The idea for Quanna was dreamt up in the middle of the pandemic, a time of much challenge, when our sexual wellness was quite frankly sending out an SOS.
It was the worst of times for our mental and physical well-being but it was also a period of great reflection and revaluation of what really matters. Health, be it mental, emotional, physical or intimate, really is wealth.
All too often, sexual wellness is overlooked as an integral part of how we experience contentment and happiness but Quanna – the UK’s first CBD-based sexual wellness and self-care company – is on the case to make it a priority in everyone’s lives, not only by creating a premium self-care brand but by striving to break down taboos around sexuality and intimacy and cultivating a pleasure-positive community.
The lovechild of a gynaecologist and a beauty wellness influencer, Quanna is a serendipitous merging of sexual wellness and the powers of CBD. Here we spoke to Founders, Kate Tikhomirova and Dr. Dmitry Loktiono, to find out more about their brand story, their mission and why we should be making more room for pleasure (and lube) in our lives!
Psst! As part of the SheSpot X Zoella edit, you can get your hands on their legendary all-natural lubricant ‘Oomf’ infused with CBD to heighten pleasure. Not all lubes are created equal and this one happens to pair perfectly with the Evii IYKYK. Place your order now to secure your box when it’s back in stock!
Q: Tell us about your brand story. Why did you decide to launch Quanna and how did the idea come about for you two to join forces?
To start off, we’re Dr. Dmitry Loktionov and Kate Tikhomirova, long time friends and founders of Quanna. Dr. Dmitry is trained in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, as well as a member of the Holistic and Complementary Practitioners (AHCP,UK) and I’m Kate Tikhomirova, graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science and have worked in the beauty and lifestyle influencer space for a couple of years now. The groundwork for Quanna began from plenty of London lockdown conversations; we both have an avid interest in holistic and plant medicine practices and love the occasional TMI moments. Essentially, it was the culmination of these convos that led us to begin our Quanna journey. The post-pandemic haze had us all in self-reflection and evaluating our priorities, especially in terms of the relationships we keep with others as well as ourselves. We realised with our respective expertise, we could help rekindle that sense of intimacy that was lost after such a prevalent time of disconnect.
A thing we noted is, as a whole, we’ve all progressively become more comfortable in talking about sex nowadays in all its passionate, and sometimes awkward glory (which is amazing), but a silent majority of us don’t mention our experiences with painful and uncomfortable sex. That’s a big disconnect. It’s not really an easy thing to bring up and even less to resolve with aisles of intimate products that have contradicting ingredients lists that one wouldn’t even put on their face, much less your intimate parts. With Dmitry’s medical background that led the formulation and Kate’s branding and marketing experience that helped shape the face of the brand, we saw an opportunity to join forces to launch Quanna – a company championing CBD within sexual wellness. Through creating quality intimate-care products that honour pleasure inclusivity, we hope to encourage a community to be fearless in the face of stigmas.
Q: What does consciously-formulated actually mean? Can you tell us about the ingredients in your products and your approach to sustainability?
Consciously-formulated means our Oomf lubricant’s ingredients are formulated with a gynaecologist’s keen eye and is backed by gynaecologists. Plenty of personal lubricants in the market right now contradict the meaning of intimate in “intimate care” with nasty ingredients that can actually cause more harm. Ingredients like petroleum, parabens, glycerin, benzocaine, and even drying agents like alcohol and fragrances add discomfort, irritation, and increased risk of infections. Oomf is manufactured in the UK using only the highest quality natural ingredients blended with organically grown premium CBD and more importantly it has no harmful additives. Oomf lubricant is pH balanced and enriched with a prebiotic which encourages the development of a healthy microflora and keeps infections at bay.
In terms of sustainability, Quanna understands that we live in a world where we are all consumers and most of us make purchases on a daily basis, which makes sustainable packaging vital in all practices. Quanna’s Oomf lubricant is packaged as two discrete recyclable product options, the 10 pack Oomf single use sheets being one that is light and portable and designed for the on-the-go lifestyle. The snap sheet has been created with the latest technology, the film being 100% recyclable and made out of 75% post consumer recycled plastic. We look forward to contributing more in the renewability space as we grow.
