Maude Founder Éva Goicochea Tells Us Why Sexual Pleasure and Health Feel So Good Together
Sex, as they say, is big business. But until recently, health and quality didn’t seem to be of foremost concern to companies making things like lube or condoms. That’s all changed at Maude, a Brooklyn-based company that’s set out to simplify sex, doing away with gendered products and artificial chemicals, to create a healthier, more straight forward approach to sexual expression and wellness. To learn more about Maude, we paid a visit to company co-founder Éva Goicochea at the company’s Williamsburg storefront to talk human sexuality, health, honesty, progress, and yes, even fun!
How’d you make it in New York before founding Maude?
This is actually my second go at living in New York. Back in the early 2000s, I studied advertising and communications at F.I.T. After college, I decided to move back west, did a few years as a legislative aide in healthcare and then spent 8 years in brand strategy and marketing in LA. At some point, my husband, Ian, and I were working on Maude—he was helping in the early days—and we were living in this house we bought in Mount Washington. The neighborhood is beautiful, but it feels like retirement in the mountains: It’s quiet and you can go days without seeing humans, even though it’s 10 minutes from downtown. He was ready for a change, I was ready to fully launch Maude. Shortly after, we sold the house and moved to New York. We haven’t looked back—even when it’s 10°F.
How did you start Maude? And why do you think it’s important for a company like this to exist?
Maude is very much a convergence of my time spent in healthcare and my experiences at startups like Everlane. After leaving in 2013, I wanted to work for a mission-driven company that was in the health/wellness space, but I couldn’t find one I was ready to dive into. Sexual wellness has been monopolized for so many years by the same tired brands. After much research and thought, I knew that it was time to build a new kind of company in the space. The sexual wellness industry—how it’s been shaped, its history—not only affects our everyday health, but also our culture and perceptions of self. Meaning, if a company like Maude doesn’t exist, we will continue to have a fundamentally outdated relationship with sex that permeates everything we do. It’s time for a change and to create the new standard.
Why is sexual wellness important to you and how did that influence Maude?
Sex is human and it is a part of our everyday, but if you look at the typical consumer experience around sexual health, either in a drug store or sex shop, it’s the last frontier in personal care: It’s poorly marketed and designed, over-assorted and either taboo or clinical, pink or purple, hyper-aggressive or highly gendered. I just wanted to cut out the BS and finally create a modern, inclusive, smart sexual wellness company that makes body-safe products without selling the stereotypes of “sex”. Consumers are smart and we deserve a better company, especially for the most intimate part of our lives. Plus, as someone over 30, I felt aged out of the demographic for these companies and I was hearing the same thing from others.
Sex is still taboo to many. How does the careful design of Maude products help contribute to normalizing sexuality?
In the spirit of simplicity, inclusivity, and quality, we wanted everything to be made in the best factories we could find and wanted the outer packaging to be pared-down, gender neutral, but still with a sense of humor, hence the symbols. As far as ease-of-use, the condoms are in buttercup packaging which is easy to open, the lube is in a pump, and the vibe is three speeds, ergonomic, and USB-charged. It’s about making the experience better. It’s about humans. Why have companies overlooked these things for so long?
Eva, did being a Latinx company founder bring any unique challenges?
To be honest, I’ve always been racially ambiguous and have an equally hard to pinpoint my last name so I don’t feel like I faced particular challenges related to being Latinx—but being a woman taking on the old boy giants in the condom world isn’t the easiest task. That said, I do bring a diversity of experience and background to inform what a “modern” consumer company should look like: I’m from a state that’s 48th in condom usage, New Mexico, raised on the liberal coast of Northern California, with ties to Detroit.
What’s Maude’s mission? Is normalizing sex as healthy and important a goal for the company?
The current landscape is based on an ideology that treats sex as a novelty or worse, a taboo. Maude’s mission is to change sex for all people and to become the new standard in the industry because yes, sex is important and a healthy part of life. We are creating products and take a wellness approach to makes people feel comfortable about sex so they can integrate it into their daily lives through both our product and the conversations we have as a company.
One of the great things about Maude is that it’s inclusive, telling stories about LGBT sex and POC, not just straight, white people. What led you to want to share these more diverse stories?
In this market, you have the big brands like Trojan, who speak to men, and smaller brands who are newer, that are focused on women. There’s no brand that’s truly inclusive and given that sex is human, it’s absolutely important to tell broader stories. It’s both fascinating and informative to realize that we have so many shared experiences, no matter your gender, race, or preference.
Maude’s audience seems to be millennials. Do you think Maude’s been able to help educate this demographic so far?
We’re not just for millennials. When we say inclusion, we mean all adults and actually believe our wide audience has shared values: They care about form and function, and want to be able to stand behind the brands they invest in. They’re smart, curious, and care.
Does Maude have any exciting new products coming out?