In 2015, two people who had no plans or intentions to start a business when the year started, discovered they both had the same idea, talked about Lovetreats as an actual project in January, went live in October and shipped their 400th order in December. Here's how it all started...
Ute and I met through common friends and surprisingly discovered in January 2015 that both of us had the same idea of making sexual wellness products available in India. The same questions bugged us both - "Why is it not normal?", "Why are conversations around intimacy and sex such a big taboo?", "Isn't our sexuality a big part of who we are?", "Why is buying intimate products associated with sleaze?", "Why do marketing campaigns for sexual wellness products and condoms objectify women?". We both felt the urge to bring this topic out in the open, and to make exploring intimate products fun, non-intimidating and inclusive for everyone. After embracing the serendipity of meeting each other and weeks of brainstorming, the idea had a name – Lovetreats.
Spontaneous Sacrifices and Grunt Work
Having done the initial market and legal research, we asked each other a question – Is opening up an online sex shop in India really something you see yourself working on for the next years of your life? When the answer was yes, Ute cancelled her plans to go back to Europe and gave up her placement for a Masters degree in a prestigious university. I cancelled my plans to relocate to Europe and quit my job in the video games industry. From July on, both of us focused full time on getting the business off the ground. What followed was months of grunt work comprising of legal research, market research, focus group studies, surveys, meeting suppliers and manufacturers and a lot of leg work in order to set up a legit business of selling sex toys in India.
Love and Support from family and friends
One of the first things we did when we set our minds to working on creating India's first women friendly sex toys online shop Lovetreats was to tell our families and friends. Though the initial reactions were a mix of surprise and disbelief, they all supported and encouraged us after we explained our vision and why we wanted to do this. They helped us when we went broke, made introductions that helped us at critical junctures of the business, relentlessly spread the word when we launched and motivated us when we were frustrated. Two of those amazing friends invested in our idea and helped us with the capital to buy our first inventory. We constantly bugged numerous friends with awkward questions about their sex lives, asked for feedback on products that we curated and different aspects of our online shop. To all of these people we are eternally grateful and you know you have our love forever.
Lovetreats moves beyond the two of us
No success story is possible without team work. Many people contributed to our vision in their individual capacities as well as business partners. We had passionate writers, designers and programmers who worked hard to make Lovetreats align with our vision. Preeti kick started our blog initiative, Shraddha contributed to our website content, Nupur conceptualized our initial design, Hozefa helped with tech and a lot of leg work, Hrishi and Leni helped with a lot of photoshopping, Arpita of Barefoot Consultancy contributed to our branding and marketing strategy, Rheea and Kala of Write Leela Write became our content and design partners, Rochelle managed our physical events, Paromita and Carlos made our first in-house video, Zac took team photos for us, Jamie played bartender for our parties, Polina gave us crazy cool ideas, Meghna gave us her expert presentation tips for our stalls, and Ida took care of product photography for our website.
Apart from the ones mentioned here, there were numerous others who went out of their way to help us by volunteering at events, making awesome stall decorations, coding, designing and writing for free, making useful introductions and many many other things. We are eternally grateful for all the big and small favours, your hard work and passion. Lovetreats is as much a story about you all as us and we feel lucky to have met all of you!
Lovetreats speaks to the Community
Lovetreats was given the honour to speak at TEDx Bangalore where Ute gave a talk about “Making Female Sexuality part of the equation”. The response was overwhelming and we were happy that we got the chance to spread the message about a topic that was close to our hearts. Post that, Lovetreats was asked to speak at Social Media Week in Mumbai where we hosted a panel on “Diffusing the Taboo on Sex Digitally”.
Lovetreats goes live
After months of delay due to unforeseen bureaucratic speed bumps, we launched on October 10th, 2015 with shipping exclusively to Bangalore. We wanted to start small, test the waters, get feedback and make improvements. The response was overwhelming. We got our first order (a vibrator) within 15 minutes of launching. We remember that special feeling when we shipped our first treats. It was priceless. Encouraged by the response, we started shipping all over India soon.
Pop up shops are so much fun!
To interact directly with our target audience, we put up stalls at Sunday Soul Sante and Kitsch Mandi. Bangaloreans brought out their spunky side at these events! We were sold out of our sensual massage candles, edible massage oils and blindfolds. Aunties bought funky Bachelorette gifts for their nieces, friends had fun choosing kinky wedding gifts for other friends, couples selected sensual products together and single women chose treats for themselves. Most importantly, people were curious and asked a lot of questions!
Happy customers, happy us!
It’s one thing to make your idea and passion a reality but another thing to hear joyous words from your customers. Whenever we get emails and messages from our happy customers, it fills us with pride and provides us with the greatest source of motivation to continue doing what we started. Here are some of the messages we got from our customers from different parts of India:
“This was my first toy. It has been so helpful in getting to know my body better. The second time I used it, I experienced the first climax of my life. I am not exaggerating when I say this was a life changing experience. I hope the best is yet to come.” - Female customer from Bangalore
“Everything was sooo perfect.The package itself was just ❤️❤️❤️...Thank you lovetreats for giving me the courage to buy my first vibrator!..Lol the toy is sooo good you know. I'm sooo in love with it😂😂” - Female customer from Hyderabad
“I want to thank you and your team for helping me change my love life. My wife and I have been together for 3 years, but never could get this pleasure for her. And this has changed our relationship for the better and we are being more focused on her needs. It’s incredible for me to see her pleasure like this. I am looking forward to buying more pleasure products for my wife.” - Male customer from Mumbai
“I was surprise to know that adult toys were available in India. It was my first time purchase and the products were satisfying. After more than 5yrs of marriage it really helped to spice up our sexual relationship. Will be visiting your store again soon. Thank you!!!” - Male customer from Delhi
To all those who bought from us - a BIG Thank You from the bottom of our hearts. Without you, we have no reason to exist.
Bala – Co-founder & CEO, Lovetreats.in