Celebrating Black History Month! Featuring Tatiyanna Shirley
If you know us, you know that as a minority owned business celebrating all people of color and the beautiful diversity of our cultures is one of our core values. Every year we celebrate Black History Month by sharing the stories of amazing Black Founders. This year we want to share some incredible founders in the sexual wellness industry.
The next founder in our series is Tatiyanna Shirley!
Taiyanna is a coach, content creator, blogger and is the founder of Ardentley, a body safe adult toy company. She founded her sexual wellness company just two months before going into the insanity of a global pandemic. While Ardentley is a body safe toy distributor, they identify firstly as a sexual wellness company providing a digestable approach on expanding and informing the discovery within identity, wellness, consent and sexuality. They have been featured in Buzzfeed, Talktabu and xoNicole, and Tatiy is ready to take over!
We caught up with Tatiy to find out more about her very authentic founder’s journey, what being a black founder in this space means to her, and why she feels so strongly about people feeling confident and comfortable in their explorative journey to sexual enlightenment. We feel so lucky to be able to share some of her story with you!
Can you tell us a little more about what got you started with Ardentley?
"I started Ardentley about 2 years ago, with the intention
to people to feel more confident in their sexualities and identities. In a society that shames and controls the narrative of sex especially surrounding Women and Queer people, it's important to give us a safe space to ask questions and explore as we re-write our own definition for on sexuality and what it means to us."
With the theme of Black History Month this year being Health and Wellness, how do you feel that sexual wellness plays into the overall wellness of your customers?
"Ardentley is a body-safe adult toy store but most importantly a sexual wellness brand. It is very rare that someone gets the privilege to safely explore their sexuality. This is in terms of what brings them pleasure, what makes them feel comfortable, who they can love, and how they can express themselves. As a black woman you grow up in a space that hypersexualizes you before you can even define your own sexuality. As we grow into our bodies,we hear comments about our curves bringing sexualized statements to us at such a pubescent age or lack of curves suggesting we are not black enough even if our complexion and hair texture clearly exclaims that we are. My focus is entirely on people who are looking for a safe haven to be who they are unapologetically.
Sexual wellness is wellness, and it's imperative to give ourselves permission to say this is a part of my humanity and I am entitled to this experience. Whether you have sex, plan to have sex, or are not interested in having sex you are experiencing your sexualitiy. It's a large part of our identity that gets shamed. We even shame towards ourselves at times because of unhealed societal trauma tormented onto us."
What advice do you have to other founders of color starting out in the sexual wellness space or other adjacent industries?
"Someone out there needs your story, your authenticity, your charm, your awkwardness, your tears, and your victories. Even if that someone is you and your inner child. Start. Ardentley is a small business and I truly don't have it all figured out. My company is not traditionally successful, it's small and it's black owned, but it's authentic to me. And that's one hell of a success story. Your business will grow, your business will slow down, your business may entirely change from its initial launch. That's perfectly okay. Share your message and do something you're proud of. Not everyday will be a good one but that's the ebb and flow of existing. Embrace it."
What does Black History Month mean to you as a black woman and founder?
"Black history narratives always starts with slavery and hides so many of the glorious parts of us that have existed for centuries. We are the ancestors of inventors, creatives, storytellers, mathematicians, scientists, healers, activists and so so much more. Today in our modern society we are still, so much, creating the blueprint for many things society shames us for and then copies. Being able to say I am Black makes me feel ethereal. To say that I am a Black founder is proof that I am an extension of Black contribution just as our ancestors before. To be a Black Woman Founder is my beautiful F U to those who say we can't! LOL"
We know you have an amazing selection of products at www.ardentley.com. What is one of your favorite products you guys have right now?
"I am completely bias when I say all of them ! But for personal use I have to admit I stay grabbing the Luxe Scarlet Compact Vibrator.
I always overlooked bullet vibrators thinking what could this small toy do for me?? Lemme just say good things come in small packages!"
Is there anything else that you want to share with our followers?
"Your life is yours. Your body is yours. Your sexuality is yours. Shame is taught, it isn't yours to carry."