Category Archives: Blog

INTERVIEW: Eva Lerbs, pjur group

From eroFame exhibiting to taking to the road to talk with their stockists, pjur group from Luxembourg can never be accused of resting on their laurels.

Hard working pjur group CRM and Sales Representative Eva Lerbs offers an insight into company life and marketing the pjur product range of lubricants, lotions and creams.

BRIAN GRAY: First of all, introduce pjur to the world. When was the company founded, what does it sell, and so on?

EVA LERBS: More feeling, more sensations, more adventure. Whatever you’re looking for, at pjur we’ve got the right products for you. As a family run company, we’ve put our heart and soul into what we do for more than 20 years.

The pjur group started producing lubricants in Germany in 1995. With Alexander Giebel at the helm and headquartered in Luxembourg, the pjur group has maintained its production facilities in Germany, and has expanded rapidly into other countries, attaining a high degree of brand awareness in the process. Even though lubricants have been used since Roman times, pjur was the first company in the world to develop and market a silicone lubricant worldwide.

Our portfolio now comprises over 60 products from silicone- and water-based personal lubricants and massage lotions through products for toys and for stimulating and delaying performance right through to intimate hygiene products and niche articles for extra special preferences.

Describe your own role in the company, your responsibilities and typical tasks. What do you most enjoy about your job with pjur?
I am in the Sales department and responsible for different customers in Europe, especially in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. Apart from the daily business like taking orders and negotiate prices, I am spending a lot of time with personal calls and mail contact asking our customers if they need help or any support like product pictures or texts, answers for frequently asked questions or any other PoS material. My aim is to make every pjur customer happy and to support them as much as even possible.

Who do you define as your typical customer? What characteristics do your individual end-users, and retailers possess?
Our typical end customer doesn’t really exist as we have a product for nearly everybody: be it the woman in her sixties who is just experiencing her second spring needing a bit lubricating support, be it the 18 years old gay man who wants to make his first sexual experiences a bit more comfortable or the couple in their forties who just want to spice up their sex live with some new products. You see that our target group is very wide, so the characteristics of the retailers are too.

A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What one world would you like people to associate with pjur?
For pjur this word is definitely “quality”. The name pjur (pronounced “pure”) is a by-word for quality the world over, promising premium products “Made in Germany”. We only use ingredients that meet the highest purity and quality levels in our manufacturing processes. Quality is a top priority for us and we are not prepared to make any compromises on this.

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?
These days, key visuals are more important than ever. People get so many pictures, sounds and odours in their everyday life through their smartphones, television, in shopping malls or just outside at the bus station, so there is a real overstimulation. What we’ve learned is that sometimes less is more. Our simple yellow dot is something people just need to search for if they enter a sex shop or if they click-through a web site. In terms of new PoS or new products, you can say that you should just ask your customers for their needs. That is one of the key facts for success.

What are the main marketing challenges facing pjur, and how is the company overcoming them?
One of the most difficult parts of our marketing is to balance all the different cultures and markets we’re working in. As we work closely together with our local partners around the world, we can handle this problem very well, but there’s always a lot of work to do as a global brand.

We are just facing another problem with Google as they block adverts which show too much bare skin or contain words like “sex” or “vagina” in their Google AdWords. As we are a very high-quality company and don’t link our products to too sexy pictures, we can arrange with that and use more creative words and pictures. But I think that other companies could have some really big problems, even if they just try to describe their products.

Earlier in 2018, pjur released the results of a commissioned survey, conducted by YouGov (who I used to work for years ago!). It’s great to see companies in this industry using marketing research. Was this a one-off case? How important is market and customer research to pjur’s continuing success?

No, not at all! Research is so important for a global company to find out about new trends and to get to know their target groups better and better every day. So we do surveys from time to time to just find out if there is something, that needs to be improved, some new strategy, some new ideas. It is also a great way to get feedback from the market about new product ideas and so on.

What has been the highlight so far in your time with pjur, and why?
Oh, that question is not easy to answer. I am with pjur for more than two years now and a lot of great things happened since then. I think one of the highlights is the eroFame – the first adult trade fair I ever visited – as this was really special to me and still is. It is so great to see all the people you’re talking with by phone or email, to see other brands and all these crazy products in the adult industry you’ve never thought they really existed. Apart from that, another highlight this year was my trip to different erotic stores in Germany because all the owners of the shops and the sellers were so wonderful and we really had a lot of fun beside the work and training.

The pjur group presence at eroFame erotic trade fair, Hanover - interview with erotic marketing agency, Lascivious Marketing [credit: pjur group, Luxembourg, S.A.]]
The pjur group presence at eroFame erotic trade fair, Hanover [credit: pjur group, Luxembourg S.A.]

What are your own personal strengths that you bring to pjur?
I am a very communicative and open-minded person. I talk to everybody and am not afraid to get to know new people – which is very good for my job with pjur. I am not afraid about talking about sex and all subjects related to it. This makes it very easy to communicate with all the customers and sellers. Sometimes they have some special questions and I am always happy to answer. Apart from that, I always find creative solutions for individual advertising at the point of sale or at events where our customers take part. Many of them come back to me and are thankful for my input, which makes me really happy. We recently realised great flyer campaigns and redesigns of store windows, for example.

Time is our most precious commodity. How do you maximise yours, and what tips have you picked up along the way?
I think it is very important to always take the time for a personal conversation with a business partner. Even if he calls exactly the minute you wanted to leave the office: take the time and let him know that you are always there. This is something I’d recommend to anybody as most people appreciate these little things and your relationship to them will be better than ever.

What are the most valuable things you’ve learned so far in your erotic retailing industry career?
In the last two years I’ve learned that this industry is probably one of the most sympathetic ones you’ll find in this world. People on trade fairs as well as our customers and business partners are always in a good mood and they love what they do. This is something I haven’t experienced in other industries where I’ve worked before.

And what does the next twelve months hold in store for pjur as a company?
Within the last 23 years, pjur has become a global leader in marketing lubricants and intimate products and its way hasn’t come to an end yet. We’ve been growing every year: There’s new colleagues and partners every year, new countries we conquer and new products we develop. Just some weeks ago, we acquired our US distributor, so I think in this country we may see the biggest effort and change within the next twelve months. Apart from that, people can look forward to new products in 2018, which will be launched at eroFame in Hannover. So, come to our booth and connect!

Thanks Eva!
Learn more about pjur group and their wide product range and pay them a visit on Instagram too.

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!

Read All About It! Monthly marketing column in EAN

Brian Gray from Lascivious Marketing writes a monthly marketing column for European erotic trade publication, EAN.

Here are the links to each article, where marketing tips and advice as well as informed opinion on key industry topics are provided. Enjoy!


Brian Gray from erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing marketing column in EAN publication March 2018 text (c) Brian Gray design image (c) EAN16th March 2018

In this month’s edition, I take to task the brands and retailers who just can’t resist getting all political on their social media timelines.

When – if at all – is it worthwhile to get political while selling your wares? Perhaps never? Or is that just wishful thinking on my part?

