The serial entrepreneur talks about the value of ritual, access, and vulnerability.
– KEYS SOULCARE
Entrepreneur Éva Goicochea is living proof that a sense of purpose can play out in infinite, unexpected ways. After studying marketing in college and working as a legislative aide for the California Medical Association, she took on roles in e-commerce and brand strategy for companies as varied as The Natural Resources Defense Council, Squarespace, and Adidas. Eventually, she launched her own business, Maude, in a category few saw coming: Modern sexual wellness. Since Maude’s 2018 launch, Goicochea and her company have made headlines in Vogue, Fast Company, The New York Times, and more for redefining conversations around sex, intimacy, and access to pleasure.
We talked to Goicochea about the wide-ranging life experiences that led to Maude’s existence, and the personal philosophies that inspire her to care for herself in unexpected ways, on and off the clock.
What inspired you to start Maude?
I was born in New Mexico — a state that is socioeconomically disparate, particularly for healthcare access. My mother was an arts educator, and from an early age, I knew that I wanted to do something in the design world that also made a difference for people. Having been interested in public health in college (I was a legislative aide then and after graduation), and later coming from a product background as a brand and social media strategist for mission-driven companies like Everlane, I decided to pursue creating a consumer goods company that [was a solution] for everyday wellness.
To me, sexual health was such a critically overlooked part of [wellness] and 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 Realizing that the industry was outdated with no signs of it changing, I decided to create Maude, an inclusive modern intimacy company.
You have such a dynamic background — between key roles at other start-ups, independent projects of your own, and formal business schooling. What has your path to this point taught you?
I recognize that while your life and roles may change over time, if you always pursue the values that matter most to you, you can be additive wherever you go. Life is not linear, and you should never be afraid to take risks in order to pursue those values.
What advice would you give to yourself at the start if you had to do it all again from scratch?
Be thoughtful with the people you partner and work with, carve out time to be creative and dream big, and don’t let fear drive your actions.
What role does ritual play in the products you create with Maude?
We approach sexual wellness in a holistic, evergreen way: It’s about overall intimacy, health, and happiness — not a compartmentalized view of sex — because sex is wellbeing. Thus, we started branching into bath and body care to create a thoughtful and complete line of products for sexual wellness and setting the mood. Pre- and post-sex rituals are just important as the act itself — our assortment and content reflects that.
You’ve named “inclusivity” and “simplicity” as foundational ideas for Maude. Can you say more about that?
Our take at Maude is that sex is human. We’re building a companythat completely rethinks the approach to the category by putting inclusivity and accessibility first — for all people. This includes access [by] keeping our products fairly priced to the designs, which are beautiful-meets-everyday. The result is approachable and gender-inclusive products that have muted, universal colors, easy-to-use packaging, and simple shapes.
On our blog, The Maudern, we talk about intimacy across a broad age range. We believe that by taking this approach, we will continue to break taboos and make sexual wellness more inclusive.
What ideas and visions are currently informing your personal experience of inclusivity and simplicity?
I often go back to Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles for Good Design for how I think about how to use form and function to drive and foster inclusivity for Maude. [I also go to] Fumio Sasaki’s Hello, Habitsfor how I think about simplifying my own life. Both take a pared-down, human approach to their schools of thought, and they both provide a way to center my goals and actions via inclusion and simplification.
What role do access (to information and conversations) and vulnerability play in making pleasure something we can all tap into, and feel the right to?
There are two ways to ensure that sexual health and access become a part of broader discussions for everybody, both as a company or as an individual: Leading the way by taking a de-stigmatized, healthy, and human approach in your own community, and actively participating on the policy level by either lobbying directly or through hand-in-hand participation 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. By breaking down decades of stigma, we can all normalize not only pleasure, but [also] sexual health and wellness — something we believe everyone has the right to.
What are some of your feel-good rituals with your partner and alone?
We carve out times most mornings to get in some exercise: I walk on a tiny treadmill and he uses this contraption to be able to ride his road bike indoors, and then we’ll have breakfast. We’re by no means fitness junkies, but, especially as we get older, there’s something about prioritizing our physical and mental health together that feels like the pinnacle of love and support. When someone cares about your overall well-being, it makes you feel acknowledged and safe. Alone, I have made it a habit to collect books. It’s a monthly ritual of mine to venture out solo to scour New York’s used bookstores, taking my time to browse and relish in owning my day.
What’s your highest vision for the work that you do?
To usher in a new era of destigmatization, education, and communication around sexual wellness. We want [Maude] to be in the history books for making the world a more equitable and emotionally intelligent place.
How can you connect your mind, body, and spirit for good — or just for your own pleasure — today?