Maison Mika - Ahead of the trend then, ahead of the trend now
HOUSE OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS
Way before the words femtech and sexual wellness entered the business and lifestyle spheres in Singapore, founder of Maison Mika, Trina Yeung, was already advocating for celebrating your pleasure.
Originally from Hong Kong, but having spent most of her life living and working in the United Kingdom and the United States, she observed that the general level of understanding of and access to sexual wellness for women was higher there.
This difference became especially apparent to Trina when she moved to Singapore in 2007 and saw that the local market for female pleasure products was much less developed than even Hong Kong. When life circumstances aligned in 2017, she took the plunge and started Maison Mika, a passion project with a mission to bring sexual pleasure to women in Singapore.
Maison Mika means ‘a house of beautiful things’ – it’s a combination of the French word ‘maison’, meaning house, and ‘mika’, which means beautiful things in Japanese. In line with this name, today the brand offers curated collections of elegant and sophisticated adult toys and intimate lifestyle accessories across its two online stores in Singapore and Hong Kong.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Maison Mika’s General Manager, Jeannette Knoblochova, to find out more about the e-tailer’s story.
Maison Mika - Adding value, not just products
She told me that, from the beginning, Trina made sure that Maison Mika was not just another retailer of sex toys. A typical Singaporean’s first encounter with a sex toy store is House of Condoms, smack in the middle of our main high street shopping belt. Tacky and loud, House of Condoms was just that, a sex toy shop.
Maison Mika wanted to take a different approach by adding value to the market, not just products. “From day one, sexual education has been a big part of the business. I strongly believe that building awareness and knowledge is the key to freedom, the key to unlock your mind from the shackles of stigma”, says Jeannette. The brand organises parties and workshops to teach women about pleasure, toys, tips and tricks. Jeannette herself was first introduced to Maison Mika when she was considering purchasing a pleasure masterclass for the bachelorette party of her best friend.
Besides retailing adult toys and sex accessories from some of the world’s leading brands, Maison Mika has developed its own in-house label, La Vie Nue, a crown jewel of sophisticated intimate lifestyle accessories, to complement the use of sex toys and celebrate personal sexual care. La Vie Nue designs and retails seductive lingerie, fun accessories for curious couples, and beautiful bondage toys, from feather ticklers to handcuffs.
The time is ripe to bust myths and break convention on how sex education and content has been delivered to us. By elegantly displaying bondage accessories for sale, Maison Mika defies the idea that bondage is just a shameful fetish that you have to hide away, or that bondage is only BDSM (a variety of sexual practices that involve bondage, dominance, and submission/sadomasochism).
I know I had a very one-dimensional view of bondage before I spoke with Jeannette, I admittedly knew very little about this particular sexual practice, and how it can increase sexual well-being, enhance intimacy in relationships, and decrease anxiety.
In a previous interview, I spoke with Jingjin Liu, the co-founder of ZaZaZu, and she told me that if you’re able to be assertive in the bedroom, you’re able to be assertive in the boardroom. I’m seeing a correlation here of owning your sexual preferences and not being ashamed of them to a heightened sense of self-acceptance. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that BDSM practitioners may have less anxiety and enjoy more security in their relationships. Not sure if I am there yet, but I can see how it would work.
Though Maison Mika is currently seen as a women’s destination, Jeannette tells me that the online retailer is increasingly seeing a lot of men shopping in their store, looking for a more elegant and safe shopping experience. “Men have always been the primary customer segment for pleasure products, but not all of them are happy with how toys are designed or marketed to them in the traditional sex toy stores”, Jeannette observed. In the near future, Maison Mika may explore tackling men’s wellness in the way femtech has been approached – with education, and purposeful products that are well researched.
Maison Mika may once again be catching the wave before the crowd.
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