Sex Taboos and the Origins of Condoms – Interview with Eva Goicochea

Eva Goicochea and beauty products

Maude was founded by Éva Goicochea in April 2018 after successful careers in healthcare legislation and brand strategy.  As a brand built on quality, simplicity and inclusivity, maude stands out as the only modern intimacy company that is focused on sexual wellness for all people.  To-date, the company has raised $4.3M in funding and Goicochea is one of only 60 Latinx women to raise over $1 million in Venture Capital. 

In just two short years, after launching with just four sex essentials—maude expanded to bath and body products, taking intimacy outside of the bedroom. This expansion continues to emphasize maude’s mission to support self- and partner- care as it relates to intimacy and sex. 

Interview with Eva Goicochea 

Tell us your story. What inspired you to create Maude? 

Having been interested in public health (I was a legislative aide in healthcare early in my career) and coming from a product background as a brand and social media strategist later on for mission-driven companies like Everlane, I always aspired to create a consumer goods company that solved for everyday wellness specifically in sexual health because ultimately, I believe that it’s the foundation for how we feel about ourselves and others. If you look at the typical consumer experience around sexual health, it’s the last frontier in personal care. Realizing that the industry was outdated and with no sign of it changing, I decided to create Maude. Maude is a brand for all people. Maude is modern intimacy.

Who is Maude’s customer?

We always think of our consumer as somebody who really values form and function when it comes to the product itself and really wants to know what the brand story is and who’s behind the brand, whether that means where the materials come from, the humans behind the brand or the ethos. Our audience is smart, curious and really want something that’s beautiful that works.

What type of products do you sell and what is important to you and your audience when creating new products? 

We started with the essentials—our goal to was sell them in one place and take the stigma and gendered-approach out of buying them. We developed and formulated the products making sure they were body-safe and FDA-approved, created accessible pricing, and ensured our offerings were inclusive to our diverse audience. We then expanded to bath and body products, taking intimacy outside of the bedroom. This expansion continues to emphasize our mission to support self- and partner- care as it relates to intimacy and sex. Additionally, we continue to grow our blog as an expansive platform to give our customers thoughtful and informative content on intimacy.

What’s Maude’s formulation criteria? 

Each product is formulated with body-safe ingredients. For example, our vibe is made from a platinum-grade silicone which is a non-toxic type of silicone that doesn’t contain any chemical fillers or byproducts. Our shine organic is 100% natural, organic, pH balanced, and aloe-based—best for supplementing your natural moisture. Our all-over body and massage oil is certified organic and uses just four ingredients. In the sexual wellness space and the wellness industry in general, it is important to understand what materials and ingredients you are putting in and around your body.

What are some common sex taboos and misconceptions? 

From sex expos to seedy shops, the “family planning” aisle to porn, the industry could not be further from the basic human side of this totally universal act—not to mention that it has been misogynistic, narrow-minded, and totally lacking inclusivity for too long. 

What effects can these taboos have on individuals and why is it important to destigmatize them? 

Because of how the industry has spoken to them, people are uncomfortable with sex. So firstly, know you’re not alone in feeling that way. But that’s why we’re here: To make our customers feel like they can think about their sexuality very much like they think about the rest of their health and wellness—free from shame, free from dumbed-down marketing, and with an experience that is not explicit or invasive. Hopefully, Maude helps these people feel less uncomfortable.

What are some of the insights, comments or feedback you receive from your customers? 

On the customer side, we didn’t face stigma. Before even launching the company, our surveys showed that people were asking for a brand that normalized and modernized sex through inclusivity (both in age and gender) and so when we launched, we resonated quickly. Since then, the feedback has been amazing: Customers have told us that Maude has helped them have more open conversations with their partners, talk to their teenagers about sex ed, or make them feel more comfortable with themselves.

Should talking about sexuality be normalized and if so, how can it change society’s view on sex?

There are two ways to ensure that sexual health and wellness become a part of broader discussions, both as a company or as an individual: Leading the way by taking a de-stigmatized, healthy, and human approach, and actively participating on the policy level by either lobbying directly or through participation hand-in-hand with an advocacy organization. As a company, we support Peer Health Exchange, a national organization that provides skills-based mental health, sexual health, and substance abuse education programs in communities that experience health disparities. Behind the scenes, I sit on the board to do what I can to ensure that access to basic sex education is prioritized while continuing to build Maude to reframe the perspective of sex and intimacy.

At HU we believe it is important to talk about STDs and birth control. What is the correlation with the origin of condoms and how have they changed throughout history?THE ORIGIN OF CONDOMS

The marketing of condoms has never been consistent and so consumers’ relationships to condoms are very skewed. In the early 20th century it was tied to the spread of disease amongst soldiers, then tied to pleasure, then family planning, then in the 80s and 90s during AIDs epidemic. In the 2000s there was a push back towards pleasure with Trojan branding towards women but the severe jumps have created a gap in education.

Then came Maude. The name Maude literally means strength in battle, and the design is a nod to history. In the early 1900s, condom packaging was beautiful with interesting names (including a brand called Three Merry Widows, i.e. Agnes, Beckie, and Mabel) so as to fly under the radar of the Comstock Laws which banned all things obscene. We felt like our packaging should also be beautiful not to be hidden, but to actually align with what sex should be: shame-free. 

Where do you hope to see the conversation about sexual wellness progressing in the future, and how is Maude contributing to that culture?

Sex is an important part of everyday health for all people, but the current industry is fractured, approaching sex as either something clinical or taboo with both male-focused incumbents and newer, female-focused brands speaking to a younger demographic.

Our take, however, is that sex is human and few brands have inclusively spoken to people. Maude is a modern intimacy company for all people and we believe sexual wellness should be approached like any part of wellness: The products should be safe, easy-to-use, and delivered in a friendly way making the customer feel comfortable and empowered. By elevating the design and marketing in an inclusive, healthy way, we hope to continue to help destigmatize sex and foster the next chapter in the industry so that sexual wellness can easily be understood as a part of overall wellness.


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