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Best Friends Explain How They 'Reinvented The Sex Industry' By 'Pioneering' Organic Lube

Best Friends Explain How They 'Reinvented The Sex Industry' By 'Pioneering' Organic Lube
The YES YES Company Ltd/ PA Real Life

Best friends who quit their corporate jobs and sold their homes to finance a new business making and selling organic lubricant have told how their pioneering products have “reinvented" the sex industry.

As former management consultants in the pharmaceutical sector, Susi Lennox, 74, and Sarah Brooks, 59, were “acutely aware" of the mounting pressure on women “in the bedroom" after Viagra became available to treat erectile dysfunction in the late 1990s.

So, in 2003 the businesswomen, both of Petersfield, Hampshire, quit their high-flying jobs to concoct a “strictly organic" lubricant that would improve “sexual intimacy" for women – spending three years experimenting with ingredients before finally launching The YES range of products in 2006.

Susi Lennox and Sarah Brooks (The YES YES Company Ltd/ PA Real Life)

Widower Susi, who has three daughters, said:

“We wanted to create an organic lube that was naturally made and was respectful to women and the planet."
“And we wanted to make sure it was better for women in all stages – before, during and after sex."
“Better before because the packaging wasn't salacious, and women wouldn't feel embarrassed to pop it into their shopping trolleys or leave it on their bedside cabinets."

Susi Lennox and Sarah Brooks (The YES YES Company Ltd/ PA Real Life)

She continued:

“Better during because it was high-performing, long lasting, felt very natural and had no side effects."
“And better afterwards because the natural ingredients meant it was safe to leave on after."
“All silicone oil-based lubricants stick to the body like cling film and we wanted to make a product that could be left on while lovers just rolled over and went to sleep."

She added:

“We spent three years developing the product, then launched with a water-based and oil-based organic lubricant in 2006."

Fast-forward 13 years and the products have proved so successful that they are now on sale in 96 countries across the world, including Taiwan, Japan and Australia, and are stocked in high-street heavyweights, including Sainsbury's, Superdrug, and Holland and Barrett, as well as being available on request in all pharmacies.

Sarah, a divorcee, believes one of the key reasons for their success was making a “swivel" shortly after launching.

Sarah explained:

“After we launched, we started receiving product feedback. We got amazing feedback like, 'You've saved my marriage,' and, 'You've turned the clock back on my sex life'."
“But medical professionals started getting in touch, too. One said, 'Do you know what you've created? I don't think you realize'."
“Our ingredients were so pure, they were safe for women having cancer treatment to use."

Susi Lennox and Sarah Brooks (The YES YES Company Ltd/ PA Real Life)

She added:

“Cancer treatment can repress estrogen levels in women, and one of the lesser publicized side effects is that women can lose moisture in their vagina."
“Lots of products can be unsuitable to use when a woman is experiencing these symptoms – but ours was fine."

Sarah, who has a chemistry degree, also discovered their lubricant was a hit with women during menopause.

She continued:

“When women go through the menopause, they can experience vaginal dryness. In some cases, it can be painful to even sit down, and you can feel as though you're being ripped apart."
“After using our products, some customers messaged saying, 'Thank you, I can finally sit down in comfort again'."
“We soon realized that we'd actually created something with noticeable health benefits, so we swiveled from concentrating on pleasure products to sexual wellness products instead."

Their success in this area meant that in 2014 their YES water-based lubricant was added to the NHS drug tariff, meaning GPs and healthcare workers could prescribe it to patients.

Now feeling fully justified in claiming they have “transformed" the industry with their innovative products, the duo believe it was their experience working in the pharmaceutical field that sparked their ground-breaking business idea.

Said Sarah:

“We both worked in the pharmaceutical industry before this, and I actually consulted to Pfizer, the company that created Viagra."
“Viagra sparked a sexual revolution but, while many men celebrated the joy of a renewed sex drive, I understand some ended up leaving their wives for younger women."
“Men could do things they hadn't been able to do in years and older women physically couldn't keep up."
“We both witnessed this happening, so we wanted to create a product that helped with sexual intimacy for women, too."

Sarah also says their friendship has helped them to find success.