Q: What gets you out of bed every day? What gets you excited for another day at Quanna HQ?
As a small business with a team of four, we’ve all sort of become these jacks of all trades to contend with the progress of Quanna. At this stage, you’re handling such a variety of creative, logistic, financial, etc. types of decisions on a daily basis that quite frankly it can get overwhelming. But, the stage we’re in is also strangely exciting, because we can seize this opportunity to be radically innovative and resourceful with our marketing approaches and sustainability efforts. We’re basically throwing the metaphorical pasta on the wall and seeing if it sticks. There is this feeling of being at the precipice of something great and that encourages us all to forge on and give it our best. It’s thrilling to say the least.
Q: Oomf features in our Shespot X Zoella box, can you tell us more about this particular product, how it was formulated and why you thought it was important for lubricant, specifically CBD lube, to be part of your product offering?
Last September, we launched the UK’s first all natural, CBD powered water-based lubricant, Oomf. We’re excited to showcase Oomf through the Shespot X Zoella box, because we intend to bring the *oomf* back into everyone’s lives. Whether that be through a transcendent journey of self-exploration, reconnecting with your partner, or finally feeling that pleasure is accessible to you again. Oomf garners the powerful healing properties of CBD to ease discomfort, promote pelvic relaxation and increase pleasure sensation.
The difference with Oomf is in the details. While there are other lubricants on the market, there are few, if any, created by a doctor. There are lots of lubes that say they are water-based lubricants, then you see they have added hemp or CBD oil which is completely wrong. You cannot have a water-based lubricant with oil inside. We deliberately sourced a water-soluble formula so that it dissolves within our lubricant which means you get the full benefits even with a small drop. Oomf’s water-based formula means better (higher bioavailability) and faster absorption rate of CBD for more immediate results.
Q: Creating premium, consciously-formulated products is only part of your mission. Can you tell us about the work you’re doing to de-stigmatise sensuality and intimate care, and close the pleasure gap?
Our work to reclaim sensuality and to de-stigmatize intimate care is an ongoing feat. Firstly, how we create an impact is by backing up our words with actions. For instance, we’ve recently teamed up with our friends at FEWE to properly address the unsettling censorship over women’s concerns related to menopause, pelvic pain, postpartum health, menstrual health, sexual wellness and breastfeeding. If websites like Meta continue to flag these types of conversations, they’re essentially conveying that there is something inherently shameful about them, which is ridiculous. Language restriction online surrounding the word ‘Vagina’ or ‘Vulva’ makes searchability for educational platforms like ourselves more difficult and denies the opportunity for women and gender minorities to learn and talk openly about their bodies. Which is why we challenge the taboos head on with our peers who are fighting the good fight.
We also listen to what topics our #FindYourOomf community wants us to broach and provide the resources for all uncovered sex, relationship, and intimate-health topics. We’ve launched The Qurious Club, an educational platform that is thought provoking and a definite conversation starter, aimed to provide guidance and support to our readers. We have an excellent expert series where we speak with diverse trailblazers in their respective fields of psychology, sexual education, and more to address those uncomfortable conversations that we all are thinking about. Our efforts to close the pleasure gap can be surmised by one of our experts, Jessica Megan, who covers the subject, “The nature of our approach to female pleasure has been shoddy to say the least. We treat female pleasure as secondary to everything else. We have grown into a society that nurtures how good we look when we have sex instead of whether that position feels good.” Quanna echoes that sentiment exactly, for too long women have been playing catch-up when it comes to sex, and the way to close that gap is through transforming the way we culturally talk about sexual pleasure as well as providing an effective means to equal gratification… *cough cough* personal lubricant. There’s nothing off the table for us to start a dialogue about and hopefully we do the work where our community knows that taboos no longer need to have room to intimidate anyone into silence
Q: Why might somebody want to use lube and what are the benefits?
