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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Erin Voss runs Tucson’s Jellywink Boutique with a passion for inclusive sex-positivity and education

Erin+Voss+owns+Jellywink+Boutique%2C+an+inclusive+sex+shop+right+off+of+Fourth+Avenue+at+416+E.+Seventh+St.+The+shop+also+hosts+educational+workshops.
Ella McCarville

Erin Voss owns Jellywink Boutique, an inclusive sex shop right off of Fourth Avenue at 416 E. Seventh St. The shop also hosts educational workshops.

Erin Voss did not plan on owning a sex store. She first walked into Jellywink Boutique as a customer.

Its sexuality and gender-inclusive environment was a source of fun and comfort for Voss. She enjoyed shopping at sex stores but seeing products such as gender-affirming chest binders in Jellywink was a new experience for her. 

Over time, Voss became friendly with Ally Booker, the first owner of Jellywink, so when Jellywink closed in 2017, Voss felt its loss. One night while having drinks, her friend suggested they both open Jellywink back up. Voss had a new mission. 

The store combines sex education topics with its approach, from stocking books on sexual positions or guides to approaching kink. As a certified sex coach, Voss aimed to continue adding an extra dimension to Jellywink’s community education with workshops such as “Sex & Neurodivergence” or “Sex Ed for Parents.” 

“The reason that I [loved] Jellywink when Ally owned it, and why I wanted to reopen it, was because of the whole vision and mission of what she was doing, like queer-owned, woman-owned. I’m very catering to queer people, trans people and I am very passionate about that. I wanted to continue that,” Voss said.

Starting fresh and purity culture

At the time, Voss was working as a freelance Spanish and English translator. She had never owned a business before, but her passion for continuing Jellywink’s mission guided her.

However, because it’s a sex shop selling sex toys, among other things, Voss had and continues to have difficulties with running her business. 

One of the first roadblocks came when Voss attempted to raise money to reopen Jellywink on GoFundMe. In less than 24 hours, she was notified that her fundraising campaign had been taken down because of the sexual nature of Jellywink. 

Jellywink Botique offers a variety of sex toys, books and educational classes. The shop can be found at 416 E. Seventh St.
Jellywink Botique offers a variety of sex toys, books and educational classes. The shop can be found at 416 E. Seventh St.

Although she was able to find another platform to raise money, Voss continues to run into challenges. Jellywink’s online store had to change platforms after the site administrators discovered that Jellywink was selling products for and related to sex. Voss was not notified.

“It’s a headache. And everybody in this industry has to deal with it. And luckily, I’m in a big, online community of people in this industry. That is very helpful because we can offer suggestions and support for people,” Voss said. “Like when this was happening, I was like, ‘I have no idea what to do.’ And all these people that have already gone through it, were like, ‘Don’t do that, try this.’”

The reasons behind the financial boundaries that Voss faced and continues to face were due to something larger and historic, she said. Voss pointed to the founding Puritan colonizers’ ideas of sex and marriage to the current heavy Christian cultural influence in America as the primary causes. 

“Sex is just so taboo, even though basically everybody does it. Tons of people use sex toys, tons of people watch porn,” Voss said. “But at the company level, the people making these decisions — even though they are using sex toys, cheating on their wives, paying for sex, watching porn — on an individual level, they’re all doing it, but they want to portray this image of purity.”

Sex shops and porn 

Voss wants you to know that the reason why Jellywink does not stock porn is not because of morality.

“It’s not one of those like, ‘I’m some kind of hardcore conservative feminist,’ because I like sex positivity [and that] includes supporting people enjoying visual stimulation,” Voss said.

If Voss did stock porn, there would be fewer customers; they would need to be older than 18, according to federal law. Currently the merchandise Jellywink sells has no specific age restrictions, only a recommendation that people 18 and older shop at the store.

Jellywink Botique offers a variety of sex toys, books and educational classes. The shop can be found at 416 E. Seventh St.
Jellywink Botique offers a variety of sex toys, books and educational classes. The shop can be found at 416 E. Seventh St.

Jessica Kind, an employee of Jellywink, valued the safe, educational environment Voss helped create. When they heard that their 15-year-old nephew had become sexually active, Kind wanted to make sure he and his girlfriend had a resource for safe sex.

“I took my nephew there and, because [Voss] is a certified sex coach, I felt very comfortable with trusting that she’s going to be giving accurate information,” Kind said. “So not only [did] I take them there, [I] bought them condoms and dental dams, explained what that was and then offered them the space to ask her any questions that they wanted to ask her.”

“That should be something everybody has access to at all times,” Kind said.

Expanding Jellywink

During the winter holiday season, Voss decorated Jellywink. She wrapped dildos in scarves and placed them next to Christmas-themed underwear. The store was cozy with its new decor, but Voss looked to expand her business’s reach.

“That’s down the road though. It’s a big step for me so we’ll see what happens.”


Follow Ella McCarville on Twitter 


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