Shunga: Formulating Sensuality

Ariana Rodriguez
Much like a fairy tale, the Shunga Erotic Art concept was born of a chance encounter.

Sylvain Séguin, who co-founded Eau Zone Oils & Fragrances in 1988 with Manon Vallée was restless. He had established his company as a forerunner in the field of natural herbal and floral bath products — and his novel design in the late ‘80s for a plant consisting of colorful condom flowers took the adult novelty industry by storm as a multi-million dollar business with worldwide distribution in more than 60 countries.

“Since our condom plants were mainly distributed to the adult market, we had two very different markets on our hands,” Séguin said.

The company’s first foray as a combination of both industries — as an intimate cosmetic business — was a collection with a concept of satin and lace called “Lace, Roses & Passion.” Séguin said the line was a success but still he wasn’t satisfied.

A casual visit to a library finally presented Séguin with what he calls a “celestial encounter.”

“One day, I was at the library and I couldn’t help but notice this book that was stacked atop the highest shelf,” he said. “I had to climb on the first shelf to get to it! It was a book called ‘SHUNGA: the Japanese Art of Love.’ When I looked through it, I was mesmerized by all these works of art that oozed sensuality. I then knew that I had to create a line that reflected just that.”

Séguin said he was captivated by the works of the Japanese erotic art pioneers of the 16th and 18th century and the way they were able to replicate the sensuality of their muses.

In 2000, the creation, formulation and design team behind Eau Zone created the Shunga Erotic Art collection; and with its stylish, high-end appeal, that now caters to adult novelty shoppers and the general, mainstream public as well.

The Shunga Erotic Art collection includes 19 different product types that amount to 60 products in many flavors or fragrances. From massage oils to chocolate body paint, massage candles, the TOKO line of lubricants and gift sets, Shunga products mainly target women — who usually make the purchase of intimate products for their partners Angela Mustone, Shunga’s director of business development, told XBIZ.

She said that joining Shunga’s Chocolate Body Paint as the company’s best-sellers is the Oriental Body Slide, which is designed to offer couples a unique body-to-body massage.

Inspired by the “Nuru Massage” given by Geishas to their dates, the Oriental Body Slide comes in an elegant package that includes a premixed formula that produces up to four liters of massage gel available in three aromas: Sparkling Strawberry Wine, Melon-Mango and Exotic Fruit. The package also includes an activator and a disposable waterproof gold sheet. Once applied, the product lets two bodies slip and slide against one another with ease and fluidity.

With products that are edible and others that offer warming, cooling and tingling sensations, Shunga prides itself on strict quality control.

“The Shunga line is produced in Montreal, Canada, in our factory,” Mustone said. “We control every step of the production — from design to creation. We have our own team of chemists on staff with their own laboratory facilities. We use state of the art technology and equipment for our manufacturing process. The manufacturing process includes mixing, filling, capping and packaging. We are proud to say that no compromises are made on the quality of our products.

“Each of the products that leave our facilities meets high quality standards based on the CGMP (Cosmetic Good Manufacturing Practice) accepted worldwide (FDA, European Cosmetic Regulation and Health Canada).”

Mustone described the process of creating a new Shunga product as beginning with consideration of consumer needs and expectations.

“Once these steps have been accomplished, we talk with our customers to confirm its place in the marketplace and to target the right selling price,” she said. “In the same breath, our chemistry team works on the recipe, taking into account the best ingredients that can meet what the product has to accomplish. Then our graphic design team works on the packaging. Once the beta product is ready, we run tests in terms of design and liability, making sure the product works. Once the product is created, several other tests are run to meet worldwide cosmetic regulations. Sylvain Seguin supervises every step and works closely with each team during the development of a new product.”

The company recently introduced a certified organic line called Garden of Edo. The organic collection set offers a massage and aphrodisiac oil, Toko Organica, a personal organic lubricant, and stimulating gel enhancer for men and women called Lotus Noir, as well as a bath salt made with Dead Sea natural crystals. The line was produced following the guidelines for organic cosmetic products.

“Prior to developing and launching an organic kit, at Shunga, we wanted to be certain that our manufacturing facility was geared to produce such products,” Mustone said. “We had to modify our production chain to make sure our facility complied with the rules that guide organic manufacturing practice. We also had to find suppliers that were organically certified, to make sure we could produce products with official organic certified ingredients.”

While other companies mislead consumers by labelling products as organic when only a small percentage of its ingredients are certified. Mustone said Shunga’s adherence to organic certification regulation means its ingredients are 95 percent organic and can therefore bear the “certified organic” trademark.

As a brand with a very high-end sophisticated image, a new product’s aesthetic also requires careful planning.

“The design and shape of the products, the works of art on the packaging and the product themselves are very appealing,” Mustone said. “When a new product is developed, we want to make sure that the packaging is specifically designed to reflect the quality of the product. If we feel that it is not the right fit, then we go back to the drawing board until it does. That is our philosophy and that guides all our marketing decisions.”

Eau Zone has established commercial business partners in more than 70 countries and operates offices in Montreal, New York and Paris. Mustone said that as the industry is becoming more focused on its encouragement of sexual health, the company is empowered to meet its demand.

“People are becoming more and more open to talk about love and sex and its importance in their everyday life,” she said. “It’s fun to develop products that are made for love and peace on this earth! Eau Zone, through its Shunga brand, is trying to develop new products every year that cater to this.”