Gone are the times the place sex toys have been housed in lurid and intimidating sex outlets or the place the subject of sex was solely relegated to the streets of Keong Saik.
These days, sex toys are bought proper subsequent to your shampoos and it’s as straightforward as selecting up your prescription. While this progress is encouraging, it’s seen as solely the start for Meryl Lim, 28, and Jacqueline Kee, 33, Good Vibes x Hedonist founders.
For them, the important thing to a extra sex-positive Singapore is thru training, dismantling the stigma related to sex, and, after all, closing the orgasm hole.
Two very totally different paths
So, how does one change into the proprietor of a sex toy firm? Well, each Meryl and Jacqueline have been on two totally different paths earlier than they discovered their calling to empower girls to personal their sexuality.
Ex-business manager Meryl had a quite profitable stint at The KraftHeinz Company for 5 years the place she even had the prospect to work in Australia. When she was again in Singapore in 2019, a international restructuring befell, and the Singapore workplace closed down. While Meryl was provided a place within the UK, she turned it down to fulfil her dream to journey the world.
Now, this was the place issues obtained attention-grabbing. Meryl sat down with a bunch of her mates to brainstorm for her Instagram deal with for her romp all over the world. The identify, “Good Vibes Only”, was tossed round, and Meryl couldn’t assist however suppose how a lot it reminded her of a sex toys firm.
Funny the way it may sound, however a true story! That’s how we began speaking about sex that night time for the primary time ever and the extra we spoke about it, the extra I realised how seldom we spoke about this [sex]. Also, how reliant I’m on Google to reply my sex questions and began questioning why we have a tendency to keep away from this matter as a entire.
It simply merely didn’t make sense, it was similar to an ah-ha second for me. Given how so many people are or sure to have sex in life, why are we not taught higher on how to put together for sex or just to have higher sex? After all, sex is a a part of human wants.That night time was the place all the things began, one thing simply clicked inside me.
Meryl Lim, Co-Founder of Good Vibes & Hedonist
Indeed, one of the best issues typically occur over a beer with mates. For Jacqueline, issues shifted when she approached 30. Like many people anxious about turning the large 3-0, she used that worry as a push to problem herself to pursue one thing she was enthusiastic about.
“So, I took a 180 activate my profession choices and went on to change into a fitness teacher at Ground Zero, took a course to change into an ACE Certified Fitness teacher then later turned a Matchmaker and Date Coach at Society W”, recounted Jacqueline.
“This made me realise how a lot pleasure it was to empower others to uncover their genuine self and positively make an impression on somebody’s life. During this era, I had additionally re-discovered sex toys and began practising extra self-love and acceptance with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, and it actually helped me to blossom into the particular person I’m at present.”
These experiences left a big imprint on Jacqueline; she wished to share what she felt and learnt with different girls and assist them take management of their personal pleasure and happiness with a sense of confidence.
It can be vital to observe that rising as “a typical Asian child”, these conversations surrounding sex and pleasure weren’t the norm for her. Jacqueline felt alone and felt “the shortage of help navigating these conversations even almost into maturity”.
Therefore, beginning the Hedonist got here very naturally to Jacqueline.
“The sex toys has all the time been a dialog starter, however the larger image was all the time to create a protected group for folks to speak about pleasure and be educated about sex positively with none disgrace or judgement.”
At this level, it can be crucial to observe that Good Vibes and Hedonist have been two separate corporations. However, it didn’t take lengthy earlier than they determined to be part of forces.
Merging Good Vibes and Hedonist
“Being two feminine founders of our respective startup in such a area of interest trade, the partnership merely made essentially the most sense to be part of forces and share learnings”, stated Meryl.
Good Vibes caters to the ‘woman subsequent door’; the model is an introductory course into sex toys with a curated vary of three newbie sex toys that emphasise personalisation and self-love. In distinction, the Hedonist is for the extra seasoned purveyor of sex toys with a big selection of fifty merchandise that serve to broaden the client’s discovery of delight.
Furthermore, as Meryl explains, Good Vibes focuses on buyer acquisition which is vital in our low penetration market. The Hedonist model is concentrated on maximising the basket measurement and returning clients, the place about 20 per cent of their clients return.
Therefore, the merger of Good Vibes and Hedonist fortified a stronger platform for natural progress in Singapore and their plans for international growth.
After all, as Meryl asserts, there is no such thing as a scarcity of high-quality sex toys in the marketplace. That’s why Good Vibes and Hedonist each adopted an OEM (unique gear producer) /white labelling mannequin the place they straight supply toys from the open market and model them as an alternative of purely being a distributor and carrying one of many standard international manufacturers.
Even although peddling sex toys is certainly a quite raunchy profession selection, each Meryl and Jacqueline basically imagine in additional than simply promoting toys however altering society’s notion via driving sexual training content material and energetic community-building efforts.
“Everyone is superbly distinctive in their method, and our anatomy, sensitivity, and persona are by no means the identical, so it’s vital that folks have a choose vary of merchandise to strive and know what works for them.”
“Sex toys is just not a ‘one-size-fits-all’, but it surely’s a software that, if discovered proper, is a reward that retains on giving,” stated Meryl.
Running a sex toy enterprise in Singapore
As with any startup and first-time entrepreneur, there have been the standard bumps within the street however working a sex toy startup presents a distinctive set of challenges.
A fledgling enterprise like Good Vibes depends closely on on-line advertising, which poses a problem when platforms like Instagram (IG), Facebook (FB), and Google Ads are closely regulated.
Meryl explains that on IG and FB: “We are by no means allowed to promote with a picture of a sex toy, regardless of how discrete trying it could be.” While these platforms have an promoting coverage for sexual well being, equivalent to contraception merchandise, they don’t have pointers for sexual pleasure-focused ads.
