Interview by Madeleine Dore
Photography by Bri Hammond
At the age of twenty-four, Alexandra Lewis left her temporary home of Ballarat and travelled to the United States. In Seattle, she took a fateful step inside Babeland – the sex toy boutique run by women, for women. What she describes as a mind-blowing experience, here Alexandra engaged in a mature, open conversation about female sexuality that would forever change and continuously shape her own approach to intimacy. This sense of empowerment would later inspire the entrepreneur-in-the-making to start her very own business.
After ten years of making decisions for other people as an Executive Assistant, Alexandra was ready to start making her own. Itching to turn this dream into a reality, she enrolled as a mature aged student at Swinburne University. In 2014, Alexandra graduated with a BComm in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, yet even before graduating, she started to feel disconnected from the graduate pathways. That same yearning to do her own thing took hold and so the online sensuality boutique Andracova was born.
Dedicated to creating a safe, elegant space to explore female sexuality, Andracova specialises in curated parcels offering adult and personal lifestyle accessories. With each hand-wrapped parcel, Andracova aims to promote greater self acceptance, heightened intimacy and more authentic connections for the curious recipient.
Alexandra tells us how she structures her day in order to grow the business, while simultaneously making room for life's little pleasures. From morning cuddles with her adorable pooch Poppet and weekly trips to the cinema, to the transition to teetotaller, Alexandra shares the secret to making room for the finer things in life while relentlessly pursuing your passion.
PART I: DAILY ROUTINE
The alarm goes off around 7.30, but it’s a false alarm – it just indicates half an hour of dedicated puppy-love with Poppet!
I’ve recently given up alcohol, and taken up porridge! I’ll make my pot of coffee and sit on the couch, then my partner Brad will join and eat his muesli.
Straight into trainers and out the door for a walk along the Yarra River with Poppet and sometimes Brad will join. It’s the perfect way to start the morning, instead of getting straight into emails.
My mornings are really slow which I like. Because I work from home, I went through this period of not getting ready, just heading straight to my desk. I felt this push to start achieving things, but it just didn’t work for me – the day didn't seem to have any specialness to it. There was a definite procrastination and a sense that I wasn't working, I was just hanging out.
Brad used to joke that he had to be the only guy in the world whose wife looks at sex toys all day long and is running this business about empowering women... in her tracksuit pants! Lounging around in lingerie all day wasn't going to happen, but I thought maybe I could move up to jeans [Laughs].
I now have a shower, let my hair dry naturally, either straighten it or curl it, and put on a bit of a makeup.
At the moment I’m still learning about Instagram, so I check it way too much! I have a huge amount of books on my to-read list, such as the 1970s original of The Joy of Sex and the 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss, so I really should spend this time reading.
I check my emails and if there is an order I will make sure I have the stock. My courier comes at eight every morning, so if an order has come in I arrange a pick up the following day.
I set aside two hours for the first task of the day. At the moment I’m writing press releases and making sure I have a media kit ready to go. I might research bloggers who might be a good KOL for me and generally try to identify people to touch base with.
For lunch I usually go to the café across the road and grab a toasted bagel with too much cream cheese. If I'm on a roll I'll quickly make a ham and cheese jaffle with relish.
Because I’ve gone off alcohol, I’ve taken to buying myself nice drinks. Throughout the day I progress from coffee, to Chinotto, tea and then water.
The next hour I’ll work on my joint business venture with Brad. We have both agreed to dedicate an hour each day and see how we go.
Back to work on Andracova. I try to get around three blogposts out each week, which takes a lot of research, especially when it's coming from your personal voice. Luckily, I’m one of those people who is really ridiculously open, so I don’t mind telling embarrassing stories about myself – I recently wrote a blog about whether my puppy is a cock-block!
If I’m not blogging, I will look at my AdWords campaign or research new packages and products. At the moment it’s really about letting people know that I’m here. That’s my main focus, to understand how promotion happens and look at different marketing avenues.
I generally spend about thirty-minutes helping Brad with his new venture, Urban Pooch. His business is in the web development stage so I will help him with editing pictures and product selection. I have the email set up for the business as well, so I’m constantly flitting between Andracova and Urban Pooch.
When Brad gets home we take Poppet for another walk and start the dance around what’s for dinner. We buy ingredients each day, so after our walk we will go to the supermarket. We could be far more efficient, but we like the ability to be spontaneous.
Once a week we might go and have dinner on Victoria Street as I really love Vietnamese food. I’m going through this whole thing with food since giving up alcohol. I used to be a real foodie and loved cooking, because that’s when you would have your first glass of wine! Now I’m finding different ways of finding enjoyment in all that.
