While you need to purchase intercourse toys, the place do you often go to? Seedy intercourse toy outlets within the hidden alleys of Geylang? Or on-line intercourse shops with an array of complicated merchandise with costly worth tags that make you hesitant to buy earlier than making an attempt?
Noting these issues, Peder Wikstrom and Mattias Hulting from Sweden purpose to interrupt the taboo and stigma surrounding feminine sexuality merchandise.
Prior to now, when Mattias tried to purchase a vibrator for his then-girlfriend (now spouse), he realised that the shopping for expertise was very uncomfortable, intimidating and shameful. Even in Europe, feminine intercourse toys weren’t bought in mainstream shops.
The 2 of them noticed this hole and wished to normalise the expertise of shopping for intercourse toys in a approach that’s simple, spontaneous, and extra accessible for everybody. Asian market grew to become their preliminary focus as a result of they felt that there’s much less competitors on this sector.
They went on to boost funding of US$4.4 million from angel traders in addition to enterprise capitals akin to DSG Shopper Companions and Nouvago Capital to ultimately launch a intercourse toy model referred to as Smile Makers.
Making the perfect intercourse toys on the earth
Their mission is singularly clear: to normalise feminine sexuality and create the perfect intercourse toys on the earth.
Since neither of them had any design or engineering background, they carried out focus teams and market analysis, working along with a robust product improvement staff, in addition to sexologist and gynaecologist specialists to provide you with their merchandise.
They iterated their prototype, getting a number of trials and suggestions to good the form and design. They included tales and personalities for every of their intercourse toy, impressed by widespread western and japanese feminine erotic fantasy.
After perfecting user-friendly, cute and interesting vibrators at an inexpensive worth level of S$70, they purposely focused mainstream retail shops to promote their merchandise.
They averted shops that specialises in sex-related merchandise, and approached pharmacies, grocery shops, vogue and beauty shops, in addition to department shops.
Conquering mainstream retail shops
Launched in Singapore in 2013, the largest problem Smile Makers needed to face of their early days was penetrating retail mainstream. Their method was new and unprecedented, which made it tough to persuade shoppers and companions to leap onboard.
They saved getting rejections from mainstream retailers that felt that their merchandise didn’t align with their enterprise picture. As much as 2015, they nonetheless confronted difficulties in partnering with mainstream manufacturers.
Their breakthrough got here from Watsons that lastly supported their model mission to normalise feminine sexuality — it was the primary model that got here onboard.
Regardless of receiving optimistic critiques from happy and curious clients, limitations nonetheless existed. Initially, the merchandise weren’t allowed to be showcased on the packaging, and there have been limitation in utilization tips featured inside.
Right this moment, Smile Makers has grown to develop into a world model with presence in 4,000 retail shops throughout greater than 25 markets, together with Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia, Taiwan, Mongolia, South Africa and america.
They are often present in shops akin to pharmacies Watsons and Guardian, division retailer Isetan, in addition to vogue retailer Cotton On.
They’re additionally selling intercourse training
In addition to persistent and relentless requests to mainstream shops, Smile Makers had been additionally pushing for common intercourse training.
They’ve labored carefully with governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to launch intercourse training campaigns and push for legalisation in conservative international locations, as a result of they hope to teach folks on the significance of feminine pleasure for general wellness.
They launched Vulva Talks program, which is a pleasure-positive intercourse training program developed by Smile Makers with sexologists to reply questions on intercourse and all issues vulva. They consider that in addition to creating top-notch intercourse toys, it will be important for girls to grasp their our bodies with the intention to expertise sexual satisfaction.
In conservative markets akin to Malaysia, they partnered with NGOs like Federation of Reproductive Well being Affiliation, Malaysia (FRHAM) to launch sexual training campaigns. FRHAM is the main service-based non-profit NGO in Malaysia advocating and selling Sexual and Reproductive Well being (SRH), together with household planning, and reproductive rights of ladies, males, and younger folks.
Slowly however certainly, all their efforts and dedication began to bear fruits.
With the rise of the female technology (femtech) industry in 2016 and the viral unfold of the #metoo motion in 2017, empowering girls’s declare of their sexuality has develop into extra mainstream. Magnificence and vogue manufacturers additionally began to push for girls wellness and physique positivity messages, together with prioritising sexual wellness.
In late 2018, many mainstream media began to characteristic them and retailers lastly began saying ‘sure’ to them.
In reality, the demand for his or her merchandise has modified dramatically over the past couple of years. They’ve witnessed a excessive demand within the mainstream market, and their revenue increased 123 per cent from 2019 to 2020 within the US alone.
In October 2020, they carried out a suggestions survey amongst their clients — gathering knowledge from 7,000 girls throughout seven markets — and located that greater than half (56 per cent) favor to purchase vibrators from mainstream retail, whereas 63 per cent favor to purchase from magnificence shops.
It is a testomony that their push in the direction of mainstream retail was the suitable transfer all alongside.
Finish purpose is to legalise the intercourse toys business
Smile Makers always enhance on their product design and branding to make them extra accessible, relatable and simple to make use of for final feminine satisfaction.
They’re set to relaunch its unique assortment of revolutionary vibrators, with a variety of upgraded designs pushed by person suggestions.
Smile Makers elevated the general product weight by 150 per cent for a extra highly effective vibration and heightened sensation. They’ve embedded the most recent and finest expertise obtainable to ship stronger but smoother vibrations, while the rise in measurement makes the merchandise extra comfy to carry and permits for exact use.
Commenting on the product design, Cécile Gasnault, model director at Smile Makers said that clients love the approachability of their designs, in order that they intend to maintain that.
“Though we’ve elevated the ability of the motors and the scale of the merchandise, we’ve got saved the approachable proportions and appears to cater to an viewers of first-timers, simply as initially meant,” added Ariel Chen, Asia Model Supervisor at Smile Makers.
They developed easy, ergonomic designs with cute pastel color palette which are very interesting. They branded and personalised every product with erotic fantasy personas – like The Firefighter (previously the Fireman), The Billionaire (previously The Millionaire), The Tennis Pro, and The French Lover.
The brand new packaging options body-positive art work, whereas the product names have been up to date to hip, entertaining, and related descriptors.
In an interview with Vulcan Submit, Ariel stated that transferring ahead, Smile Makers remains to be dedicated to pursue their unique mission of normalising the notion of feminine sexuality all around the world.
Their final purpose is that Smile Makers can develop into ubiquitous, and their sexual training campaigns would assist normalise notion and push for business legalisation worldwide.
They need to attain as many international locations as doable, even in international locations the place intercourse toys business is made unlawful, akin to Arabic international locations, Thailand and Vietnam.
Featured Picture Credit score: Smile Makers