#BEYOUROWN MEETS SUSI LENNOX AND SARAH BROOKS
Two friends, one with a degree in chemistry the other in English, met to discuss forming a business together on the north coast of Bali. That’s where YES started. YES is the organic intimacy company and has been making vaginas happy (and healthy) since 2003!
The YES YES Company manufactures a wide range of certified organic personal lubricants, vaginal moisturisers and intimate washes. All YES products are certified organic by the Soil Association, Made in Britain and Vegetarian (or Vegan) Society approved. YES products are all pure and natural, made without parabens, glycerine, silicone, hormones, gluten or known skin irritants.
Susi Lennox and Sarah Brooks set out to dignify the intimacy category, curiously triggered by Viagra, and then became passionate about intimate health and very serious about sexual pleasure, naturally. As a result of the success of their uniquely effective formulations, multi-award-winning YES products are sold into health, pleasure and medical markets in over 96 countries worldwide, with two products also available via the NHS.
What was the initiative behind the launch and why are you passionate about Intimate health and sexual pleasure?
The trigger for us to launch a range of natural plant-based intimacy products was an unexpected social side-effect of the launch of Viagra. The angry letters in the New York press from women whose lives had been “ruined” by Viagra caught their attention. These women wrote about their husbands producing Viagra and expecting their wives to be able to make love at the drop of a hat after many years of drought. There was no matching blue pill for the wives, and their bodies were unable to respond in the way they had in the past, so their newly potent husbands ran off with much younger women and were demanding divorces. So these Viagra-wives were kicked out of the family home – their safe old age turned upside down.
Not being menopausal at the time, we didn’t understand the issue. Why didn’t they buy some KY? Surely that could fix it. We researched and discovered up to 80% of women can experience vaginal dryness as a result of the Menopause. Wow, who knew that? Not many people, apparently in the early 2000s. As we investigated the products on the market we were shocked to discover there were no natural, plant-based personal lubricants. The products we looked at were terrible; made from synthetic chemicals and industrial-strength preservatives, they tasted sweet and wrong, felt unnatural and sticky on our hands. The language was either smutty or medical – implying anybody who bought it had a problem, or the packaging was covered in suggestive body-parts or flowers that look like labia. There was one that even smelt and looked like wood-glue – YUK what a turn off.
What makes YES revolutionary and what are you doing differently to other similar brands in the market?
Our mission is to ‘change the world from the inside’ and our way of doing this is to create intimacy products that are designed to be side-effect free and guaranteed pure and natural. YES (and AH! YES our USA brand) is the only certified organic, sustainable, plant-based range of intimacy products. The YES revolution doesn’t stop there; the benefits that YES WB (water-based lubricant) and YES VM (Vaginal Moisturiser) bring to many conditions have been recognised by Health Care professionals as unique, so both these products are available on NHS Prescription. YES WB and YES VM are the first certified organic and registered medical device available on prescription. More than all the above, we design YES products to match and complement human physiology, so that our vaginal lubricants match typical vaginal pH, unlike many lubricants. Unlike many of the products we tested, YES actually works – do check out the thousands of YEStimonials on our website.
How did you assess the market prior to launch to get a deeper understand of what the market was previously missing?
I’ve described how we assessed the products above and found nothing that felt ok on our hands, and natural or dignified. The deep research that changed our thinking was understanding so much more about the causes of Vaginal Dryness and Atrophic Vaginitis (severe Vaginal Dryness). We rapidly realised that Vaginal Dryness is rarely discussed either between friends, partners or with Medical Practitioners, it is a hidden condition. Women feel let down by their bodies when they behave differently when that warm wet welcome suddenly stops, and as it is not discussed they don’t know why. What does cause Vaginal Dryness? The Menopause, the contraceptive Pill, Diabetes, Stress, Childbirth, anti-depressants, gynae and breast cancer treatments to name some of the more common causes.
For many of these conditions, the vaginal tissues are extra sensitive, extra fragile and very dry. This research focussed our product development, inspiring us to create skin safe, hypoallergenic products, using plant hydrocolloids that are known to complement human intimate chemistry. As an example, we use flax gum that has been used for over 6,000 years to heal mucous membranes. We have pioneered the use of plant polysaccharide technology and have three international patents to prove it!
What does your company structure look like at The YES YES Company?
This is evolving during Covid. Currently, we have a head office and two warehouse locations with order fulfilment in one of them in Hampshire, UK. We also have a warehouse and fulfilment in Chicago, USA. We ship to 96 countries and launched our American brand AH! YES in March 2020.
What measurables do you have in place at the moment to track the growth and progress of The YES YES Company since launching into the market?
What KPIs do we use? We love numbers and charts, so we have quite a few. All the obvious ones, like revenue growth, website metrics (conversion rates, bounce rates, white paper downloads) and overheads. The most important thing we all do is to delight our customers, so we measure how we are doing in as many ways as we can and are always looking for ways to improve.
Who is the most influential female entrepreneur that you admire and why?
Anita Roddick, the founder of the Body Shop. She was the first female values-driven entrepreneur that I remember. She was strong, fearless, and so clear about her passions. How could you not want to follow in her footsteps?
What has been the most challenging yet rewarding barrier you faced and how did overcome it whilst building The YES YES Company?
We’ve had a few challenges over the years, luckily most of them have been rewarding and we learnt from all of them. I believe that keeping true to our values, has been the most challenging and rewarding. We defined them (on the north coast of Bali – but that’s another story) before we started YES, so our company values come from Susi’s and my personal values. We decided to do business differently in that we would trust and invite trust. Ironically, not everybody could trust that we meant it. So yes we got shafted, several times until we learnt to be careful with our trust. We’ve had some tough decisions to make about people in particular, so I’d say for me the challenge has been learning that when something isn’t working, deal with it immediately, don’t hope it will get better without intervention, and do it as kindly as is possible.
Which 3 marketing tools or platforms do you use and how do they support the everyday business functionality at The YES YES Company?
We use Google Ads – they tell our new customers where to find the answers to their most intimate concerns. Secondly, we use Mailchimp – to speak to our customers, to let them know about new products, special offers and campaigns we are running or supporting. Lastly, we use Hootsuite – to coordinate our social media activities.
How are you looking to scale The YES YES Company?
Geographic expansion: As I mentioned before we already sell our products in 96 countries, we have distributors in many countries and with the uncertainties surrounding Brexit we decided to focus on a USA launch. High street retail growth was another scaling strategy in 2020, Covid-19 hasn’t helped that much. New products: Susi and I spent over 3 years in R&D before we launched YES, and as a result, our new product pipeline is bulging, and we are launching a new product this winter that makes us particularly ‘stimulated’.