I Founded My Own Company Selling Luxury Lube: BUST True Story

by Tanya Gallagher

When I meet people for the first time and they ask me what I do, my first reaction is to smile. It always lands halfway between a snort and a laugh, and with my face bright I say, “I own my own business.” Inevitably, the questioning proceeds:

“Oh, what kind of business?”

“I sell products online.”

“Oh, what kind of products?”

At this point the smile comes back again. “It’s a little out there,” I say.


“I have my own brand of personal lubricants.” And then I can’t help but laugh for real.

Sometimes my job sounds ridiculous even to me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Since starting my business, Penchant Design, in 2015, I’ve gone all in, turning my side hustle into my full-time gig, and gathering a load of stories along the way.

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This joy in my job wasn’t always there. A year ago, I felt trapped in my day job as an aerospace sales person. I had had the same job since I was nineteen years old, and I was now gaining on thirty. Though the job had allowed me to move from Los Angeles to Seattle, I felt stuck — the kind of stuck where I told perfect strangers about my hunt for something that fueled my own passions. Little did I know I could make my own dream job.

I’m no stranger to taking risks, having left my first college when it wasn’t right for me. A few short months later I was moved across the country to live with my boyfriend, a man I had dated long-distance but seen in person for less than a week total. Yep. Luckily, I’m now married to him, so it was definitely worth making the leap.

In 2015, my husband and I were discussing new business ideas when we struck on the idea that would become Penchant. My husband had been working as a photographer and wanted to focus on a product-based business, rather than a service-based one. When we talked about products, personal lubricant was the one that gave us the same knee-jerk reaction: “Yes.” It was something people needed and it was just funny enough to keep us on our toes.

From talking with my girlfriends, I realized that once the topic of sex came up, people wanted to continue the conversation. While there are a number of products you can use in the bedroom, the key to all of them is personal lubricant. The problem was that the market was focused on products that made you feel like you were in a bad ’70s movie, rather than ones that you were proud to keep on your bedside table. Not only that, many of the lubes on the market were sticky and quick to wear out. We knew we could do better.

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After loads of research and product testing (not the worst way to spend your days), we developed Penchant Premium, our flagship product. It’s a luxe silicone personal lubricant that launched on Amazon.com with rave reviews. What makes us different, aside from the quality of our products, is our commitment to bringing luxury into the bedroom. I spent the next six months focused on growing Penchant, while still traveling the world to sell airplane parts. At times it was tough to balance both, but seeing the light at the end of the tunnel gave me the grit to stick it out. In addition to Penchant Premium, we now have a water-based lubricant and a skin serum that reduces red bumps and razor burn.

Today I’m proud to say that Penchant is my full-time job, and I’m excited to keep the conversation open. Women’s health and happiness is a topic near and dear to my heart, and we don’t talk about it enough. Penchant’s mission statement says it all for me, “We believe in enhancing life’s pleasures and in empowering people to make the best decisions for their bodies and their love lives.” Starting Penchant empowered me, in my own ways, to ask from more out of my job and my life. You don’t need someone else’s permission to follow your dreams. Every thank you email I get makes me realize I’m on the right path.

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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