Let’s Talk

Thank you, you're submission has been received.

There was a problem submitting your request.

What are your primary business content and marketing goals?

Tell us more

Let’s Collaborate

Customer Acquisition Through Content Creation

Play episode
Subscribe to get Up Next in Commerce episodes and our weekly newsletter straight to your inbox.

Or listen in your favorite podcast app

Apple Podcasts  /  Google Podcasts Spotify

Let’s be real, talking about sex makes people uncomfortable. But it shouldn’t! And that’s one of the driving principles behind Maude, a modern sexual wellness brand that is disrupting a taboo industry and making sexual health more a part of the overall health and wellness conversation.

On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I chatted with the founder of Maude, Éva Goicochea about how she built her company with a combination of excellent content, a growing and vibrant community, and a go-to-market strategy with patience and empathy top-of-mind. Éva also gave us some insight into the lessons she’s learned from bringing Maude into the retail market, and how she goes about assessing customer acquisition and community engagement. Enjoy this episode!

Main Takeaways:

  • Getting To Market: Ideate quickly, go to market strategically. Get to know who your customers are, what they want, and what problems they need solved before pushing a product to market. Not only do you need to take into account what your customers want, but you also need to consider the associated logistics and cost that product will have to your business. You have to decide if your company is the one that should be creating it and whether the market size is big enough to jump through whatever hoops there are to actually bring that product to life.
  • Content is King: Obviously, businesses want to sell goods on their websites. But it may actually be a better strategy to build a site that is less transactional and more content-driven and educational. In doing so, you can attract a casual audience, who are more likely to turn into buyers when they are already on your site.
  • Bidding Wars: When wholesaling or working with retailers, a unique problem arises if those retailers try to outbid your brand for keywords and search terms in order to win more customers. Whether or not to fight to win those bidding wars comes down to assessing the value of the customer acquisition method. Is the customer more valuable as a native buyer or do you get the same or more value by having your wholesale partner see success selling your product?

For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.

Key Quotes:

“We had the blog and… the idea was can you build a world around the product? Because we knew we weren’t going to have many products — we didn’t want to be an over-sorted brand. And people were reading [the blog] — they just kept consuming it and then we started to get feedback, and then that turned into seeing what was working and what wasn’t….We get more traffic on the maudern [blog] than we do on the product side of the site to be quite honest with you. That’s probably because we produce so much content, but it’s been great. I think it really positions the brand in the right way, and we’re showing content that we want to see in the world.”

“I threw up this website in 2015 for maude even though we weren’t anywhere close to being ready to go to market. We started getting inquiries about press, so I knew then that it was a topic people were going to want to talk about. Cut to 2017, we actually had a real landing page, and we got our first piece of press and we used basically our renderings of our products — but that was an important piece in getting maude off the ground because the brand awareness happened so far in advance of launching that by the time it got there, we had built-in community. We had captured those emails, and people were excited and ready. I think that that’s a really interesting approach for people to take.”

“We don’t just take products to market quickly. We definitely work with our customer. We survey them and ask them questions and look at feedback, and then we also look at really what’s happening in the market. Are there products that we can make in a better way? Are there problems we should be solving with our brand? It’s this collaborative process with the team to look in this 360 view and say what’s really happening, and should Maude even be making it?”

“We try to be very kind and empathetic about making the customer feel comfortable.”

“The kinds of things that we’re working on is really sticking to the script for the brand, because we see a lot of crossover audience that comes to us via Instagram, and then finds us out in the world in retail. Whereas I’ve definitely worked in brands that try to cater to each retail audience, and they test a lot. We try to just really be very distinctively on brand all the time so that people remember us. I think when you’re really a new brand or a younger brand, it’s important for you to be memorable and top of mind.”

“There are really two types of companies. One is product, and one is mission-based companies… Our company is a mission-based company, which means you can’t expedite the process of growing community and brand equity. I think that that’s what makes Maude really ahead of other brands that are trying to do it. It’s like they’ll have to build their own communities and their own look and feel, and customers will either get it or resonate with it or not.”

“[The future of ecommerce is] content. It’s building out a site that is less transactional and it’s more about building a memorable brand, because I don’t know about you, but I track brands. I’m like, ‘There are so many brands coming out. If I can’t see a deeper story, or if I can’t connect with something that I’m going to remember, it’s just really hard for me to think about them.’”

Mentions:

Bio:

“After studying marketing in New York, Éva returned to California and spent her early career as a legislative aide in healthcare at the California Medical Association. She then went on to work in ecommerce and brand strategy with companies including The Natural Resources Defense Council, ADIDAS Y-3 and SLVR, Squarespace, Steven Alan and Josie Maran Cosmetics, an organic beauty brand. 

In 2012, she joined the early team at Everlane where she solely built out their social media, culture and talent strategies. In 2015, she co-founded her first company, Tinker Watches, with her husband, Ian, and designer Luke Ragno.  

