Thanks To

About five years ago, I was still relatively new to the fetish scene and had just moved to a city rife with all kinds of like-minded perverts. I had an ever-growing list of rubber and BDSM fantasies but nothing could really prepare me for the mind-blowing scenes I would soon be involved in.

These scenes were inspired by the vast number of accounts on platforms like Tumblr (RIP), Instagram, Twitter and Fetlife. Some photos from accounts on those platforms stuck in my mind, with one in particular building an infatuation within me. Slicked from head to toe in shiny black rubber, a gimp lays on its back gazing up at the camera with an expression of frustrated desire. A Nike TN is pressed firmly into its chest with its owner in normal clothing, creating a stark contrast against the glossy, dark latex. 

While gazing at this fetish masterpiece, my eyes tracked the array of cuffs locked around the gimp’s wrist and biceps, and a thick rubber collar firmly secured around its neck. This glorious, almost religious photo, was captioned, ‘Everything in the world is about kink, except kink. Kink is about power.

The amazing model was @Lycratum and I would soon discover that the maker of the accessories was Cuffed. This is when their journey was starting to take shape. Little did I know that I would one day meet the creator, Lukas and the man behind the scenes, Mathias at Folsom Berlin. I could immediately sense their passion for rubber and BDSM. There was no doubt that Cuffed restraints and collars perfectly encapsulated the caption to Lycratum’s image. 

First things first, it’s Cuffed’s five year anniversary! Congratulations – what  a fantastic achievement and something I’m sure you’re celebrating. How does it feel to make it this far?

It still feels like a massive dream – although it’s real work every day.

On the one hand, time was running so fast and so many things were happening during these past five years that the first days appear so far in the past. On the other hand, yes, we are really proud of what we achieved in these five years. 

Cuffed really created its own market niche of heavy rubber restraints and has grown to an international brand with customers all around the globe.

Absolutely. I can imagine it has been an immense journey over the years. Can you tell us where it all began? How has it changed since the beginning?

The first part of the answer is easy: in our bedroom! 

At the same time, when we started with the first product concepts and prototypes, we were refurbishing both our apartment and an extra workplace for the crafting of the restraints. A little bit overwhelmed by the fast success of our classic restraints, soon the company conquered more and more space in our apartment – a full work-life-integration.

Nevertheless, in 2021 we reached the point where the market demand was beyond what we could cope with in the described setup. Yet, switching from a self-run business to a full business setup with employees is a massive step. From one day to the other you face monthly costs in the four to five digit area – but the opportunity was too tempting.

In July 2021, we founded the Black Carrot GmbH (which now operates the Cuffed brand), rented a commercial space for production and logistics, and started hiring. As of today, we are five people and continue to grow – but still try to stay as approachable both to our customers as well as our employees as on day one of cuffed!

Taking things to the next level is terrifying but also super exciting. I remember seeing your gear in a photo on social media for the first time. I also see restraints and gear from Cuffed out in the wild all the time. Your products are so instantly recognisable! How did you first get the ideas for producing your products?

As often, a successful business idea starts with a real world problem: when we started with our rubber restraints, they were kind of unique. While you could get all kinds of leather restraints, there were few options when you were looking for restraints that really match your rubber gear and that could cope in a proper bondage session.

Therefore, the starting point was Lukas crafting the first rubber restraints for himself. He already guessed that he wasn’t the only one and already dreamt of selling rubber restraints to other rubber enthusiasts out there.

And tell us about how you make your products stand out so uniquely?

Beside this general market demand, we think it’s mainly three assets that set our products apart:

  • A massive, yet sleek product design that combines a hot look with comfort and robustness. 
  • Product concepts made from bondage & fetish enthusiasts for bondage & fetish enthusiasts. We are our own beta testers and don’t launch a product that cannot cope with our own BDSM play. This also triggers unique product features such as the VELCRO closing or the flexible bondage toolbox of the rubstraints & leathstraints. Our products invite our customers to experiment and extend their own play.
  • And lastly, making our products their own. Especially the tagged collars really hit the nerve of the community. It’s really nice to see all these customized tags at the events, knowing that the collar is really a personal item for the wearer.

