From Taboo to Talked About: Sexual Health as Wellness

Female founders are setting out to modernize the sexual wellness industry.

Among them are Catherine Balsam-Schwaber of Kindra, Beatrice Dixon of The Honey Pot and Éva Goicochea of Maude, who spoke with WWD and Beauty Inc senior editor Allison Collins about their plans to shift products and conversations in the sexual health and wellness space during the Footwear News and Beauty Inc Wellness Forum.

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After dealing with a misdiagnosis during her menopause journey, Balsam-Schwaber founded Kindra, a company that develops products to provide care and support for those experiencing hormonal changes during perimenopause. Balsam-Schwaber partnered with Procter & Gamble and Los Angeles-based venture capital firm M13 to develop the brand, which launched in 2019.

Dixon said she was inspired to start her company The Honey Pot after her grandmother visited her in a dream to tell her the ingredients that would cure the vaginosis infection she had been dealing with for nearly a year. After using the concoction for four days, Dixon’s vaginosis was cured, and she set out to develop more products that cleanse and balance the vagina. The Honey Pot has an expansive line for people of all ages, including cleansers, menstrual and pregnancy care products, tampons and sexual wellness products.

For Goicochea, sexual wellness was the last frontier in the self care industry, so she set out to create a space for it through her gender-inclusive company Maude. Maude provides a design-centered line of modern, sexual wellness and mood-setting essentials, including vibrators, condoms and lubricants.

These three companies and founders all emphasized educating their consumers on sexual and vaginal health. The brands provide educational content for their consumers on their sites. The Honey Pot provides vaginal wellness education in partnership with medical professionals on their blog and social media accounts.

“We make a lot of products that revolve around the vulva and the vagina,” Dixon said. “It’s really important that humans understand how to use those products but also understand why to use those products.”

Maude provides gender-inclusive sex advice and sexual wellness tips on The Maudern. While Kindra is primarily targeted toward women experiencing menopause, their educational material and emphasis on hormonal changes allow them to reach audiences in their late 20s.

For many years, the sexual wellness category has been considered taboo, but as the industry evolves and expands, consumers are looking to retailers to provide sexual wellness products. Dixon noted retailers are getting involved and need to continue to meet the customer where they are.

“Feminine care and sexual wellness have been long ignored….The customer wants choice,” Goicochea said. “It is so literally the last frontier on these aisles and the customer wants better.”

As a final note, the founders discussed how consumers really want all the options when it comes to the sexual wellness landscape, joking about a new product that works as a vibrator and facial massager.

“We should be taking as good care of our vaginas, as we are of our faces,” Balsam-Schwaber said.

“Your vagina is a part of your body and you should just take care and love on your body wholly. It’s all one thing. Don’t think of it as anything separate,” Dixon said.

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