Almost 40 years after the march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in 1956, August was declared Women’s Month in 1995 and we have been celebrating it annually ever since. This doesn’t mean there isn’t still a long fight ahead to reach true equality. But one area where women in South Africa are leading the way is in the sexual health and wellness space.
Historically dominated by men, this field in South Africa has many phenomenal female founders. Here are five of SA’s pioneering women of the sexual health and wellness space, proving that the future really is female!
Nu Davidson / Founder of Liquid Gold Lube
Inspired by her desire to bring quality lube to the market and to empower people by letting them know that it is a bedroom essential, Nu knows that our bodies deserve only the best. Her brand, Liquid Gold Lube, has harnessed the power of SA’s indigenous rooibos plant and other high-quality ingredients to create a natural, water-based lubricant that is safe for people and sustainable for the planet.
Dedicated to normalising enjoyment for all and breaking down stigmas surrounding sexual health products, this inclusive brand enhances every experience for optimal comfort.
Q: What are your predictions for the future of the sex toy and sexual health industry in SA?
A: ‘I think it will continue to expand and grow and, hopefully, some local productions will start taking the globe by storm. We are only at the start of this liberation within this industry, with a lot of unlearning, rescripting and a ton of education still ahead of us. But we have begun the necessary and oh-so-needed journey to a more sexually empowered nation.’
Q: What advice would you like to give young women who want to start their own business?
A: ‘Be prepared to work hard and always remain authentic and true to your “why”. This is the reason you are driven to start a business. Also, consider what footprint you wish to leave behind.’
Nomagugu Mbongwa / Founder of Lushka
Nomagugu admits that Lushka is more than just a brand to her. It’s a way of life (and she thinks it’s just a matter of time until everyone agrees!). She was inspired by her supportive partner (see how it’s done, gents?!) who told her to never stop pursuing her dreams. So she ditched her accounting job to start her sexual wellness brand and hasn’t looked back.
Wanting you to experience a sex life that’s more than just missionary, Lushka aims to bring pleasure to couples and singles and has everything you need for a fun night in.
Q: Why is female representation in the South African sexual wellness space so important?
A: ‘Socially, we have so much to learn and need to become more comfortable with the topic of sex. And who better to inform and educate the masses if not women? I would love to see a world where women can be in full and total control of their bodies and even more in control of their healthy sex lives. More women in the industry will only have a positive impact!’
Q: What advice would you like to give young women in South Africa looking to start a business?
A: ‘Never underestimate the value gained from really understanding your craft, your market, and the environment. And, in the same breath, don't let doubt stop you from moving forward. Be brave and persevere – imposter syndrome is not welcome here because if you are fire you will be felt, mntase!’
Gabriela McKenzie / Co-Founder of Nectar
According to Gabriela, by choosing Nectar Cannabis Intimate Oil you are consciously acknowledging that you deserve to receive pleasure. As the name suggests, this sexual health and wellness brand harnesses the soothing properties of full-spectrum CBD oil. It’s designed as a pre-lube that works with your body to make intimacy both easy and erotic.
Nectar is also committed to using only clean, locally-produced ingredients and sustainable practices. Their passion for the power of plants combined with their goal of encouraging intimate conversations is the ethos on which their brand was built, and their pleasure-enhancing product is what keeps the people coming back for more!
Q: What or who inspired you to start Nectar?
A: ‘After my first baby, I really battled with painful sex and was also not able to get much self-pleasure. After some visits to a pelvic physio, I became a HUGE fan of lube! I couldn’t find on the market anything 100% natural and that worked for me so with my naturopathic background I developed my own!’
Q: Does your brand take a female-pleasure-first approach?
A: ‘Yes 100%! With my business partner and I both being mothers to young children we know how women, most of the time, don’t put their selves first. This is in all areas and especially when it comes to pleasure. But we are here to change that!’
Samantha Taylor / Director of Olio
Growing up in a home that passionately believed in the healing power of nature, Samantha says this business venture was a no-brainer for her. She wanted to create affordable, 100% natural premium formulas that she wasn’t able to find on local shelves.
This led to the birth of The Oliō Store and their water-based Natural Intimate CBD Lube, which contains the prized indigenous plant, aloe, for smooth, sexy fun. It also has replenishing properties that contribute to the health of the vaginal canal, so you get satisfaction and safety in one product!
Q: Do you feel that there is enough female representation in the South African sexual wellness industry?
A: ‘Female representation has boomed and we can see it in the way women are becoming increasingly comfortable expressing themselves and making a conscious effort to improve their sexual health. Sex toys have never been so innovative and place a real focus on female pleasure. The sexual narrative is changing and becoming healthier, and we’re excited to be a part of the discussion!’
Q: What are your predictions for the future of this industry in South Africa?
A: ‘Sexual health needs to be a priority for anyone enjoying sex with themselves or their partners. Women are more eager than ever to join the conversation and have their sexual needs met in a safe and equal space. I think the industry is catering to this more and more as the need for sexual transparency increases. We can already see toys and accessories focusing on a mutually gratifying experience.’
Lizanne van Niekerk / Founder of OSKE
After listening to a podcast where the hosts confidently and openly chatted about coconut oil as a lubricant, Lizanne was inspired. Not just by the products but by the open discussion around them.
This led to OSKE being founded in 2018 and offering a range of intimate wellness products made for women. They are all-natural, vegan-friendly and sustainable, too, making them the perfect choice for the conscious consumer. This brand aims to make females feel confident that their lube is as safe as it is sensational during sex (and they *definitely* deliver!).
Q: Does your brand take a female-pleasure-first approach?
A: ‘Absolutely! Our name, OSKE, represents “ask her”. Lubricant is an essential aspect of women’s health (at all ages, FYI!) yet many products on the market don’t take into consideration female physiology. This encompasses important aspects such as pH balance, osmolarity and the quality of ingredients.’
Q: What advice would you like to give young women who want to launch their own business?
A: ‘Start today. When it comes to entrepreneurship the challenges are endless but so are the rewards. Start small, as small as you possibly can, if it means you can take the first step right now. Whatever it is you want to bring to the world, just give it a try! Women were put on this earth to create. You got this, girl!’