A Happy New Year message from
the Lovetreats Co-founder
What a year! To summarise our 2015 - Two people who had no plans or intentions to start a business nor to be in India 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. As 2016 begins, the first thing we wanted to do is share with our customers, friends, family and supporters our journey through 2015 and what we have in store for 2016. Cross that, first thing we want to do is wish you a Happy New Year!
Now, rolling back to 2015:
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 this 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 the job I loved the most. 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 this nature in India.
Love and Support from family and friends
One of the first things we did when we set our minds to working on 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 website. 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.in 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.in 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 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 and introduced same day delivery in Bangalore in November.
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. We shipped our 400th order in December. 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 initial customers from different parts of India:
"My treat was discreet and well packed. I love the touch of your personalized note, the sachet of lubricant (that's a good add-on) and purple and grey tissue papers - great colour palette, great touch! I have told quite a few of my friends about it as well” – Female, ordered a lovetoy.
"I am very happy with the order and delivery. I have already asked my colleague to try it out. I love the idea and I’m inspired by it." – Male, ordered condoms.
“It's been absolutely wonderful, the entire experience of shopping with Lovetreats—straight from ordering on the website, insanely fast delivery, discreteness, the SMS update on completion of delivery. I've been spreading the word around, showing my friends the website and talking about this—even before I bought anything. Will surely keep doing that as well as share my experience shopping!” – Male, ordered a lovetoy.
“I ordered something for our anniversary and Lovetreats was the only site that made me feel comfortable as a woman buying these products. Me and my partner felt quite inspired by your product descriptions and we had lots of fun shopping on your website together.” – Couple, ordered a bunch of products.
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.
What’s in store for 2016?
Post months of curation, testing and getting feedback from our product testers, we signed up with some cool brands around the world to bring some exciting new products to India for our customers. Some of these will be exclusive for Lovetreats customers and will be showcased in our pop up shops. We are excited to on-board our future best sellers! One aim which is close to our hearts is to make the Lovetreats collection more inclusive by adding high quality products for same sex couples.
Throughout 2015, cosmic powers conspired Lovetreats to meet amazing people doing amazing things and forge some exciting partnerships which will be of benefit to Lovetreats fans and customers. Two exciting partnerships that we want to let you know before the rest of the world does are:
Lovedoctor.in - a new age platform that provides confidential answers to your questions about Love, relationships and sex from experts. Lovetreats constantly gets queries on these topics and we signed up with Lovedoctor to give expert advice for Lovetreats fans. Lovetreats and Lovedoctor are also working together to launch a first of it's kind product in India for couples this year. Watch out for the announcement in our blogs and social media.
Stayuncle.com – Stayuncle is a couple’s best friend when they are looking for privacy. StayUncle provides it’s customers to book the best hotels in the India for 12 hours and pay only for 12 hours. StayUncle’s customers will be able to buy Lovetreats goodies at a special price and Lovetreats customers can avail of special StayUncle offers.
We’ll keep you posted on the other exciting partnerships soon!
We have had some amazing passionate people approach us to join us for the right reasons. To be honest, we are overwhelmed to see so many people excited to be a part of our journey. Now that we have our tasks cut out for 2016, we want to take on more people to grow what we started and kick start some exciting new initiatives. We look forward to the new members of Lovetreats.
Now as a reward for reading through this long post, we give you a 10% discount coupon that will be be valid for the first 100 purchases in 2016. Apply the coupon code "LTHNY2016" during checkout. Please feel free to share this with your friends and spread the love. With this, I sign off by wishing you all a happy, successful and fun filled 2016!
Happy New Year!
Bala – Co-founder & CEO, Lovetreats.in