Dakota Johnson Wants Us to Normalize Sexual Wellness

While you may know Dakota Johnson for her acting roles and enviable style, did you know she's also got another job as co–creative director and investor in Maude, the sexual wellness company? For those not in the know, Maude is changing the way we look at sexual wellness, making it more accessible to everyone and less "taboo." The brand has a vast inventory of products, from lubricants and vibrators to bath soaks and body washes.

Johnson joined the team back in November 2020, and while some celebrity ventures might seem like smoke and mirrors with the celebrity being just the "face" of a brand, the actress actually puts in the work. Maude's founder and co–creative director, Éva Goicochea, said, "I think it's actually very much a rarity to have somebody who is a well-known figure be a part of a company in such a real way, and that very much is the case here."


(Image credit: Sharon Radisch for Maude)

We got the chance to talk to Johnson, Goicochea, and Maude's director of product, Tyler Aldridge, about their latest product launch, Cone, which is a discreet and easy-to-use anal plug. And we got to hear a little bit more about what's to come in 2022 for the company and their predictions for what's trending in the sexual wellness space at the moment. Read on for what they had to say, and shop some Maude products below.


(Image credit: Sharon Radisch for Maude)

What was the inspiration behind this new product, Cone? What made you want to launch it?

Éva Goicochea: For us, it was really about expanding into products that not only were we getting asked about but also solved a really basic need. I think anal sex is typically approached in this very stigmatized way, sort of perceived as kink, when I think more people are probably participating in anal sex than we all acknowledge. So we wanted to create a product that was just a basic-use item that was beautifully designed and safe to use and that could be really used by anyone, especially if this is their first anal device.

And I think one thing to note is that we were getting asked a lot about it because the Vibe, while it sort of can, in theory, be used in other places, it really shouldn't be; it doesn't have a base. So if you look at the shape of Cone, the shape of Cone echoes the Vibe with a base. And that's what we were seeing. People were like, "I really want to use this, but it's not safe to be putting anywhere without a base."

And what makes it different from other similar products out there? What was the design process like?

Tyler Aldridge: When we developed the product, we really paid attention to the different materials that were used to make sure that they were body-safe, and the material for Cone is 100% platinum-grade, FDA-approved silicone. We just really worked with our customers to make sure that it's an appropriate size and make sure it's approachable.

Dakota, you've been on the team for about a year now. How has it been working with the team? What have you learned throughout the process, and what has surprised you?

Dakota Johnson: I have loved working with Maude. The thing that I guess has surprised me the most is how much people want to talk about sexual wellness and even more so how much people want to learn more. I think sexual education for so long has just not been really honest and not very thorough. And, you know, for forever, there's been so much taboo talking about sex, especially anal sex and any additional devices. So normalizing the conversation and spreading it and having people just speak more honestly and understand that it's such a basic human need has been really amazing. And I feel mostly honored to be a part of this company—it's really exciting. The more devices and products we make, the more people ask me for them. And it's awesome.

And Éva, how has it been working with Dakota and having her on the team?

ÉG: From the moment I met Dakota, I was like, this is going to work. And I think that she and I just were really on the same page. Her sensibility is spot-on. She's really thoughtful, and she complements—I don't mean compliments like tells us nice things—but she complements our team in a really good way. She is always asking a lot of questions and is also exposed to this wide world where she can come back and say, "This is what I'm seeing, and creatively, I'm excited about this," and it's helpful. So she and I have forged a friendship along with a working relationship. She also knows the whole team. I think we all feel like she's just very much a part of it, and we're excited. I think it's actually very much a rarity to have somebody who is a well-known figure be a part of a company in such a real way. And that very much is the case here.

What are some trends you're seeing in the sexual wellness space right now?

EG: I think for us, we're seeing that people are starting to recognize—and retailers especially are starting to recognize—that this category should be right next to and elevated with beauty and personal care. Everyone here has heard me say it one million times, but I think sexual wellness has always been the last frontier, and it's starting to sort of get its respect and its due. The implications of this part of our lives and the sort of the effects of ignoring it or being uncomfortable with it are so much greater than, say, putting your blush on—no offense to blush companies. But I think that people are recognizing how critical it is to have access to products that make them comfortable and that make their partners comfortable so that they can really feel like their whole self. So we're really excited that Maude is leading the way in some ways and also is just finally getting to be sold in places where you get to buy everything else for your personal care.