In an industry geared towards generating smiles, tingles, and other giddy sensations among one’s customers, why are some manufacturers and retailers spoiling the party by spouting their own (or just retweeting somebody else’s) political views or prejudices online? Aren’t we already drowning in a sea of social media virtue-signalling, ignorance and self-validation?


Lingerie, sex toy customer research. Brian Gray from erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing marketing column in EAN publication Feb 2018 text (c) Brian Gray design image (c) EAN16th February 2018
Following from last month’s column on the many reasons for surveying your customers, this month it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty of asking the right questions in the right way.

Hopefully your customer database has swelled to very healthy proportions. Now it’s time to take advantage of this. Properly designed customer surveys provide a treasure trove of data and subsequent insight. While I can’t provide a full guide to all the elements of a customer research project within a few pages here, I can at least give you some very helpful – and crucial – pointers so you ask the right questions in the right way. Get this wrong or go about it in a slapdash fashion, and you’ll suffer the consequences accordingly.


Why erotic retailers should survey their customers. Brian Gray from erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing marketing column in EAN erotic retail magazine Jan 2018 text (c) Lascivious Marketing image design (c) EAN22nd January 2018
With the busy period from Christmas to Valentine’s Day in full swing, it’s the best time to be preparing to get into the minds of your customers to help your erotic retailing business.

By the time you’re reading this, Christmas and New Year have come and gone. I hope you all had great times with your friends and loved ones, and made some great New Year’s Resolutions. I hope one of these was to increase your profitability. I hope another – closely related to the previous one – is to know more about your customers. The two are, afterall, inextricably linked.

If you’re an online retailer, your customer database will hopefully be swelling from all those transactions over the festive period. And you’ve still got Valentine’s Day to go. It’s the perfect opportunity to really get to grips with your customers. Their minds, that is.

With a well-designed, well executed customer research survey, you’ll have a wealth of real insight to help your subsequent marketing decision making. Need further convincing? Shame on you! So here’s why I’m giving you not one but twelve – yes, you read right – reasons why you should be surveying your customers.


Mission statements for lingerie and sex toy companies. Brian Gray from erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing marketing column in EAN erotic retail magazine Dec 2017 text (c) Lascivious Marketing, image design (c) EAN15th December 2017
In this month’s edition, it’s the turn of corporate mission statements to come under the spotlight. Waste of time? Meaningless corporate claptrap? You’d be wrong.

Forgive what may initially appear to be a flippant question addressed to fellow members of the erotic industry. But seriously: aside from a regular paycheck and all the subsequent benefits– at least, if you’re working for one of the bigger players – why do you turn up each day to the office, factory, or warehouse? Take a minute right now, to ponder this. What is your organisation’s common purpose that binds you and your colleagues, and determines the collective effort and direction?

Alternatively, if you’re working for yourself in this industry – I call them “Risqué-takers” – or you’re part of a small- or micro-business, you’re probably more acutely aware of your company’s mission.


Why buy a sex robot? Brian Gray from erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing marketing column in EAN erotic retail magazine Nov 2017 text (c) Lascivious Marketing, image design (c) EAN20th November 2017

This month I’m playing Devil’s Advocate to the sex robot detractors. And this is an article NOT recommended for easily triggered ‘snowflakes’, or anyone lacking realistic critical thinking skills!

Oscar Wilde famously opined that he could resist everything but temptation. Opinion pieces with questionable arguments have the same effect on me. The British newspaper The Guardian published an article on Monday 25th September written by “robotics expert” Jenny Kleeman, titled “Should we ban sex robots while we have the chance?” The sub-heading posits: “AI sex dolls are on their way, with potentially sinister social consequences. So before they hit the market, we must ask whether they should.”

…So why indeed would a man buy an adult AI sex robot? As a married man, I can’t imagine comparing a synthetic robot with my other half, for a gamut of reasons. But as Kleeman herself has shied away from proffering any reasons, Yours Truly will dutifully step up to the plate to highlight a few possible factors which could drive demand.”


Dangers to customers using connected sex toys. Brian Gray from erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing marketing column in EAN erotic retail magazine Oct 2017 text (c) Lascivious Marketing, image design (c) EAN25th October 2017
Back in August I’d waxed lyrical about issues concerning AI sex robots…but in this article, I elaborate and highlight the dangers to those using connected sex toys and other sex tech, and the responsibilities bestowed upon manufacturers to address these key issues.

…And while most marketers won’t personally be involved in implementing or testing the security of their connected products, they had better be aware of the issues concerning them and how they are perceived by their most important audience – customers.

Admittedly, for some company creators, safety and security doesn’t make them tingle with excitement. Let’s be honest: an entrepreneur starting up an airline doesn’t go into business with the ultimate mission of making air travel the safest it could ever be. They do so to make money. But, without acknowledging the importance of (and spending money on) safety and security, they’re going to have empty planes. It’s a must-have requirement. Without it, there’s no trust. Without trust, there’s no sale. Without sales….you get the picture.

And with the rise of ‘connected’ sex toys and AI dolls, the adult retailing sector has to be similarly minded.


Celebrity sex robots, branding and licensing sex toys. Brian Gray from erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing marketing column in EAN erotic retail magazine Aug 2017 text (c) Lascivious Marketing, image design (c) EAN21st August 2017
In the summer that saw mainstream media get their knickers in a twist about sex robots, this was the first article of mine that looked at the topic. Coupled with a look at celebrity sex toy branding and licensing, it’s quite the erudite and provocative quick read.

This past month, mainstream media outlets have been talking about the report published by the Foundation for Responsible Robotics, titled “Our Sexual Future with Robots”. Unsurprisingly, there was no shortage of both writers commenting on the subject, and readers wanting to know what the hubbub was all about.

The subject of sex robots and teledildonics comes with its own set of dilemmas and debates from various perspectives. Some of these are more well-founded than others, it has to be said. But looking at things purely from a marketing perspective, there are several points to ponder.



Business relationships in the erotic retail business. Brian Gray from erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing marketing column in EAN erotic retail magazine July 2017 text (c) Lascivious Marketing, image design (c) EAN28th July 2017
My inaugural article highlights the importance of dialogue with your B2B contacts, as well as the dangers of relying too much on website analytics instead of gathering genuine customer marketing data.

In the 1990’s British Telecom ran a number of memorable television commercials with legendary actor Bob Hoskins (who featured in classic films such as The Long Good Friday, Mona Lisa, Who Framed Roger Rabbit) uttering the strapline, “It’s good to talk.”

One of the truest sentences ever to be uttered. Especially in business. And the adult retailing industry is certainly no exception.



Leading insight-based erotic marketing agency, Lascivious Marketing. Founder, Brian Gray, interviewed in EAN erotic retail magazine May 2017 text (c) Lascivious Marketing, image design (c) EAN24th May 2017
EAN magazine’s original interview, following the launch of Lascivious Marketing.

