“I immediately text my boyfriend ‘New business concept: All natural, organic lube! Gluten-free, sugar-free and slippery!’”
That is how Capetonian, Lizanne van Niekerk and her partner, Ross Suttner, started Oske – a small local business that produces intimate wellness products, consciously made for women.
“I was driving to work listening to one of my favourite podcasts. The three hosts were casually chatting about coconut oil lubricant, and it caught me by surprise. Lube was supposed to be awkward, embarrassing, and for old ladies, but these super cool girls were chatting about it like a favourite mascara!
“Then, it hit me. This should exist here in South Africa!”
Lizanne van Niekerk. Image supplied.
Dreamed up in 2016, Oske’s concept started to take shape in 2018. “Now, I’m about to turn 27, and we’ve since launched our second product, the Fleur Intimate Wash,” shares Lizanne.
The couple says they’ve always wanted to create something together – a problem-solving product specifically. “I think our first idea was naturally fermented sodas, and we spent some time exploring men’s skincare, but nothing felt important enough to pursue,” says Lizanne.
Today, they have created a cost-effective lube that is water-based, as well as an intimate wash product with the hopes of expanding.
Because of the nature of their lubricant, it’s safe to use with latex condoms and toys. “We’ve used minimal, hypoallergenic ingredients including Organic Aloe Vera, so most people should find it soothing, healing, and gentle on their skin,” says Lizanne.
But the local marketplace still seems a bit behind times. In South Africa, we are used to synthetic, mass-produced lubricants. We know nothing else, nothing better.
Lizette says a lot of retailers don’t understand the importance of natural products, and more importantly, why it matters that women have access to products designed for their bodies.
“They see a range of commercial lubes already on their shelves and think that’s enough, but they’re not aware of the countless bad experiences these have created,” says Lizanne.
Globally, consumers are making more sustainable choices. However, it doesn’t make sense to skip the junk food but continue to put junk onto the most sensitive areas of your body.
One of her most significant rewards, she says, is the fun-filled confidence her products instill in women. And the positive conversations it has started.
“No country in the world is entirely open about sex, especially when it has to do with women’s needs. In South Africa, education and conversations around sex primarily focus on fear and danger like unwanted pregnancy, disease, and rape," says Lizanne.
“Let’s keep educating people to know the dangers, but we must also empower our people to have sex joyfully and confidently. Things like lube and dryness are difficult to talk about for so many women, especially due to the misunderstanding that this is only something that impacts older women or is symptomatic of a problem. Dryness is typical, and lubricant is the answer you’ve been waiting for,” says Lizanne.
Everyone has a story, and there is just not always the confidence or the space to share it openly.
“We have this tendency to struggle in isolation even though the people around us may very well be able to relate,” says Lizanne.
How much do you share with your friends regarding your sex life? Share them with us here.
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