That same year, she converged her passion for healthcare and brand to begin the development for maude, a modern sexual wellness company built to challenge a legacy industry and serve the customer through quality, simplicity, and inclusivity. 

Since its launch in April 2018, maude has been featured in Vogue, The New York Times, Fast Company, and some other 600+ publications. In July of 2019, maude was one of CircleUp’s 25, an “annual award recognizing some of the most innovative consumer brands on the market” and has been heralded as “redefining the sex essentials industry for modern consumers” by Forbes.

As of August 2020, Éva has raised over $4 million in VC funding and is one of only 60 LatinX women to have raised over $1M. In 2020, she joined the board of Peer Health Exchange (NYC), a national organization that provides a skills- based mental health, sexual health and substance abuse education program in communities that experience health disparities. 

In 2019, she was chosen as one of Entrepreneur magazine’s first-ever 100 Powerful Women, WWD called her one of 2020’s 60 Power Players in Health and Wellness, and in 2021, she was selected as one of Forbes Next 1000.

With degrees in Organizational Communications and Advertising & Marketing from CSUS and FIT, Eva continued her education as part of the pioneer class of Entrepreneurial Essentials at Harvard Business School in 2017. 

A 6th generation New Mexican, she currently lives in New York City with her husband and rescued pets.” 

Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we’re ready for what’s next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce

Transcript:

Stephanie:

Hey, everyone, and welcome back to Up Next in Commerce. This is your host Stephanie Postles, CEO at mission.org. Today on the show, we have Eva Goicochea, the CEO and founder of maude.

Éva:

Hey, it’s nice to be here.

Stephanie:

I’m excited to have you on. I feel like this is gonna be a very intimate fun conversation, the first of its kind, no puns intended. I would love that before we dive into maude and what it is, I always like to start with the beginning stories. Tell me a bit about what you did before founding maude.

Éva:

I’m going to try to tell the short version because I think it all connects.

Stephanie:

Perfect.

Éva:

I studied advertising in New York in the early 2000s, very analog time. I went back to California, became a legislative aide in healthcare, and then moved to LA and went back into marketing, and worked with a lot of brands, but then I was one of the early employees at Everlane. I think that those two experiences really shaped how I got to maude, and so I started working on maude in 2015 after leaving Everlane in 2013, and here we are.

Stephanie:

Awesome. What did the early days of maude feel like? Where did the inspiration come from? What is maude? Tell me about how the early days were back then.

Éva:

Maude was born out of this conversation I had with some friends of mine, who were also founders in a business with me called Tinker Watches. We started talking about sexual wellness and like, “What is the industry that has just never been changed?” This is one of them at least for the modern consumer. It’s changed many times, but I think to the modern consumer. I was like, “This is the idea I’ve been waiting for between the healthcare background and what I thought I would pursue, which was a master’s in public health and consumer brands. This is what I want to work on.”

Éva:

Everyone’s like… I can’t tell my grandma that I sell condoms. I’m like, “I’m going to do this,” and so I started working on it. The early days were very similar to COVID for most people, which was heads down at my house working on this idea, not ever feeling super connected to the outside world, and then here we are many years later. It’s something that’s just grown a lot.

Stephanie:

That’s amazing. What kind of products do you offer now?

Éva:

We launched in 2018. We had condoms, lubricants, a vibe. Then later on that year, we had a massage candle. Now, the business is about 75% sex essentials, and 25% back and body products which are meant to be used with a partner or alone. That’s the profile of the business now, but we launched with these four products saying, “Customers should be able to go to one place and find them,” and that really resonated.

Stephanie:

That’s amazing. I mean, how do you even view the landscape now? Has it changed since you’ve got into it, or is it till the same? What does that look like now?

Éva:

So much. I mean, on one hand, you see copycat brands, and that’s always a little frustrating. But at the same time, I think it’s indicative of what is happening in the space. I think it’s indicative of what’s happening in the space, which is that people are starting to ask for sexual wellness to be considered a part of personal care and reframe that way. They want to see products positioned in that way so that they can shop with the same comfort you can when you’re dealing with something like beauty. That’s what you’re seeing.

Éva:

We’re a brand that fits right there, because we have these products that are bath and body and then also sex. It’s really interesting. I think you’re going to start to see the products. I mean, I know you are because I know where we’re going in terms of retail, but you’re going to start to see the products in places that maybe you wouldn’t expect.

Stephanie:

I mean, I’m thinking about even a couple years ago, it’s like if you’re going to get something, you’re going to the back aisles of a CVS, and you’re like, “Is anyone looking?” Ka pow. Grab it real quick, run, and check out. They’ll look away while they’re paying for it. There is this stigma around any items in the sexual wellness industry, but I like how you guys are changing that, especially around your content for the company.