Marketing has become one of the key elements of any kind of entrepreneurial activity. Libraries worth of literature, countless seminars, and hordes of experts are dedicated to the art of making products and services palatable to the consumers. Brian Gray feels that the adult industry is sadly lagging behind the rest of the field in this respect. Which is one of the reasons why he started a marketing agency called Lascivious Marketing, geared specifically to the needs and requirements of the adult industry. In our interview, the marketing expert outlines modern strategies and talks about ways to create effective marketing for adult-oriented products.


As each new column comes out I’ll update this post accordingly.

As of April, I’ll also be waxing lyrical on marketing in the lingerie, sex toy, pleasure products sectors in XBIZ World, the specialist erotic retailing publication from the LA-based XBIZ publishing stable.



Stop the Social Media Stupidity! part 1

Stop clogging up lingerie or sex toy social media timelines by pushing irrelevant content. It’s not big, it’s not clever and does nothing to help your business.

How about providing blog posts that actually reinforce what you’re about instead?

There’s a plethora of instantly forgettable, and completely irrelevant topics being posted by #sexySME brands on social media. All sectors are afflicted: lingerie, sex toys, latex, fetishwear, the whole shebang. You’ll have probably seen them for yourself:-

  • Instagram video segments featuring mundane activities that add nothing to the brand’s story or propositions but succeed in boring and/or annoying followers.
  • Blog posts that have nothing to do with the products being sold, purely to add content in the hope of remaining on the radar of prospects and customers.

Listen, I know the pressures that a small business owner faces. You’re constantly juggling myriad tasks. And let’s not pull any punches here: creating and producing good content and then spreading it out on social media and your own blog is a full-time job in itself. Don’t kid yourself otherwise. And when everyone else and their dog is relentlessly churning out stuff you’ll naturally feel pressured to follow suit and tweet or post anything and everything in a vain effort to maintain visibility. The problem is that this more often than not comes at the expense of relevance.

Let’s take the example of lingerie (or whatever) sellers who are pushing out blog posts on travel destinations or yoga or nightclubs. Yes, I know, some of you are immediately thinking ‘What the hell does this directly have to do with skimpies?’ Quite. But let’s deconstruct this in a bit more detail for the rest who don’t quite see what the fuss is about.

Tell me: if you’re interested in travel, is there more than a slight chance you’re going to follow dedicated travel journalists, travel media publications, travel bloggers and the like? Of course! Secondly, whose knowledge and opinion are you going to value more – the actual travel specialist, or the skimpie-seller or sex toy retailer?  Exactly. And just how on earth is blogging about travel destinations helping you achieve your marketing objectives? I’m waiting…

Truth be told, if you regularly have to resort to filler material like this the harsh reality is either:

  • your brand is boring
  • your products are boring
  • your company is boring
  • maybe even you’re boring too (in which case you’ve got much bigger problems: ‘boring’ isn’t really a sought after attribute in the business of love and lust)
  • you’re lazy

Let’s step out of the business of love and lust for a moment. I visited the Ford website. Yep, cars. Lots and lots of nice shiny automobiles. Did it by any chance contain articles about supermarkets, travel, gardening, or yoga? No. Why do you think that is?

But wait…..won’t there be Ford owners around the world that use their car to drive to their local supermarkets, or do some gardening, or drive to their yoga class? Absolutely. But that’s not a compelling reason per se to highlight these things in their web content.

I know what you’re thinking though. Perhaps if you’re thinking about just a fleeting mention of your brand in amongst talking about your top 5 travel destinations to be sexy in, or the best restaurants in town, then it will be permissible, or there will be some rub-off, associated, connection.

Don’t be daft.

Or perhaps you’re thinking that you’re “providing value” to your customers. Yes, you are. You’ve now got them thinking about travel – and NOT your wares. Wave them goodbye as instead of browsing around your site, they’ve now hot-footed it to flight comparison websites, or Airbnb or TripAdvisor. That’s pretty moronic, n’est-ce pas?

Focus, dammit.

By now you’ll know my appreciation of content marketing and in particular the book Content Inc. I recommend it thoroughly. Its author (and Founder of the Content Marketing Institute), Joe Pulizzi cites the case of US company River Pools & Spas, who were in a bit of a pickle. The only way the owner thought he could turn things around was by stealing market share from his rivals. Within two years the company had done so and was doing fabulously well as a result. How was this achieved?

He thought about all the possible questions that his customers might or could ask. He then proceeded to answer each one on the company website. Great for customer support, great for content marketing, and great for SEO. Great all round, really.

So what’s stopping you from doing exactly the same? Absolutely nothing.  And no disrespect intended to River Pools & Spas, but lingerie, sex toys or fetishwear seem a heck of a lot more interesting than fibreglass pools.

Let’s say you’re a lingerie designer or seller. Grab a sheet of A4 and scribble down all the questions your customers could conceivably ask. Some of them will be obvious, others less so. But that’s the joy of all this. You’re in this for the long haul, right? So there’s plenty of opportunity for you to look at things from all sorts of angles and produce a steady stream of content that’s not going to run out anytime soon. Get your friends, colleagues onboard too. The more heads and perspectives the merrier. The only common denominator to be enforced is that it must be directly related to your brand or your products or your organisation.

Fancy a quick win? Look up the interviews I’ve conducted with other brands. There’s enough questions there for you to swipe and then elaborate accordingly as it applies to your own brand, products or company.

Need more ammo? Be sneaky. Go to another brand’s website. What do you see? What do you like? What do you dislike? What piques your curiosity? What do you wish you could ask the owner, and why?  Now redirect those questions back to yourself. Boom: another clutch of easy questions identified.

Also, think about your photo shoots. Whether you’ve got just one or a dozen photo shoots under your belt showcasing your collections, these lend themselves perfectly.

  • What look were you trying to achieve?
  • What moods were you wanting to convey?
  • What influenced your choice of model?
  • Why did you choose that particular location to shoot?
  • What was most memorable about the day and why?
  • What were the challenges faced and how did you overcome them?

There: another half-dozen questions you can wax lyrical on and inform, educate, and perhaps entertain your customers, prospects and peers with. You could do worse than check out Latvian lingerie brand Flash You and Me whose blog posts include some great background notes with some stunning imagery (many of them taken by founder Liva, interviewed here). At the bottom of the site there are handy links to all the items featured. And why not?

Don’t forget some frameworks – why not use your marketing mix? Price, Product, Promotion, Place for starters. There’s a plethora of topics and questions you can identify in each one.

Let’s face it, it’s got to be better than tenuously linked travel blog posts.

A final word about length. How long should your blog posts be? The slightly glib immediate answer is ‘as long as it should be to cover the topic in the required detail and to put the required points across.’ That probably doesn’t help much. It turns out that when you try to find out what the pros think, they don’t have a slam-dunk answer either  – there are too many variables.

In general, I aim for 1000 words, around two sides of typed A4. And if it’s a bit more, all the better.

That’s it for now. And yes, the eagle-eyed among you will have seen that this is only part 1. There’s more social media stupidity to be thwarted!



