INTERVIEW: Victoria Jane, Crowned Jewels

Meet the Norfolk sex toy company working hard for your pleasure, and your royal approval: Crowned Jewels.

Co-Founder Victoria Jane talks marketing, quality, and saucy London inspiration!

BRIAN GRAY: Who’s behind Crowned Jewels, and what’s the brief history behind it all?

VICTORIA JANE: Crowned Jewels is owned and run by James and Victoria. Founded in 2008, Crowned Jewels started out making sex toys in Sterling Silver and has since evolved and added to its catalogue with new products and accessories, all handcrafted in Titanium and Aluminium and Precious metals.

We are passionate about designing and making, beautiful, body-safe sex toys and accessories. To explore and enjoy your own and your partner’s body, to enhance its potential and improve your sex life, with style and confidence. It has been our ethos from day one to make exciting adult toys that are crafted from only completely body safe and high-grade materials. They are hand-made in our workshops, based in a 300 year-old barn, on a sprawling country estate, in the heart of the beautiful Norfolk countryside. Our high standards ensure quality and purity throughout, resulting in our stunning range of products available, for you to purchase and enjoy.

There’s a plethora of sex toy manufacturers and sellers competing for market share. Why should people buy from Crowned Jewels?
Crowned Jewels are the only metal sex toy company, that we are aware of, that have their finished products and materials independently verified to ensure compliance with current safety legislation.  When customers buy from us, they are assured to receive quality, safe, products. That’s why we don’t need a 365 day returns policy.

We are the only manufacturer to manufacture 100% of our products solely in the UK and it is for this reason that we can keep close control of our high quality production processes.

Many of your products are named after London locales. Please tell us there’s a saucy story behind each one! Or if not, at least tell us the rationale behind it all.
The rationale behind our product names stems from the Crowned Jewels being associated with London. We then chose the London based names because the choice available was too good to miss. The cheeky relevance to what the products are and where/what they are used for was irresistible – just pure, saucy innuendo! Names like ‘Highbury’ and ‘Upminster’ for butt plugs and ‘Marylebone’ and ‘Shaftsbury’ for dildos , is almost descriptive. ‘Court’ is a circle, so Hampton, Earl’s and Baron’s Court as names for the cock rings was also a natural choice. Needless to say, we have a lot of fun naming our products. Watch out for our new strap-on dildo, which will be available very soon, called ‘Cockfosters’.

Talking of London, as well as directly selling from your website and through other stockists, you also exhibit at the London Alternative Market. Tell us more about your involvement in this, and how vital a component is it in your marketing activities?
We are new to the London Alternative Market and have found it to be a great relaxed, warm and welcoming marketplace to sell and promote our products and what we do. Customers get a chance to view and handle the products and ask any questions they have in a safe and likeminded environment. The sort of questions you may not feel comfortable asking friends or family but would help you enjoy a better sex life and make good, informed choices for products and lifestyle.

Who is the typical Crowned Jewels customer? And what three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
A typical Crowned Jewels customer is a conscientious adult. If you’re conscious of what you put in your body then you wouldn’t choose anything other than a Crowned Jewels product for tickling your most intimate of desires.
Quality, Pleasure and Functionality

 A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
‘Perfection’ after all, this is our daily strive! Our independent reviews give credence to this being our consistent achievement.

What has been the highlight so far in your entrepreneurial journey, and why?
Wow, so many highlights and experiences, it’s hard to choose! We’ve been lucky enough to meet so many fabulous people, made products that have literally changed people’s lives and have saved relationships. It’s been an honour to meet and work with such a diverse range of customers.

We’ve made diamond set vibrators for celebrities and a solid silver Upminster Butt Plug set with a 30ct Pink Sapphire (Retail value in excess $100,000). We’ve met wonderful people from every walk of life, gender and sexual preference and we’ve sold products to customers all around the world.

I guess this can all be summed up as ‘Knowledge’. Knowledge we have acquired understanding consumer trends and the hunger of consumers for knowledge to develop their own sexual prowess.

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?
It’s very hard to market sex toys. Sex sells everything but when you try to use sex to sell sex, it can be considered sleazy.

Choosing fun and interesting names for the products has been something our customers love and being a British company, our foreign customers like the direct connection. Our key marketing points are:

  • The safety of our products
  • The beautiful anodised colours of the Titanium – and we are the only company to produce a range of Medical Grade Titanium Sex Toys,
  • Handmade in Great Britain
  • The fact that they’re ‘eco-friendly’ i.e. we ‘grow’ them on a farm, in Norfolk, using wind and solar power (we consider this ‘Normal for Norfolk’!)
  • Being made of metal our products are recyclable, unlike the mass market of silicone products.
  • Even our packaging is luxurious, yet 95% recyclable, with not a blister pack in sight.
  • We use traditional wax and a seal to finish all our product packaging, another personal touch that our customers love.

What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
Getting ‘out there’ and getting our products and strong company ethos known has not been easy. We use social media to get our message across but because of the type of industry we are in, we are not allowed to advertise on Facebook or Twitter, unlike other business sectors. Some companies now advertise on television, but it is very expensive and for a small company like us, that is not feasible.

We continue to grow our company organically, along with our creation of branded products such as jewellery, to create greater brand awareness in the public eye.

What are the most valuable things you’ve learned so far both about competing in the adult retailing industry, and as an entrepreneur?
We’ve learned that like most small businesses, it is certainly not a level playing field. Resistance in the industry to newcomers, especially with quality products, is particularly strong and I know several companies that have given up as it’s too hard to compete in a world of cheap, low quality products, mass produced in foreign countries, with no regulations, let alone standards.

Through British excellence in engineering, we, against all odds, have managed to create products that compete commercially on price with Chinese manufactured products, yet put the quality of imported goods, (be they from China or Pakistan, the two major manufacturers of adult goods), to shame!

We are proud of our products, how beautiful they are and the pleasure they can bring. We celebrate the fact that they are different and the feedback from our customers reinforces how great they are to use. Happy customers equals happy company!

And what does the next twelve months hold in store for Crowned Jewels?
We are busy in the workshop making and testing new products and will have some fabulous new releases to tempt and excite you later this year. We are working with Ann Summers, which is very exciting, and have current products online and in select stores with them, including Norwich, our local store and their Red Room in the Marble Arch store.

With tightening regulation coming to the market place we are intent upon becoming the dominant source for safe, high quality, desirable yet affordable products to the sexually liberated people of the world.

Thanks, Victoria! While awaiting the royal seal of approval from Buckingham Palace there’s no doubt you’ve already got it from your customer base!

If you never want to think of London locations – or tube stations – in the same light again (or at least want to do so with a huge grin on your face) head over to the Crowned Jewels website  and tweet to Crowned Jewels on Twitter for good measure.

If you’d like to be interviewed about your entrepreneurial journey and associated marketing issues that will be interesting to the Lascivious Marketing web fraternity, then get in touch!

Until next time!