Éva:

Thank you.

Stephanie:

You have these amazing products, and you have… It’s nice because you don’t have a ton of products. You can either have this, this, this, which I think is important especially in the early days of changing this industry. But how do you approach it from a content perspective that brings in new people like I was just describing who maybe would be like, “Well, I’m not going to buy this stuff online?”

Éva:

I think it was… It was really this choice that we made early on. We had the blog, which is called The Modern from day one. The idea was can you build a world around the product, because we knew we weren’t going to have many products. We didn’t want to be an over sorted brand, and people were reading it. They just kept consuming it. Then we started to get feedback, and then that turned into seeing what was working and what wasn’t. Now, it’s been built out into these three verticals. One’s called the essentials, which is for an 18 to 25-year-old audience. The modernist is 25 to 45, and then the golden is 45 and up.

Éva:

It’s grown so much. I think we get more traffic on the modern on the product side of the site to be quite honest with you. That’s probably because we produce so much content, but it’s been great. I think it really positions the brand in the right way, and we’re showing content that we want to see in the world.

Stephanie:

How do you create content that resonates with people? How do you approach that and get in front of new people and know what’s going to attract them to the blog to then eventually, hopefully, sell some of your products?

Éva:

I think, obviously, there’s a bit of a science, right? You’re looking at the search. What’s happening in search, and what are people looking for? But then there’s also, I guess, the pattern of behavior around what they’ve been looking at for the past three years, and what really resonates there and then asking them. That’s where the art comes in, because you’re really trying to be as empathetic as possible, and as you start to really decide and see who your audience is, then you think about all the things that they need. We try to think of it with both lenses, which I think is the only way to create content.

Stephanie:

What are your top performing content? What articles you got going on, where you’re like, “These bring in the most traffic, or people really love this article?”

Éva:

It’s funny, because for a very long time, it was sex in the wild west, which was one of our-

Stephanie:

The what? Like Oregon trail type of sex?

Éva:

Yes. It was sex in the wild west. I mean, it was the shortest piece of content ever, because when we first started, it was more like a Tumblr than it was a full blog. For a long time, that was one of the biggest traffic drivers. It was so funny.

Stephanie:

People are searching for that? I won’t even know the keywords to type in to even think like, “What did they do back there?”

Éva:

I know. I don’t know if it’s because there’s not many resources for this we were just getting, and it was making it easier for it to float to the top of the search. I’m not sure, but that works really well. We don’t dig into it too much, but astrology and sex works really well. There are all of these funny topics where I think people are thinking. It’s just these… I would say they’re more cultural moments than they are just the WebMD version of content that resonates with our customer.

Stephanie:

That’s pretty fun hearing about the kind of content that works. Now with COVID and everything, what have you seen with this market? I’m guessing, like we mentioned before, that you’ve had a crazy demand. People are all at home trying to have fun. What new trends are you seeing pop up this past year or two that maybe you weren’t seeing before that?

Éva:

I definitely think that one of the biggest trends that we’ve seen which makes complete sense is when people are on the site. We used to see it more when it was a nine to five world at night on the weekends, and we still see that, but there is more of a consistent traffic on the site for the whole day, which is interesting. I think we’re also just seeing a lot more. There’s a lot more press around it being a part of your life and your holistic health, which I think is the right approach. That’s how we should think about this.

Éva:

I like the fact that people are thinking about it, and they’re more health related and psychologically. It’s psychologically tied to your happiness too, so I think that’s important, but we see that a lot. I feel like before, people talked about sex in this compartmentalized way, and now they’re talking much more about intimacy. That’s always the way that we’ve approached it anyway, so we were in the right place at the right time in terms of messaging.

Stephanie:

That’s cool. The other thing I was reading about with your brand was that, I mean, you not only lead into content as a big part of even starting the company and less about paid ads maybe in the beginning, but you also focused on PR, and you partnered with a celebrity. I want to hear about how you… Who is it? How did you get that partnership, and how did all of that accelerate growth in the beginning?

Éva:

The PR was interesting because I was actually just looking at our first piece of press today for some reason, and that was in the beginning-

Stephanie:

Like ever.

Éva:

Like ever. That was in the beginning of 2017, which was interesting. The first thing that I did because my background in brand building is also in design, and so I threw up this website in 2015 for maude, even though we weren’t anywhere close to being ready to go to market. We started getting inquiries about press, so I knew then that it was a topic people were going to want to talk about. Okay, cut to 2017, we actually had a real landing page, and we got our first piece of press. We use basically our renderings of our products, but that was an important piece in getting maude off the ground because the brand awareness happened so far in advance of launching that by the time it got there, we had built in community.

