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How to Start your own Sexual Wellness Brand?

Chloe from Bear & Lace tells us how she started her own sex toy & lingerie boutique!

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Hey! Can you tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what’s your background?

Hi Cat. So I am 32 and from Essex in the UK. I have been a casino dealer since the age of 19 in London. For the past 8 years I have been a trustee for Mitchell’s Miracles which is a charity my sister founded in memory of my nephew who had a rare childhood cancer. It feels weird to write still but I am now the director of my own business, Bear & Lace, which is a dream come true.

How did you first become interested in sexuality, sex toys etc.?

Well I got my first sex toy when I was about 20 years old which personally changed my life. I had only had one partner up until then that had made me orgasm. He taught me things about my body I didn’t know before and from there I became quite addicted to that euphoric feeling only orgasms can induce. Since then I have experimented with all different toys, bondage and intimate liquids. I also dabbled in the swinging and sex party scene on a few occasions.

What was your first sex toy?

My first sex toy was a bullet vibrator from Ann Summers. You know when you are at the till and the assistant points you to the bullets on offer on the front of the counter? It was £10 so I thought why the hell not. That was by far the best £10 I had ever spent!

Did you ever face shame or judgement for being a sex positive woman?

Of course, there has always been a stigma attached to being a sexually liberated woman. Being promiscuous as a female is sadly still seen as a bad thing, but that isn’t going to stop me from living the way I want to live. I have been judged by people I thought were friends which is definitely what hurt the most. The thing is we are all built differently, some people are more open minded than others.

What made you want to start Bear & Lace? What was the idea behind it?

Bear & Lace was born out of the pandemic. I had been furloughed from my casino job and was chatting to a friend about his father that owned sex shops in Soho back in the 70’s. I was sat there thinking selling sex toys would be so perfect for me. So I had a look online and did some research which led me to realise nowhere sold curated gift and subscription boxes that combined luxury lingerie and pleasure products. I must add that I was incredibly lucky to have a mentor and a friend who believed in me enough to invest in the idea. Without them Bear & Lace would still be a fantasy.

How did you go from idea to reality? How did you start reaching out to brands etc.?

Firstly, I did extensive market research and had to refine the idea into a presentation to pitch to investors. This also came in handy for the marketing company, Source Design, to use when creating my brand guidelines and my logo, which I adore. Once branding was complete I was able to contact the brands I loved the most like Coco de Mer, Something Wicked and Je Joue. The feeling of elation I had when I got my first yes from Coco de Mer is something I will never forget. From there it has just flowed and I have more and more brands wanting to be in the Bear & Lace Box.

"The main challenges we face as a sex positive brand are surrounding social media. We are not allowed to boost our posts like a clothing brand could for instance. I have had posts removed for violating community guidelines which actually weren’t."

What challenges have you faced in this type of business? Do you have any extra rules around selling adult products etc.?

The main challenges we face as a sex positive brand are surrounding social media. We are not allowed to boost our posts like a clothing brand could for instance. I have had posts removed for violating community guidelines which actually weren’t. I daren’t dispute these through fear of having the account disabled after I have worked so hard to organically grow it.

This is why it is so important for our followers to share, save and comment on our posts since it is our only way of being seen. We get shadow banned from time to time too which is very annoying.

Plus, some businesses will not work with sex related brands. I had a web design company flat out say no to even giving me a quote and also a marketing firm. I get this though. I would only want to hire people that are open minded and enthusiastic about my brand anyway.

Images sourced from Bear & Lace - showing products & gift boxes

In your words, what makes Bear & Lace different from other adult boutiques?

Bear & Lace is different because we make gifting pleasure simple with our readily curated gift and subscription boxes (coming very soon). The brands we stock are mostly female-founded, and made ethically. We bring the personal experience of buying from a bricks and mortar boutique, online. Our upcoming subscription/membership service is personalised for each customer. We are starting an Occasion Membership too, a client pays a monthly fee and receives a Bear & Lace Box four times a year. For a lover's Birthday, Anniversary, Valentines and Christmas.

Do you have a favourite product or brand? It must be amazing getting to work with so many beautiful brands!

I have so many favourites. Lingerie wise, I would choose Something Wicked since they have such a stunning range and they are made entirely in the UK by an all female team. For lubes and oils I would say Fleur D’Amour which is a British brand that create CBD infused liquids that are magical, honestly you really must try it.

Out of the toys I have three favourites, I know I am so greedy. The Doxy Wand Massager is earth shatteringly good and something everyone should own. It is made in Cornwall and can be used in a multitude of ways. My favourite cock ring is the Mio by Je Joue, it is also a British brand and has a unique motor that feels devine. Last but by no means least is the LELO Sona 2, which is a citoral stimulator that can be used in the bath which I love.

What’s your favourite thing about running your business?

Customer feedback. It makes me so happy when I get a message from a B&L lover saying how much they love their box and cannot wait to order again. The past 13 years I have worked in an environment where customers are fairly difficult to please, even when they are winning. I felt like I wasn’t making a positive impact on the world. Now I can make people truly smile and well, you know. It has actually given me a purpose too which I was craving.

Last question, your brand is really empowering for women exploring their sexuality, what do you wish for the future of women’s sexual empowerment? (overcome the orgasm gap etc.)

There is so much to wish for. Better sex education in schools and for adults is what needs to happen as soon as possible. I believe our doctors should be checking in on our pleasure like they ask us how many units of alcohol we drink a week, why not ask how many orgasms we are having? Some people go their whole lives without an orgasm purely because they don’t know how to have one and that is a tragedy in my view.

I would like to see more realistic sex scenes in movies/TV too, there are far too many penetration only orgasms on the screen. Something that is unattainable for at least 80% of females.

I wish for a world where women have the confidence to express their needs rather than denying themselves pleasure for the sake of a man's ego. Through education, communication and honesty we can begin to close the gap on orgasm inequality, oh and of course sex toys!

Women Empowering Women's Sexuality

Thank you so much Chloe for sharing your journey with us! We are always trying to empower women to discover their sexuality and we are so excited that there are more sex positive brands being created to help women do that!

Check out Chloe's website Bear & Lace here and get 15% off with code UNGIRL15.

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