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5 Minutes With... Peder Wikstrom

28th Jun 2018 Shefali Sharma

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5 Minutes With... Peder Wikstrom, Co-Founder and Director at Ramblin' Brands - Smile Makers 

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I have spent my career working with female health & beauty brands. Following a Master’s Degree from the Stockholm School of Economics, I spent 5 years with Procter & Gamble in Scandinavia. After leaving Procter & Gamble, I moved to China where I worked Oriflame, a Swedish cosmetics company. 

The seed to what became Smile Makers was sown one rainy weekend in April 2002. I woke up feeling adventurous and walked into a sex shop to buy a vibrator for my girlfriend, but was truly disappointed. Why was everything so tasteless and offensive? It felt unfair to women. Studying the market revealed some amazing insights – in some markets, there are more women have a vibrator at home, than who have a dishwasher. In many places, 50% of women use vibrators and two thirds of the rest want to try.

It was clear that demand for sexual wellbeing products was universal and that shopping environment, product design and quality were alarmingly unappealing the world over. No brand was speaking respectfully to my girlfriend and ‘ordinary’ women like her. I teamed up with my old colleague Mattias Hulting, together we left our safe careers, decided to make a difference and in 2013, Smile Makers was launched. The idea was simple – the best product experience, a brand that women can love, promoted and sold in everyday environments.

What does an average day look like for you?

If I wanted to have average days, I wouldn't be doing what I am doing. 

How is your brand disrupting the industry?

We are on a mission to normalise the perception of female sexuality. Smile Makers is sold in health, beauty and fashion retailers where women like to shop their beauty and lifestyle products. In many markets, it is the first time that vibrators have been sold in these type of outlets. We are also the only sexual wellbeing brand to say categorically no to distribution in adult stores. 

To deliver on our mission we also train health professionals, conducts research in collaboration with hospitals, and advises health ministries on sexual health policies for the coming decades.

What’s the best piece of innovation you have seen in recent time and why?

I am still waiting for some brilliant engineer to develop wireless electricity so that I can get rid of all cables and chargers that clutter offices and homes.

How has employee engagement changed in recent times and how do you ensure that you have the highest levels among your employees?

Our company is built up by some real characters with strong personalities. There are almost as many nationalities as there are team members, and people have very different backgrounds and past experiences. What brings us together is a shared belief in our mission to normalise the perception of female sexuality. The mission is what gets us out of bed in the morning, ready to get to work. I feel honoured and privileged to be fortunate enough to work with such fantastic people every day. 

Where is your favourite place to travel?

I recently came back from a trip to Laos where we celebrated my wife's birthday. What a place! By far the most stunning lanscape that I have come across in Asia. I can't wait to get back to go further off the beaten track.