In our series “Catching up with …”, Mercator Launch catches up with former improvers to see how they are doing now and what they are working on!
Everyone deserves a healthy, safe and above all, pleasurable sex life. Sexual Healing is a company with a mission. A mission to enable women to explore and (re-)discover their sexuality after trauma. Their motto? “The pleasure is yours”. And the pleasure is indeed ours to interview the founders of this very innovative powerful company!
How are things at Sexual Healing?
“Exciting things are happening! We’ve just launched our first product, the Mirror, our new website is live (check it out here!) and from September on we will start delivering our products from stock. Right now, we are looking at the “unboxing experience” of our products. We believe it is important that this experience truly aligns with our mission and vision. We are now working on a very cool manual that really conveys the feeling we want to create for our customers when they use our products. We’re very grateful to fffunction studio, they helped us to establish the Sexual Healing branding. Our brand and our products touch a very sensitive topic, so we feel that a flair of humor in our tone of voice can sometimes help lower the threshold to talk about it or use one of our products.”, says Nienke.
Inge: “It’s really a rollercoaster at Sexual Healing at the moment. Great things are happening, but that also requires a lot of dedication and energy. But our ambitions aren’t modest: we want to conquer the whole world with our products. Step by step, of course, but we have gathered great people around us, which makes our dream feel possible!”
When did you decide you wanted a partner?
“Pretty soon after I started writing a business plan, I found out that I wanted a business partner. Someone to discuss business strategies with and someone with whom I could find a healthy compromise. The only condition: it had to be someone who really works from the heart. And with Inge, I hit the jackpot! We complement each other well and have a very open way of communicating. Starting a business together can sometimes feel like a marriage. We started “dating”, to get to know each other well, before we took the big step to officially start the business together.” says Nienke.
“We now know each other so well that we know the tell-tale signs when the other person is working too hard. We keep each other on track!” says Inge.
How do you run your business together?
“A new era is dawning in the business world,” Inge says enthusiastically. “Leadership no longer has to be traditional; it can be based on vulnerability. And that’s how we do it at Sexual Healing. We work from intuition. We believe that a company only becomes successful if it is an extension of your own identity or mission. Only then will entrepreneurship go smoothly. Our motto is: “Aiming for harmony, not for perfection.” There is power in showing that you sometimes have to fail before you can get up again!”
Nienke: “I always thought there was a certain step by step plan to set up a company. But you can just figure out which way works for you! That’s not only the core of Sexual Healing… but also the basis of the way we do business. We feel that the right investors and partners will join Sexual Healing, because they believe in our product and our mission!”
What are you working on right now?
Inge: “Nienke is mainly concerned with the company’s Research & Development. For example, we are conducting research around the objects of Sexual Healing. To set up this research, with the AMC & LUMC, we have received a Stimuleringsfonds subsidy. I am currently working on the marketing campaign for our product launch.”
Nienke adds: “We want to make good use of the network that we have gathered around us. We got to know people with a lot of expertise in sexual health and wellness and have gathered a good group of experience experts. We would like to build a community around Sexual Healing where we can provide good information and facilitate discussions about sexual well-being.”
What challenges did you face over the last year?
Nienke: “We found out that writing financial applications for subsidies takes a lot of time, especially with our business approach, which is mostly mission driven. Convincing people of our plan, who look at our company from a completely different perspective, takes a lot of energy. But we learned that being vulnerable and staying true to yourself can help our goals. As a small player in the market, you have to keep fighting for your place, even with suppliers. We had to practice not to downplay what we do out of insecurity. we often said “we have a small business, or we are doing this project, etc. We now realize we were way too modest; Now we say; Sexual Healing is a start-up in the fem-tech market!”
Did you gain any new insights into the process of Sexual Healing during the development of the objects?
“Sexual health is a universal thing. Our products originated from trauma that, unfortunately, women have to deal with a lot, but in a way, everyone could benefit from using them. We regularly get the question from men: “Can I use this too?”, Inge says.
What is your ultimate goal/dream for Sexual Healing?
Inge says clearly: “To be a household name, worldwide. It would be a dream to be mentioned in the same breath with brands such as Satisfyer and Lioness. We want to be a pioneer in this field and inspire other female entrepreneurs!”
Nienke: “I would like to contribute to groundbreaking research about sexual development, pleasure and health. My dream is that young people grow up with a more realistic view of their own body and what sex means. And that the basis of sex is your own enjoyment. If I can help show people that, then my life goal has been achieved (no pressure, haha).”
What inspires you to do better every day?
Nienke and Inge: “We get up every day with the motivation of trying to change the world for the better. We work hard but have a huge privilege of doing what we love and we can potentially help so many people with this!
Do you have one last tip for entrepreneurs (to be) who want to turn their passion into their job?
“Stay true to yourself and don’t let other people’s tips and advice pull you off your own path. So, you might as well ignore this tip too 😉 Just follow your heart!”, Inge concludes.
Nienke adds: “Create your own definition of success. People often say that success is about sales and profit, but not all successes need to be measurable. Success can also be a good conversation with someone from your target group. Sometimes you just need that gratification to keep your mission clear.”