Hal and I began to meet whenever we could to develop our first product idea.
What was it?
What should it do?
How should it be packaged?
What should the graphics be?
Do we have a name or a logo?
What are the ingredients and what kind of container will we use?
We had to answer these and many other questions as the search began. Remember this was long before the digital age, where at the click of a button you can get all of your questions answered. We were still old school and found our information in the Yellow Pages and Encyclopedia Britannica.
While we were searching for the perfect container, we began to work on the qualities we wanted in the product. We came up with these for starters: It must be water based, it must smell good, it must taste good, it must be slippery, it must have an attractive color and it must meet F.D.A. standards.
We began visiting chemists and laboratories, telling them of our story- that we were looking for a manufacturing source to make our products. They were very free with their advice. One such meeting changed the product, big time. He was a chemist in some lab we were evaluating. He looked over our ingredient list we had at the time and suggested we add this particular ingredient into our formula but then said, "Oh, that could be a problem as it has a tendency to warm the skin."
Hal and I looked at each other wide-eyed and said sarcastically, “Yeah... that could be a problem.”
It was a game changer.
We then kept up our search for the perfect container. One of the requirements was that it had to be a stock item - easy to get and not expensive. After months of searching we settled on a serum-type bottle that you often see in the medical world that met all of our requirements. The bottle required a cork to seal it as it had no threads for a cap closure. This led us to yet another search- this time for the perfect cork. Under “cork” in the Yellow Pages we found a company somewhere in the valley and went to visit them, bottle in hand, to find the perfect fit. This was another mind-blowing experience because as we entered the warehouse- I’d say it was maybe 5,000 square feet - it was very dark, damp and quiet with the heavy smell of cork in the air. The owner met us up front, we explained our problem and he said, “Follow me.”
It was incredible. Bin after bin after bin of corks in all shapes and sizes. I’ll never forget the smell of cork- I can smell it even today.
We found our size and fit- he quoted us a price, we agreed and off we went.
They were our cork suppliers for thirty-five years before we built a mold for our bottle that we could put a cap on to solve some safety and leakage problems.
So now we had the bottle, the formula and the cork – what was next? The graphics and a name.
I remember visiting The Bodhi Tree bookstore in West Hollywood on Melrose Avenue that was known for all things esoteric and spiritual. It was the book store for all the seekers of that time. Browsing through the store I came across a book called The Kama Sutra of Vatsayayana- not the picture books we see today in bookstores. The book had no pictures at all. It was a book written over 2,000 years ago describing the social attitudes of what the expected standards of love and sex should be in ancient Indian culture.
I almost screamed with joy in the middle of the bookstore because they were saying the same things that we were thinking- the importance of the role of intimacy in achieving sexual pleasure between loving partners.
So we had the two concepts: first the product, "Love Oil" and second the brand, Kama Sutra. We restructured them to become what is now KAMA SUTRA OIL OF LOVE®. We have had that same name and product ever since.
As for the graphics, I made a simple band that wrapped around the lower half of the bottle.
We then asked, "Should the bottle have an outer box or something?" To protect the bottle and further enhance or name and graphics.
After looking at our options we decided to go with a cylindrical carton with a pull-off top. We were intrigued with the “tubular” shape of the package and how the top of the bottle with the cork in place became such a suggestive image. When the top half of the cylinder was lifted off it looked very much like a woman's breast- very graphic, yet very subliminal.
So we seemed to have it solved. Now– who could make the product for us?
As I mentioned before we talked to several labs, but in reality we were too small for them. After searching for a while we found a small lab in South Central, Los Angeles. I forget the name of the lab but the owner was a guy named Grenrock who I called “Grenny.” His claim to fame he said that “they all start with me” as he rattled off a bunch of well-known product names that did in fact start with him.
So we worked out a deal with Grenny– had our bottles, cartons and labels sent to him. We met him the night before he was to run our first batch of 5,000 Oils of Love. We carefully went over the formula. He was taking notes on the back of a brown, corrugated shipping carton. We wrapped up the night, shook hands that we were in total agreement and Hal and I went out got drunk.
The next morning I got a call from Grenny. He said he couldn’t find his formula notes... he thought they got swept up with the trash. So we had to do it all over again the next night. Such was the beginning of The Kama Sutra Company.
©2015 Joe Bolstad
Founder and CEO of The Kama Sutra Company