When you think about adult stores you probably conjure the same images as me. Hidden entrances, garishly-coloured toys and lots of middle-aged and older men lurking in corners.
Well Jack and Sally Barnett are here to blow that notion out of the water. OK, maybe blow’s not the best term to use here, but I think you get the idea.
Sally’s an accountant and Jack a risk manager in the construction and engineering field. They’ve left those jobs behind now. Jack studied in Brisbane but they met in Sydney. They did stints in the Snowy Mountains and Townsville before settling on the Gold Coast three years ago.
They’re beautiful people. Beautiful in the contemporary sense of good looks and beautiful to listen to when they talk about sensuality and sex.
“We came up with the concept before Christmas last year,” Sally tells me. “The first thing was telling our families that we’re going to open a sex shop… ‘a tasteful one’.”
While Sally’s family are entrepreneurial and therefore encouraging of any new business idea, they’re also conservative. “So that was interesting,” she said.
At the time of writing, their online sex shop (which is much more than that) has been operating just three months. Sally says they had an initial flurry, particularly through Facebook connections – one private group in particular called ‘likeminded bitches who drink wine’. But selling sex toys on Facebook is hard – you can’t boost a post related to sex toys.
Sally explains why they’re so much more than a sex shop.
“We describe it as sexual wellbeing,” she told Blank GC. “There is a link between sexual wellness and overall happiness and well-being.”
“Were not just stocking sex toys. We’re stocking manufactured cotton robes, silks, candles, oils and soaps. We’re trying to sell an overall picture, give people an education. We also sell what we think are the best books on the market.”
Jack and Sally come at Mojoco from a female and couple’s well-being focus.
“Post baby, relationships, it all boils down to communication,” Jack said. “We’re really the only offering out there [other than bricks and mortar sex shops].”
“We like to start from a place of understanding yourself and your own sexual identity,” Jack said. “A lot of the books [we stock] focus on individuals as well as couples.”
“One of our earliest blogs was about female anatomy,” Sally added. “So many of my girlfriends said ‘I did not know where that was’, ‘I didn’t know they were the trigger points’,” she said.
Sally pulls a robe out of a beautifully packaged box. It’s 100% cotton and made in Brisbane. The silk ones are hand-made in Bali. Then she shows me a hand-printed sarong. The products feel amazing against my bare arm. (Although I’m distracted thinking about what else is in the box).
“Basically what we want to do is make it about the females,” Sally said. “If the female feels good then she wants to have sex.”
There’s nothing intense about their products or about the brand itself. It’s all very subtle. Candles, organic lube with sustainable packaging, delicious oils, cleaners for sex toys.
“It’s about being practical about it and thinking about the woman,” Sally said.
So I have to know about the toys. Tell me about the toys, damnit.
Jack and Sally laugh.
“Well, they have to be rechargeable, 100% water-proof and body-safe,” Jack said.
“And good,” Sally adds.
“We don’t stock anything that we haven’t tried and think is great,” they tell me.
“So whenever we send something off, we feel good about it.”
And there’s not a pink vibrator to be seen! There’s the We-vibe, a couple’s sex toy “good for slow, sensual sex.” And they tell me they’ve personally found the most sensual couples’ toy to be a penis ring with a vibrator on it.
Their customers are predominantly 25-45 year old women who are interested in health are open-minded and have money. They’re willing to invest in health, enjoyment and lifestyle. “Blokes tend to require the encouragement of their partner [to buy sex toys],” they tell me.
“We like to think that in time it’ll be a great gift for mothers day, anniversaries, Christmas, we might give all our family sex toys for Christmas,” Sally said.
At the moment the brand is very focused on hetero couples and lesbians but they hope to be able to expand their products to men – both straight and gay.
“It will always be the best of everything, just a small range,” Jack said.
There are significant hurdles to overcome, of course. Firstly, Jack says, the cultural taboo.
“Even when we send out a big alert within our friendship group – some people not even sure if they can like it,” he said. “Some people PM me, not sure they can like it because they don’t want their boss to see.”
He says like most businesses they rely on word of mouth, yet people need to feel comfortable within their social group before they’ll make a recommendation about something like sex toys and lube.
They’ve also been trying to have their products included in the services / products available to guests staying in upmarket hotels. But there’s been some resistance.
“Weekend Away is one of our pre-selected packs available online,” Jack said. “There’s some great reading, travel candles and oil and a couple’s toy.”
“It’s a bit too confronting for the hotels though,” he said.
“Yet they have porn.”
Long-term Jack and Sally want Mojoco to become an educational hub, improving people’s sex lives and engaging sex therapists to write.
“We want to be a trusted, tasteful sex brand, if that’s possible,” Sally said.
And they’ve literally put their bodies on the line to do so.
“We decided to model ourselves for the website,” Sally said, citing two reasons. Firstly, it was cheaper than paying professional models. Secondly, they felt they had to be willing to own the whole concept, including putting their faces to the brand.
“I’m sure there are people we know who are shocked, judgmental of it all,” she said.
“I felt nervous and sick in the tummy – I’m telling the whole world and here I am in my underwear with my husband. But the response has been really positive.”