“I met Susi in 1987 when she interviewed me for a diversity study. I was really sad when the interview came to an end, because we'd really hit it off and built such a good rapport.
“From there we became firm friends. We worked together and partied together."

She added:

“We had a similar sense of humor and outlook on the world and we just got on really well."

And when they both quit their corporate jobs in 2003, they decided to embark on a business venture together.

“We were both vary aware of the constraints that come with working in a large corporate environment and wanted to work for ourselves."

Susi Lennox and Sarah Brooks (The YES YES Company Ltd/ PA Real Life)

She added:

“And we wanted to create a business where our values could flourish."

Both single at the time, they took a six-week trip to the north coast of Bali, in Indonesia, to cultivate their business idea.

Said Susi:

“Sarah had been to Bali many times before. I'd never been, but it didn't take much convincing for me to go."
“Bali is like a little piece of paradise – it's beautiful and a safe place to go to think outside the box."
“It was the perfect place to really reflect on what business we wanted to create."

As well as “drinking Bali dry of gin," they made some important business decisions on the trip.

Susi recalled:

“We had such a fun time, we'd do yoga most mornings, swim a lot and then dance in the evenings."
“But by the end of the trip we'd worked out what we wanted the business spirit to be and that our mission was to change the world from the inside."
“We'd also worked out that our relationship was robust enough and our values similar enough to make the venture a success. The business plan and numbers were worked out when we were back in the UK, but in Bali we decided on the essence of the business."

Susi Lennox and Sarah Brooks (The YES YES Company Ltd/ PA Real Life)

Next came choosing a brand name.

Susi said:

“We wanted a powerful name. We decided on the name 'Yes', but someone had already nabbed the URL and the same for the company name."
“So our brand is 'Yes,' but our company is called 'The Yes Yes company' and our website is 'Yes, Yes, Yes'."

Susi Lennox and Sarah Brooks (The YES YES Company Ltd/ PA Real Life)

After developing a prototype, Susi and Sarah were so convinced their idea would be a hit that they decided to sell their homes, so they could fund the venture.

Sarah said:

“We'd tested our prototype against other products already on the market and we knew it was so much better."
“It's expensive to launch a completely new product without any funding, and because neither of us had any track-record of being an entrepreneur we weren't going to attract any investment."

She added:

“Still, we were so confident our product would work, that when we decided to sell our homes to get some cash to back the business it didn't really feel like a risk."
“Instead of being homeowners we became tenants and it was a great experience."
“You don't realize the joys of not having to mow the lawn or worry about the roof falling off until you don't have to anymore – it's a lot less hassle to rent."

Despite already investing a lot of time and money in developing their business strategy, the friends did not launch officially until 2006, as they wanted to ensure their product was perfect.

Sarah said:

“It took us around three and a half years to launch because what we were doing was completely new and pioneering."
“We had to make sure it worked and was completely organic, and because we'd used a new chemistry to create it, we had to get a patent."

She added:

“When we finally launched, I think we were both filled with relief and excitement."

Now, 13 years on, the dynamic duo are still in awe of how successful their business has become.

Susi said:

“If you'd told me 10 years ago, we'd be where we are today, I'd have said, 'Ha, ha, don't be silly, we'll never get that big.' But we have."
“In the last 18 months sexual wellness has become much more of a thing."
“People are much more concerned about what ingredients are in the products they're using, so our business will hopefully just keep growing."

Meanwhile, Susi and Sarah still have a special place in their hearts for the paradise island of Bali.

Sarah said:

“I think the magic of Bali is still very much in the business, as we still hold the same vision, we created all those years ago."
“We've never fallen out and we've managed to weather the storms together. I'm sure it's because we took those six weeks out to make sure we could work in solidarity with each other."
“We decided in Bali our mission was to, 'Change the world from the inside,' and judging by the feedback we get we've done just that."

Susi feels their high standards have also helped propel them to success.

She said:

“In a way, we've reinvented the category, because we didn't compromise on the product. It looks and feels elegant and it works phenomenally well – we raised the bar."
“Other businesses have tried and failed to launch similar things, but they've not worked simply because they don't care about the product. You need to be truly invested in a product to make it a success."

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