Éva:

We had captured those emails, and people were excited and ready. I think that that’s a really interesting approach for people to take. I don’t know that I would give your brand a year [inaudible] too long, but for us, that was about the amount of time was and then… The celebrity partnership, which is with Dakota Johnson, came about… Her team approached us and said that she was really interested in the brand. At first, I was very hesitant to take on any celebrity investment, because I’m not really interested in putting a name to the brand in that way.

Éva:

When we partnered with her, it’s very much about being behind the scenes, so she’s been working with us as a team behind the scenes, and that’s been great.

Éva:

We’ll work on products. We talked through what does the next year look like? Anything that we work on hasn’t really come to market yet, because it takes a while for any of these things to happen, but it’s a lot of just behind the scenes working on really what is the creative direction of the company.

Stephanie:

Okay, cool. I want to dive a bit into product development, because this is such an interesting area to me like, how do you go about creating products knowing what your customers want? What does that lifecycle look like, great sexual wellness company?

Éva:

I think for us, I mean, we started working on the product in 2017, which is why we knew what it was going to look like, and so we had about a year. Every product that we make essentially has a six month to a year cycle before it gets to market. We do that for a number of reasons. We don’t just take products to market quickly. We definitely work with our customer. We survey them and ask them questions and look at feedback, and then we also look at really what’s happening in the market.

Éva:

Are there products that we can make in a better way? Are there things that we should be… Are there problems we should be solving with our brand? It’s this collaborative process with the team to look in this 360 view and say what’s really happening, and should maude even be making it? Because I think there are brands-

Stephanie:

How do you decide? What parts should you be involved in, and which things have you said no to?

Éva:

I think it’s mostly, “Could it be used…” All of our products are meant to be used by yourself or with a partner. How can we be the most inclusive whatever your status is, whatever your adult age is, whatever your gender? That’s one way to look at it. I think the other way to look at it is does it make sense with the other products? Is it additive, or is it random?

Éva:

There’s a lot of hurdles to get a product to market. Condoms are class two medical devices. Our lubricants are the same thing. When customers are like, “You’re inclusive. You should make all of these things,” we say, “There’s a couple things. One, is there a regulatory hurdle, and then two, is there a minimum order quantity that we just can’t as a small brand get to?” Then the third would be like, “If we could do both of those things, is there a market for it?” That’s just real brass tax. Do you take a product to market?

Stephanie:

Interesting. The other thing I’m thinking about is your ecommerce strategy with your products. I mean, I think a lot of consumers are used to, like I said, buying things in a certain way not really thinking too much about it, definitely not probably standing in the aisle and be like, “Hmm, which one do I want? Let me read the back of everything and see the description.” How do you think about developing that ecommerce strategy in a way that people know what it is, know the benefits and do want to hang out and look at it, but also understand it afterwards, especially for someone new coming in and being like, “I’m not from this world?”

Éva:

I think it’s interesting that you asked this because I would say that we could do better in the ecomm strategy given the fact that all of our bottles are brown, so we-

Stephanie:

Wait. All your bottles are brown.

Éva:

We have two lubricants. They both look the same, so we’ve had the same challenges. Our thought was that we create these products that look great in your bathroom or on your bedside table that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to have out. But I think in some ways, it’s also like, “Okay, but do you know what they are?” What we found in terms of ecomm is to be really clear about how you’re shopping for them. Our site is merchandised in a way that’s pretty clear and that you can find things in a couple ways.

Éva:

One is by usage, so if it’s before, during and after sex, or just buy the actual type of product. That seems to have been helpful, but I still think we have work to do on that front, because I do think you’re right. People come to the site, and they might be uncomfortable, or they might not know what goes together. We’re actively trying to make sure they don’t just see a sea of brown bottles.

Stephanie:

That’s interesting, trying to put two things together to be like, “This could be a package,” and like… Do you have something that shows up on the side of your website that is like, “Here’s something that pairs with it?” What kind of maybe tests have you done where you’re like, “This one converts well. They add more things to the cart,” versus, “When we had it this way, it didn’t work out?” Any little findings there?

Éva:

I mean, there are some products that people just like adding to their cart. One of them is the massage candle, because I think it’s something… Universally speaking, I don’t know that everyone knows what a massage candle is, per se, but a candle is very easy to understand, so that works as an upsell. I think that if you’re pairing a product, if you’re getting the vibe, for instance, and you get suggested the lubricant to use, I think that makes sense to people. If it’s a bath product, there are other bath products that go well with it like the wash, which is our body wash goes really well with the massage oil.

Éva:

There’s ways for us to basically guide you through the journey, but I still think it’s probably one of our biggest challenges is to make sure that people know what else we have.

Stephanie:

Do you study other brands to see how they’re doing things, or are you like, “We’re such a different unicorn that there’s really no one else that we can look at when it comes to recommendations and trying to figure out who needs what it at what point?” How do you figure out good practices that you want to try and implement?