INTERVIEW: Alexandra Houston, Le Boutique Bazaar

Fancy a one stop shopping experience in London that caters to the erotic and alternative? Say hello to Le Boutique Bazaar.

Just a few days before their ‘Dirty Valentine’ event, co-Founder Alexandra Houston gives an insight into the who’s, what’s, and why’s. And a bit more besides.

BRIAN GRAY: Let’s get started. How and why did you decide to launch Le Boutique Bazaar (LBB), and what was your own background before this? Had you previously been involved in erotic retailing or erotic fashion or was this something new for you?

ALEXANDRA HOUSTON: Realising how many of London’s unique young fashion labels had been pushed out of brick and mortar spaces due to the increasing rents (and were forced to sell online-only) I had already set up Wasted Chic, for young designers and vintage brands. Being an active member of the Torture Garden fashion scene (and a total outfit obsessive), it only seemed natural to approach them about creating a space to showcase our community’s creativity and give people a place to shop for those incredible looks!

Your events feature a variety of erotic or alternative subsectors: lingerie, latex, jewellery, accessories and so on. Do you go out searching for brands to approach, is it the other way around, or a bit of a combination? What criteria do you have in place vis-à-vis selecting appropriate brands to exhibit?
Originally Charlotte and I had a big list based on our own experience in the scene: being fashionistas ourselves we already had contact with a lot of amazing brands, so that was a natural start. Since then we have maintained a lot of that original list as regular traders, as well as approach people we find via social media and consider applications from those that approach us. 2017 was the first year we saw designers flying in from other countries to participate, which was very exciting for us!

I’ll appreciate if you don’t have any hard data on this, so your own gut feel (or feedback you get from sellers) will suffice. Give us some insight on the attendees. Are they coming in specifically to see or buy items from a particular seller, or do they purchase from multiple sellers?
It really is a mixture. There is definitely a big contingent coming to see favourite designers, or to try on something they have seen online. We know that the ‘in the flesh’ element is a big part of the success of our events. Latex especially is a tricky thing to buy without seeing it in real life. With an actual event you can try things on, get measured up by the designer, and see the colour swatches. We think that because so many sample garments are made in standard black / red / pink etc, people just tend to buy what they see online rather than risk picking a colour, or colour combination, from a little thumbnail colour chart. As you will see at LBB, latex comes in a huge variety of colours, patterns and textures, so it’s really worth coming along and pushing the boat out with a  custom option, so you can have something that really reflects your personality. Aside from that, we do have a lot of ‘scene-sters’ who come down to socialise in a non-club environment, as well as more discrete shoppers , stylists, performers, models and fashionistas all passing through the doors looking for something different and unique.

There’s no shortage of talented erotic entrepreneurs around (some of your sellers already feature on the LM website) across these different sub sectors. To what extent do you think there’s the possibility for sector-specific (e.g. purely latex one month, lingerie the next, etc.) events to be held?
We think the allure of LBB is that there is always something to discover, and it’s always a real mix. Luckily for us, in terms of applications to trade, about 25% of the line up is usually first time vendors, which keeps it fresh for everyone. That saying, we have noticed sales trends over the years and do curate a bit more specifically to accommodate those – say lingerie at Valentine’s, Latex around Halloween, Festival Fashion towards Spring. We also occasionally host brands with synergistic products such as homewares or beauty items, though we keep it limited as we are primarily a fashion market.

What three adjectives would you want your attendees to associate with your events?
A few adjectives…. inspiring, glamorous, unexpected, friendly

A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
Perhaps ‘discovery’?
We aim to help people discover new products within favourite brands, discover new brands in general, and for total newbies to discover a curated selection of the best in alternative and erotic fashion.

Customer feedback is vital for not only the individual brands present at your events, but for yourself too. What have been the most important things you’ve learned so far from attendees?
We definitely wish we had a clearer way to measure this, though we do know if we could wave a magic want we’d have a fourth room to fill with seating (and maybe a few more brands as we are always packed to the rafters!), and an attached venue for an afterparty!

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 was very important for us to create our own identity within the alt / fetish community, but not limited to. We have opted for a more ‘fashion’ than ‘fetish’ approach, being inclusive of subcultures and mainstream fashionistas alike. The number one thing about our branding is that we shoot our own artwork, showcasing talent we work with and the unique people within our scene. Our ‘cover girls’ are all artists of some kind in their own right, they are more than just pretty faces! The fashion we aim to support is more about creativity than sex, and so while we do occasionally use the word fetish, we try to not overuse it. The best thing about where we are placed within the market is that it is based on community, so luckily being in a niche means that there is a high potential for plenty of word of mouth business coming our way.

One of the most noticeable things about LBB, is the absence of a dedicated website, relying on social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. What’s the rationale behind this, and will there be a website in the future?
As we exist in an event form only at the moment, it’s not essential right now, as the bulk of our info is more easily accessed online than from a traditional website. In my experience, more and more businesses are forgoing the hassle of creating a website that needs constant updating, just directing traffic to social media sites where the latest info, images, listings, reviews etc can be found, plus a place for the community to meet and chat in cyberspace. We do feel there is a real difference in the social outlets though. Many discover us via Instagram (@leboutiquebazaar) which is mostly a ‘moodboard’ page, where we repost works that inspire us, and occasional event photos. Facebook tends to be more information based, event listings, questions answered etc and Twitter…well, we use it, but it doesn’t account for a huge amount of our reach. This all saying, there has been a LBB e-commerce site in the works for a while, and we’ll hopefully be making further progress on it this year.

And what do the next twelve months hold in store for Le Boutique Bazaar?
Another 3 events as standard (Springtime Soiree, Fetish Weekend, Evil Xmas) and hopefully another edition of our outdoor summer pop-up (Taboo Bazaar) in conjunction with Satanic Flea Market. Last year we did it at Old Spitalfields Market and it went down a treat! This plus focusing on getting our ecomm site of the ground, now that we have a bit more time to focus on it properly.  Personally I’d like to take LBB on tour, but we’ll have to wait and see if that can become a reality this year!

Thanks Alexandra!
If you’re London-based  (or fancy a good excuse to visit) and you’re keen to come along to Le Boutique Bazaar, then head to their social media accounts.  You can find them on Instagram and Facebook.

As earlier mentioned, some LBB sellers have already graced the pages here at Lascivious Marketing: Persephonie Ncredible, Yummy Gummy Latex, and Innocent Sex Toys. Why don’t you get further acquainted with their wares too!

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!

INTERVIEW: Jennifer Santala, Antidote London Latex

The cure for clichéd fetish latex wear? Jennifer Santala from Antidote London Latex thinks so.

According to Antidote founder and designer Jennifer, this exciting new brand offers a potent combination of fetish, fantasy, and theatre. Where do we sign up?!

BRIAN GRAY: First of all Jennifer, what motivated you to create Antidote? What was your own background before this?

