A website selling luxury sex toys and unintimidating in the process? Meet Velvet Fleurs.
Its Founder, a busy mum with a retailing background, who we’ll call ‘J’ *, answers the questions.
BRIAN GRAY: I’ve likened starting a business or brand to having achild. As you’ve got three already – children that is – how does it compare with reality?
J: Anyone who has kids will know that there are no two days the same, just when you think you are on top of things the little cherubs blind-side you! I suppose you’re right, running a business and having children do have similarities. You quickly learn planning is key, you have to be versatile and more than anything, expect the unexpected!
With three whippersnappers already to contend with, never mind Velvet Fleurs, how do you manage time? What’s been the most valuable time management tip you’ve either read of been told about?
I believe good time-management is a trait that comes naturally to some and at the risk of sounding smug, it is something I don’t need to work at! My approach is to keep lists, I find them invaluable in all areas of my life; they keep me on top of things and focused on my goals.
Let’s talk branding. Why VelvetFleurs and what process did you gothrough to arrive at that name?
My goal has always been for the brand to be both feminine and sophisticated, a message I wanted to portray through all aspects of the business, from the aesthetics of the site, the product choices, our social media approach and of course the name. I felt the best approach to getting this right was to have a nod to the type of business without it being brash.
I’d settled on “Velvet” when the idea of setting up the business was little more than an “I would like to give it a go”. I added “Fleurs” after many sessions of brainstorming. As soon as I heard the two words together I knew it was the one.
Who do you think the ideal Velvet Fleurs customer is and what three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
Velvet Fleurs is for those who enjoy the exquisite pleasures in life, they like to experiment and push the boundaries in their sex lives whilst at the same time are willing to invest a little more in their pleasures and appreciate that things can be pleasing to the eye as well as functional.
When setting up the business the three main adjectives I kept coming back to were: feminine, unintimidating and unique.
Good marketing is important for any company, not only to thrive but just to survive. What have been your key marketing learning points and observations so far?
With my background in retail, I’ve always appreciated that marketing is one of the key principles of a business, where you quickly realise how vital it has been if you no longer do it. For Velvet Fleurs, the key marketing strategy has of course been social media. In this day and age it is a critical medium when connecting with both your customers and your B2B partners.
What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
I’m originally from a bricks and mortar background so getting to grips with SEO has been the biggest marketing challenge so far. It was a steep learning curve, made all the more difficult with the amount of seemingly conflicting information out there about what you should and shouldn’t do, coupled with the fact the likes of Google seem to be constantly changing the rules.
Sifting through the right information on the Internet has helped me understand SEO, allowing me to at least begin to address a potentially crippling problem for any new start up, there is clearly a lot more to learn though.
What are the most valuable things you’ve learned so far both competing in the sex toy industry and as an entrepreneur?
At the risk of sounding clichéd; perseverance. It is important to give things a go and trust in your gut instincts!
From your own experiences, what do you think is the most important skill to possess when launching an adult retailing company?
I’m not sure there is any particular skill you need when launching a business within the adult sector over any other retail sectors, although it definitely helps if you are open minded.
I do believe though that when launching any business, the ‘must have’ skill is the ability to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. It is so important to keep your target customer at the forefront of all of your business decisions.
Whether at the beginning, or since then, what has been the most valuable marketing book you’ve read since Velvet Fleurs was conceived?
I would love to sound like I’m well versed in marketing literature but the truth is that the bulk of my knowledge and experience in marketing has evolved from the 20 years I’ve worked in retail.
Since the start of Velvet Fleurs I have of course read various blogs and online articles which have been very useful, but no books.
What has been the most enjoyable moment or experience with Velvet Fleurs that has made the blood, sweat and tears worthwhile?
The most enjoyable moment by far was when my first order came through. It was a good number of weeks after I launched and a very nervy time – with each day that passed without a sale I really started to question some of the key decisions I had made up to that point.
The relief when that first order came through was immense. I’ll forever remember where I was, the time and what they ordered – great feeling!
And what does the next twelve months hold in store for Velvet Fleurs? What do you have planned?
Plans for the next 12 months will be to expand the Velvet Fleurs “boutique” range, this is an area of the business which offers something unique – that ultimate of guilty pleasures.
This is by far the most popular area with my customers, which is great as I just love trying to find new and innovative suppliers to further broaden the range.
I obviously can’t divulge too much but rest assured there will be several more exciting brands to sit alongside the existing Fucking Sculptures, Persian Palm and Liberator – so watch this space!
Having originally come across Velvet Fleurs in their capacity as a stockist of Persian Palm ceramic sex toys (click here for the interview with Eva) it is great to see independent manufacturers and retailers striking up effective partnerships in which there is a genuine – and effective – brand ‘fit’ with one another.
Good luck, J!
* When arranging the interview, J was a little wary about her full name being connected with an adult retailing company, while her children were still young. I’m happy to respect this and maintain some privacy!
ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING SECTOR?
If you’d like to be interviewed about your entrpreneurial journey and associated marketing issues that will be interesting to the Lascivious Marketing web fraternity, then get in touch!
Until next time!
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