Éva:

Well, so it’s a bit of a conundrum in a couple of ways. I think the first way is that if you look at a let’s call it a skincare site, usually, those things are maybe it’s shopping by system. Let’s say that they just have one cream or one face wash. That’s easy to understand. If it’s by say problem, it’s distinctively called out, so it’s for oily skin or dry skin. We don’t have… That’s not how you shop the site. In one way, some of the products are a system, but they’re not based on a problem.

Éva:

It’s still something for us that we have to, I think, solve for. One of the things that we’re really…. I wouldn’t call us precious about it, but I do think that we try to be very kind and empathetic about is making the customer feel comfortable, so we don’t want to scream anything on the site. I think there are times though that were to tone down. This is a good question.

Stephanie:

What about quizzes and things like that? If someone comes and they’re not really informed on what you guys are selling, have you tried out any quizzes that guides people to what they might want and in a way where they’re like, “I didn’t get there myself. You told me to get there?”

Éva:

It’s funny because originally, the site was just a quiz. When we first launched, it was like it walked you through, and you ended up with seven different kits basically. There was a couple things, learnings, all things that anyone listening should know. We named the kits one through seven. That’s not really helpful. You don’t know like… You’re like, “I can’t remember what number I am.” I think also, we didn’t have enough options. The only real difference between the kits was how many products were in them, and then if it was shine organic or shine silicone lubricant.

Éva:

We’re still figuring out the best way to bundle. I think that customers… What’s interesting, and I think it will happen and improve over time, is that people are starting to see it more as, like I said, something between sexual wellness and beauty, and so they browse the site. There’s actually a pretty high conversion on the site. They’re browsing the site because I don’t think they feel uncomfortable, which was [inaudible].

Stephanie:

Cool. The one thing that we’ve talked about in previous episodes is around UGC. That’s the best way to get people to buy things if it looks organic, and my friends would use it. I feel like that’d be really hard for your brand to get [inaudible]. I mean, you might get flagged on Instagram.

Éva:

We do get flagged on Instagram. I think for us, it’s just been that’s where the bath and body products come into play. We’ve started to introduce more UGC because we’ve been seating out more bath and body products for people to try, but it’s a really interesting line to tow between messaging around like, “Here’s this really soothing body care, and how does it relate to intimacy,” but we can’t be explicit on Instagram and Facebook, so navigating this category has been really interesting, challenging at times.

Stephanie:

Did you consciously develop something that you could use on Instagram to then try and get that traffic back? Were you thinking about that before you even developed the body wash type products?

Éva:

Yeah. It’s interesting because the condoms and the lubricant technically can be sold. The ads can be posted on Facebook and Instagram, but the language starts to get tricky. The reality is that there are real people looking at your Facebook ads, making the decision if they should be shut down, which always gets into really funny territory. When we launched the burn massage candle, we’re able to start really ramping up ads, but it’s really amazing what’s allowed on Instagram and what’s not allowed.

Stephanie:

Yes. I mean, I could go down the entire wormhole of certain people who’ve been banned and other people where it’s like, “That is definitely a very bad site, and there’s a lot of bad things happening there. How are they still on here?” It’s an interesting world. What kind of ads are you creating? I think a lot of times about humor can always be fun around certain topics, and get people in. Do you guys approach it that way, or are you strictly content, educational? How do you think about your ads?

Éva:

They’re just really beautiful straightforward ads. I would say that, again, they always lean more towards beauty. The funny part is that we… I mean, not to use the word funny, because I’m about to say maude has a sense of humor. It’s just typically in the captions or in the writing or in the quippy parts of the content, so that could be brought out more. The ads are generally just like how to use the product, and they’re beautiful.

Stephanie:

That’s cool. We were talking a bit before the show about retail and how you were thinking about it. Tell me a bit about what your plans look like when it comes to entering into retail.

Éva:

We are actually… Our business is about 20% retail. We’re in a lot of-

Stephanie:

Oh, you’re already there.

Éva:

We’re already there, and it’s growing. We’re launching in a bunch of new retailers this year. The retail angle has been interesting. We first started out… I can’t remember who our first retailer was, but back in 2018, we were definitely in a lot of smaller boutiques. We were in hotels, which makes sense, and started going into bigger retailers. What was happening and what we still see happen is that the merchandising teams would be fighting over where we should be in store.

Éva:

Now, it seems like the beauty teams are winning. We’re seeing maude. It’s going to get positioned in a lot of the beauty categories in retail, in these doors not just online. I’m very curious to see what it looks like there.

Stephanie:

How do you think about connecting the story and the brand and approaching that omni channel experience? What kind of things are you trying out and learning through all of that?

Éva:

The kinds of things that we’re working on is really sticking to the script for the brand, because we see a lot of crossover audience that comes to us via Instagram, and then finds us out in the world in retail. Whereas I’ve definitely worked in brands that try to cater to each retail audience, and they’ve test a lot. We try to just really be very distinctively on brand all the time so that people remember us. I think when you’re really a new brand or a younger brand, it’s important for you to be memorable and top of mind.

