A nationally respected sexologist and social impact entrepreneur, Rebecca Alvarez Story works with womxn, couples, and teens to help them navigate a variety of sexual wellness topics and find holistic ways to maximize their sexual agency. She is the founder of Bloomi, the first online multi-brand marketplace for intimacy to revolutionize the sexual wellness category.
This past year has been full of hardships, loneliness, and self-growth. With millions of adults self-isolating, 2020 pushed us to learn how to connect with ourselves and our partners in new ways. This longing for connection means we started seeking out advice, tools, and resources to help us navigate intimacy. Tools such as sex toys have become more mainstream and are seen as wellness products, finally. But it’s not just a sextech boom we are seeing. There is an intimacy revolution on the horizon.
In 2018 when I launched Bloomi, I wrote a piece called "Why You Should Make the Switch to Clean Intimate Care," where I predicted the beginning of a revolution around intimacy. You see, intimacy is at the core of human interaction; we need connection to survive. This core human need isn’t just about sex, though. It’s broader than that. We all need intimacy and are even more in tune with our intimate health. The COVID pandemic has accelerated our desire to seek out resources and technologies in this category. Companies like Bloomi, a modern marketplace for intimacy and wellness, Ferly, a sex-education platform that promotes mindful sexual experiences, and All Bodies, which offers online health classes, have begun to democratize intimacy and make it accessible for all.
Ahead, I'm breaking down four drivers behind the intimate wellness revolution and why 2021 will be a winning year for all things intimacy.
The Focus Has Changed: Intimacy Over Sex
People find it interesting when I, a sexologist, tell them sex is not the most important thing. In my 10 years working in this profession, I can say that intimacy is at the core of what humans long for. Yes, sex is often a by-product of intimacy, but it doesn’t always have to be. Products, especially clean and holistic products that help to build intimacy in natural ways, have started to differentiate themselves and gain popularity going into 2021.
Some best sellers include:
- Bloomi Massage Oil with CBD: A massage oil with CBD and botanical aphrodisiacs to help the body heal and relax.
- A Sex Journal: A simple tool for connection and communication after intimate experiences with a partner.
- Wellness Salts with CBD: Multi-botanical bath soaks with CBD formulated to renew your body and mind.
- The Heart: A rose quartz crystal "chakrub", suitable and pleasurable for intimate massage.
The Rise of Radical Educators
Until now, most of us have not had good sex ed or intimacy training. Sex education in U.S. schools is antiquated, often not-inclusive, and covers abstinence-only focused topics. Most of us also do not have a trusted source of intimate wellness advice. What about talking to your doctor? I love and respect OB/GYNs, but most physicians do not feel comfortable talking to patients about sex and thus, don’t engage in an open dialogue about intimacy. On average, physicians get less than 10 hours of sex education training during their four years of medical school.
But thanks to what I like to call "radically woke" educators like Shannon Boodram, Emily Morse, Kandi Burruss, and Cindy Gallop, people can now get sex ed that actually serves their needs via the internet, blogs, webinars, and more. These sexologists, body-positive advocates, entrepreneurs, and other experts are part of a new wave of much-needed education and inspiration.
Tradition is Changing
Although we are still on an uphill battle towards sex-positivity and inclusivity, generational changes have allowed purchasing power to drive demand and innovation. Customers are putting their money where their mouth is and supporting brands that are progressive, inclusive, and making quality intimacy products. Companies like Bloomi, Dame Products, MakeLoveNotPorn, Foria, and Maude are a few of the community-driven companies that stand for more progressive values. The founders of these brands are inspired to create companies that serve a need they personally have and ultimately let the community fuel product development and growth.
Consumers Expect More From Wellness Brands
Powered by the rise of multiple industries (including clean beauty and sextech), we also see consumers pushing for ingredient transparency, appropriate clean standards, and free education with purchases. If you look at some of the fastest-growing businesses, you’ll notice that community is core to their business. Because intimate health (e.g., vulva hygiene, pH balance, yeast infections, lubrication, pleasure, orgasm) are all such personal topics, intimate wellness brands double down on education.