse, hardworking and like-minded women uplifts each other and how the AF1 holds them down. How do they work smartly, think differently, and join forces to build a collective future? Because icons aren’t made on their own.

Scroll down to find out where Simona Xu will take Force in the next 40 years to achieve the goals she has set for the future.

Maha & Nike Join Forces | Couch Sessions with SimonaMaha & Nike Join Forces | Couch Sessions with Simona
Our community is why we exist - if they win, we win.

Together with Nike-colleagues-turned-friends Winxi, Diana and Eden, Simona Xu founded the Oh Collective to break the taboo and open the conversation about sexual intimacy. They are determined to change the industry by celebrating sexuality and offering carefully tested sexual wellness products curated by a community of real women. 

The Oh Collective was created to remove the taboo surrounding sexual intimacy in China, but products from the Oh Collective are also available in the Netherlands. As the sex toy industry is more progressive in Western parts of the world, how do you want to position your brand here? 
The Oh Collective is a brand that speaks to the modern-day woman and her partner(s). An approachable brand that caters to your health and wellness and the first that comes to mind when you think of ‘treating yourself’ or your besties. Catering to your sexual health stands equal to practising meditation, consuming healthy foods, or going for a workout. It's not just sex - it’s an investment in your wellness.

As founders, we see ourselves as ‘your biggest sisters’; we are here for all your questions about intimacy and intimate wellness, with insights and tips about the products we would love you to try out.

One of the reasons you started the Oh Collective is that most companies in the sex toy industry are male-led.
To what extent does gender play a role in the work you do?
If you look around at your average sex toy shop, -brand or -factory, chances are that they are led by men. When we started this brand, 95% of the retailers, factories and brands we talked to were male-led: this is something that needed to be tackled, especially if you are serving women.

We have noticed that being four females in a male-dominated industry has given us more edge. Factories, retailers and distributors have taken an interest because we represent the end consumer and are a group of passionate women with work experience at global brands. We have also learnt that it’s not just overcoming ‘male vs female’ inequality: it is about expertise, accountability and representation - areas where female leadership can make a difference.

Do you think having more women work in this industry would also change its dynamic?
Definitely. It would challenge the sexual gaze that we have in this industry. Most products are developed and produced from a male point of view, often in sexist ways. You actually want to blend the male gaze with a female gaze and create from a female point of view. What we need and experience is not similar to what you see on Pornhub or your average sex shop - far from actually. Representation of different genders, bodies and sexualities is needed to play into different needs.

We’re just at the start of this new ‘sexual revolution’ as four female Asian founders and already notice a difference in dynamic - working with Maha and Nike, for instance – so we’re very excited to see what this industry has to bring with more female and ethnically diverse leaders.

How can a community make it more accessible for women to move within the (creative) industry in which they work?
I’d advise everyone to find or create a community. Whether you’re with a company, building a business or still in school - community is key. There’s a ripple effect: you create a genuine relationship, learn from each other and push each other forward when opportunities arise. Have some while at it, and you can witness an entire industry change. Our community is why we exist - if they win, we win.


Text: Flore de Man  |  Photographer: Kwabena Sekyi Appiah-nti  |  Gaffer: Vincent Houtman | Stylist: Esmeralda Schipper-Zijp  |  Styling Assistent: Melanie Butter  |  Make-Up & Hair: Kato Fierkens & Alexander van der Heide  |  Talent: Simona Xu