Eat dinner. I will usually make a thai dish like green chicken curry or chicken with basil and green beans or a pork larb. I love making green curry paste so I make a batch of it once a month and put it in the freezer in little zip lock bags. I often make a pasta dish with oil, lemon rind, garlic and some spinach, tomatoes and prosciutto – it’s so yum!
After we finish dinner we usually go back to our desks and work for another hour or so .
We are trying to be mindful of putting all our electronic devices down at night and just relax. We don’t watch a lot of television, but we do watch particular drama series. Right now we are watching the U.S version of The Killing. We intend to watch one episode, but three episodes later its midnight and time for bed!
We go to the movies regularly, about once a week. I really love the Sun Theatre in Yarraville. Even if it’s to see something really terrible, it doesn’t matter... It’s escapism isn’t it?
Before bed we usually do the nightly chores. Brad will do all the washing of the dishes as well as all the laundry – he says he enjoys the motion of putting them on the line!
PART II: WEEKEND ROUTINE
We usually visit a friend or head out. Our friendship groups are quite sprawling, so there is always something going on.
Same slow start but we will go out to brunch near south Melbourne markets. We will head out around ten and meet a group of friends. Go to the markets, have a wander, and get fresh coffee beans – that’s one of my little luxuries now.
Weekends are about friends, good food, and markets. There are a lot of times where I think, “Should we go out, or should we have pizza and stay home with Poppet?” Pizza and Poppet usually win.
Sunday is all about Insiders and seeing what’s going on politically and getting outraged. We tend to either work or head to a family function.
PART III: BEHIND THE SCENES
On how how it all began…
Visiting Babeland was the most mind blowing experience of my mid-twenties.
Without a hint of embarrassment, the staff spoke about my vagina like it mattered. It does matter. Why doesn’t everyone know their vagina matters?
It was this moment where I realised I’ve got to be doing something in this area and talking about how important it is for women to really know themselves and know their bodies. There are so many interesting ways we can express ourselves and there are so many ways to experience pleasure – by yourself or with a partner – but there are still so many stigmas attached to those who are a little more open.
On the support of family and friends…
Everyone has been really encouraging, but that doesn’t mean that things don’t seem way too complicated or insurmountable at times.
Rebecca Starkins of Little Makes Big has been a massive support to me in terms of sharing information and advice on starting a business. Even if it was just sharing experiences, it really changed the game and made it all possible – I feel very lucky.
On giving up alcohol…
I think it’s common for people to use alcohol as a crutch during a stressful time. When working for a company or someone else, the stress levels tend to undulate. But with working for yourself , they don’t – they kind of maintain at a high.
You kind of operate on a constant, “Oh my god, oh my god, I don’t know what I’m doing “ all the damn time!
I found that alcohol wasn’t helping me be a better person or business woman. It wasn’t relieving stress, it was just masking it. If being stress free means I need to do a little work at night because I’ve suddenly had the inspiration to do something, I should.
I thought to myself: Don’t have that glass of wine so you can’t do it the best you can. Be ready and clear all the time and ready to take action on those moments when you have some clarity or a really important thought.
On working with sex toys…
Being in the industry, I find I go through cycles of being really open to intimate connections followed by periods where it tends to get a little repetitive and I think, “I’m always around this stuff.” [Laughs]
But I am a big supporter of masturbation and sex toys, and I really believe that women need to be in charge of their own bodies and their own orgasm. If you don’t know about your body, how it works and how to experience pleasure, then you can’t rely on someone else to fulfil you.
On turning an idea into a career…
It took a long time. It was in development much longer than anticipated which was really frustrating. There was a constant re-evaluation about what the exact idea was. It started out as a parcel, plus a subscription option, plus an online store – but I was trying to do too much.
Every time I found a hurdle, I reassessed the concept to find the part of it I truly believed in – the non-negotiable.
On the financial risk of starting a business…
I have been really lucky as Brad and I have this relationship where I’ve supported him when he has wanted to pursue study or a business, and viceversa. We worked really hard when we lived abroad in England and saved seed money to invest in our businesses.
On the challenges of working from home…
An author friend of mine opened up to me about the misconceptions that come with working from home. Close friends would call throughout the day, expecting her to be available as if she was just writing as a hobby on the side. But people are expecting her manuscript, she has advances, she has a deadline... She isn’t just hanging out at home! She has been a great support in teaching me to say “No, this is my job.”
On a creating a routine around intimacy...
Mornings are the best time for sex. You’re not tired… you’re refreshed. We shower together a lot!
We are very tactile, we really like being with each other and talking about ideas and opportunities.
When you’ve been with someone for nearly 10 years, there isn’t that much you haven’t seen before. The thought of launching something together is quite stimulating as it’s all about new, exciting opportunity.
An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away – Mae West