Stephanie:

How do you stay memorable? What do you do especially now that you say there’s people popping up like competitors or copycats? How do you differentiate yourself to make sure that you’re not blending in with someone else who enters into a Urban Outfitters?

Éva:

I think it’s more about what’s the product assortment and then what’s our creative strategy, which hasn’t been copied quite yet. The other thing is… I’ve said this on other podcasts. I don’t want to completely sound like a broken record, but I think there are really two types of companies. One is product, and one is mission-based companies, very appropriate to what you do.

Stephanie:

Perfect.

Éva:

I think that our company is a mission-based company, which means you can’t expedite the process of growing community and brand equity. I think that that’s what makes maude really ahead of other brands that are trying to do it. It’s like they’ll have to build their own communities and their own look and feel, and customers will either get it or resonate with it or not.

Stephanie:

I mean, do you find that you have the ability to stay connected with your customer afterwards? How do you keep the conversation going to then increase the lifetime value of that person and bring them back and stay within your community? What kind of things are you doing behind the scenes to ensure that happens?

Éva:

Our biggest KPI internally has always been NPS and customer reviews and satisfaction. We have really, really high NPS, and we focus on making sure that they are engaging with our emails, and whether or not they’re coming back to buy from us is more a matter of do they need it? What do their sex lives look like? Can we even control that? We can’t do any of that work for them, but we can be there. It’s staying top of mind through the content, and then making sure that they’re happy. We check on them often, and then try to listen when they’re not happy.

Stephanie:

How do you encourage reviews for your product? I could see, like what we were saying earlier, people being hesitant to review something where their name’s on there, and someone identifies them. How do you get people to come in and drop some valuable insights into your review system?

Éva:

They’ll get a notification to review the products so many days after purchase, which people are pretty open to doing. Actually, that’s all we do. We don’t encourage. We don’t give discounts for reviews. We’re really purist in a lot of ways in terms of how we gather data and what we ask our customer only because we’re really respectful of this category and what it means for them to be disclosing this kind of information, and so we want to be as thoughtful as possible. The reviews that we get are amazing, and they’re amazing a number of ways.

Éva:

They’re heartwarming and funny and maybe too raunchy. You’re like, “Okay, thank you. I didn’t need to know any of this,” but I think getting people to feel like they can safely write that is what we’re trying to do. We’re a pretty respectful brand.

Éva:

I mean, there are other ones that I think are like… a lot of reviews where people will say like, “I lost my spouse, and I just didn’t know if I can navigate this alone, and this has made me feel like I’m a person again or lovable,” and these things you will just be crying in the office. It runs the range. There’s lots of reviews.

Stephanie:

I mean, I feel like that authenticity is key, though, when people are especially exploring a market that they’ve maybe never looked into before. Reading reviews like that is, I think, what sells the product by itself, because there’s probably many other people who’ve comment and like, “That’s me. I’m in that position right now. I feel sad like that.” Trying to get customers to speak like that, I think, is game changing if you can get them to do that, which is why I’m so impressed that you get reviews like that because to me, I can see a lot of people holding back and not wanting their name on something and just being nervous about that whole thing.

Éva:

I know. I’m like, “I wouldn’t write a review like this,” but you should read the reviews.

Stephanie:

No.

Éva:

After, you guys need to read the reviews because they’re very funny. I do have one other funny review that I’ll bring up. Somebody used the burn massage candle, which has this great scent. It’s really an amazing scent. It took us a while to develop, but she was like, “It made me feel like I was going at it in the redwood forest instead of my dinky no ho apartment.” I’m like, “Oh my God.”

Stephanie:

These people are good copywriters. Can I hire them?

Éva:

One woman wrote about the vibe. She was a powerhouse, a workhorse, an icon. That got turned into an email.

Stephanie:

That could be the tagline of the product.

Éva:

I know.

Stephanie:

Your customers should be the ones putting in their ideas, and then you just take their names and their tagline.

Éva:

I know.

Stephanie:

Man, that’s good.

Éva:

That was good.

Stephanie:

Where do you see maude heading over the next maybe one to three years? What are you guys excited for, planning for?

Éva:

We’re planning to go into one or two other categories. I think we’re really deepening the product categories we have, and then venturing into a couple others all around intimacy. If it can be in the before, during or after category, we’ll make it. I’m really excited about that, because I envision this maude. We have one in the office, so I guess it’s easy for me to do. But I envision a maude shelf, and I’m like, “Okay, what does that complete experience look like?” I’m so excited to build that and then to see it come to life on these end caps and then these retailers is just…

Éva:

It’s incredible. Then to go back to the reviews for a second like how much these products have impacted people’s life, I think that that’s where I’m really excited to help continue to solve for their needs, and also create products they really like and that have made their lives better in a small or sometimes big way.

