From the moment I met Dina, I knew that we were aligned on our love for people and for welcoming all to the table. So when we began carving out the vision for maude, the one non-negotiable was that it had to be an inclusive company. Think about it: Sex is human. So far, the sexual wellness landscape, and the wider world, sells an outdated vision of sex that is not only incredibly gendered but also agist, often sexist, and truly narrow in its interpretation of what sex is and should be. More than just simplicity and quality, our company is so much about changing the culture of sex and for us, it starts with inclusion and really recognizing that everyone wants to comfortable and loved when it comes to sex.
One of the first things we did was create a survey and the overwhelming response (98%) of the 654 respondents—gay, straight, non-conforming, between 18–71—said that existing brands didn’t speak to them.
Some responses to the question “what do you like or dislike about existing brands?":
“Dislike: The prescribed idea of 'sexy' and how it actually doesn't make me feel sexy at all. Purples, pinks, reds, black. The way sex is talked about like a weird secret. I feel like most brands are very gender specific with their words like "trojan", "femme" etc.”
“Most are very heteronormative. As a queer man, I would respond well to and support a company that shows a variety of people. Gays, Lesbians, straights, transgenders. I'm very bored and won't buy products from companies that limit their advertising to just straight couples.”
“Most feel tacky in packaging and branding. Loud or obviously "hey we love sex yea!" It'd be nice to see something that felt more mature while still celebrating sex.”
ON THE PRODUCT.
If our business is to create an inclusive company, then the products have to be designed that way. Part of this inclusion meant creating products that offered options to all people including an organic lubricant and a silicone lubricant.
In the case of the vibrator, we created a shape that has multiple purposes and feels universal, no matter your anatomy. Even when we developed the condoms, we received feedback from women saying they use condoms on their toys, but couldn’t find a brand that markets condoms in a gender-neutral way. And they’re right. It seems really simple, but try to find a sexual wellness company out there that isn’t prescriptive, isn’t gendered, isn’t greenwashing you, or isn’t selling sex to you like you’re in college.
LET’S BE HUMAN ABOUT THIS.
In terms of inclusive communication and also just on the topic of sex, we believed there was an alternative to being hyper-explicit or clinical—two ways of talking that are prevalent in this space. We’re creating a company that approaches our content and our language from a universal perspective of the human experience, while recognizing that we can’t compete with the thousands of sex websites out there nor the myriad resources for health information. Also, let’s be honest: Talking about UTIs does not inspire anyone to want to have sex and health information should come from medical professionals. Similarly, creating another hyper-explicit website does no one any favors (especially when it comes to realistically considering what sex looks like throughout adulthood). Our approach? Find the balance between by focusing on the emotions, culture, history, and science of sex. All things that speak to the subject in a human way.
Part II of our founder series. Read our first post, On Simplicity.