If you’ve been following my Valentine’s Giveaways, you’ll know that I have collaborated with Désir, a South African based online store that offers couples everything from lingerie, linen, gifts, sex toys and much more. When I first started talking to their team, I realized that part of featuring them on my blog, would mean challenging the perceptions that so many people have about sex, and talking about sex on a public forum.
Just like the rest of us, the first time I saw sex being discussed openly was in the pages of Cosmo and Cleo Magazine. I didn’t realize how taboo the topic of sex is, because I had always been exposed to different types of people, on different journies. My aunt actually hosts ladies nights that aim to educate and empower women through sexual wellbeing and it wasn’t until I hosted a few of my own ladies nights, that I realized how many women were too shy to discuss or explore sex, further than what they were taught in an awkward Sex Ed class, decades back.
I decided to approach the owners of Désir to hear what they had to say about the industry, find out who their typical customer is, the benefits of having these important discussions with our partners and ways to educate ourselves.
Here’s what they had to say:
Why do you feel that sexual wellbeing is such a taboo topic and how do you think we can fix that?
I think for decades women have been silenced through both culture, media, and belief systems – and it’s been entrenched into our psyche’s that we are first and foremost seen to be pleasers and nurturers. The consequence being that we have neglected to take care of ourselves and have been unable to find our voices with regards to our own well-being, intimacy, personal likes, wants and desires. We have also been ‘taught’ that it is indecent or inappropriate to pleasure ourselves and as a result there are millions of women who do not know how their bodies work, let alone knowing what pleasure looks or feels like to them. In addition, there is a huge stigma attached to men being perceived as failures if they are unable to please a woman and even more so if you dare to introduce a sexual device into the bedroom, so we don’t talk about this.
In addition, there is a huge stigma attached to men being perceived as failures if they are unable to please a woman and even more so if you dare to introduce a sexual device into the bedroom, so we don’t talk about this. The knock-on effect is that we are perpetuating a belief system where sex and well-being are seen as two completely separate entities and are not considered as optimally going hand in hand with one another.
This has made sex as a topic uncomfortable and unapproachable which has resulted in closed-door discussions, which are fuelled by misconstrued beliefs, perceptions, and negative connotations. The ‘fix’ comes about by not only balancing the tipping scales between prioritising men and women’s wants, needs, and desires but also by brands such as Désir encouraging empowerment, self-education, and providing men and women alike, with the ‘permission’ to take their sexual wellbeing into their own hands and by allowing dialogue on what is important to them.
Only recently have we, as a society, started challenging perceptions and belief systems and we have finally started to realize that sex is a very necessary part of being holistically healthy. Intimacy and sexual wellness is a fundamental necessity to be able to evolve as a balanced and healthy individual – whether on your own or with a partner.
What inspired you to open your online store and why did you pick this industry?
Désir as a business model worked taking into consideration the emerging markets and the rapidly growing e-commerce markets. Whilst companies have been selling adult toys in South Africa for many years, none of them were doing it, in a way that really and truly empowered individuals by offering a platform which was not only discreet and luxurious, but that provided a space which was empowering, informative, and embedded a message of promoting intimacy and sexual health. Not only that, but the level of service delivery in South Africa was particularly frustrating, as it was very rare that you found a business who would go over and beyond their expectations or promises. We knew we could be exceptional, and at the same time, we would be able to honor individuals all around the world, starting in SA.
Who is your typical customer, can you describe him or her?
Our customers are ordinary couples and individuals – they don’t carry the sleazy personas which, we have been led to believe, shop at adult stores, hiding behind red velvet curtains. They are mothers, fathers, married, single, divorced, gay, straight, bi, black and white. Some are amateurs, some are novices, some insecure, and some super-confident. They, however, all have one thing in common – each one is on their own intimate journey of self-discovery, and are learning to honour themselves.
Why do you think women are more confident and inclined to purchase sex toys, lingerie, etc. from an online store versus an actual walk-in store?
An online platform creates a safe space, where you are able to be who you want to be without the fear of judgment, critic, or insecurity. Désir’s online store, in particular, really provides an online space, which feels comfortable, luxurious, and discreet at the same time. Our products are not offensive, nor are they sleazy, so women (and men) are able to spend their time browsing, educate themselves, and really understand what it is, that they like or don’t like – all within their own terms and within a safe and luxurious space.
What’s your advice for someone who is interested in exploring your store and what it has to offer, but doesn’t quite know where to begin or doesn’t have the confidence to make their first purchase just yet?
Désir prides itself on educating and empowering individuals. Each product sold on our website has a detailed description providing you with absolutely everything you need to know to ensure you make the correct purchase.
In addition, we provide a Client Concierge service where a customer can chat to us via an online chat, where, in the most professional and discreet manner, we will ensure that you are able to discuss and ask any questions pertaining to your purchase or where to start.
We also provide customers access to our blog called Désir Diaries, where you will have a host of expertly informative articles, ranging from how to buy lingerie to buying your first vibrator to choosing the correct lubricant. All of this information, and the opportunity to pop into our showroom in Camps Bay, will ensure that you have the best experience in purchasing your first adult intimate product.