Stephanie:

When thinking about retail, I know I keep getting back to this. I’m just so impressed that you guys are going this route and having success in it. What kind of lessons did you learn when exploring the retail path? What would you do differently maybe if you were to do it over again?

Éva:

I would say that the biggest thing I would do differently is probably not have launched in a category or in a corner of a store that wasn’t really where we should be placed. An example of this is within Urban Outfitters, which again, Urban Outfitters as a brand has been really a good partner to us. It’s not our age demographic, but I think in terms of… They’ve always been good about building out beauty. At first, they wanted to put the vibe in tech and the other products in beauty. I’m like, “The problem with this is that it creates this sense of novelty,” and we actually have something launching this week around why we don’t call devices toys.

Éva:

It relates back to why this should not be a novelty in the electronics section of your store. That’d be one.

Stephanie:

I mean, that’d be weird if it’s next to some key chain, cellphone cover, and there’s a vibrator.

Éva:

There’s a vibrator. Honestly, I don’t know that anybody even bats an eyelash at that sort of positioning because they have been called toys, and they’ve been made to be these novelty items for so long, but our whole ethos is that we’re a brand for all genders, but in particular women, cis women have not… The vibrator has been treated like it’s this thing that’s an add-on, and for many of them, it’s not an add-on. Why can’t it just be with the rest of the products?

Stephanie:

Did you have pushback when you told them like, “We want to have our products together?” Are you even able to tell them where you want your product to be?

Éva:

We can ask it and guide them. I think over time, they were like, “These products should be here,” and then they built out sexual wellness as a part of their beauty both online and in store. Then it was an easy solve.

Stephanie:

Cool. That’s a good tip. Any other lessons or experiences from getting into retail that were insightful?

Éva:

I mean, we’ve had conversations with retailers where we go down this long journey of they need certain testing or they need certain things, and we have all of these quality controls, and we have all of this testing on our own, but some retailers are so specific, and then you get to the PO. They’re like, “And we want 10 units.” You’re like, “We’ve just gone through seven weeks of your editor testing, and you’re 10 weeks of this, and you want 10 products.” I think that’s an interesting lesson is who’s really the volume driver, and then who’s really…

Éva:

It’s about brand positioning, and what are the risks you should be taking for each.

Stephanie:

Now, do you go into it with a minimum quantity from the start of like, “We’re not going to mess around with 10 units if you’re going to make us spend six weeks doing this?” Could someone new do that? Can you only do that now because you’ve been doing this for a while? Could a newer brand come in with those expectations of like, “Tell me how many units you guys plan on ordering before I do the work,” or you just have to go through that phase in the early days?

Éva:

I don’t know that they would have told us. I do think that there are trade offs around. For instance, what we’ve learned now with retailers is a lot of them online will outbid you for your Google search terms. If you’ve made all of this effort, they’ve only bought 10 items, and guess what? They’re putting a lot of search dollars behind it. Is it worth it? I’m not sure. Is it worth it to Sam in the xyz.com, whatever? I don’t think it always is. It’s just a trade off around how are you acquiring a customer? Where are they finding you, and does it really matter if you’re in… I won’t name names, but…

Stephanie:

I mean, that seems like a very important point that I actually not heard anyone bring up yet about the retailers outbidding you on your own keywords. It seems like there should be something in the contract that says, “These are my set of keywords I go after. You can’t touch them if we’re a partner.”

Éva:

We’re only learning that we can even push that now. I think there’s a lot of things as a smaller company where you’re just like, “Okay, sure. I’m so excited to be in blah, blah, blah,” and then lessons learned.

Stephanie:

Oh man, that’s a good lesson. I’m glad I’m pushing this. I feel like a lot of people could actually learn from the stuff and go into it with different expectations than… It is easy probably to be like, “I’ve got Urban Outfitters. I’ve got whoever,” and then to be like, “Oh, maybe I should have asked for more upfront.” Ask for what you actually think is fair.

Éva:

I think you’re also like… We didn’t put a stockist on our page, because, one, we couldn’t keep up with where we were, especially when we were in these independent retailers. If you think about stockist, it’s really for the benefit of the customer, right? At the same time, it’s like, “Well, then why are we in some of these places, because we know they only ordered 10 products?” This is all up to you as a brand, but think about these things and really what is the value.

Stephanie:

That’s great. Good tips. I love it. All right, well, let’s shift over to the lightning round. The lightning round is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. This is where I’m going to ask you a question, and you have one minute or less to answer. Are you ready?

Éva:

I’m ready.

Stephanie:

All right. What one thing will have the biggest impact on ecommerce in the next year?

