"I've always thought of sexual wellness as something that makes you feel connected to yourself and your body. It can't be something you compartmentalize and feel guilty or ashamed about."
Welcome to The Simple Things, a wellness series dedicated to the routines and rituals that bring a sense of well-being to our daily lives. As the name implies, sometimes it’s not about making seismic shifts in our day-to-day—simple actions can be just as impactful for ourselves and for those in our community. This week, we’re chatting with Éva Goicochea, founder, CEO, and creative director of Maude—a modern sexual wellness brand—about taking care of herself from a young age, the importance of curating a personalized intimacy routine, and more.
How did your relationship with wellness begin?
"I was hyper aware of wellness while growing up in New Mexico. My mom used to take me to this place called Ojo Caliente, which has these beautiful natural hot springs. It would be our mom and daughter day and I would go into the pools and get wrapped into a little blanket and just lay there. So the idea of balance and taking care of myself has always been something that has been part of my life. As I'm getting older, I think about trying to keep everything as simple as possible so that it doesn’t feel overwhelming. Whether that's with skincare, a workout routine, or anything really. It’s just about keeping it attainable because there is just too much else going on."
Absolutely. It would be totally counterproductive to be burnt out from your own routine.
"I would also say something people don’t talk about enough is having a full social life. Finding friends that are family and finding time away from thinking about work. My joy is having an integrated life in New York. Everyone slowed down in the pandemic, but one of the positive things that came out [of this time] was this idea of checking yourself to make sure that you weren’t constantly running on empty. So I very much think of wellness as an integrated approach to a happy life."
Some of the biggest takeaways from spending so much time at home over the past few years have been this larger conversation around wellness, setting aside time for ourselves, and prioritizing balance. Did you experience a shift in your routines at all?
"Yes, from my own perspective, I think that it's very much what I was saying earlier about slowing down. Especially during the first year of the pandemic, there was no option but to have a quiet life. In regards to sexual wellness, we were seeing a lot of people relate to conversations around navigating relationships, whether you were side-by-side with someone all day or you were completely alone. What did that mean in terms of your own happiness? It really made the conversation much bigger because everyone was acutely aware of the situation that they were in."
Sex isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind when we think of wellness, but it's such an important area to talk about. When did your journey with sexual wellness start?
"I am surprisingly the least public about any of this. I was very much a late bloomer. I went to a Catholic high school and was taught abstinence. I didn’t necessarily believe that was what was happening, but it was in our ears. I've always thought of sexual wellness as something that makes you feel connected to yourself and your body. It can't be something you compartmentalize and feel guilty or ashamed about. It is about bringing [the experience] into who you are rather than feeling like you have to be a completely different person in order to have a sex life. [When I'm in a relationship], this means checking in with myself and asking, is this a situation where I don’t feel like the [sexual component] is part of who I am? Why am I feeling that disconnect?"
Why do you think intimacy is an important pillar of wellness?
"I mean, it’s everything, right? Intimacy is about trust, communication, feeling safe, and being in the mood. [At Maude], we want to make sure people really feel themselves in every situation, and that they know that it is okay to feel like sex is part of your everyday life without it feeling scary."
What would you say to someone who's just beginning their sexual wellness journey?
"If they are just starting, the Essentials Kit is great. [Ask yourself] what do you need for your own sex life? Whether that is condoms, lubricants, or a device. Is there something that would be additive or helpful for whatever situation you are in? I think that it really starts with finding something that is going to set the tone for you."
For those who might be newer on the scene, is education something that can help give them more confidence talking about and exploring sex?
"We like to think of it as a lifelong education. Maude has partnered with organizations that advocate for sex ed in schools all the way through your adulthood. Maybe you had no sex ed and you have questions and just need a place to go where you feel safe. It is our job to make it feel like sex can exist in a lot of ways. There are also a bunch of books—like So Tell Me About The Last Time You Had Sex by Ian Kerner or Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski—for exploring the emotional side as well. Education is so important and I think that is the biggest gap that we have to solve as an organization because people are starting with little to no knowledge around our own bodies."
You have a unique perspective as a brand founder and leader in the industry. What have been some of your biggest takeaways?
"When we started Maude, the idea was that this is meant for everybody. We had some question marks about whether this is going to resonate, so we did a big survey before we launched and the audience was really wide age and gender wise. Some of the popular concerns people have are similar no matter their adult age. The biggest learning experience was that we are all underserved in sexual wellness and we have all felt sort of ignored. A lot of the feedback is specifically around ageism. Many brands, including the legacy ones, have particularly focused on being in your early 20s, but you know you live a lot longer than that [laughs]."
You’ve previously said that "intimacy is a feminist act." How can we use our own personal relationship with intimacy to find power and peace within ourselves?
"I am really excited to see this younger generation be more vocal about what they need. You are around sexism all the time. People are telling you what you are supposed to look like and be like, but also what your relationships should look like and be like. I think you can be aware of your sexuality without it feeling disconnected from who you are as a person; we all contain multitudes and being in touch with who we actually are and what we actually want rather than accepting what society tells us we’re supposed to be and what we’re supposed to want is so important."
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