Sephora is officially giving the sexual wellness category its seal of approval by launching two brands, Maude and Dame, on its e-commerce site on February 1.
Products include vibrators, of course, but also massage candles, bath products and lubricants. Sephora will merchandise them under a new “Intimate Care” section within its bath and body category. Sephora’s approach is different from other retailers in the sexual wellness space, as it’s starting with only two brands but selling almost every product they make, totaling more than 30 items. Sephora often tests new brands and products online before moving them to physical stores. Sephora declined to comment for this story but offered the statement, “Sephora’s Intimate Care brands will encompass sexual wellness, feminine hygiene, hormonal care and more, and they were selected with inclusivity and accessibility as our top priority.”
Maude’s sales are 75% DTC, according to Éva Goicochea, Maude founder and CEO. It sells in retailers including Bloomingdale’s, Free People and Nordstrom, among others. As for Dame, per WWD, it grew its sales by 100% between 2020 and 2021, and raised a $4 million seed round in Feb. 2021. It sells in Bloomingdale’s, Revolve and Nordstorm.
“Sephora is going to set an even bigger tone for sexual wellness to be perceived as a part of personal care,” said Goicochea. “[Intimacy products] have always been a very commoditized, almost transactional category. Or they’re uncomfortable to buy.”
Retailers have been busy honing their wellness strategies: Saks Fifth Avenue’s revamped its online wellness shop in January, and Bergdorf Goodman unveiled wellness verticals in its men’s and women’s stores in July 2021 and Nov. 2021, respectively. Sexual wellness as we know it today first began to emerge around 2018, with smaller retailers like Violet Grey and Free People as first-movers.
Goicochea said that Maude and Sephora first connected at the beginning of 2021, and that launching with the retailers has been a fast-moving process, from her perspective. She said the Sephora team was enthusiastic about both the brand and the category and did not have extensive feedback, citing their existing satisfaction.
“They’re looking to us to lead the way and then to carve out the category. So there’s a lot of hope and expectation, and we’re very excited to step up [to the challenge],” said Goicochea.
This was a similar experience for Dame, which initially met with the Sephora team approximately five years ago. At the time, the Sephora team said it was not a matter of whether Sephora would sell sexual wellness products, but when, said Alexandra Fine, Dame co-founder and CEO.
Maude and Dame are working closely with the Sephora marketing and e-commerce teams to promote the expansion at launch. Maude has tapped the retailer’s influencer group Sephora Squad and will host IG Lives, cross-posting the content across social accounts. Fine noted that advertising is still a significant issue for sexual wellness brands, with red tape surrounding the content that can be included in Instagram, Google and Facebook ads, in particular. Dame will also focus on influencers, plus it will do media outreach and inform its customer base of the new partnership through emails and its social accounts.
“Being in Sephora as a part of their community is such a [milestone] in letting me know that we’re changing the way the [sexual] category is understood,” said Fine.