How has the space changed in the past few years?

ÉG: We've seen people recognizing that the way that we're approaching it, which is as a human basic need, is really something that resonates with them. And the pandemic obviously accelerated it because people were either stuck on their own and unable to date and were really critically thinking about what does intimacy mean and how is that affecting them, or they were stuck with a partner, which obviously brings up so many other things. So we noticed a huge uptick in people reading our content and then interacting with the site in a bigger way. It has been really great timing in the sense of never before have people had to face their intimacy in this way, at least in the past few decades. I think for us to be there and to be something that helps them think about it in an honest, kind, and positive way is really where we hope to be for them in making them more comfortable. And it's lasted past the pandemic.

TA: We're speaking with each of our buyers for our retail partners, and just seeing when we first started talking to them a couple of years ago and they were a bit more hesitant to enter this category, but then they just see the way we've designed it, and now they're well aware that the two industries of beauty wellness and sexual wellness are quickly blending, and that's just been exciting to see that we've been thinking that way for those two categories to come together.


(Image credit: Sharon Radisch for Maude)

What's coming up in 2022? What are you excited about?

ÉG: We're launching in a new category in the beginning of the year, and we're also launching a couple of activations that are really big along with the retailers. So the first couple of months of 2022 are crazy for us, and stay tuned. I wish I could tell you more.

What's the process like for collaborating and coming up with new products and ventures? Is it based on customer feedback, what's happening in the market, or what you've been seeing out there?

ÉG: I think it's all of the above. I mean, as Tyler was mentioning, he gets a lot of feedback from customers and retailers. I'm seeing a lot of what's happening on the marketing and design. And I think Dakota is definitely our eyes and ears out in the world since we're all here at our desks together. So we all try to communicate to make sure that we're seeing the same things and talking through what direction we should go in.

DJ: I'm out here on the front lines.

Yeah, Dakota, do you get a lot of questions and suggestions from friends or even strangers?

DJ: Yeah. Not so many suggestions but more questions. I think once people know that I am a part of this company, they first ask about what we make and then ask how they can get one. And most of the time, for free. Actually, no, I give a lot of gifts. Éva is the one that doesn't give gifts.

ÉG: It's true. I turn around, and I'm like, aren't you going to support Maude? Like, come on. We just strong-arm our men into buying it.

DJ: Yeah. And I'm just sending vibrators to everybody I know.

I guess it's the gift that keeps on giving, right?

DJ: Yeah, true. What better gift could you give women than an orgasm?

And lastly, because we like to talk about beauty and wellness at Who What Wear, what are your wellness routines like? How do you practice self-care?

DJ: Well, I stand by meditation. That's the biggest self-care. If I had to live without anything, that would be the biggest thing for me. I've done transcendental meditation for almost seven years, and it's my most favorite time of the day, every day. Wellness-wise, I'm super into herbs and supplements, and I eat really well. I'm not a big junk-food or sugar person, and it's annoying. I love vegetables. Honestly, meditation, sleep, and a good salt bath, that's my wellness routine.

ÉG: I couldn't probably be more on the opposite end of the spectrum, because I never stop, and I don't sleep, but I do turn off work. We have pretty good hours here, and I turn off work and go home and spend time with my animals and my husband. I just try to keep [things] really balanced. I think not letting the guilt of not doing everything perfectly is probably the best form of self-care—just to take it each day at a time and be good to yourself. I don't know, I'm a pescatarian, but I have fun on the weekend. Not with meat. I do not eat meat on the weekend. I wasn't implying that. I meant we'll eat a cookie every now and then. I think also walking—and sometimes running, but my old-lady legs are not working—it's my form of meditation. It's where I think through everything more deeply.

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Managing Editor

Sarah is lifestyle writer and editor with over 10 years of experience covering health and wellness, interior design, food, beauty, and tech. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she attended New York University and lived in New York for 12 years before returning to L.A. in 2019.

In addition to her work on THE/THIRTY and Who What Wear, she held editor roles at Apartment Therapy, Real Simple, House Beautiful, Elle Decor, and The Bump (sister site of The Knot).

She has a passion for health and wellness, but she especially loves writing about mental health. Her self-care routine consists of five things: a good workout, “me” time on the regular, an intriguing book/podcast/playlist to unwind after a long day, naps, and decorating her home.