Meet the new brand putting wellness at the heart of sexual intimacy
With chic products and a focus on creating a space for everyone to feel welcome, the Soho House members and founders of sitre are shaking things up
Monday 27 March 2023 By Chloe Lawrance
To put the sexiness back into sex – that’s the mission for Cecilie Hjelmager and Julie Herskin, Soho House members and founders of luxury sexual wellness brand, sitre. Coming from creative backgrounds – prior to founding the company, Herskin worked in advertising and Hjelmager in fashion and media – the pair were driven to create sitre after realising that the sexual wellness world was deeply non-inclusive, and filled with shame at every turn.
‘The idea came when I was looking for lube. I honestly felt a lot of shame – and so did my partner, because the story we’d both been told about it made us feel wrong,’ explains Herskin. ‘Using lube should make the experience [of sex] better, but instead it felt like a barrier.’
Hjelmager agrees. ‘It just made so much sense to create a new language around sexual wellness. Intimacy is important for both physical and mental health,’ she explains. ‘Unfortunately, it’s difficult to prioritise because society has created all these taboos.’
So, sitre was born, offering chic intimacy essentials, like water-based and silicone-based lubes, body wash, and pleasure-boosting oils. We caught up with the founders to hear more about what makes this disruptive brand so special.
Why was it so important to you to shake up the sexual wellness industry with sitre?
‘The current landscape is still dominated by products and imagery that are either super vulgar or feel like a pharmacy item, screaming “you’ve got a problem”. Meanwhile, we’re seeing all these visually appealing, high-quality beauty offerings. Pleasure products have been so overlooked and neglected.
‘We were keen to build a completely new narrative with sitre, because we deserve products and stories that make us feel good.’
You describe sitre as an honest, inclusive and caring take on intimacy. What does this mean?
‘The media’s portrayal of sex still heavily references porn, which is super narrow and doesn’t feel very honest. Since starting sitre, we’ve also spoken to a lot of people who don’t feel represented. You shouldn’t feel dirty or naughty for having needs, desires and wants. It’s natural, and intimacy can be nurturing, kind and mindful.
‘We want to make room for everyone, regardless of gender, age, sexuality and how well you know your own needs. Mainly because everyone deserves intimacy. On our first photo shoot with the amazing photographer, Petra Kleis, we had a pregnant woman and a 65-year-old woman with us, because it’s very rare that these demographics are portrayed as sexy. The feedback has been really good and confirms it’s so important that everyone is represented in our universe.’
The brand really is beautiful – from the product design to the social media feeds…
‘Design, the products and our storytelling are all key for us. We need to move away from lube being unsexy and functional, and instead turn it into a feel-good wellness product with wonderful, caring ingredients.
‘Our products belong next to your serums and scented candles. So, we’ve moved them out of the hidden corners of the pharmacy and into our favourite lifestyle and wellness spaces, creating a new and pleasant experience to shop.’
The brand focuses a lot on self-pleasure alongside sexual intimacy – why is this?
‘Pleasure can reduce anxiety, depression and stress. But those same factors can be the reason why we don’t feel in the mood. We’re not telling you to push yourself too far. Being worn out from your own routine would be very counterproductive. But sometimes it’s worth trying to be intimate with yourself when things feel a bit too hectic – mainly because it takes off the pressure of having to think about a partner. And the more comfortable we get in our own skin, the more we can relax and take pleasure in.’
What’s next for sitre?
‘We want to be global and move into bedrooms, hotel rooms and other wellness spaces around the world. We’ve got lots of ideas for more products that make it exciting to care for your sex life, and which respect and support the different emotional states we can have during sex.’
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