If the film What Women Want were remade today it would feature a lot less Mel Gibson and a lot more ~me time~. Such is the value placed on self-love in 2017. This is something the women behind online store Par Femme are servicing with their range of ladies-only underwear, sex toys, clothing and jewellery.
Ruby Heery and Monica Nakata are the low-key geniuses behind the platform, which is all about encouraging women to explore their sweet selves in an accessible, aesthetically pleasing environment. We caught up with the dynamic duo to chat about working with women and discovering your best self.
Lucy Jones: How would you describe Par Femme to your mum?
Monica Nakata: An online store with a focus on female sensuality, offering a selection of underwear, jewellery and adult toys with the sole goal of helping a woman feel great in her own skin.
What was your introduction to sex and sexuality?
Ruby Heery: Mine was Dolly Doctor, obviously. From a young age my mum was very upfront about our bodies and our sexuality. If I had a question, as most children do, she would answer it openly and honestly, and that was that. It didn’t all come out at once as some huge shock; it was just natural, and a part of life that I knew I wouldn’t completely understand until I was older.
Monica: When I was 14 my best friend and I found a video of the Story of O… My mum was also a pragmatic woman and always answered my questions with brutal honesty. I never felt confused as a teenager. Or I [just] can’t remember?! I think it’s just something that constantly evolves over time. The one thing that I truly admired about my mother, though, was that she was comfortable in her own skin and told me that there’s something beautiful about everyone.
Why do you think it’s important to work with and support women?
Monica: It’s important to work with a broad range of people, but for women working with other women in particular, I think it’s about a mutual understanding and honesty between each other. Women have this amazing ability to open up to each other — to create a safe space where your feelings, fears and hopes are all very real and valid —just sharing that and knowing we’re not alone can make the biggest difference in our day-to-day lives.
Can you tell me about the different ways in which Par Femme promotes self-love and why that’s so important?
Monica: We believe that love for yourself is the most important kind of love there is. If you don’t love yourself, or at least start with simply being kind and gentle to yourself, you won’t have the ability to love others to your fullest potential. Knowing your own body, what it likes and what it doesn’t like, respecting it enough to listen to what it needs, and how it makes your mind feel — these are foundations we all need. Par Femme is about treating yourself, doing little things just for you — helping you to hold onto that connection throughout the day.
The visual side of Par Femme, and the Instagram, is something you’ve been building up for a long time, and despite being sexual it definitely falls within the female gaze. Was that something you were always conscious of?
Ruby: I don’t know if it was something we were necessarily conscious of, it more just what came naturally to us as women. The images I curate and share are simply images that speak to me personally in one way or another — what I see as erotic or beautiful — and trusting that there are other women (and men) out there who will respond in the same way. Staying true to our natural aesthetic must be what keeps it distinctly female.
What three songs would be on your ultimate sexy times playlist?
Ruby: Music during sexy times with a partner would always just make me laugh, but for music with just generally great sexy vibes I’d have to throw out ‘Motivation’ by Kelly Rowland, ‘Snake Face’ by Throwing Muses and ‘Oops (Oh My)’ by Tweet feat. Missy.
Monica: The natural sounds of nature singing in the summertime. Lyrics tend to distract me.
Ruby: I think at the time of watching it, it would have to be Cruel Intentions.
Monica: Bitter Moon, but I’d have to watch it again to say for sure.
Monica: The smell of the ocean on sun-dried skin.
How would you describe your personal feminism right now?
Monica: This year has been a year of introspection and making friends with myself… Par Femme has been both an inspiration to and an expression of this. It’s helped me to understand and nurture the strength I have, and what my close friends give one another by supporting each other. Women within my friend group, and women who I work with, have been supported by me and supportive of me and enabled me to start to evolve into my best self. That philosophy is quite close to the values of Par Femme — to be free, and to greet self-discovery and expression with support and not judgement.
Who are some women you admire who are doing cool things at the moment?
Monica: There are so many admirable woman it’s hard to narrow it down to a few. At the moment we are working with an incredibly talented and strong woman, Amy Finlayson from the The Fin Collection, who produces art exhibitions and facilitates creative collaborations, whilst also being an artist and a writer herself. We are excited to be working with her an upcoming exhibition towards the end of May featuring 15 of Australia’s brightest emerging female artists. The aim of The Fin Collection is to facilitate creativity and make art truly accessible.
Aphrodisiacs: true or false?
Ruby: True. Whatever works.
Ruby: Sweet Sweat.
Monica: My friend Meredith’s diary when I was a teenager… it read like a novel.
Sexuality and identity is becoming increasingly multi-dimensional, how does this factor in to what you guys do?
Monica: For us it’s about aesthetics and who is going to respond to what we’re creating and offering. It doesn’t matter who you identify as, if you like what you see and like how it makes you feel, we’re here for you. Par Femme is not only for anyone who identifies as a woman, but also for anyone who appreciates our point of view.
Words to live by:
Ruby: Follow your bliss.
Monica: Enjoy the silence