· By Fran Tickle
How Did I Get Here??
My name is Fran and I make monstrous-looking sex toys.
That is NOT a sentence I imagined myself saying up until my late thirties, when the idea came about for Tentickle. Myself and a good friend were putting the world to rights over a few beers, and at some point we joked about the fact that my skillset would be perfect for making sex toys. Then at some point the joke subsided and it appeared I was weighing up the logistics...?
After this night I went back to freelancing in my job as an SFX Technician/Makeup Artist and Prop-Maker, but the seed was planted in my mind and I found the hypothetical thoughts turning into plans. You see, I enjoy the nature of the work in my regular profession, but the reality of working in the industry is HARD. The jobs are often underpaid as practical FX tries to hold its own up against CGI, the hours are long to the point of physically damaging and working on set can be pretty intense (especially if you're a natural introvert like me!). I've met countless industry veterans who are struggling with toll that years of poor lifestyle, stress and lack of sleep has had on their body and decided that I didn't want to end up in their shoes.
I bought a 3D printer and a Zbrush licence in 2019 through some funding I managed to acquire, and set to work teaching myself digital sculpting. I started discovering the world of indie toy sellers and that excited me, but I was equally horrified to discover how unregulated the sale of sex toys is. Some of the large companies who I had assumed would do things "by the book" actually had free reign to sell cheaply made toys in non-body-safe materials such as TPE and jelly. I knew from my own experience applying prosthetic makeup that platinum silicone is a medical-grade skin-safe choice, and I had plenty of experience in working with it.
Then the pandemic hit and the UK went into lockdown in March 2020.
No film and TV sets. No theatre. No events. No work.
I panicked for a bit, especially because I was also facing eviction at this time (my landlord decided there was DEFINITELY room to squeeze an extra bedroom in my flat and hike up the rent. Arsehole). I stopped panicking when I realised that so many people were in the same position as me, and started filling my days with plans and designs for Tentickle. Everything slowly fell into place. It gave my days a lot of purpose and really helped get me through the past year mentally intact.
I launched Tentickle during December 2020 and I'm pleased with the feedback so far, though I'm still finding my niche in what is a fast-expanding cottage industry. Currently I'm still juggling the business with my regular day job, though I am being more selective over the jobs I take on. Oh, and I now rent a house from a friend who doesn't mind that I've turned the spare bedroom into a monstrous-dick-making-haven.