JENNIFER SANTALA: It came ultimately out of frustration that I couldn’t really get a latex item to fit correctly and I couldn’t really afford to use a made-to-measure service. I would consider myself quite a standard size but having owned latex clothes for ten years I just found that whatever I bought just wasn’t quite right; there was always something I wanted to change or adjust. So that’s how it started, with me trying to adjust outfits I had bought from other brands, learning how to glue latex and finding out how to work and manipulate the material.

My background and interest in fashion spans from taking a Fashion Design course at college in Manchester which led to me studying Theatre Design at Central St Martins in London. This course allowed me think more about characters and how to portray characteristics and attributes through the medium of costume design.

Antidote is a relatively new brand. How is it going so far? At what stage is it taking over your life? Is it a part-time enterprise just now or is this now your sole focus?
I am very happy with the way things have developed in the last year. I’m focused on creating new products for my Etsy page as well as investing in professional images to market my brand online and at events. Antidote is a very new brand and I have only been selling items online for just under a year but it’s slowly getting to a great place where I’m able to take on more orders and increase my custom work as well.

As this is only currently a part-time venture it means that time is limited so the days are long with me working late into the night to fulfil orders and make items for photo shoots abroad, but this is what strives me to achieve my dream of making this my full-time occupation. It can be hard and sometimes I feel I’m pushing myself to my limit but at the same time I don’t expect this to be an easy ride and I can be a very determined when I put my mind to it. I see this more as my chance to be creative and soon hopefully I can make this become my full-time focus.

How did you decide upon the name Antidote? And what naming process did you undertake to arrive at this?
Antidote was exactly that: a cure, my cure, for the everyday and mundane. It’s ultimately my escape from the daily grind and a creative outlet for me to explore all my crazy costume ideas. If it means that to me then hopefully it can mean that to others too that wear my designs? I feel the quality and theatrics of the outfits really stand out as being something that’s not just a nice outfit but elevates the wearer into a “whole new you”. If you think of this in loose terms this could in fact be a remedy of sorts. It’s my chance to explore my creativity and the escapism that can bring to both designer and wearer.

I also wanted a name that wasn’t so obviously a fetish brand. I tend to hate all the obvious adjectives that most use to describe the fetish world and I wanted to steer clear of being too apparent or obvious.

The name Antidote suggests drama and although the word is more of a positive it comes from the existence of a negative. Some people like the name, others hate it but I would rather the name provoked a reaction, any reaction rather than none at all…

And what do you see as the brand vision and brand essence of Antidote Latex?
Every day I am inspired to make and create new latex wear and I want to expand on making a greater portfolio of work that will also include menswear eventually. I feel that there is a huge gap in the market for more interesting outfits and I feel men really don’t have too much choice. I feel the very essence of the brand is creativity on a theatrical scale and the vision to create a work of art rather than just a basic latex lingerie set. I think fluidity is also at the heart of Antidote as my customers are also hugely creative and sometimes come forward with ideas they want to see realised. I want Antidote to be fluid with its creativity so it had room to grow naturally and organically. I feel character is key as it’s more about empowering the individual not the collective. It has never been about selling in volume and turning over a huge profit; it’s more about the vision and the spectacle that ensues…

What defines your typical Antidote customer, and what three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
My typical customers I would say are partygoers, performers and exceptionally creative individuals who are also highly involved in the fetish scene, who wants to get more of a custom experience without paying the world for it. They know what they want and are not afraid to ask for a design to be tailored to suit their individual needs. They want outfits that stand out from the crowd and will untimely transform them into their fantasy vision for all to appreciate. Although they are predominantly women as I don’t have any listed items for men as yet, I often deal with men as they want to surprise their partner/lover with something special.

As the brand is very new I wouldn’t know how my customers would describe it exactly but I would hope that they see the theatrics of the costumes and how much I love playing with historical designs and bringing them into the 21st century.

Taking this into account my 3 words would probably be:
Fantasy, Fetish, Theatre

redheaded woman wearing Antidote London Latex. Founder Jennifer Brawls interviewed by erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing [credit: Anouk Dyonne Photography]
[credit: Anouk Dyonne Photography]

A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
I think the word has to be ‘Custom’.

Right from taking my very first order I was adamant on not making any outfit to a standard size i.e. Size 8, 10, 12, 14. I feel this is an old way of working and will untimely leave my customers in the same position I was in by getting garments that don’t fit correctly. Antidote was created to make bespoke garments for the individual, not to stock outfits for the masses. As I hand-make the items from scratch, it doesn’t take a huge amount more time to make the garment specifically to fit the customer’s measurements. It’s a win/win situation as the customer will be happy with the item and it will show off my work to its full potential.

Moreover I have always seen the brand more in terms of creating full costumes rather than just selling individual pieces.  The work has theatrical elements to it and historical influences and these are not things that ultimately translate on a mass production scale – it’s custom shop. I want to make the person wearing my costumes not only feel like their fantasy has come true but truly standout from the standard black latex outfits flooding the fetish scene.  I think if a customer wanted custom work then Antidote should be high in their ratings plus I personally find custom work more challenging and hugely rewarding. It pushes me to my very limit and in the process keeps me developing and refining my skills along the way…

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?
Marketing is not my strong point. My only real marketing tool is through Instagram which I feel is a great shopfront for my brand. That way people from around the world can follow my story and get updates on new designs. Although online marketing attracts vast quantities of people, sometimes I feel this is not necessary regarding my target market. Having only 40% of the customers following my work being women and only selling women’s wear currently, I think perhaps the models are attracting them more than the actual designs…

I honestly feel the best and most successful method of marketing (one that most forget) is word of mouth and actually interacting with prospective clients at fetish events. Nowhere else would you be able to walk into a room and meet a thousand people who are interested in the fetish scene and should also be interested in your work. Plus this way is more fun too. When I go out to these events I am my own marketing tool (as is my husband when he attends too) and through showcasing my work in the environment it was made for is truly priceless. Most of my best projects have to come to light this way…

Your designs have been modelled by some well-known figures in the fetish scene, such as Dani Divine. To what extent do you think this has helped in terms of both raising awareness and in subsequent sales?
It has made an incredible difference to have such a well-loved and high-profile figure modelling my designs. It brings a whole new level of interest that I am very thankful for. Despite working for a photography studio I was pretty late in investing in professional images, perhaps as it’s something I do deal with on a daily basis. I was more shocked than anyone when she put herself forward for the shoot and I am even more pleased with the end result and how well received the images have been. Dani Divine and Zara Du Rose are probably as high-profile as you can get within the fetish scene and it was thrilling to have their support and creativity on these shoots. They were and still are my ultimate target customer.

After Zara modelled for one of my shoots last month, she has since invited me to present a latex collection at her next event which I am incredibly excited about! A catwalk showcase has always been such a huge dream and goal of mine and I’m so incredibly grateful for such an immense opportunity. This catwalk show will be the high point of my journey so far.

