Offering a curated selection of high-quality sex toys, Peech is an online shop and Copenhagen-based physical store challenging conventional thinking around sex toys with their engaging, visionary and educational attitude. From Peechy parties to an elaborate editorial universe, they make shopping for sex toys a safe experience grounded in knowledge, health and self-love. We visited Peech’s store to chat with CEO and co-founder Clara Filippa D. Andersen.
Caroline Berner Kühl: Let’s go back to the beginning. You started Peech, what, 3 years ago?
Clara Filippa D: Andersen: Actually, we were four people who started it together. Officially, it is four years ago, in 2019. But we started out with our company registration and building a home page before we had our brand identity. We all worked other jobs or studied at the time. But after a year, we decided to do something about it, and held weekly meetings, divided tasks between us and set some goals. So unofficially, it truly took off in the summer of 2020.
CK: How did you get the idea?
CA: It came from our own experience of a lack in the market, and a personal need. It was kind of intimidating to shop for sex toys for us. It was both an aesthetic thing and a health concern, because there’s so much out there, but how do you find what’s right for you? We wanted to curate it, so it was easier and less confusing, and to make sure that health was a consideration, because there are no specific EU regulations on sex toys. As a sex shop, you will have to make sure that the products live up to certain standards. So, when we say we care about health, we mean it literally, because we make sure that our products are not full of phthalates and other unhealthy stuff. Luckily, it isn’t as bad as it used to be.
CK: I had no idea that it wasn’t regulated… and are you still the four of you?
CA: No, August moved to the US, so now it’s Jonas, Frank and I.
CK: And you do it full time?
CA: I am the only one who is full time, but everyone is committed, and we have an agreement about how many hours everyone devotes to the business. Both Frank and Jonas are very involved and spend many hours on it. We are two full time employees and a bunch of part time.
CK: How’s the experience been, selling sex toys? I would think there are some stigmas still.
CA: We care a lot about our Instagram and social media, and we’ve built that from the ground up, having to prioritize high engagement, because we cannot advertise, neither on Instagram nor on Facebook. It’s not allowed. Since the beginning, we’ve focused on making content that people would engage with and share. And then we have had some challenges when it comes to insurance, it is difficult to get insurance when you are a sex shop, or even get an agreement with the bank. It’s like that for many start-ups, but I think even more so as a sex shop. When we wanted to open the store, it was right after Covid, and there were many empty stores for rent, but from when we started looking for one in November, it was June before we got this one. Many didn’t even get back to us. Luckily, the woman who owns this, gets it and supported us right away.
CK: Crazy to think that there’s still so much opposition to sex shops.
CA: Many housing associations have regulations against porn shops. Once, Copenhagen had a lot of porn shops, and you would think that the regulations were from way back in time, but many of them are from the beginning of the 2000s.
CK: I would think we were more open in Denmark, but I guess we are still a bit hesitant when it comes to sex.
CA: It was much easier when we were opening our store in Aarhus, because we could show them references from this store. But as soon as people hear the word sex shop, they get certain connotations. We have experienced a few times, when being interviewed, people asking us what to call it and if we call ourselves a sex shop. Naturally we do, because that’s what we are.
CK: Do you mostly sell online or in your physical stores?
CA: I’d say its 40/60 with majority of sales online, but we’ve been surprised by how many people come into the store. We mostly opened it because we needed a space, and then we thought it would be great if it could also be a place to meet our customers. But we had not expected it to take off like this. In the beginning, we worked in the store ourselves, and we had one employee. But quickly, it became too busy.
CK: It shows that there really is a need for this kind of shop…
CA: We also wanted to make our physical store a kind of universe, as our online shop is. And everyone was talking online shops, so it made sense for us to start out like that. It was easy to do on the side of everything else. Because we had work and studies. For the first 1-2 years, we only had a small bookcase with products at home. It held our complete stock. It was amazing that we could build it step by step in our own pace. We don’t have an investor or a loan, so in the beginning it was about selling a few items to be able to buy a few more. In that way, it was very organic, and only possible because it was just an online shop. But we only really broke through with our vision when we got the store. That’s when people really got what we were trying to do.
CK: It is very inviting. How do you decide what to put on your shelves?
CA: We have been doing it for a while now, so we know which brands we like. We sell both other brands and now Peech products too. In the beginning, it was very much a jungle, so we went for brands we knew were high-end, because then we knew that the quality was great, and it came with a particularly nice aesthetic. As we got more into it, and got requests from customers too, we tried out more different brands, so now we have a combination of the beautiful products and the fun ones, which could be a luminescent butt plug or a dildo that looks like confetti. You only know if you like it when you’ve got the product in your hand. But then it is very easy for us to decide if it’s something we like.
CK: It is obvious that you care about your educational content – why is that a priority to you?
CA: Because sex toys can be intimidating and difficult to know how to use, especially when you are a novice, so we prioritize making it accessible by helping people understand it. It is a great way to introduce products, and starting out as novices, we knew what kind of information was lacking about the products. We also host Peechy parties, where we introduce products to people. Many people might be curious and have a lot of questions, but they don’t know where to start. Because they don’t have the language for it. Which is understandable. And for the last couple of years, we have also talked about sex education a lot, and how flawed it is, so we wanted to become an encyclopedia where people can find information. We have both in-house and guest writers, and we collaborate with some great people outside the business including norm-critical doctors and other healthcare professionals, who write from a healthcare or psychological perspective. We work with sexologists too. And some writers make one contribution like the one about dating as a transwoman, so testimonials of a kind. It is important to us that we include many different perspectives. We use that in our events too; some of them are educational, some are more fun like our bingos. Our quizzes are great examples of something that is both fun and educational.
CK: Showing that it can be fun too.
CA: Fun and serious at the same time, but we like the combination. And it leaves room for whatever feelings that might come up.
CK: You do parties, bingos, workshops… making you more than just a sex shop?
CA: We are first and foremost a company, but it is exciting that people come into the store and engage with us, praising what we do, but also giving us constructive criticism. It feels great that it can exist on many different levels, having a shop, hosting events, sex education. But I think it makes sense in combination, because without it all, sex toys would not change. We wouldn’t get new users. You might never dare buy a butt plug even if you like getting a finger up your ass, so it’s a great way to get through to people.
CK: Making it more accessible…
CA: I got a message on our live chat this morning with a mother asking if her 16-year-old could buy stuff at our store. We have experienced that with several parents, who take responsibility.
CK: That’s awesome. But your shop is also very inviting, it doesn’t feel the least bit sketchy to enter.
CA: We want everyone to feel welcome. Many people think we are only for young people, but we have many customers who are 70+ who come here because they can also identify with our shop. It is relatively neutral, so I think most will feel welcome here. To some it is a big step to shop for sex toys – and I get that. We want to change that so it doesn't have to feel like such a big step, and we will help make it a safe experience.