Stymied by the pandemic, two wedding photographers decided to take the plunge into a slightly more risqué business.
Launched in 2020, The Natural Love Company is the UK’s leading eco-friendly sex toy provider. As the company scales it aims to ensure that its entire collection will be plastic-free. The Natural Love Company is a member of various sustainability initiatives including Tree-Nation, 1% for the Planet and The Ocean Foundation and was founded by friends and wedding photographers Ben Foster and Barney Walters. The Cornwall-based business was launched as a result of their previous careers being put on halt by the pandemic. We chatted to Ben about the company.
About a decade ago, during my university years studying environmental protection, I delved into the environmental impact of the sex toy industry for an assignment. The revelations were pretty shocking. It was evident that this industry had room for more sustainable practices, slightly less so now but back then there were many ‘single use’ products which had non-rechargeable batteries which couldn’t be changed, all wrapped in heinous amounts of plastic blister-style packaging. With time, the seed of the idea grew, but it wasn’t until the pandemic paused my event filming company that the opportunity to turn this vision into a reality arose. Today, we pride ourselves on being a bit of a beacon of sustainability in an industry that has often overlooked its environmental responsibilities.
I actually think that although a majority of the products are female-focused, the industry has seemingly been rather male-dominated, with products primarily purposed for women, but marketed through male gaze, which has not dated well at all. Navigating a space that has predominantly been female-focused posed its own set of challenges and revelations. We were very clear from the start to not make any assumptions, relying heavily on opinions of our wives, female friends and our amazing customers to make the company what it is today. It’s great to see that the industry as a whole is shifting away from an archaic male perspective, and i like to think we’re at the forefront of that movement.
I run three very different companies and father three very different young kids since being in my early 20s, and realised early on that the work-life balance is a bit of an unachievable fallacy, life is life, whether I’m working on a business or enjoying time with my family. I think it helps that they’ve always been there through my ‘career’ so everything was designed from the onset with family life in mind. Being at peace with the fact that the scales tip either way during different times has helped massively. Overall, being self-employed allows me to be one of the only dads at the school drop-off and pick-up, and to dip in and out of family activities as I please when they’re off. Overall, it’s family first every time, and I have always designed businesses around being able to drop and run whenever I please without any serious repercussions.
Excitingly, I feel like we’re just getting started. The Natural Love Company is currently very much an intimacy brand, but I’ve got so many ideas to broaden our collection into wider lifestyle products, yet it still feels cohesive. I think of it like spinning plates though, and I don’t want to move onto the next plate until our intimacy plate is spinning to the best of it’s ability.