I’ve seen so many fetishists now with your customised gear. It really shows the individuality which kinksters love to express. I can also see that Cuffed puts so much energy into listening to your customers. It seems the brand is never afraid to break into new territories! What would you say has been the biggest challenge with trying something new?

If you do new things or do things differently, the product itself is not defining the success on its own. You need to transport these ideas to your customers – to get them started and confident in working with our restraints.

Initially, we had to educate a lot about what rubber restraints can do and what they can’t do. Yes, with the right product design, they are not just fashion but real bondage tools for real bondage sessions. At the same time, the material has its natural limits that you can’t overcome; therefore we wouldn’t advise to use it for things like suspension bondage. That’s one of the reasons why we extended our offering by matching leather restraints.

On a more specific level, when we launched the rubstraints with the matching bondage toolbox, we had to convey the idea that there is a sexier way for rubber bondage than connecting the restraints with carabiners. So we created some starter bundles for specific common bondage positions, like a servant position or hogtie, including step-by-step instructions and (of course) some inspirational pictures of the final result.

Besides, as you said, it’s important to stay in contact with your customer base: really embrace their feedback and feed it into your concepts and ideas. This is the best insurance that you’re not locked in your own perception, but do things that strike a nerve.

That’s really terrific to hear! I really love how passionate you guys are about involving your customers and taking that knowledge on-board. I think this perfectly encapsulates how engaged you are within the fetish community. Who would you say are your inspirations? Who did you look up to when you began Cuffed?

As mentioned before, a main influence to our products was our own BDSM play and the gaps and potential improvements that we discovered. In parallel, there were definitely some persons whose aesthetics impacted our design language.

Just to name a few Slickskin, JackHellwing, Lycratum, of course you – but also ReflectiveDesire which proved that our restraints are not limited and restricted to the gay BDSM scene…

We were really happy that this match in headspace and mindset led to many partnerships which both helped our brand to keep innovating in the right direction while also exposing our products to a larger audience. These first hand testimonials were and are the best and most convincing advertisement for us!

I couldn’t agree more and I’m really humbled to hear that too, thank you! 

You spoke about your design language – the photos you capture for your products have such an industrial, heavy and frankly ‘perverted’ aesthetic, which is something I love to see. Was photographing your products a challenge when you initially began and can you tell us about how you shoot Cuffed items?

As often, success is defined by bringing the right persons together and leveraging each other’s unique skills. In the case of the photography we were really gifted by running into Nelson aka StormWolfBE by mere coincidence. His skill and way to stage and capture our restraints “in action” couldn’t fit better to us and cuffed. And it’s not just the result, but also the process which works totally seamlessly.

The starting point of every shooting are – of course – the new products that should play the main role in the pictures and the story that we want to tell. The pictures have to inspire people; they need to tell a story that drives your own fantasies, that lets you want to write your own story with our products. Finding the right location can be sometimes a little bit tricky since especially in Berlin they are quite good in charging you the maximum for hot photo locations… The models are always within our personal orbit so that we know that they fit into the flow of our shooting and also perfectly present our brand beyond the actual shooting. 

The rest is then a simple flow: we brief Nelson on our vision, we discuss and enrich it together – and then he simply gets his camera out, sets his lights together with his partner, directs the models and suddenly you see these unique photos on the preview screen – it’s all so natural and magical!

Therefore, in short: the promotional shootings were never a challenge due to having from the very beginning the right partner. If there’s a challenge, then it’s keeping up with Nelson’s quality level when we do the complementary product detail pictures for the webshop in our playroom…

I’m really glad to hear that. When there’s a natural synergy between a photographer and a brand, it produces great inspiration for both.

You’ve just attended Darklands 2024 and I’ve seen Cuffed out and about at Folsom over the years. What is your favourite part about attending events?

Our daily business is “digital and online”, as the main part of our revenue is generated via our webshop. While we try to bridge the gap via social media interactions and our customer chat, nothing can replace face-to-face interaction with your community like being live and in person at such an event.

