Ahead of Valentine's day, French Beauty Co co-founder Emilie Roberson got the privilege to interview Shayne Mele, founder and CEO of Get Frenchie, pioneer of sexual wellness in Australia. Its mission: bringing the French lover revolution down under!
So Shayne first of all, how did Get Frenchie come to life?
As my career evolved, I began to develop a real passion for health and wellness and brands. The supplement, skincare and personal care categories had gone on this growth journey with lots of innovation in formulation, packaging, and marketing. Yet at that stage, walking through a supermarket aisle I felt a sense of dissatisfaction shopping for condoms and other sexual wellness products. This category hadn’t received the love it deserved, and I truly felt there was an opportunity to take my learnings and experience working with some of the most successful Australian wellness brands and applying it to my own brand. Something needed to change, and the people deserved to know what was in their products and that’s how the journey started. I jetted overseas to find the best and cleanest condom manufacturer, came back, and worked with a local company who manufactured for some of Australia’s leading skincare brands including Aesop to formulate the most natural, functional lube we could. Two years later in December 2020 we finally launched :)
Did you feel something was missing in our market?
Absolutely, In my opinion at that time the market was missing products that had been given the care they deserved. 100% natural and premium formulations and manufacturing standards. There was also a huge gap at that stage for a brand to speak to a wider audience, in a way they would like to be spoken too. There were no brands talking to all genders and sexual preferences and reading the ingredient list on the back of most supermarket brands I was frightened to see alcohol, parabens, fragrance, synthetic ingredients, and glycerine being used in intimate products, some don’t even have a place on the face let alone intimate areas that have pH and sensitivity to contend with.
May I ask, why the French flavour? How do you think French people compare to Australians when it comes to love and pleasure?
There were a couple reasons. The first most obvious you’ve touched on is that there’s just something about the French people, they’re renowned for being great lovers. However, I think it’s perhaps more a case of the French being comfortable to express their feelings and sexual tastes and preferences. The second reason we came about Frenchie was during the world war Australians used to send “French letters” to those on the front line, these letters in actual fact were condoms. So that generation and the one after it nicknamed condoms a “Frenchie”. We thought we could have some fun with the name and all the French nuances and puns that come with it. Sex is fun so why not develop a brand that can have some fun too.
Those last few years discussions around wellness, self-care and therefore self love have become more open. Why do you think that is?
We’re living in a great time. I think the great work of some pioneering sexologist’s, intimacy coaches have definitely made a positive impact and encouraged more open dialogue with partners about what works or doesn’t work for them. Further I believe brands like us, and other new starters are driving change through education and designing products that people want. Functionality and understanding don’t have to be phallic in nature to offer pleasure.
Did you see a rise in the popularity of sex toys during Covid?
Unfortunately, we kind of missed the sex toy golden rush, we came to market in December 2020 and we didn’t release our first toy until October of 2021. But from what we understand by speaking to some of our retail partners there was definitely a surge in online purchases of self-love products. I supposed boredom really set in and people needed to find another hobby to fill their day :)
Last but not least, if you had to recommend one gift for this Valentine's day, which one would that be?