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Sex toys now sold at mainstream retailers like Sephora, Bloomingdale’s

Risqué products such as vibrators, lubricants, oils, and butt plugs were once exclusively the domain of seedy sex shops and cheap drug stores. But the times they are a-changin’. Sephora recently became the latest retailer to offer these items from boutique startups like Maude and Dame Products under the category of “sexual wellness.” Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom started offering these products last year. In May, Bloomingdale’s began marketing its line of “the ultimate sexual wellness picks.” Executives said that popular attitudes, particularly among millennials and the Gen Z crowd, have changed as they relate to sex — and the shift has been helped out by celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow. Paltrow’s wellness company, Goop, introduced its own brand of vibrators last year. Other celebs have also helped bring sex toys into the mainstream. Actress Dakota Johnson of “50 Shades of Grey” fame is an investor and co-creative director at Maude and singers Demi Lovato and Lily Allen have also endorsed vibrators. “Seeing Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop take the lead in this category made it feel brand right for us, so I give her a lot of credit,” Elizabeth Miller, a Bloomingdale’s vice president who oversees the store’s cosmetics sales, told the New York Times. Miller said Bloomingdale’s and other retailers are responding to the ever-changing needs of their customer base. “People are spending more time, energy and disposable income on their own wellness, so it was natural that this expanded to sexual wellness,” she said. “It’s evolved so much from what it used to be maybe 10 or 15 years ago to be much more approachable.” Having their products sold by recognizable names like Sephora and Bloomingdale’s gives the startups an imprimatur that has traditionally been denied to the makers of sex toys. “Sephora and these other big beauty retailers are saying it’s just like everything else, you can buy it together,” Éva Goicoche, the founder and CEO of Maude, told the Times. see also “It’s impactful in this subtle way.” Alexandra Fine, the co-founder and CEO of Dame, told the Times: “Each time somebody puts us in their store, especially a major player like Sephora, it makes it easier for other people to put in their store, easier for investors to invest in us and easier for customers to buy us.” It took Fine five years to finally get Sephora to agree to stock its shelves with her products. Maude, which was founded in 2018, has raised more than $10 million in funding. Dame, which was founded in 2014, has raised more than $5 million. Both startups are headquartered in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

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