The conversations and, even more, the sparkle and joy in their eyes when they feel the restraints and see themselves in the mirror with the massive gear – these are the moments that are more convincing than any revenue chart that shows you are doing the right things. Enabling people to enjoy their kink and sexuality a bit more is just great. These days are exhausting, but worth every effort.

Oh absolutely, I’m usually exhausted after an event. I can’t imagine how tiring it is for you guys. You also engage so well with the LGBTQIA+ community. You’ve supported and donated to many causes such as Queer Amnesty and the Stonewall Community Foundation. What do you view as Cuffed’s responsibilities to the community?

Our values rooted in the fact that we are both gifted in multiple directions:
That we live in countries (we are an Austrian-German couple) where we can be who we are.

That we have both families and friends who do not only accept who and how we are but really support us in every direction. That we had a framework where we could establish and grow the idea of cuffed into a flourishing business.

BUT: we know that not everybody is as lucky as we are. We cannot change the world, but we can contribute so that change takes place. This starts for us within the company: being a good employer is about more than just fair pay. It’s about supporting every single employee in his individuality to benefit from his strength. It’s about creating a work environment where we work as a team and really have a good time together.

Yet, we want to support beyond our direct orbit: helping people in need locally, supporting the LGBTQIA+ community in general and more specifically in regions where they don’t enjoy the same freedom as us but are exposed to pressure and prosecution. There are so many organizations which do important work and really need both support as well as more publicity.

Therefore, don’t expect us to scale back on that: entrepreneurship comes with social responsibility!

I think that’s a really powerful message about the responsibility to take action. I’m looking forward to seeing it continue to grow in scale. You’ve recently given your classic restraints a refresh! Can you tell us anything else you might be planning in 2024?

2024 will be a really interesting and busy year for us… 

Product wise, there are two focus areas. Further rolling out and completing the rubties (former classic restraints) and leathties portfolio and also extending the rubstraints and leathstraints with a completely new range of accessories which unlock completely new bondage possibilities and usages…

But, beyond that, we have two other major projects in the pipeline: relocating our business to our own place to cope with our growth and building the foundations for a new brand…

So while it will be a challenge to get it all done in 2024, be sure that there will be much news from us.

So stay tuned…

I’ll keep an eye out for your newsletters to stay up-to-date. 

We’re almost out of time here, so to finish us off: what is your favourite piece of gear that you’ve made? And what is something that you’d say is a “must buy” from your store?

Our favourite piece is the rubstraints harness one; a massive bull harness with all rubstraints features. First of all: it looks hot on everybody. Whether you’re a bodybuilder, a bear or “just” a normal guy… it perfectly embraces your chest, creates really a signature look with its massive, yet sleek look and feels so intense to wear.

But it’s not just a signature dress piece, it’s also made for play. With all the d-rings it’s meant to be part of your bondage play. The extra rubber slopes on the back are there for purpose: to give you the extra thrust for f… It’s really a product that we are proud of!

On the other side, there’s a small hidden champion in our portfolio: the flexbelts. They’re by nature not as “sexy” as our restraints, but they are such a universal bondage toy, both on their own as well as in combination with our restraints. And of course, we have put the same brain power into them as with our other products: the ultra sturdy buckles, the quick release mechanism for maximum safety during your play, the different connectors allowing you to fit it to your equipment. 

For us, the flexbelts are a real working horse. We use them standalone with our bondage board or for flexible suspension and bondage settings with our restraints. You only know how much you need them after you have used them the first time!

I said it before, but I could tell instantly that Cuffed was fueled by like-minded fetishists who are driven by their love of heavy bondage. Talking with you now has only reinforced this.

Your range of rubstraints will forever leave us drooling; I’m sure that tonight I’ll be dreaming of a gimp in head-to-toe rubber with those heavy restraints, collar and harness locked firmly in place. The visuals alone are enough to make me weak at the knees.

I want to extend my  sincere gratitude to you for taking the time to speak with me today and wish you all the best in your future journey. I know that I’ll be climbing over your other customers for a front row seat!

You can find the full catalogue of Cuffed accessories and restraints over at their webshop, Cuffed Store – the ultimate restraints and be sure to check them out on Instagram too!

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