If sex sells, Maude wouldn’t appear at first glance to know what it’s selling. At a launch party for the new sexual wellness brand last week, an understated affair in Manhattan’s SoHo, cofounders Eva Goicochea and Dina Epstein had a few of Maude’s “quickie” kits lined up on a table: travel-friendly packets that could pass for Jony Ive’s hypothetical take on a Soylent packet–but tucked inside are two condoms and a vial of lubricant.
Maude’s approach is muted by design, with playfully suggestive fruits and millennial pink noticeably absent from its sparse branding and social media aesthetic: The company’s raison d’être is to offer “sex essentials” that are gender-neutral.
At launch, Maude’s wares include two lines of personal lubricant (organic and silicone, in packaging that wouldn’t be out of place next to your Aesop hand soap), natural latex condoms (in buttercup-shaped packaging, so “you know which way is up”), and a waterproof silicone vibrator, chargeable via USB and dubbed the “vibe.” Eventually, Goicochea says, Maude may offer a subscription box, but for now customers can buy one of Maude’s prepackaged kits or create their own.
One of Everlane’s first employees and its former head of social media, culture, and hiring, Goicochea feels there’s an untapped market of people who are less vocal about their sex lives. “I’m 35, and I’ve been married forever,” she says, “but I walk into a [sex toy] store and suddenly I become this Beverly Cleary-reading 13-year-old who’s like, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing here!'” But Goicochea points out that those who feel this way have erotic lives, too. “For us, the opposite of not talking about sex is not screaming about sex from the rooftop,” she explains. “It’s inviting everyone to have a place at the table.” Or as Maude’s website discreetly puts it, “We stand for inclusion for all, no matter your preference (your business, by the way).”
Maude isn’t the only sexual wellness company that’s trying to make sex products less pornographic and male-gaze-y in order to attract women. Brands like Sustain Natural center on women’s sexual health needs, offering “vagina-friendly” tampons and pads alongside condoms and lube. Unbound and Dame both carry women-focused sex toys and lubricant, though their branding skews younger–and louder–than Maude’s. Other companies, from Foria to Joylux to Lorals, target more specific sexual health needs.
But Maude believes sexual wellness companies helmed by women need not be only for women. “It is very much a unisex audience,” Goicochea says of Maude’s target demographic. “There are people who don’t identify one way or the other, and they’re like, ‘Thank you so much for not talking to me [that way]’.”
Maude’s lineup is now available online, and the brand will primarily sell direct to consumers. But select products are also making their way to hotels–which Maude sees as a natural fit. The “vibe” and “quickie” are already available to guests at the Public in Manhattan, and Maude is in talks to distribute in-room products at a number of other hotels, too. “I think there’s this wide-open space for products in this category that feel elevated, and can live in a lot of interesting places,” Goicochea says, “whether it’s the gift shop of MoMA or a hotel.”