PSFK speaks with Éva Goicochea, the CEO and founder of sexual wellness brand Maude, to find out how her brand's summer brick-and-mortar outpost, Staycation, reconceptualizes the popup

In brief:

•Pop-ups don't need to be flashy or truncated to draw the attention of shoppers.

•Customers respond well to multiple brands in one space, as long as they share a concept.

•Permanent street-facing space could be worth the investment as part of a company's headquarters.

With friendly marketing and straightforward products like vibrators, personal lubricant and condoms, Maude, a DTC sexual wellness startup, is removing the stigma associated with sex products. Now, the brand is branching into retail with Staycation, its summer pop-up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. PSFK chatted with Maude CEO and founder Éva Goicochea to find out how the brand decided to partner with other companies and how customers have responded to its unusual concept.

PSFK: What inspired you to found Maude?

Éva Goicochea: The sexual wellness industry—how it’s been shaped, its history—has been monopolized for so many years by the same tired male-focused incumbents and hyper-feminine, trend-focused newer brands. I felt that it was imperative to change the conversation and bridge the gap they were leaving, since sex is simply a human experience.

After much research and time spent understanding the unmet needs and perceptions of consumers, I launched Maude with this idea of sex made simple: pared-down products delivered in a friendly, inclusive way that encourages a healthy, everyday approach to sex.

Courtesy of Maude

How was the Staycation concept planned and executed? What came before Staycation?

Part of making room for sex in your life is in first creating a relaxed environment—stress and sex are very interconnected—and we thought we could bring to life attainable relaxation by creating an immersive, “real-life” experience. Staycation is modeled after a modern apartment and was designed to be comfortable and to contextualize Maude or sex in your life in an approachable way.

Before Staycation, our retail studio, which is a permanent extension of our HQ, was singularly focused on our own products, and while we were able to successfully activate the space with panels and workshops for one-offs, it seemed like there was still some level of stigma around coming in just to shop.


Courtesy of Maude

How did you decide which brands to highlight in the space alongside Maude?

We looked across lifestyle, wellness, food and beverage for brands that had a modern sensibility, and a people- and quality-first approach. We eventually brought together 24 companies we love including Floyd, Plant People, Material, Brooklinen and Act + Acre. Many of these companies we’re familiar with—a lot of the founders know each other—and aesthetically they all live well together, so the experience organically makes sense.

Why have you decided against doing a splashier, bigger pop-up?

Though the playbook for many young brands is to have a one-time pop-up, we knew that testing and having a multi-purpose space was more important to us than investing in one idea, especially given the risks. Having the flexibility and fixed cost of a street-facing space as part of our HQ allows for us to be nimble and continually shift so that we find the right approach and partners that work best for our customers. By doing this, we’ve found that there’s always a positive return on the investment and it’s always put to good use. Some days it’s Staycation, others we use it as the war room to discuss launches and company growth. It’s a lot of fun, actually.

Courtesy of Maude

How have customers responded to Staycation so far? Do you find that the space makes them less afraid to enter a “sex shop?”

People are really enjoying it and the idea disarms them. If you look at the typical consumer experience around sexual health, either in a drug store or sex shop, it’s poorly marketed and designed, over-assorted and either taboo or clinical. When customers walk into Staycation, the first reaction is that it’s friendly and inviting. We encourage them to grab a drink from the fridge, have a seat on the Floyd couch, and spend as much time as they want hanging out in the space. Our tagline for the idea has been, “Come in, stay awhile,” and people have definitely done that.


Lead image: courtesy of Maude