Honestly, everyone can benefit from using lube. During sexual stimulation, your blood vessels dilate so more blood flow goes to the genital area, and that blood rush prompts various vaginal glands and mucous cells to secrete fluids that make sex easier and more enjoyable for both people involved. But, sometimes even when you’re turned on, it takes awhile for your body to get on the same page as your mind which is where a personal lubricant comes in handy for the magical trifecta: more time for foreplay, no time for friction, and ample time for fun. Lube ensures everyone is having a discomfort-free time, and shows that you are a considerate partner, because not only does a personal lubricant intensify sensations, it can protect you from an infection and even an unplanned pregnancy. Lube reduces the friction of condoms, making them less likely to break, and it reduces microscopic tears through which STI pathogens could enter the body. Something else to note: There is no naturally produced lubricant in your butt, so lube makes anal play possible and more enjoyable (instead of dry and painful).
Q: What should you look for in a quality lubricant?
Initially, you need to discern what type of lubricant you are looking for: water-based, silicone-based, or oil-based. The main ingredient is everything in terms of experience and safety during sex. Water-based lubricants, as the name implies, are made with water and are known as the “versatile”and most interchanging lube because it can be used in practically any activity you can think of — even ones involving silicone toys. In general, these are a good universal choice because, unlike oil-based lubes, they won’t damage latex safe-sex barriers like external condoms and dental dams. They also won’t degrade internal condoms, which are typically made of polyurethane (a type of plastic) or nitrile (a type of rubber). Water-based is also usually the best option as a natural lube because more water-based lubricants in the market are being formulated with vegan-friendly and hypoallergenic ingredients such as aloe vera.
Silicone-based lubricants have a much thicker consistency, are more slippery, and tend to last longer than a water-based lubricant. They are also one of the best lubes for anal sex, where there is no natural lubrication working in your favour. You may feel some residue from the lube if you don’t wash it off completely, but you don’t need to worry about silicone-based lubes weakening latex, nitrile, and polyurethane condoms.The one time you should never use silicone lube is when you’re using silicone sex toys. Silicone lubes will break down sex toys and when this happens, your toys become less sanitary, because it creates abrasions in the silicone where bacteria can grow.
Oil based lubricants can be the gift that keeps you going, going, and going due to its consistency. Oil-based lubes can double for a sexy and fun massage time. But the downside comes if you’re using a latex condom. This type of lube increases the chances of a ripped or torn condom, defeating the condom’s purpose – and your good time in the process. Oil-based lubricants are also associated with higher rates of Candida, a type of fungus that’s responsible for yeast infections.
Q: Why do you think using lube is still so stigmatised, especially when 2/3 people experience vaginal dryness?
Because of exactly that, the notion that lube’s sole purpose is to relieve vaginal dryness. In a culture where female pleasure is often considered little more than an afterthought, this isn’t all that surprising – nor is it shocking that there would be stigma around a product that is largely intended to make sex more pleasurable and comfortable for women. Some women are too embarrassed to request it because they’ve been conditioned to believe in the ageist slander against using lube, while some men feel that if their partner isn’t producing enough natural lubrication, there’s something wrong with the relationship, or with their own performance. Lube may seem like you’re admitting defeat.
This cultural aversion to lube is a problem for many reasons, chief among them is that a lot of couples could actually benefit greatly from it. While we tend to think of vaginal dryness as something only the sexually disinterested and premenopausal experience, not all vaginas self-lubricate the same amount, and vaginal dryness is extremely common and for an incredibly wide variety of reasons.
Q: What is CBD and how can it improve your sex life?
CBD is one of many cannabinoids (compounds) in the cannabis plant. Researchers have been looking at the possible therapeutic uses of CBD. Two of the compounds in marijuana are delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD. These compounds have different effects. Until recently, THC was the best-known compound in cannabis. It is the most active constituent, and it has a psychological effect. CBD, in contrast, is not psychoactive. It does not change a person’s state of mind when they use it. However, it may produce significant changes in the body, and it is showing some significant medical benefits.
