Interactive, straightforward and transparent: these are some words to describe Bellingham’s local sex shop, Wink Wink.
Having graduated from a pop-up stand, Wink Wink became a brick-and-mortar shop in 2018. Founder Jenn Mason was motivated to create a sex-positive shop that focuses on educating young audiences about consenting and healthy relationships.
Since she had worked for domestic violence and sexual assault services, Mason wanted this space to be more than just a business. She wanted it to be a safe space for people to learn about their sexuality.
“That’s a big part of creating healthy relationships,” Mason said. “Ending sexual violence is helping to define and create healthy spaces and healthy sexuality.”
Still residing on Commercial Street, the shop moved across from its original location and obtained an attached art space where musicians and artists can show off their talent.
On the back right wall of the shop, cosplay artist Monique Green created a life-size interactive Hitachi sex toy. By pressing the button on the bottom of the piece, the toy stops the music to make the whole room vibrate.
Green will take up the previous Wink Wink space this December, filling it with her art and her personal line of beauty products.
From oral sex to non-monogamy, the space offers a wide range of classes that discuss different topics and provides a safe space for people to talk about their sexual traumas.
Brandie Lourenco is a licensed behavioral therapist who has recently taught kink and non-monogamy classes at Wink Wink.
Lourenco hopes to rejuvenate her kink sex education classes into having varied tiers of classes that would focus on beginners, rather than experienced folks who are looking for more in-depth education about their needs.
“Offering different levels of classes kind of allows people to enter in where they’re at, in regard to their journey,” Lourenco said. “And it gives opportunities for folks that are ready to really look at their social conditioning and figure out how to unpack it in those more higher-level, intense classes.”
She plans to do a four-class workshop series starting on Jan. 13, 2022. It’ll open on an intro to monogamy with incremental intensities to talk more about jealousy, trauma triggers and the concept of ownership.
Lourenco urges students looking to become therapists to come to the classes. She plans on becoming a mentor so future therapists are more comfortable talking about sex with their clients.
Mason will also offer sliding-scale scholarships and free tickets for each class to make it accessible for students.
“It’s a balance between making sure our trainers are paid fairly for their time and making sure that we’re not asking people to do underpaid labor for their work but also making it accessible to the community,” Mason said.
Wink Wink employee Fanny Marie Goodrow said she gets a wide range of customers, some who aren’t used to talking about sex. She always offers podcasts and books that touch on consensual and ethical sex boundaries to healthy relationship building.
As someone who helps anyone at any time, she’s always ready to answer the weirdest questions.
“People think we’re an eyelash salon,” Marie Goodrow said. “We try not to be blatantly sexual first thing in the door. First thing you see are kids’ books, plants and lingerie.”
Wink Wink strives to make sex an accessible topic for the whole community. Its employees and licensed professionals strive to provide education and awareness to their customers.
“We have to learn that vulnerability actually helps us, not hinders,” Goodrow said.
Lourenco uses a tea bag example to help clients understand why societal pressures make it hard for people to become vulnerable about intimate relationship issues, with themselves or other people.
“We have to wring that out and decide to stick our tea back in a different type of container that has different ideals in it,” she said. “You can’t unlearn. You can’t refill a tea bag if it’s already full of water from another source. You have to wring it out and get fresh water.”
Julia Kohut (she/her) is a senior who is double majoring in Urban Sustainability and a Fairhaven Concentration in Food Security through Community and Food Forests. You can contact her email@example.com