Vella Bioscience, a sexual wellness, femtech company, will launch in more than 200 Boots doors across the U.K., as well as online with its hero product the Women’s Pleasure Serum, $65, a CBD-infused pre-play topical for arousal and orgasm.
Since its initial launch in 2021, the brand has had its sight set on global expansion, said chief executive officer and cofounder Nial DeMena. “We started talking to our distributor Kenneth Greene Associates right around the time that we launched Vella,” DeMena said. “The more we got into the barriers to really making sexual wellness an in-store common retail item, the more we felt that taking opportunities to potentially break through those barriers anywhere that we could find them, being opportunistic, was the best path that we could take.” Boots was a key partner, said DeMena, as the retailer makes up about 25 to 30 percent of the market share in the U.K.
The brand, which is estimated will have $25 million in sales in 2022 according to industry sources, expects this to be a multimillion-dollar opportunity and comprise about a third of the overall business in the future. The brand estimates the Boots launch will bring in $1 million in its first year. Vella is also available at 46 Bluemercury stores, select Cos Bar stores, Lemon Laine, Shen Beauty, Linda Fargo’s curated shop at Bergdorf Goodman and the Allure Store, both located in New York City, New York. Products are also available online at Bluemercury, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Amazon and on Vella’s site.
However, Vella’s continued retail expansion isn’t just about brand growth. DeMena said it is all about the mission “to drive female sexual empowerment through science.” “From a philosophical standpoint, this is a really big deal. Watching some of the largest retailers in the world suddenly up and decide to start carrying sexual wellness products, much less put them in stores, is a really exciting time in history to be a part of,” he said.
The brand, which has seen a 60 percent revenue growth since its initial launch, now has an array of sexual wellness-related skus including the Women’s Intimate Elixir, a $40 hydrating lubricant for those going through menopause and the Super Slip & Slide, a $40 universal lubricant.
“We view ourselves as a beauty brand. We think sexual wellness is the final frontier of self care,” DeMena said. “This is one of the last great categories of innovation left in beauty, and the fact that we can be the first clinical beauty brand representing this category and having something proprietary, something patented, legitimizes the category.”
As Vella launches in the U.K. with its Women’s Pleasure Serum, the company plans to expand into other retailers there, as well as enter several new markets throughout 2023. “We have a very ambitious growth strategy that includes other retailers in a very tight sequence that we hope will be picking these things up alongside our Boots expansion. We’re here to put our stamp on this category and legitimize it. By taking market share very fast and in a big way, we can really impress upon the consumer that this is something here to stay,” DeMena said.