Our endocannabinoid system has been crucial in discovering the benefits of CBD, specifically how it supports your sexual wellness. Our endocannabinoid system plays a part in how we manage stress, blood circulation, pain and anxiety. We have a series of receptors throughout our bodies including the male and female reproductive systems. CBD is thought to interact with these receptors giving them signals. This could mean increased blood flow, enhanced sensitivity, reduced anxiety or pain sensitivity, meaning a better bedroom experience for all involved.
Q: What’s the biggest misconception about lubricant and CBD?
That using a personal lubricant means there’s a sexual dysfunction or that something’s “broken”. First off, there is this general assumption that vaginal dryness only affects menopausal women, which is not true. Almost anyone of any age can experience vaginal dryness due to varying reasons such as using harsh hygiene products, drug treatments like allergy and cold medications, some antidepressants, hormonal changes due to breastfeeding, taking a contraceptive pill or having chemotherapy, the list can go on.
A stigma also exists when it comes to cannabis-based products. It can be difficult for people to discuss their use even when it comes to pain relief, simply due to this assumed scandal-like view of it. Whether it be because it’s seen to be of use just for sick people, confused for THC’s reputation, or that it’s a passing trend.
Q: What’s the best thing about working in the sexual wellness space?
The ability to be disruptive in a field that has for far too long dismissed women and gender minorities. Early on, sex education is centered on learning that boys have erections and ejaculations, while girls have periods and unwanted pregnancies. This kind of thinking doesn’t open the door to a healthy sex life – for anyone. That is until now, where we and many other budding sexual wellness brands are actively working towards getting women’s sexual pleasure and education into mainstream consciousness. The best thing about working in this space is that we are taking part in this evolving cultural shift. The convergence of sexual wellness into the larger wellness industry is revving up excitement for the future of women’s health.
Q: And the worst….
The stigma that follows you even into the board meetings. Sex is a no-go for most investors, as well as for pretty much all institutional funding. Which definitely throws a wrench into things. It’s not just funding though; it also expands to services, payment processors, technology platforms, and the basis of why social media platforms ban sexual wellness companies from advertising. But when we shift the focus to wellness, it moves the discussion from vice to health, and investors can understand that. As we destigmatize for the public, we destigmatize for investors.
Q: What changes would you like to see happen in the sexual wellness space to help combat the pleasure gap and de-stigmatise female pleasure more specifically?
A primary goal is to establish sexual wellness as a real, essential function in living a healthy and fulfilling life. Due to poor sexual education either from schooling or even the lack of guidance from primary physicians, many of us have disregarded this portion of our lives. This is why every topic we discuss in The Qurious Club is sourced from the intention of listening to what our customers and community want to know, the uncomfortable and beautiful realities of the before, during, and after intimate moments as well as how our range of growing products can help elevate each of those experiences. Where there is concern over sex, sexual identity, or sexual dysfunction, you can rely on Quanna to examine and educate.
Q: What does sexual wellness mean to you?
I would go with Quanna’s fundamental belief that sexual wellness is a state of body/mind that enables you to enjoy and explore sex on your own terms and in your own time. I believe this definition of sexual wellness to be empowering because it underlines the fact that it’s not so much concerned with gratifying someone else, but instead gettiing more in-tune with who you are emotionally, physically, and spiritually. How do you explore that side of you and what are your desires?
Q: What’s next for Quanna?
We are currently selling direct via our website and via selected retailers like Selfridges, Molecule, Unfabled, and boutique pharmacies across London, but in 2022 we have a lot of exciting plans to expand into Europe and also to the US along with increasing our product range. Being a start-up is both terrifying, but absolutely thrilling and it’s through the support of our community that 2022 is looking to be a good year to stay qurious with Quanna. Our vision is that Quanna will help to bring about a new wave of sexual literacy that goes beyond performance and bring about a more sex-positive world.