Eva Goicochea is revolutionizing the sex industry. With a split background in visual branding and legislative work, she’s marrying her strong eye for design with her passion to help people in the form of Maude, her latest business venture already stirring a buzz. Modern sex essentials, here to make sex simple.
Eva seems to be everywhere, having made the coastal shift from Los Angeles to New York City; chances are you’ve stumbled across her Instagram or explored a site she’s built. The decision for her to go freelance was made years ago, around the same time Everlane shut their LA office to grow in San Francisco, a relocation Eva was uninterested in. “Working at Everlane gave me the opportunity to see how a great idea that resonated [could] grow and create change” Eva says, crediting the startup for both the information and the confidence to start down her own path to entrepreneurship. “They really understand messaging and branding.” Everlane saw most of its tremendous success and growth after their move up to San Francisco, something that Eva says has been interesting to watch after seeing them through their early stages—a period that all startups know so well.
Eva has gone on to start two of her own projects: Tinker, a watch company, and Maude, a brand centered around modern sex essentials. Both aim to answer a question. For Tinker, the issue was similar to our own—why was the product so expensive? They set out to educate the consumer on the cost of watchmaking. Maude, on the other hand, was more about dissecting the conversation, not the product itself. Though there’s an opportunity to dissect the product, Eva was more interested in “fundamentally understanding why people perceive sex the way they do, and how existing companies contribute to that perception” commenting most notably on how companies fail to speak to us about this universal, basic human need in a human way. Without it, none of us would be here. So why is the subject so taboo? Maude was created to challenge the fragmentation in the industry, focusing on that change in a very values-driven way.
Eva was more interested in “fundamentally understanding why people perceive sex the way they do.
The idea for a brand around modern sex essentials actually came from former Tinker co-founders. They wanted to create a ‘sex box,’ a service that delivered personalized sex essentials in a discreet way. When talking it over, the co-founders realized they were delivering the message in a way that was saying “you should be embarrassed,” which is not the way Eva had imagined the concept going. Soon, the rest of the team had lost interest, but she ran with the idea. Maude seamlessly joins Eva’s two professional backgrounds into one. She studied advertising in NYC. After receiving her degree, she moved back to California and became a legislative aid in the public healthcare world. “I wanted to become a lobbyist and advocate on behalf of patients, but I wasn’t connecting with constituents on the ground [ back in Los Angeles]. I was also starting to miss working in the creative world.” Then, it clicked. Maude was the most logical way to combine her interest in design, messaging, and communication with her interest in healthcare, specifically her desire to open up the conversation around sex. Working alongside Dina Epstein, her co-founder and Chief Product Officer and Maya Bodinger, her co-founder and COO, they set out to make Maude a reality.
For Eva and Maude, the timing seemed to work out perfectly. “I think age and marriage are on my side in this case” Eva says when asked if she’s faced any hardships (or if she anticipates any), being a female entrepreneur in a typically male-centric industry. “I’m coming from a place of recognition—there are multiple facets to this conversation.” Eva makes a comment that even in a relationship, it’s not any easier or less confusing. “It feels like nothing is marketed to anyone over 21...it’s funny.” She attributes the lack of push back to her age and relationship, and to a certain level of respect for herself, knowing she can push through any negativity and build her brand thoughtfully. The bottom line is that the sex industry needs a change, and she’s not afraid to tackle the judgement or sexism people might cast—it’s all part of the process.
Maude is advocating that “this should be a part of your integrated life and wellness [so that you can] have a great relationship with your own body and sex.” They’re setting out to shift the mindset towards the long term.
“Newer brands tend to focus on the women—and it’s great, women need to be spoken to—but when it comes to sex I think it furthers the fragmentation in the market” to speak directly to one gender or the other. Maude aims to do just the opposite. “With these other companies, they’re typically speaking to a heterosexual audience, and they’re often (whether or not they’re saying it) speaking to an age group,” so Maude hopes to be set apart by aiming to rid themselves of those boundaries of age, sexuality, and gender identification. There’s been a huge movement to focus on women, but “opening up these conversations [by saying] ‘think with your vagina’ is a bizarre way to go about it, and I think it’s creating a further disconnect.” What the market was missing was a universal approach: one free of tacky slogans and gender specific packaging.
Moving on from industry standards has proven no easy feat, but it seemed time for it to be done. Try as they may, major players in the industry can’t seem to tackle the correct way to educate around sexual health and advocacy for protection. For example, Eva cites the partnership between Trojan and MTV Networks. “Trojan owns 70% of the US market and has a partnership with MTV, but unfortunately the audience isn’t there, so it feels old and outdated.” Lack of audience distinction coupled with packaging inconsistency makes for a failed connection, and creates further disconnect between Trojan customers and MTV viewers. For the backbone of Maude, it was important to recognize that there are two thought processes surrounding sexual health and preventative measures: “This is necessary in the moment” versus “I’m stockpiling because they are good for my health.” Maude is advocating that “this should be a part of your integrated life and wellness [so that you can] have a great relationship with your own body and sex.” They’re setting out to shift the mindset towards the long term. “The reason drugstores, bodegas, and so on sell condoms is because there’s a need for them in the moment,” Eva explains. “Going to the drugstore and buying a three pack is not thinking about the long term, it’s thinking about the immediate. We want to change that.”
For now, Eva is staying busy focusing on fundraising, building the brand, and getting Maude all set for its launch later this year. To keep up with the company, you can visit their website or follow them on Instagram. Eva can also be found on Instagram.
(all images by Clemence Poles for Vrai & Oro)