Kim Airs: From Harvard University To Sex Toy Entrepreneur

Kim Airs sex toy expertKim Airs, 54, could easily pass as a bubbly soccer mom. You'd never guess that she makes her living playing with sex toys all day. Airs talks about her job with the giddiness and disbelief of someone thrilled with her good fortune. She never expected that this would be her day job, or even could be. It all started out as just one wild and courageous idea.

Airs didn't use a sex toy until she was almost 30, and dating a radio disc jockey whom she dubbed "Smut Hound." She was working as the assistant to an esteemed Harvard University administrator at the time, but shifted to part-time to open a sex shop that quickly grew into a $1.3 million-a-year business. These days, Airs is a successful sex-toy consultant, penning sex toy reviews, lecturing on college campuses, advising sex toy businesses, as well as conferring with doctors and their patients about the best sex toys for relieving certain medical issues.

There were plenty of naysayers during this career transformation. But Airs now has a personal motto to deal with that: "I care what you think about, but I don't care what you think about me."
Finding Her Passion

Married as a freshman in college, Airs says that her sexual curiosity made her husband uncomfortable. By 27, they were divorced. Restless, Airs landed a part-time summer job at Harvard and moved into doing administration work for whoever needed it. (She even briefly worked for Larry Summers, then an economics professor; years later, he would become university president and secretary of the U.S. Treasury.)

Airs says that while she was temping, a top Harvard administrator hired her to be his full-time assistant. While she wouldn't name him to AOL Jobs, she says that she enjoys the shock value of disclosing his name to friends. "They can't believe a freak like me would work for him," she says, laughing. The two remain close friends.


More: Sex Toy Testing: Can You Actually Turn It Into A Career?


Around this time, Airs also began dating the "Smut Hound." He "totally supported everything I wanted to do and learn about sex," she says. Soon, Airs was the in-house sexual expert for Harvard's entire administrative staff. More timid co-workers would ask her to help them pick out their first vibrators, or suggest a porn movie to watch with their boyfriends. "Basically the same stuff I do now," Airs realizes. She just hadn't yet found a way to get paid for it.

How She Got Her Big Business Idea

Then one day in 1992, she had a conversation with a woman running a G-spot workshop, who had struggled to find a space willing to host her in Boston. "We could really use a women's sex toy store in Boston," Airs remembers her saying. And like so many entrepreneurs, she spotted the opportunity. "I could do that," Airs thought. "The clouds burst open and the lightbulb went off."

Raising $14,000 from an old co-worker, Airs rented a 225-square-foot, second-floor former insurance agent's office in Brookline, a few miles from Harvard. She tried to be low-key and didn't advertise, while working part-time at Harvard in the morning to keep her benefits. The only way you'd know her store existed was through word-of-mouth and her subtle outside signage: "Grand Opening: A Woman's Boutique."

The first year, Airs grossed $50,000; by 2004, she had $1.6 million in revenue, a 1,000-square-foot store at street level, and a dozen employees. She felt vindicated. "I can't tell you how many people had said, 'Boston, that's so conservative. It'll never fly there,' " Airs recalls. But in 2006, tired of running a business, she sold it and moved to Los Angeles, where she worked for a major sex toy manufacturer, and then a home sex toy party company.


More: How One Woman Makes $39,000 A Year At Sex Toy Testing



These days, Airs feels that she has the best of all worlds, writing reviews, speaking about sex toys, consulting for sex toy companies and advising doctors on how to treat conditions like vaginismus (a tensing of the vagina that makes penetration painful) and erectile dysfunction.

Ultimately, Airs believes that her job is to help people have better, happier, and more fulfilled sexual lives. Plenty of people thought she was nuts for trying to turn this particular passion into a career, but she shrugged them all off. Now she sports a tattoo across the nape of her neck: "I don't sleep, I dream."





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Helda

Kim.Airs, I would like to be a tester. Search engines are sending me everywhere except to a company that actually hires testers in the U.S. I live in Southern Cal.

Thursday at 11:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ruby Ryder

My question would be - why do you sell toxic toys? The jelly toys contain phthalates that are known endocrine disrupters and are banned from children's toys. So why sell them and put your customers at risk?

March 12 2013 at 3:04 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ruby Ryder's comment
kim.airs

Actually, since I know the industry so well, almost all of the major manufacturers have eliminated phthalates in their products and are making them out of TPE (thermo plastic elastomer) or TPR (thermo plastic rubber) both of which contain NO phthalates yet still look and feel like the typical jelly rubber toys. The EU has outlawed phthalates in products so in order to export sex toys to Europe, the major companies have eliminated using the rubber softeners phthalates in their toys. At grandopening.com, there is a HUGE variety of toys and they will each state if they are phthalate free, which the majority are.

When buying a sex toy, the best way to determine if there are phthalates in the toy is to try to detect an odor of the toy while in its packaging. If it was made with phthalates, the toy will give off a slightly unpleasant scent. If the toy does not have phthalates, it will be odor free. Also, many of the common jelly rubber toys ARE, in fact, phthalate free - best way to check this is by the scent. Also, purchasing a silicone toy will also eliminate the concern about phthalates since they are not made with them.

There ya go! Thanks!

March 14 2013 at 1:08 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Denise Kuerzi

Gotta love women who do this for a living! www.slumberpartiesbydenise.com

March 11 2013 at 3:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Denise Kuerzi's comment
kim.airs

Yeah Denise! It's always great to be the one to open the doors to healthy sexuality, that's for sure. Read my blogs at www.KimAirs.com and www.xbiz.com/blogs/kimairs There's LOTS of great information there for home party reps. Thanks!

March 12 2013 at 1:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Wise One

Ah yes, Queen of the Dill Dough! Break out your favorite inflatible love dolls everyone!

March 10 2013 at 8:24 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
frankbrntwd

Hay good for her someone has to be the inventer of these sex toys might as well be a woman, she is the one that has to test ride them, i myself have and i dear for one as well, if i ever decide to try and put it on the market.

March 10 2013 at 7:33 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Wayne Carter

my undies are warm and bulbus now.

March 10 2013 at 6:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
abassman1945

No better way to make a living....

March 10 2013 at 6:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rvheaney

HONEY OPEN YOUR MOUTH HERE i COME !

March 10 2013 at 12:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rvheaney

As a sex toy she would be great! I can think of a lot of things I would like to do to her! I( have a hard on now !

March 10 2013 at 12:03 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rvheaney's comment
Bill Oakley

shut up already

March 10 2013 at 12:19 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
brennemanbelkin

"her job is to help people have better, happier, and more fulfilled sexual lives."

Not to mention, you can buy a rubber dick out of India for fifty cents and sell it here for fourty dollars.
(Or so I hear)

March 09 2013 at 11:44 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to brennemanbelkin's comment
kim.airs

Perhaps, but you can also choose to buy an American made one, should you so desire (FYI - they actually aren't made in India). Check out the silicone Tantus toys on www.grandopening.com that are made in Sparks, Nevada and are fabulous. There's something for everyone, even you!

March 12 2013 at 1:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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