B ack in February we attended the sex-positive launch party of gender-free sex toy company Kandid, which is on a mission to bring adult toys into the mainstream as an inclusive and shame-free sexual wellness tool. The company’s founders Josh and Greg are aiming to tackle the stigma around sexual pleasure and aim to change judgemental attitudes. We caught up with Greg to discuss business during lockdown, sex education, and the input of Elesha Vooght – Kandid’s in-house sexual wellbeing doctor.

218A8940 (2)Ethos.

It was originally Josh’s idea. He was like, ‘there are very few companies in this market, doing it well and in a nice manner; so many doing a really quite awful job at selling sex toys and building a brand that’s approachable and affordable.’ That was our initial ethos: create a brand that’s not intimidating, not overtly sexual, not overtly scary, that people won’t be put off by. I didn’t want to ever genderfy the brand; that was one of my particular points from the very beginning – to try and keep it as neutral as we can so as not to alienate people. And I guess because Josh and I are gay, and Elesha’s queer, we all wanted to make the brand as queer as we could whilst being approachable to everyone.

 

Lockdown.

We were in talks with quite a few large retailers about stocking our brand before all of this kicked off and now that’s been pushed back indefinitely until those chains reopen. And because we’ve only just launched, a lot of our sales and branding was going to be in person; we were going to a few festivals and a bunch of events – they’ve all been cancelled or postponed. But we’ve got a really good online sale, we’ve seen a 70 percent increase in sales, and lots of people asking questions about how to use the products, and asking for advice from El, which has been really nice.

Dr Vooght.218A7107 (2)

El’s fantastic. She’s got a really interesting background; she worked in a prostitute collective, on prostitutes’ health. We met her at an event and formed a relationship from there. She was like, ‘please work with me, this will be amazing’ and we were like, ‘oh my God, we love you, this is fantastic, yes.’ We thought we’d be a really good combination. She does give us an edge and a stronger platform from which to answer customers’ questions. A nice addition to our little team.

Sex stigma.218A0169 (2)

There are a lot of encouraging signs but the overall picture is still quite depressing. When it comes to our industry, marketing’s nearly impossible. You can’t really do any form of advertising in a conventional sense on social media – we’ve been blocked more times than I can count, for either showing too much nudity or for breaching terms which aren’t clear in the first instance. You can’t really push the brand, you can’t direct anyone to your website, you can’t actually say what you sell. There are a lot of dos and don’ts and it’s quite frustrating. I do think things are going to change, but progress is a lot slower than people perceive it to be.

Sex ed.

We’ve done some work with a company called Sexplain, which goes into schools and teaches sex education. They bring our dildos into the classes – it’s quite funny. They say the quality of sex education depends on the school and the teacher. They say it has got better in recent years but there’s still quite a large void in what they think should be talked about. Pleasure is not really part of the conversation at all, which we feel is completely wrong. People have sex and masturbate for pleasure. That isn’t talked about, which builds upon the stigma and shame that comes with masturbation and sex for a lot of people. It is a really hard thing to teach because it’s down to teachers who might not want to talk about it themselves, but with companies like Sexplain, these areas are getting more attention than they were. So, I guess it’s getting better, slowly but surely.

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