Sexual wellness brand Dame has made its first acquisition.
On Wednesday, 10-year-old Dame announced the acquisition of fellow sex toy brand Emojibator, which launched in 2018. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Joe Vela, the founder of Emojibator, will remain involved, transitioning into a role within Dame as director of sales. With the acquisition, backend operational efficiency will be the biggest change for the two brands; they’ll benefit by sharing their warehousing and manufacturing partners and consolidating their supply chains. The two brands will continue to have separate e-commerce websites.
In 2022, Dame raised a $7 million Series A, bringing its total funding to $13 million. Alexandra Fine, founder and CEO of Dame, shared at that time that Dame had doubled its wholesale business each year between 2020-2022, to make up 20% of business sales. According to Dame, approximately 20% of its consumers hear about the brand through its retail partners, which include Sephora and Target. Fine and Vela shared that 6-year-old Emojibator is profitable, while Dame is “break-even,” though they declined to elaborate. Emojibator retail partners include Urban Outfitters. The sexual wellness category is expected to grow to $81.4 billion by 2028, up from $51.9 billion in 2021, according to a September 2022 report from market research firm The Insight Partners.
“We’ve always tried to be sex- and body-positive and inviting to all genders, and we did that through a humorous lens,” said Vela.
According to Vela, Emojibator partially started as a joke when he was inspired to make a vibrator in the form of an eggplant, as the vegetable is a phallic euphemism within emoji language. The product saw viral success, and the brand evolved into focusing on humorous fruit and vegetable designs for sex products to infuse humor and positivity into sex. The company also took on an activism role by tackling sexual trauma and sending 1,000 vibrators to protest Texas’s anti-abortion bill. Dame notably sued the New York City MTA in 2019, alleging discriminatory advertising practices. The MTA had rejected the company’s sex toy ads while permitting similarly suggestive ads for male-focused sexual products, like those for erectile dysfunction. After settling with the transit authority, the company could finally display its ads in 2021.
“Sex is supposed to be fun, and Dame does honor the humor and the fun of it. But we are doing it in a way that leads with function and legitimacy and a bit more seriousness,” said Fine. “Leading with humor is the most powerful way of dismantling people’s discomfort with the category. Emojibator will give us the opportunity to lean into a different aspect of pleasure and reach a different customer base” of younger consumers.
In addition to attracting new customers, Dame is focused on strengthening its mass retail presence and expanding to sexual health. Dame launched STI kits in January.