Rythm is a platform that is on a mission to strengthen the vulva-mind-spirit connection. We want to normalize a world where humans with vulvas have a better connection with their bodies, parts, and partners. For our blog series “Humans of Rythm,” we interview founders, thought leaders, and experts in the sexual wellness space and share their responses with you.
Alysha (she/her) is the Founder of Rythm (IG: @rythmwellness), a sexual wellness platform that syncs sex, period, and vaginal care products into a holistic experience. Prior to Rythm, Alysha worked at Dame Products as a Product Marketer. Her business acumen and love for early-stage consumer startups launched her career within the venture capital space, working with a family office and managing a startup studio. She is a firm believer in the power of community. Read our interview below with Alysha Malik to learn more about an Aquarius that we know and love.
Where were you born, where did you grow up, and how was sex perceived in your culture/household?
I was born in Toronto, Canada, and grew up in Lahore, Pakistan. You could say I had more “Western” values, living in a culture with “Eastern” values – I was often referred to as a “burger,” which is slang for being Americanized. Sex was never spoken about in my culture, until after you were married. Women were expected to go from acting like nuns on the streets to being acrobats under the sheets, post-marriage, without any guidance, community, or sense of belonging.
What’s a funny or embarrassing memory you have from learning about or experiencing sex?
My mother was very against tampons when I was a teenager because she thought they would break my hymen. This is a complete myth! I used my first tampon at the age of fifteen, which provided me with an edge when competing on my high school varsity volleyball team. It was a total game-changer for me!
Have you ever walked in on a family member ‘doing the deed’? Is there a funny, or interesting story you can share with us about your experience? How old were you when this happened?
OMG yes! I believe I was about fourteen years old at the time and my family and I were on vacation. We were staying in a hotel and my parents’ bedroom was right next to mine. They had left their balcony door open and seeing this, I thought it would be funny to jump from my bedroom balcony onto theirs to scare them during their “afternoon nap.” Little did I know, I would get the biggest scare of my life! Looking back, I am very happy to know that my parents were very intimate with each other and the spark never died. Now I know what “nap time” really means for parents… the secret is out, mama.
What is your profession and why did you choose to pursue it?
I am the founder of Rythm, a clean sexual wellness platform built for humans with vulvas that syncs sex, cycle, and vaginal care products. I was previously working at a sexual wellness startup conducting market research, product development, and product marketing and noticed how about 98% of vaginal care products that I saw had at least one toxic ingredient.
Part of my previous job was to test drive a lot of sexual wellness products. Unfortunately, while product testing, I would always end up with some sort of irritation or infection and would need to be seen by an OB/GYN. After visiting numerous doctors, I was told not to use any vaginal care products since they all have toxic ingredients, or the doctor didn’t have enough knowledge on the vaginal microbiome to recommend which ingredients were vulva-safe.
The healthcare system, as I experienced it, was broken and I knew there had to be a better way. That’s when the seed for Rythm was planted, almost two years ago.
What about your industry surprised you when you were first getting started? What is something about your industry that might surprise those who are not in your line of work?
After trying out hundreds of sexual wellness products at my old job, I learned I was more susceptible to infections and irritations as a Woman of Color. I always thought I had a sensitive vagina, but then I found out that Women of Color tend to have two to three times more endocrine disruptors than white women.
What do you wish your caregiver(s) or guardian(s) had told you about pleasure, relationships, and the female body when growing up?
While growing up, I wish I had a space to deposit my fears and thoughts, and a community I could have learned from and shared with. Sexual wellness plays such a large role in our intimate relationships and our relationship with the self. I believe that the state of our vaginal health affects the state of our intimate relationship(s).
What was something you were surprised to learn about your body, relationship with self, and relationship with your vulva in the past decade? How has it changed?
Atrophy is something that can affect all women, regardless of their age. I recently got a hormonal IUD (progesterone) and it’s true what they say – it has totally impacted my libido and natural lubrication. I like to say that pre-IUD, it felt like the Amazon rainforest down there, and now, it feels like the tundra.
When do you feel the most empowered and alive?
I feel the most empowered and alive when I am making music with the people I love or dancing carelessly to a beat that overrides my body.
What is something non-sexual that brings you immense pleasure?
Ice-cream! It’s very nostalgic for me and takes me back to my childhood.
What can a partner do to turn you on in and out of the bedroom?
Intense eye contact! I love eye gazing and sharing absolutely everything and anything about our lives with each other.
How do you find your rythm in connecting with your body and self? What wisdom can you impart on us regarding lessons you’ve learned along the way to finding your rythm?
I find my rythm every morning by dancing, followed by a quick quad check meditation with my body, my intellect, my emotional child, and my spiritual self. This helps me align my intentions for the day and how to best spend my time.
What is your favorite quote for ‘finding your rythm’ or ‘living in rythm’?
A quote by George Bernard Shaw that I really like is “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
What is your favorite song you are jamming out to these days?
Good one! Lucid by Rina Sawayama.
What’s your go-to song to get in the mood? Or, what song helps you find your ‘sensual rythm’?
This is easy! I am overall a big Lane 8 fan, but my go-to is The Rope by Lane 8.
What is your favorite sexual wellness product that you can’t live without?
Gillian ‘Gigi’ Singer, MPH
American Board Certified Sexologist, Sexuality Educator, and Sex Ed Content Specialist