Sex, according to Marco Murillo, rarely looks appealing. At least, not on the packaging of things made for hanky-panky, he says, which typically trends toward black-and-chrome dominatrix vibes or clinical white tubes.
“We felt like there wasn’t anyone [expressing] the fun elements of human touch and human intimacy,” says the Portland designer. Enter Happy Sex Face, a colorful line of natural coconut oil–based lube and gifts that celebrate every sort of person doing it with joyful abandon.
The extremely cute array of intimate oils and sassy pins, pouches, and greeting cards debuted as an e-commerce site in February. (It’s already quickly picking up retailers, from Portland’s West End Select Shop to a boutique overseas in Lebanon.) Murillo says customer reactions to the “adult novelty company” have been overwhelmingly positive, in part because Happy Sex Face eschews gimmicky phallic accessories in favor of legitimately stylish pieces that people may actually want to flaunt in public.
All its merchandise is anchored with friendly drawings of a wide range of relationships—from the “self-starter” to a cheery encounter involving a trio of women with legs askew, in hues of cocoa, olive, and watermelon—in service of creating “a natural, but inclusive, space,” says Murillo. “We just kind of fell in love with the characters.”
By day Murillo is the design director of Red & Co, a Portland branding agency founded by his wife, Mira Kaddoura. (One of our 2016 Oregon Women.) In addition to doing big-budget work for clients like Netflix and Google, the agency develops side projects it believes in, including an app that organizes movies by feelings (Feelm) and the perky products of Happy Sex Face.
It’s a bold time to release an intimacy-based line, as America is currently in, ahem, a dry spell. The share of US adults reporting no sex in the past year reached an all-time high in 2018, according to the General Social Survey, a project of the National Opinion Research Center at University of Chicago. Reasons run the gamut from student debt to marrying later to just living longer. Still, putting a little fun back in the game certainly can’t hurt.
“There’s so much stuff to not smile about right now,” says Murillo, who notes Happy Sex Face’s goal to expand its collection—shower curtains to flip-flops—and move into more retail shops this year. “We need some space and some products and some brands that make us happy.”