If you could get another adult brand (whether lingerie, sex toys, fetishwear, pleasure products, BDSM equipment or other) involved in a joint marketing campaign or event with yourself, who would it be and why?
As you might be able to tell from my images, I’m really into props! These aren’t just for the shoots: I feel they add as an extension to the costumes and characters and I would love to work with a brand that makes unusual bondage equipment. A brand like Fraulein Kink or domestique, they seem to have a different take on bondage accessories and have more of a storytelling feel to them. I guess it all comes down to theatrics again and any designer of sex toys or BDSM equipment who also feature these elements would always appeal to me.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given or read somewhere, and from who?
I’m currently working my way through “How to Start a Creative Business” by Doug Richards which is a must read for any entrepreneur who wants to start a creative enterprise. It’s a lifeline for anyone seeking new ideas on how to expand your business and takes you through everything step by step without the business talk. If you haven’t read it then this should be on your next present list.

The best business advice I can quote is a quote I read years ago from Richard Branson:
“The best businesses come from people’s bad personal experiences. If you just keep your eyes open, you’re going to find something that frustrates you, and then you think, ‘well I could maybe do it better than it’s being done,’ and there you have a business.”

This is ultimately how Antidote was born and I think it would be true of many other businesses too.

Time is our most precious commodity, especially for entrepreneurs. How do you maximise yours, and what tips have you picked up along the way?
I maximise my time mainly by being organised, prioritising my workload and taking Sundays off. I feel that I need to be at my best when I’m constructing latex and if I’m tired or ill then the work will not be as good. You need to give yourself at least some time off to make sure you’re working to a high standard. This way you work faster and more efficiently.

And what do the next twelve months hold in store for Antidote?
I hope to really start to take on a higher volume of custom orders and also releasing more items for sale on my Etsy page. Currently I only really have my most basic items listed and so I want to make sure that I include a few more customised items to highlight my main focus on bespoke work and more menswear as well. The catwalk show for Zara Du Rose is also going to be an exciting project and the chance to collaborate with Hippy Poppins who is an amazing headdress designer.

I really can’t wait to see how it all turns out! Watch this space…

Thank you Jenny for such an insightful and honest glimpse into the world of Antidote!

Salivating over Jennifer’s creations? Not surprising. Head over to the Antidote London Latex Esty shop and say hello on Instagram.
(but do come back afterwards to read all the other #sexySME interviews!)

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!

INTERVIEW: Richard Almgren, Dodil

What’s green and squishy, but then becomes hard? And again soon after. No, it’s not a rude riddle. It’s the Dodil, the Swedish sex toy that requires only your imagination. Just add boiling water!

Dodil ‘Head Honcho’ Richard Almgren answers the questions in this long anticipated Q&A.

BRIAN GRAY: So let’s start by asking you to give us an introduction to Dodil and the people behind it.

RICHARD ALMGREN: The innermost core of the dodil is me, the inventor Richard Almgren, an engineer and seeker of solutions with a wonderful family and a heap of good and supportive friends. From these friendships necessary competences have been added. As in the case with our head communicator Peter, who contributes with his broad experience within marketing and communication. We decided to team up during the spring of 2017, and we really enjoy working and developing together. We share the same core values of inclusiveness and equality which of course influences the brand identity.

What exactly is the dodil and how does it work?
The dodil-dildo is a transformable dildo you can shape and reshape in your own hands to fit your anatomy and desires. The whole (optional) dodil-kit includes a branded thermos-flask ideal for the boiling water you need to heat up the dildo.

When you heat the dodil-dildo the inside thermoplastic melts, which makes the product warm, soft and squishy to handle. Now is when you can create all kinds of dildo-shapes. While it cools it turns harder and eventually just as rigid as in its virgin state. The facts that you can do this over and over again and that the thermoplastic is biodegradable makes the dodil truly revolutionary. Money and nature will be saved with pleasure.

How and when did you get the idea for the product?
As an engineer, I had gotten seriously intrigued by the remarkable character of what turned out to be the material core of the dodil, the thermoplastic. How liquid it appears when heated and how durable and rigid when cool. With my knowledge and background I follow with keen interest the development of new solutions to old issues through the use of new materials. What I could not get my head around, was why this ‘bioplastic’ had not yet been used much in new applications apart from in internal medicine. So it got me thinking.

One day I brought an oblong piece of this plastic to a good friend and maker of fishing lures, to see if he could make something out of it. Somewhat puzzled when presented with the material, my friend remarks; “that looks like a dildo to me”. This kindled the light-bulb and the journey began.

I can tell you that inventing something is not all just calculations and prototyping. I have spent thousands of hours analysing the market, learning the industry, checking out the latest technology, you name it. At this time I found myself developing another sex-toy invention and all of a sudden I was sitting in my workshop with not one nor two, but three different and new inventions and uses of sex-toys. So I made a decision on which one was the most viable and behold – the dodil was born.

With all the seemingly endless hubbub about connected toys and sex robots (with Yours Truly writing about it on several occasions recently) it’s quite refreshing to see something original that doesn’t need either a USB cable or internet access. To what extent have customers and the erotic trade reacted to this particular aspect?
Thank you, we do embrace being revolutionary. The dodil is pretty much DIY, which in its way wraps up what masturbation is about. Everyone gets how remarkable it is to be able to change something according to your own preferences and various desires. And, when it comes to the anatomy of our bodies, which changes over time and is very much like fingerprints, we are all original.

Our customers thanks us for creating this fun and unparalleled product which performs astoundingly well as an internal massager, and for explorations of hot spots to spark. I could say we probably have developed  the world’s best vaginal massager, but instead I leave it with: It is in your hands to make it into the world’s best vaginal massager. A-spot, G-spot, any spot, there is a full alphabet in the dodil to explore.

We also have had reactions to how great it is for couples play. It is indeed something to explore and try together. Or simply surprise your partner with a new design.

The erotic trade also gets it, the more they learn about us. We are consciously win-win oriented. This is why we work hard with our brand, earned media and by staying inclusive.

At the moment, the Dodil is an all green affair. What was the rationale for this, and are there any plans for introducing more colour options?
You can call it turquoise, teal, blue, green or aquamarine, but the more specific name of the colour is robin egg blue. The point is to stick out enough while tapping into most people’s liking with a colour we can claim. Something we have managed to do pretty well.

We also have our intriguing and fiery orange colour in our logo. This will be incorporated in upcoming designs and products as well. We like being different, but we are sure our current technology and coming solutions will be what really reforms masturbation regardless of what colour our products have.

Users can create all sorts of shapes and textures with the Dodil. For the more creative among them, rather than visiting IKEA for moulds and cutters (and the meatballs), there’s an obvious opportunity to introduce some Dodil branded accessories. When can these be expected?
We are all about user-experience and user-friendliness, and these will be the factors leading the way to whatever may come. But yes, besides our thermos-flask, it would sure be fun with a dodil-branded kettle for example.

What three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
Revolutionary, Fun and Friendly.

A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?

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?
For us it has been all about how you introduce the dodil to people who never heard of or could imagine such a thing. Marketing of today is really about catching those short moments of attention from a customer or future partner. And by redesigning great deals of our appearance and conceptualizing the dodil with “design your dildo” we are confident that we have nailed it. Design and dildo is something that means pretty much the same wherever in the world you go, and put together you get ‘the dodil – design your dildo’, simple as that. And once you have passed the initial threshold you can point at the obvious advantages and the procedure.

