‘We won’t be resting on any laurels… our work is not done’: Coco de Mer On Receiving Positive Luxury’s Butterfly Mark

By Charlie Colville

10 months ago

Coco de Mer has joined the Positive Luxury club


A leading sustainability certification sitting alongside the likes of B Corp , Cradle to Cradle and the Carbon Trust Standard, the Butterfly Mark has been awarded to over 165 brands since it was created in 2011 by Positive Luxury. The latest to join the community? British lingerie label Coco de Mer. We sat down with brand CEO Lucy Litwack to hear what the certification process was like, what the Butterfly Mark means to the team and exciting projects for the future.

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Coco de Mer CEO Lucy Litwack On Receiving Positive Luxury’s Butterfly Mark

Hi Lucy, how’s life going right now?

Really well, thank you! I’m feeling fresh and revived from a week in Devon with family and my beloved dog Charlie – I love the English coast, it’s heaven and makes staycations so appealing. On the work side of things, we have some great new additions to our team and we are just about to head into my favourite time for retail, with Christmas and new collections coming out, so the excitement in the office is really palpable. We’ve been busy behind the scenes working on the next chapter for Coco de Mer, and the upcoming few months will see that really come to life, and I can’t wait to see the response.

Lucy Litwack

Coco de Mer CEO, Lucy Litwack

For those new to Coco de Mer, can you please introduce your brand?

Absolutely! Coco de Mer was established in 2001, and since then has been creating and curating the world’s finest range of luxury lingerie, toys and sexual wellness products.

The business was built on the belief that female pleasure and sensuality is part of our birthright. For us, lingerie is about redefining sexuality on our own terms as women. That core belief is still at the essence of everything we do. We believe that from art to culture, education to pornography, the female perspective on pleasure in all its forms is little discussed or truly understood. And yet, from general happiness and confidence, to deepening and nurturing our relationships – and a fundamental appreciation of ourselves – knowing and owning female pleasure and sensuality can be life-changing. It’s one of the true gifts of existence. Our capacity to experience it is innate, universal and human.

We exist to shine a light on the extraordinary power, potential and importance of female pleasure and sensuality. We want to be at the forefront of building a new narrative. To bring together new voices, from different walks of life, to demystify, celebrate and champion our right to experience pleasure. We are experiencing an unprecedented, inter-generational increase in female stories in culture. Across all forms of traditional and new media, female storytellers are tackling female-centric stories. But very rarely this one. We are on a mission to address that.

Alongside our products, Coco de Mer strives to support, empower and educate women – and to end gender inequality. We are incredibly proud to have partnerships with multiple NGOs and activists in the fight against FGM and I am a very proud trustee of The Five Foundation, an organisation working tirelessly to end this antiquated act.

We heard you were recently awarded the Butterfly Mark by Positive Luxury – congratulations! How does it feel to be part of the community?

It feels amazing, I’m so proud of what it says about Coco de Mer. As sustainability becomes a key focus of our overall strategy, we are committed to creating a positive impact on society and the planet, building a transparent brand that supports responsible practices and uses its platform to champion social justice in the world. Being part of this community really does mean the world. I like to think people see us as taking care of female pleasure and Mother Earth in equal measure.

Did you always know you wanted Coco de Mer to be a brand with strong sustainability credentials? Or did you have a ‘green lightbulb’ moment?

Our purpose has always been clear from the start, and our social value has been integral throughout. For over 20 years we have fostered enduring relationships to create better and more thoughtful products. As we continue our journey towards more conscious luxury, sustainability is being considered in and across every touchpoint, and with technology and traceability advancing the way it has over the past 20 years it has become easier to improve our environmental impact. We realise the importance of protecting our planet and are dedicated to reducing our carbon footprint, embracing climate-smart strategies and being transparent in everything we do to create a more sustainable tomorrow. The possibilities feel so optimistic for what we can do as a business to be a true force for good in every way.

Woman in lingerie sat outside coffee shop

What was it like going through the certification process for the Butterfly Mark?