On high of that, Meryl notices that their posts ‘disappears’ or are taken down for specific content material though it’s simply an illustration. This phenomenon isn’t just with Good Vibes; Meryl notices it together with her opponents the place their IG account was banned regardless of having clear content material.
“That’s a dwelling nightmare for us to doubtlessly have years of effort and our largest visitors driver platform destroyed in a single day.”
Then comes the difficulty with Google Ads. “Due to the character of our trade, we’re by no means allowed to do retargeting adverts, which means extra alternatives left on the desk that Good Vibes can’t pursue”, stated Meryl.
The identical goes with fee gateways, which was a little trickier than Meryl thought. Again, it comes down to the character of the enterprise that hinders approvals since ‘grownup’ content material or merchandise should not allowed with main fee gateways.
From getting rejected from Stripe due to a technicality, switching to PayPal however due to increased prices was not a good match to lastly touchdown with Shopify. “Even although they too point out that grownup class is banned, [Shopify] appears to be extra versatile and accepting for our manufacturers,” Meryl talked about.
Of course, not all of the challenges have been as disheartening. For Jacqueline, it reminded her of the work that wanted to be completed to ease the social stigma of how Singaporean considered sex and sex toys.
While some Singaporeans might imagine it’s a joke at first once they discover out that a lady like me, runs a sexual wellness firm they find yourself shortly changing into in step with my phrases once I begin educating them about what sex, pleasure and masturbation can do profit their wellbeing and psychological well being.
There is certainly a lot of unlearning and relearning to be completed about this amongst Singaporeans. By being genuine and practising what we preach and being the primary in Singapore to put our face to a sex toy model, it has helped us to resonate a lot higher with our followers.
Jacqueline Kee, Co-Founder of Good Vibes & Hedonist
The “double taboo” of feminine sexuality and being Asian
The matter of girls and sexuality has all the time been a supply of rivalry. On one hand, embracing your sexuality would shortly model you a ‘slut’ or overly promiscuous. On the opposite hand, having no sexual expertise or preferring not to speak about sex would shortly earn the title of ‘prude’ or ‘frigid’.
It’s all the time between a rock and a arduous place, and much more so when the subject of sexuality is introduced up in an Asian context.
“Women, particularly Asian girls, have all the time been introduced up to be a subservient function. We are nonetheless very a lot influenced by our tradition and faith, and that’s one thing that paired with the topic of sex and pleasure turns into a “double taboo”.”
The lack of openness and dialog in Asia has a profound impact on girls and how they see themselves. Good Vibes x Hedonist are all the time on the trail to problem and break via these boundaries. It is the hope that extra bodily occasions, workshops, and pop-up areas will create protected areas “to get extra folks to be surrounded by different open-minded people to create acceptance and variety”.
Meryl and Jaqueline make it a level to observe that these hush-hush tendencies we now have in direction of sex additionally impacts males.
Despite being a feminine ahead enterprise, we all the time stress that males ought to all the time be included in our conversations and their function is simply as vital to a lady’s happiness and pleasure. Men who prioritise not simply their personal wants however their associate’s wants are what girls need.
Meryl Lim and Jacqueline Kee, Co-Founders of Good Vibes & Hedonist
“That being stated, we’re additionally now starting to see that there’s a large hole in the neighborhood for males to communicate up about sex,” stated Meryl. While it’s true that ladies do face undue scrutiny when talking about sex, society makes it tough for males to be as open about sex as properly.
There is a big quantity of strain for males to all the time carry out and for them to lead the cost by way of sex drive.
“There is a notion that males go round speaking about sex, however the actuality is that almost all grown males don’t go round speaking about sex. Single guys could go round speaking about their conquests with mates. However, males who’re in dedicated relationships typically don’t discuss in regards to the matter of sex typically.”
Indeed, males don’t all the time have sex on the mind, however their reticence on the subject is equally worrying. “If they aren’t asking questions or getting the correct solutions, then each genders gained’t be fulfilled, and that’s the drawback”, Meryl places forth.
“Both events have to be liable for their personal sexuality and give you the chance to come collectively as a entire.”
Looking in direction of to the longer term
Meryl and Jacqueline hope for a extra sex-positive Singapore the place we will discuss overtly about sex simply as we might focus on the newest flick on Netflix.
Even although we now have miles to go, there was some constructive momentum that offers Meryl and Jacqueline some hope. Getting interviewed by mainstream media shops signifies that society is opening up and extra receptive to discussing these points.
Plus, collaborations with different small enterprise house owners equivalent to Sunday Social Market assist to normalise the acquisition of sex toys.
Having your sex toys subsequent to different merchandise equivalent to handmade jewelry or artisanal cleaning soap makes buying sex toys as pedestrian and bizarre as selecting up some new garments. The Hedonist has been current at Sunday Social Market for years, and gross sales have all the time been promising at these occasions.
Looking ahead to 2022, the Good Vibes x Hedonist model has large plans for extra “pleasured and merely happier human beings”.
They are presently targeted on rising their group to speed up their progress, not simply in Singapore but in addition within the Asia area.
“Even although we now have had natural gross sales abroad, we hope to be way more focused in positioning ourselves because the Asian sexual wellness model targeted on driving training and rising penetration in our area (pun supposed!). In phrases of monetary goal, we plan to obtain S$1 million gross sales throughout the subsequent three years.”
Financial objectives apart, breaking the sex taboo and having extra conversations about sex and sexual well-being will stay key in Good Vibes x Hedonist’s mission. So, look ahead to extra workshops and exhibitions that centres over pleasure and girls empowerment for 2022.
Featured Image Credit: Good Vibes x Hedonist