What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
To explain the product to new adopters for sure. Hence why we have reshaped ourselves and focus on the advantages put into a concept and slightly less about the actual product. Early on the response came to be a lot about how suitable the dodil is, with its whole packaging and playfulness, as a special gift. But lately we have gotten more response telling about how useful it is as a multi-tool in the quest for a vaginal climax. With this said, we now have reasons to adapt our messaging accordingly.

We didn’t break into the market with approaching retailers and distributors boasting that we have this great invention in our hands. Instead we took it slowly and sought out the reactions and input from thousands of people during this summer’s Pride festivities. From the collected response, we made some improvements to the dodil and then tried it next with the expert consumers (the blogging community).

We have been following and befriending an amazing amount of truly great people over months and they have been a great source for further development. The amount of information and expertise which is gathered in the influencer/blogging community is mind-blowing. And again, just before we went into  business for real, we made some final smaller changes. And here we are, with the world’s first user-designed dildo.

Time is our most precious commodity, especially for entrepreneurs. How do you maximise yours, and what tips have you picked up along the way?
Luckily, I have a supportive family, as well as I am surrounded by a solid team. We are passionate about what we are doing, and we allow a lot of creativity to spark in between chaos and order. But basically, a solid plan gets you a long way. Stake out your road map and set goals along the way to the greater goal. Trust and delegate. And keep listening to those who you have reasons to believe knows better than you.

And what does the next twelve months hold in store for Dodil?
Exponential growth, of both the dildo-revolution and the number of new friends. We will continuously stay in the learning loop and keep developing ourselves, our communication and our coming products.

Thanks Richard, and here’s hoping 2018 keeps you busy and successful. And we’ll keep a look out for the Dodil kettle!  

If you’ve got the urge to design your own dildo, then you know exactly where to go. Head to the Dodil website, and say hello to Richard and Co., on social media too: you can find them on Twitter and Instagram.

UPDATE: Almost as quickly as Richard and the dodil arrived into the pleasure products marketplace, they appeared to….disappear without a trace. A shame for what was one of the most fun and genuinely innovative products to enter the market.

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!

2017 Reflections

Time for a few wee thoughts on the past year? Why not, indeed.

Pour yourself a wee drink – if you’ve got any left over from the holidays – and relax for a minute or two.

Happy New Year to you all. Was Santa good to you? Or were you on his naughty list? Maybe he was good to you because you were ON the naughty list?  But that’s between you and Santa.

Anyway, while just a few days into the New Year, I thought it best to ruminate on 2017’s ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies (alright, that’s melodramatic, thankfully there wasn’t any of the latter) before galloping headlong into 2018.

Rather obviously, first and foremost saw Lascivious Marketing come to life. The plan, nay, crusade, was born: making marketing sexy for sexy companies. Improving the marketing effectiveness of #sexySMEs, erotic entrepreneurs and Risqué-Takers and the like. Not only helping individual erotic retailers in the business of love and lust with their marketing – adding some oomph to their marketing libido, so to speak – but embarking on an even bigger crusade, to help the industry as a whole up their marketing game. A noble cause, n’est-ce pas?

Thankfully, a fair number of you see what myself and Deborah are trying to achieve and feel the same. Bless you all!

Interviews – Hello Risqué-Takers!
Assuming you’ll have visited the website you’ll have seen a raft of interview posts featuring some of the brightest young and not so young things making a name for themselves in the erotic manufacturing and retailing sectors – and perhaps one or two other related sectors. It’s been a win –win relationship: the retailers can highlight the interview on Twitter and post on Facebook, or Instagram. It’s good free content that can enhance and increase a brand’s profile, and offer followers a nice behind the scenes appreciation of the brand and the driving force behind it.

Needless to say there’s more of the same to come in 2018 and beyond. You’ll be seeing plenty more ambitious erotic entrepreneurs with distinctive and engaging brands answering the key questions that you want to know when it comes to running a #sexySME.

I’ve already waxed lyrical about the interviews and what I look for when I’m approaching companies and individuals. The best interviews have been the ones who have offered unique, personal insights and have treated the interview as an opportunity to really tell a story and let the reader into the inner sanctum – despite the confines of a dozen or so questions. Having great imagery also helps!

And which were the most visited interview posts to date? Here’s the top 5, in reverse order:

5. Peter Cooke, Fetters
4. Monika Tomcalova, Persephonie Ncredible
3. Sophie Thorne, Twisted Lingerie
2. Nataliya Vakhovskaya, LoveBox

And the most viewed interview, based on ye olde Google Analytics is…

  1. Liva Steina, Flash You and Me

Liva Steina, Flash You and Me [credit: Flash You and Me]
And the winner is…..
[credit: Flash You and Me]
Liva’s interview didn’t only tick a lot of boxes with Yours Truly based on the criteria laid out elsewhere, but it seems Mrs Steina wasn’t shy about publicising the interview as well. Let’s just say there’s a lot of local Latvian love – or mere curiosity at the very least – especially in Riga and Ventspils.

Well done Liva, and I hope 2018 is a corker of a year for you, as well as all the other interviewees.

Clients – Yay!
I’ll be honest – I was reckoning on it being a lot longer to get the first client – even up to a year or more. Starting from scratch, I had to raise awareness of LM and what was being offered, and establish some credibility. Thankfully those lovely people at European erotic retail trade magazine EAN more than ably assisted when they thought it a jolly good idea having me wax lyrical on all things marketing each month. Whether opining about sex robots, digital dildos, rock god raunch, or even mere marketing mission statements it definitely helped. And there’s much more to come. Ahem, again.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the time between launching and bagging my first client was SIGNIFICANTLY shorter than what I’d originally envisioned. “Yay!” indeed. And so with 2018 I’m hoping there will be more clients, more fun working together, and more positive results from the activities undertaken. Naturally, if you’re looking to add some oomph to your marketing effectiveness, I’m more than happy to take your call or email and see what can happen.

Risqué-Takers’ Rendezvous
Just before Christmas a few intrepid erotic entrepreneurs decided they wanted a break from Christmas shopping and would rather have a blether with myself and each other. And a jolly good time was had putting the world to rights, talking shop and just generally enjoying a good old chinwag. Nothing more, nothing less

There’s another one of these planned for Saturday January 20th. Same rules apply: no spitting, gouging, fighting, politics, or any of that malarkey. If you’re on my radar and you’re in and around the London area, emails may well be exchanged.

Research Panel – pass me the tissues!
Unquestionably the biggest disappointment of the year. Initial optimism and lofty intentions were dealt a big blow when despite some great assistance and exposure from my cohorts at EAN, industry executives did not leap at the opportunity to join the first erotic retailing industry research panel and have their say on key industry issues and participate in an initial industry-wide survey. It is however hoped that sometime in 2018 the panel will have grown in number to the point where a survey can be launched with sufficient responses in which to conduct proper drill-down analysis and subsequently report on the findings and implications, shortly after.