It was reassuringly extensive and gave me real confidence that we were doing the right thing. To earn the Butterfly Mark we had to undergo Positive Luxury’s comprehensive assessment, built on the foundation of international agreements, global frameworks and standards, and even potential upcoming legislation. We had to provide evidence of the change we’re making across a vast range of sustainability issues, including our impact on things like climate, nature and water (Environment), how we treat our workers and communities (Social), as well as how responsibly and ethically we manage our businesses (Governance). No detail is left out. And every two years, we have to do it all again. A sign of our genuine commitment to continuous improvement.

Were there any changes you made along the way to better your chances of achieving certification?

It wasn’t so much about bettering our chances, but the assessment has really encouraged us to raise our game and look at the ways we can futureproof the business as a force for good. We saw Positive Luxury as a huge benefit for our business, and something we were keen to aspire to. Having a team member with previous experience with Positive Luxury reinforced the confidence we had in the organisation and the significance of the Butterfly Mark. We made the work a part of our everyday operations, to embed the efforts and the importance across the teams so they understood the relevance and the true efforts. This wasn’t a side project for me, I wanted it to be embedded in the most genuine way. We broke down the assessment and went through it with a fine toothcomb, working with team members, our supply chain and the Positive Luxury team to provide the right evidence and enable evolution where needed.

Our social value has always been of huge importance and that showed throughout the assessment process. When we started discussing sustainability throughout the team, especially our environmental impact, suggestions started happening for ways we could instantly improve – one great example of this led to our plastic packaging being reduced by 98 percent within a day, through speaking to our supply chain and asking questions. Making changes like this are small, but they improve the production process and make such a huge difference to our business impact as well. It just shows that there is no bad place to start – every person and every role has an impact and can do something to help improve things. Look at the daily ways of working: where could things be tweaked on a small, manageable level? Are there things that could instantly change for the better? If so, don’t hesitate. It’s the right thing to do.

Were you pleased with your score?

Yes, absolutely. We were incredibly proud to excel in the following areas:

  • Ethics and fair operating practices: 84%
  • People management: 82%
  • Sustainability purpose: 79%
  • Diversity, equality and inclusion: 74%
  • Animal welfare: 71%

But we won’t be resting on any laurels. What we have achieved in this year alone has been brilliant, but our work is not done, and we are so excited for the journey ahead.

Woman in bra holding flower in front of face

What does the Butterfly Mark signify to your community and prospective shoppers?

I hope it says a great deal about Coco de Mer. The Butterfly Mark is a true symbol of genuine commitment to the highest standards of responsible business, something consumers really expect of brands nowadays, and rightfully so. The Butterfly Mark is only ever awarded to the luxury brands meeting higher and higher standards for people and nature, so I feel it’s a symbol that we stand for progress over perfection, difficult work over easy wins, and that we will never stop trying to improve.

Do you think certifications like the Butterfly Mark help shoppers make better informed decisions (especially when so many brands are veering between greenwashing and greenhushing)?

Yes, I do. The Butterfly Mark is a symbol of tangible practice and legitimate efforts across the pillars of sustainability. Accreditations like Positive Luxury and B Corp help steer brands further, providing support and direction, helping us to play a shape in a more sustainable future, incorporating best practice and industry leading actions in a sustainable way, for our business and our environment.

Covid killed empty brand hype; consumers became collaborators. The brand positioning for Coco de Mer was pivoted, bringing the core purpose of championing female pleasure to the fore, under the concept of ‘The Home of Pleasure’. Going forward, we will be taking a more editorialised approach to content and brand storytelling, as well as a digital-first strategy, building a genuinely engaged community of interest around the subject of female pleasure. As today’s world continues to shift shape, we are now looking to drive growth in many different ways across customer touch points, with a focus on direct-to-consumer channels and social commerce. We know consumers are making more informed decisions about purchases, and it’s our job to serve their needs and push the boundaries of pleasure and sensuality on their terms.

