“I’ve got to work on my elevator pitch.”
Sarah Belzer is the president of Coconu, a personal care brand based in Salt Lake City, and she’ll be the first to laugh at the fact that she’s “in the lube business.”
Sarah remembers going to a networking event with other women entrepreneurs and being incredibly nervous to talk about what she did. But when she explained her company’s product and mission, the very first person she met said, “That’s amazing! I want to get some.”
“This isn’t an adult product or a sex product,” Sarah assured. “It’s a personal care item like deodorant or toothpaste.”
Health and wellness, along with human connection, have always been important to Sarah. Though, growing up in a fairly religious conservative family, the discussions around sex were not as forthcoming. It wasn’t discussed in a way that felt healthy or natural.
“I feel like I’ve grown as a person because now I’m more comfortable talking about sex and learning about sex,” Sarah said. “Understanding the science behind it and the variety of experiences was a game changer.”
Her three sons
Sarah is also the mother to three teenage boys. When the oldest began high school, she felt she finally had the brain space to think about what she wanted to create and focus on, outside of her family. She devoured business books and considered working full time for another organization. And then she thought about the business her brother Taylor had started after he and his wife had their second child and were seeking a natural personal lubricant. Sarah realized that the mission of his company, Coconu, aligned with her own values. So she joined the team to help grow the brand and expand their line of products.
Now, with her own sons, she finds the family conversations being much more open than the ones she grew up with. In addition to discussing sex and sexual health, she says “the conversations are about consent, about pleasure, about taking care of each other’s needs.”
And sometimes, it’s just about getting the job done, like the day (pre-pandemic) when she asked her 16-year-old son to gather eight of his friends to come over to help stock orders during a particularly busy sales cycle. “We were kind of laughing, like, ‘here we are! Stocking orders for lube!’”
Taylor and his wife, Angela, founded Coconu in 2012 after creating the first USDA-certified organic coconut oil personal lubricant. They soon followed with a coconut water-based lubricant. The company, Sarah says, will always be focused on clean (all natural and organic) personal care products, which makes them appealing to those who are changing their lifestyles and trying to get away from chemicals in order to seek a more natural approach. The company sells directly to the consumer through its website and at wellness clinics.
“I hear from people who have used this and changed their sex life,” Sarah said. “It’s helped them experience pleasure and create confidence and, in the end, happiness. That’s what we’re hoping for.”
Sarah loves the emails she gets from women, including those suffering from cancer, who are grateful to reclaim some of their sensuality. She gets messages from men, too, who are thrilled that their partners have found a product that helps make sex more comfortable. And then there are a lot of people who use Coconu products, not to fix any problem, but simply to enhance their experience.
If Sarah had to summarize her career, it’s about bringing people together, a skill she attributes to having inherited from her mother.
Honoring her hero
“My mother was a gatherer,” said Sarah through tears. “She would create book clubs and neighborhood cooking groups and led the church choir. Anyone who knew her loved her.”
Sarah’s mother, Kathy Warnick, had four children and was incredibly involved in political and healthcare organizations. When Sarah went to college, her mother went back to school as well to finish her degree, and they attended their last year of college at the same time, graduating together – the oldest and youngest in their class.
Kathy eventually ended up in a career selling medical devices to ob/gyns, which made her ovarian cancer diagnosis at the age of 57 cruelly ironic. Sarah’s mother died in 2007, only one year after being diagnosed.
Sarah and her brother Taylor have decided to honor their mother’s memory, along with her commitment to women’s health, by partnering with OCRA and donating a portion of the company’s proceeds to help fund critical ovarian cancer research.
Sarah is proud to sell a product that helps women increase their body confidence and empower them to take charge of their own experiences and be self-directed in their intimate relationships.
“It just made so much sense,” Sarah said, “to support OCRA in honor of our mom. It felt so good to us and we knew it would be something our mom would be so proud of.”