Éva:

This is interesting. I think probably to your point, it’s content. It’s building out a site that is less transactional and it’s more about building a memorable brand, because I don’t know about you, but I track brands. I’m like, “There are so many brands coming out.” If I can’t see a deeper story, or if I can’t connect with something that I’m going to remember, it’s just really hard for me to think about them.

Stephanie:

What do you think the world’s going to look like in a couple years? Because like you said, it does feel like there’s so many new DTC companies popping up, and it actually seems like it’s hard to trust who’s saying what and if that’s their mission, and if they’re doing what they’re saying they’re going to do, because now, anyone can launch really quickly, and then also go away really quickly if they need to. Where do you think the world’s headed because of all that?

Éva:

I think it’s in examining all of their channels, finding where they really are speaking to their community. When I mean content, you don’t have to go to the site and find a blog per se. But if you can find a community, whether that’s on Instagram or Tiktok or some channel where you can see evidence of them having a connection with their customer, I think that’s really important, because I have been to a lot of sites where then I go check out their social channels, and they’ve been around for long enough, and there’s just like no engagement. It’s really interesting.

Stephanie:

That’s working out really great. If you were to have a podcast, what would it be about, and who would your first guest be?

Éva:

Oh, this is a good one. I actually just started a podcast.

Stephanie:

Nice. What’s it about, and who was your first guest?

Éva:

Well, so we haven’t booked the first guest yet, but I will tell you who I want the first guest to be. The podcast is called The Una. It’s about the first and the few females in a particular industry. It could be any industry, whether that’s politics or finance or the spirit’s industry. We want our first guest, although I think it’s going to be much harder to land now, to be Deb Haaland. If you didn’t know, she’s now the first Native American Secretary of the Interior. She is from New Mexico, which is my home state, but I think because she’s now the secretary of the Interior that it’s going to be a little harder to land her, so wish me luck.

Stephanie:

Come on, Deb. Get on the show.

Éva:

I know.

Stephanie:

That’s awesome. It sounds like a very cool show. I’ll definitely be listening. When is it going to launch?

Éva:

Well, so we’re starting to do the outreach because we did the trailer finally. If you go to theunapodcast.com, you can see or listen to the trailer.

Stephanie:

Very cool. What’s Up next on your reading list?

Éva:

I just watched the Dieter Rams documentary, and I’ve been reading the book which is the 10 Principles of Good Design only because I think it’s the way to bring me back to why we have maude, why we do what we do at maude. By the time this actually airs, the team will know, but I’m taking them to a screening of the Rams documentary, and we’ll then talk through the book. That’s what’s up. I’m getting through the book.

Stephanie:

Very cool. What’s one thing that you don’t understand today that you wish you did?

Éva:

I mean, I don’t know if I wish I did, but I really don’t understand the allure of clubhouse. I’m like, “I don’t understand. I don’t get it.”

Stephanie:

We’ve had a couple people say that, so you’re not alone. Don’t worry.

Éva:

I don’t. I think that it’s a pandemic phase, but I could be wrong.

Stephanie:

Well, we’ll have to do a check back in six months or a year and be like, “Was Eva right or?”

Éva:

Although I have heard people like… They listen to this… For instance, our director of product listens to people talking about Sci Fi. I think that’s a great use of clubhouse. Otherwise, when it’s just talking heads about the same things, I don’t know.

Stephanie:

I agree. All right. Then the last one, what’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for you?

Éva:

Oh, well, I mean, this is going to sound cliche, but my husband is actually a mechanical engineer. He’s the one that’s designed… He designed the vibe. He designed our second product drop.

Stephanie:

Wow.

Éva:

He doesn’t work for maude full time. He really builds the business with me when needed as if he were a part of it. I think that’s the nicest thing that anyone has done for me.

Stephanie:

That’s pretty amazing and awesome. Go him for stepping in and helping like that. Was he unsure if he wanted to design sexual wellness [crosstalk]? Did you have to be like, “Come on?”

Éva:

No. His take on design and the usefulness of design, which I would actually joke goes back this Rams documentary is like, “These products are really everyday items, and they shouldn’t be made to be used that way.” I think he liked the fact that maude was turning it into an everyday object instead of making it phallic and loud and all these other things. I think he was just like, “Great. Let’s make this product better.”

Stephanie:

Oh, that’s awesome. That’s amazing. Well, Eva, this has been so fun having you on the show, such a different interview, which loved, and it’s fun hearing about maude and the industry and all that. Where can people find out more about you and maude?

Éva:

Well, with me, it’s if they follow me on Instagram. It’s evagoicochea.com, which is really long, but I’m sure if you type in E-V-A-G-O-I, you probably will be able to find me. Then maude is getmaude.com, M-A-U-D-E, because we could not just get maude.com.

Stephanie:

Amazing. All right, everyone, go check it out. Thanks so much for joining us. It was a pleasure to have you.

Éva:

Thank you so much for having me.

Join the discussion

Episode 101