Accreditations like these used to be seen as something of a ‘nice to have’, but with the environmental climate as it is, we cannot ignore the changes we all need to make to be more responsible. As a small business who wants to go the extra mile to positively impact our planet, accreditations like Positive Luxury help us to achieve that in a way that advances our ways of working, strengthens our company and ensures a genuine improvement to our environmental impact.

Woman in lingerie sat at kitchen table

Any other exciting projects in the pipeline for 2023? (That you can tell us about!)

In the short term, we have our new Icons campaign launching in September with Charli Howard as our Icon and Helena Christensen as our photographer. I love the campaign which highlights the inspiring embrace of women supporting women and the pictures are gorgeous, there are a few new pieces that I am so excited to share. Alongside this, we have some beautiful new collections coming out in time for Christmas – giving the gift of pleasure never felt so good!

We are still on a high from our Positive Luxury certification and it’s given the team such a collective drive to keep riding that wave and keep improving our impact, on an environmental and social level. We are clear and consistent about our purpose and driving that forward; waving the flag for female empowerment and pleasure. We will keep striving to educate and celebrate, creating a genuine positive change in society and culture.

We will continue to raise awareness for inequalities and injustices against women. We will help end FGM. We will continue to use our platform to highlight and educate on the need for gender equality.

By focusing on these matters which feel intrinsically linked to the core of Coco de Mer, we believe that we will be able to help break down the taboos of female pleasure, to encourage a more open conversation and healthier relationships with, and increased respect for, the female body.

How do you think we can live a life in balance? 

I do live and breathe Coco de Mer but that’s because I love every part of it and enjoy every day – however, I wouldn’t say no to more sleep!

My Maltese Charlie means I’m always getting that morning light and fresh air, even if it’s a little on the colder (or earlier) side of my preference. He reinforces the importance of moving my body regularly, the benefits of fresh air and being amongst nature, all combined with the unbeatable sense of unconditional love. Who doesn’t thrive on that combination?! If your life allows it, I would highly recommend offering a home to a dog in need. There are so many shelters around and so many dogs ready to give their loyalty and love.

Reading a book (there is always a pile next to the bed – currently it’s The Right to Sex by Amia Srinivasan and Somebody Give This Heart A Pen by the incredible poet Sophia Thakur together with a couple of brilliant business books like Stretchonomics by the inspiring Nick Pye and Justin Wright and Profit From The Core which a previous boss gave me), but, as you can see from my choice of books, the reality is that my work and my life are so intertwined that I never feel the need or desire to clearly separate the two.

Woman in black robe sat surrounded by vines

Any parting words for our readers?

I believe female pleasure is integral to female empowerment and at Coco de Mer, we see on a daily basis the hugely positive impact it can have on a woman. Being allowed to explore one’s desires and embrace the complexity of sexual pleasure in an environment that is welcoming, empowering and indulgent – without fear of being judged – can have an extraordinary effect on a woman’s confidence, and at the same time lead to a more equal relationship with men.

Female pleasure, female empowerment and confidence are so intricately linked. Having a healthy love/respect relationship with ourselves is crucial. Sexual empowerment is not that different. It’s about having the confidence to know what you want, to say what you want, without fear or judgement, and to appreciate (and celebrate) the importance of your pleasure. Generations of women have been brought up on what men want. Focusing on that aspect of sex has created an incredibly male-dominated world of pleasure and power, with so many women not even knowing what they enjoy. Self acceptance and the confidence, joy, and improved health that comes with education and uninhibited explorations of pleasure is what I want to deliver to women. Pleasure and sexual fulfilment shouldn’t be regarded as luxuries; more women need to regard their own sexual satisfaction as a necessity.

Lingerie is a way to redefine sexuality on our own terms as women. It is no longer about playing a part for men, but for ourselves. Giving us a power no one else can see. For over 20 years, at Coco de Mer we have been committed to celebrating and championing pleasure for all, chipping away at the longstanding taboos around sexuality. And we have seen how shopping for lingerie has become an empowering pursuit, rather than something for the male gaze. It is a personal pleasure – the only items you can wear that no one else has to see but you.

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Images courtesy of Coco de Mer