The People Behind iroha - Gemma
As our 10 years of iroha celebration is slowly coming to an end, iroha’s mission to create a society where everyone can comfortably discover and enjoy their sexuality in their own way will continue.
Our goal to create products that bring positive attitudes towards sex and sexuality for women and all pleasure seekers doesn’t stop even though March ends. In fact, in order to achieve our mission, iroha hopes to cultivate, create, and enrich experiences for sex and masturbation. Furthermore, iroha aims to help reduce taboos and provide information/education on the topic of female sexuality and overall masturbation to all.
As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, the iroha marketing team wants to show a different perspective of iroha. To do so, we decided to interview one of our iroha product designers, Gemma, who has been involved in many of the iroha items that you love.
Keep on reading to find out more about Gemma, her first encounter with iroha, and what she hopes to achieve with iroha.
- A Little Bit About Gemma
- Stumbling Across iroha
- Gemma’s Goals and Motivation
- A Message from Gemma and iroha!
A Little Bit About Gemma
Speedy Q&A with Gemma:
- Where are you from? Barcelona, Spain
- What is your favorite food? I love soups in general. My grandmother’s escudella soup is the best. It’s a Catalan food we eat for Christmas.
- What is your favorite iroha product? iroha+ TORI
- What is your position at TENGA? iroha Product Designer and Project Leader
- How long have you been at TENGA? 5 years
As one of the product designers, Gemma is in charge of researching, conceptualizing, and of course, coming up with new iroha product designs, and then seeing her designs come to life. Gemma has been involved in a variety of projects revolving around iroha, such as the iroha RIN+: proposing the shapes and colors of the iroha RIN+ based on the original iroha RIN.
“The first product I fully designed was the iroha petit.”
One of our best selling series in iroha, the iroha petit is innovative and different from what would come to the mind when thinking about self-pleasure items. The iroha petit is a unique self-pleasure product that is great for both solo and partnered pleasure, on top of that, it includes one important point for Gemma, the focus on being more eco-friendly. The iroha petit is made of 98% water and is partially biodegradable.
Now, you must be wondering how and why Gemma decided to work for TENGA and become a product designer. Well, keep on reading to find out!
Stumbling Across iroha
Gemma grew up in Barcelona, Spain, in fact, her family are all living in Barcelona now. You must be wondering how did Gemma find out about and end up at iroha. Well, her encounter with iroha is an interesting one and definitely worth a read.
So, how did she discover iroha? As a product designer and engineering student, Gemma did not have a specific idea of what area she would like to work in, but having designed oil massage tools for the wellness industry during her student years, there was something related that sparked her interest, “the erotic boutique in Barcelona close to [her] university.”
While it wasn’t pertinent to her, as a designer, Gemma felt that it was important to be exposed to all kinds of products. So, she decided to enter the boutique, and it was there that she first lay her eyes on these beautiful, Japanese sweets-like items. She was confused for a moment, but then she realized those beautiful, ornamental items are self-pleasure products from iroha.
She went home and immediately looked up TENGA, and through the homepage, she found an elegant site about a Japanese brand, iroha, where products were created by women, for women. It was then that Gemma thought to herself, maybe iroha could be the place where she creates something of her own.
So how did this one idea turn into a reality?
“First, when I was about to finish my Bachelor's degree in Barcelona I was looking for a full-time job, and I found out that TENGA/iroha was hiring product designers at that time. Since I have Japanese origins, my mother being Japanese, going to Japan was an option. And I was attracted by the designs of iroha products and the brand vision. I thought I would give it a try and submit the application for a job interview.”
Shortly after, Gemma received a response from TENGA asking for an interview. While the option of an online interview was available, Gemma was worried that her Japanese was not good enough. After graduating from university, Gemma took a leap of faith; she hopped on a plane to Japan.
“I felt like I couldn’t convey my thoughts properly through the screen. And I don’t want to have any regrets…. Plus, I just graduated, my life is just beginning, even if I didn’t get into TENGA, what do I have to lose? I can just come back to Barcelona.” Just like Gemma’s motto, ‘strike while the iron is hot.’
In the interview, Gemma describes her first encounter with iroha, her admiration of iroha’s brand vision, and her dream of becoming a product designer and engineer. Soon after, she got the job and that’s where it all started.
Gemma's Goal and Motivation
“When I was a student, I had already done some projects related to wellness, massage, and fem-care, such as menstruation items. As a product designer, focusing on social issues has always been a motivation to me, and I have always thought there is a lot more we can do as designers to propose solutions to social and gender-related issues.”
A perfect example would be the iroha petit, which was created with a more eco-friendly mindset; biodegradable material, with minimal plastic usage. Gemma hopes to continue to create products that not only help more people to enjoy pleasure, but also address overall social and environmental issues.
Other than the importance of social issues in the product, Gemma also makes sure that she sticks to iroha’s branding and theme.
“iroha products are characterized by having a Japanese concept linked to them,” while putting functionality and usability first. “Depending on the product, sometimes the concept comes first, which can be a Japanese traditional tool such as the tea whisk (Chasen) for the iroha zen Series or traditional Japanese hair pins (Kanzashi) for the iroha RIN/RIN+ Series. Other examples include Japanese flowers (Hana) or animals.
In other cases, the technology or the experience we want to provide comes first, and then the concept comes later. What is motivating me, personally, is to provide new experiences that don’t exist out there yet, while being sophisticated enough to be attractive for our users.”
With that in mind, Gemma also hopes to see iroha and the overall sexual wellness topic become mainstream in Japan, where sexual wellness products will “blend with the general market and people are able to buy sexual wellness products in any supermarket and drugstore.”
As for globally, Gemma hopes to see the conversations surrounding sexual wellness becoming more common. “That it is common to own several pleasure items and less of a taboo to talk about self-pleasure and sexuality in general.” Gemma also added that with more conversations, it means there will be “more variety in products, but at the same time more regulations regarding product safety are needed.”
While it is exciting to see more sexual wellness products, it is also very important that we make sure that the quality of the products increases as well. Which is definitely something that iroha also believes in. Not only do we want to make sure the products are good and beautiful, but most importantly that they bring high-quality and safe pleasure.
A Message from Gemma and iroha
“Thank you for all your love and support!”
Before we ended the interview, we asked Gemma, “If you had an infinite budget and incredible technology, what perfect pleasure product would you design? (The sky’s the limit)” and Gemma responded, “so I can’t say much”, but it seems like there are some exciting new iroha products in the works. So for all the iroha fans out there, stay tuned for all the exciting new iroha products that might be coming!
Once again, iroha would like to thank all of our fans for all their support. We are so happy to make it to our 10-year mark. iroha will continue to work towards our mission; creating a society where all pleasure seekers enjoy their sexuality and more. Join iroha where we are all free to express our love, sexuality, and pleasure.
Thank you for the support over the past 10 years! Let’s continue to redefine pleasure, together!