While most people in the adult pleasure product business have an interesting story behind their foray into this world, Kris Lynch’s journey has so many twists, turns and unexpected tumbles that even having a map and compass might not help you keep up.
The RUFF Doggie Styles entrepreneur loves to joke that she started out as a designer of toys for little girls before making the leap to create toys for big girls. Originally a toy designer for Mattel, Lynch at one time headed the design department for all girl toys except the iconic Barbie Doll. Under her reign, the company launched Skateboard Shannon, the first radio-controlled doll for girls. And when she was recruited to the West Coast as a vice president of girls’ toy design, she spearheaded the Casey Cartwheel and Baby Tumbles Surprise, which were the No. 1 large dolls for five consecutive years.
Ironically, it was her role with Mattel that first introduced her to adult novelties.
“When I was working in the toy biz, my boss wanted a doll that little girls could play with in the tub, so we designed a doll that would shiver when you take her out of the water, but as soon as you touched her toe to the water she would stop shivering,” Lynch said. “Anyway, to make the shiver motion, I researched the motors of vibes, shopped a well-known boutique on 57th Street in NYC, purchased a few, and actually used them on the inside of the doll’s torso for my first prototypes.”
Eventually, though, the laid-back atmosphere of sunny Southern California couldn’t compete with the love affair Lynch had with New York City, so she left Mattel and returned to her roots. As fortune would have it, she again spotted a need and created a company to fill it.
“RUFF Doggie started as a puppy-doggie collar/leash and toy company in 1999,” she said. “We were concentrating on designs for small dogs. We had a small, teeny-tiny Yorkie and couldn’t find any toys small enough for her mouth. That was the spark behind RUFF Doggie: RUFF Puppy.”
The company did well enough, but Lynch was reviewing the numbers one day and noticed a trend. One customer in particular was responsible for 30 percent of the company’s sales, but only purchased four styles of collars and leashes, and in only one size.
“Regardless of how many samples of the little puppy toys or other sized collars we sent to them, they would only purchase the same style over and over,” Lynch told AVN. “I finally asked them why. Well, they weren’t a doggie boutique at all; they were an adult boutique.”
That realization eight years ago is what really got Lynch interested in the adult industry.
“The packaging and color palettes of the products and for the stores themselves were quite different then, especially the leather section,” she said. “That was very scary: heavy, black and honestly intimidating. So I had an idea to bring more fashion and design to this category and make the items for couples, for naughty couples who would appreciate quality and style, but in a non-intimidating way. And that’s when a new division was created: RUFF Doggie Styles.”
RUFF Doggie Styles’ floggers, paddles and the like might be more delicate in appearance—rose petals of leather at the end of a flogger, paddles with cute little kitty faces—but the quality cannot be denied. And Lynch is willing to do everything she can to keep the designs updated and upbeat.
“To stay fresh and keep my thumb on the pulse of fashion, trends, new materials and manufacturing methods, I am an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, one of the leading fashion universities in the world,” she said. “I have the strength and talent and inspiration of my mom inside me. She was a prestigious couture designer on Seventh Avenue and exposed me to all layers of design and the arts, and how to look beyond what is expected for a particular item to look or feel like, and to bring my own vision and experiences from my previous positions and career into every item I design.
“Another class I teach at FIT is Looking Back to Stay Ahead of Your Competition, and in that class we review the patterns, textiles and details and companies of yesteryear,” Lynch continued. “They are amazing pieces that are still classic and wearable today. I am inspired by the past: the fashions, colors, boudoir, pin-ups, deco … and you will find hints of all of that in RUFF Doggie Styles.”
For more information, visit RUFFDoggieStyles.com.
This article originally ran in the May 2010 issue of AVN.