Eva Goicochea and Dina Epstein want to encourage a happy and healthy sex life for all people. This has been their mission since they started their company maude, and in order to achieve it, they pursue a strategy that could be described as concentrating on the essentials. At the beginning of April, maude debuted several products with elegant, minimalistic design that perfectly encapsulate the brand’s philosophy. EAN interviewed Eva and Dina to learn about the products and why they feel that their approach is the way to go.
Maude will offer a range of sex essential products, like lubes, a vibrator, and condoms. What will make these products stand out on the market? Dina Epstein: Sex is a human experience. When we speak to our consumer, it’s in a human way. Our symbols are universal, our colour palette is muted, and our products are all easy-to-use: Our condoms are in buttercup packaging which means you know which way is up, the lube is in a pump bottle, and our vibe is ergonomic and only three speeds. If we successfully break down the discomfort of buying and owning these products by creating human-focused design, then we’ve done our job.
How would you describe the philosophy behind maude? Eva Goicochea: We created this company to simplify sex—how you buy the products, how they are designed, and how they’re marketed and spoken about. Our mission is “to create modern essentials that encourage a happy and healthy sex life for all people.”
While this seems easy and nice, when you really think about it, sex has been so taboo, so gendered, so complicated, that it isn’t tied to everyday wellness or happiness. Yet, it’s an everyday (and can be every day) human experience. As a company, we’re thoughtfully saying, enough. Let’s simplify this space for all people.
Could you tell us a bit about your background and how you came up with the idea of creating maude? Eva: My background is in marketing and brand strategy over the past 10 years, but I was a legislative aide in healthcare in my twenties. I was one of the first employees at Everlane, working as head of social media and culture. I then co-founded my own watch company, Tinker Watches. Maude was created from my love for product and public health after realizing how much this space needed to be evolved.
Dina: I studied industrial design at RISD and then worked in the industry at Kiki De Montparnasse and Doc Johnson, so I was familiar with sex products and given that the idea for maude is to improve upon the current over assortment on the market and how it is presented to us it was an easy choice to start maude.
What can you tell us about the products that were launched in the first week of April? Dina: We have four products: a 10 pack of “rise” condoms (ultra-thin latex), “vibe” (a body-safe silicone vibrator), and two “shine” lubricants, one silicone and one organic aloe-based. Our focus is both on quality and inclusivity so, as an example, instead of just making an organic lube, we also made a silicone version to include those that prefer or need it.
Your tagline is ”sex made simple“. Do you consider this a countermovement to the thousands of similar products we see on the market today? Has the adult industry become too complicated for the consumer? Dina: From our perspective, this industry is evolving too slowly. It essentially is ground zero for an outdated culture of sex, not to mention is just so over-assorted and complicated, that most mainstream consumers don’t connect with these brands. It’s incredibly frustrating that the market doesn’t reflect a modern, intelligent customer who want to integrate sex into their regular lives.
With a clean, non-gendered design, maude seems to aim not only at the adult retail market, but could also be suited for mainstream outlets. Will that be part of your marketing strategy? Eva: Maude is an essentials company and we create products that are for every day in how they are designed, purchased, and used. We don’t plan on becoming a toy-focused company or a retailer of other brands and will always provide a simplified assortment that eventually can sit on a big box shelf. Because of this, our marketing and messaging is aimed at a wider audience and to-date, we’ve already seen traction and interest from a cross-section of consumers.
You were able to secure over half a million dollars in venture capital. A lot of start-ups in the adult industry complain that it is hard to get the funding they need due to the nature of their products. Could you tell a bit about your experiences in that regard? Eva: Given our experiences in being on teams that built successful consumer brands and our friendly approach to sex, we actually found VCs and investors to be receptive and interested in Maude. In fact, a lot of them came back and said that they were able to have conversations about it whereas with other companies, they still felt hesitant to broach the subject. It took 7 months, but we have a cap table that includes four institutional investors and a lot of other startup founders.
When will consumers and retailers in Europe be able to buy maude products? Dina: We are very excited to launch in Europe and currently working on the required EU standards for our line. Our hope is that the EU will get our products by 2019.
Can you tell us about your plans for the future? Are you already planning to extend your portfolio? Dina: We plan to expand the line later this year with travel friendly options and are looking ahead to expand our SKUs to include wellness goods.