A dedicated landing page will appear on the LM website with full details, Q&As about the panel and what it entails, and an embedded sign-up form. And of course, if you have any further questions, don’t be a stranger – talk to me!

It’s high time the erotic retailing industry enjoyed the same levels of transparency, visibility, and accountability that is present in nearly all other industries around the world. What’s so ‘special’ about this industry that has it playing second-fiddle? Good industry-wide research can really help increase awareness and understanding among outsiders: who knows, it might even help dispel some misperceptions.

So, having said all that, it’s time to get moving. More interviews to upload, more to arrange, more EAN articles to write, and the not small matter of a book to write. Much of the latter, by the way, will also appear as blog posts in some form or another.

And while the holidays and hopefully the hangovers are now over, it would be remiss of me to not remind you to ask yourself why you’re in this business. I’m serious. My most recent EAN article covers this. Be true with yourself, be true to the mission in hand and work hard.

The clock has started, the time is ticking, and you’ve got a #sexySME to run. Go do it, and I wish you the very best of success in the business of love and lust and everything inbetween!


Risqué-taker interviews, inquisitiveness and inspiration

Who are today’s erotic entrepreneurs and Risqué-takers? You’ll find some of them here on the Lascivious Marketing website. But why interview them?

Actually, there’s a couple of very good reasons. Learn why this is the case, together with advice for those in the hot seat!

I’m hoping you’re enjoying reading the regular interviews featuring erotic entrepreneurs (“Risqué-takers”). I’m also hoping you’re learning a thing or two from the experiences and opinions of your industry peers. Ideally, you’ll finish reading an interview and compare the thoughts and feelings with your own journey. Are there similarities or is there a chasm separating the pair of you?

Needless to say, the interviews will keep on coming, as long as there are bright young (or older, there’s no ageism here!) things competing in the business of love and lust and everything in between. There’s two reasons for this.

Firstly, there’s an obvious win-win. An interview brings exposure to a brand scrapping it out in the marketplace. When the brand is also inextricably tied to a living, breathing human being, there’s interest among industry peers and potential customers to learn more about the person behind the brand. What makes them tick, how they run their business, and so on and so forth.  At my end, there’s some more valuable content for audiences to absorb. And it also means getting to know seriously interesting people.

If you’re conceiving and running a business in the erotic retailing industry, you might feel it can be a lonely and pretty unforgiving place. So there’s nothing quite like knowing what your contemporaries are up to and what they’re thinking. Not necessarily to try and gain the upper hand per se, but just to be able to see what others are thinking, going through, and managing the whole experience.

Secondly, well, this is where it gets personal. Can you keep a secret? Good. You see, when emails arrive from Risqué-takers with attached completed interviews I get the same sense of anticipation as when receiving a set of customer research data tabs.

Whether it’s quantitative “eight out of ten cats prefer it” survey data or more qualitative depth of insight – like with the interviews – it’s the same thing. The feeling of learning something new, gaining insight on something or someone. Wondering what golden nuggets will reveal themselves. The fact it’s in one of the most interesting, enjoyable and exciting industry sectors adds to the fun. We’re not selling refrigerators or cavity wall insulation – be grateful indeed for small mercies!

As an aside, when I was a younger marketing researcher, I was thrilled to be putting my passion for marketing research and insight to any category. Later on, this isn’t enough. Trust me: over the years I’ve worked on projects involving pet food, coffee, credit cards, insurance, building and construction and a whole bunch more. Those are not sexy sectors, by anyone’s standards.

So when I click open the attachment, I’m wondering:

  • What will it reveal?
  • What can be learned from it?
  • What impact will it have?
  • What will other readers think of it, and take away from it?

There: I’m out of the closet!

Aah, so you’re a Risqué-taker that fancies being featured in the not-too-distant future?  Well, you just never know when you may receive a Tweet or an Instagram message from me asking if you’d like to participate. But one thing’s for sure. To have any hope from the get-go, you need to:-

  • possess a genuinely distinctive brand and visual identity
  • clearly differentiate yourself from the others out there (if you don’t have a clue about this, I suggest you do so…quickly!)
  • have a vision, a mission, and a plan for achieving it
  • be expressive – one sentence answers don’t cut it here
  • have a number of visually appealing images that will add impact to the interview and the featured image.

This is your opportunity to tell your story to not only other members of the erotic retail sector, but maybe, just maybe, potential customers too. And remember, us industry members are consumers too. Make the opportunity count.

Don’t look upon it as something to hurriedly get out of the way so you can get onto the next item on your lengthy to-do list. You’re missing a trick. Your responses, the way you write, what you choose to convey, all can be harnessed to maximum effect – if you take a little time to carefully consider how best to answer them.

Before immediately typing your answers, consider it from a reader’s perspective. Read the other interviews. Which ones did you like reading, and why? I’ll bet the most enjoyable ones are also the most informative, and the most expressive. And, accompanied by equally expressive and evocative imagery. That’s certainly how it works for me and I’ll wage a hefty bet that I’m not in the minority.

If you don’t have time to go through all of them, I’ll understand so let me point out some notable ones that encapsulate what I’ve just mentioned:

Silvia Picari – the artisan sex toy maker from Italy

Liva Steina – the Latvian lingerie lady

Monika Tomcalova – Fantasy fetish lingerie and jewellery

Julia Akers – transforming online sex and intimacy education

Peter Cooke – serious about marketing to the BDSM community

Martin King – shopkeeping without the sleaze

They’ve offered an honest account of themselves and the running of their businesses. There’s genuinely something to learn from their thoughts and opinions. Furthermore, their own personality shines through.

And when it’s a personal interview with a business or brand owner, remember that while people may not always buy from people they like, I can guarantee they won’t do business with someone they dislike. Unless their sole consideration is price. And I can’t see that given what kinds of products we’re talking about here.

When the interview is up, spread it around. Pass the weblink to your own social media followers. You spent a wee while taking part in it, so doesn’t it make perfect sense to capitalise on it as much as possible, now it’s done and dusted? It’s yet another opportunity for your own followers to see the person behind the brand and to inform and educate, and perhaps even entertain them accordingly. And with the bare minimum of effort for you, the interviewee. You’ve already done the hard work. Some additional tweets or Facebook posts or mentioning it on your own blog with the links takes just a few minutes. It’s increasing your exposure and because it’s on another platform it has credibility and authenticity.

So, who’s next to be featured?  You? 


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!


INTERVIEW: Silvia Picari, Italian artisan sex toys

Italy: known for its style, flair and…sex toys? Silvia Picari from Turin will surely convince you so.

Each one of Silvia’s artisan dildos and butt plugs is truly unique due to their wooden construction. Read on to learn all about it from Silvia herself.

BRIAN GRAY: So who is Silvia Picari and what’s been your journey into the world of wooden sex toys?

SILVIA PICARI: Silvia is a human being, a person who is basically calm and relaxed, she likes to joke, to ironize, to live lightly and reflect on the meaning of things (she’s much more but it is difficult to talk about it in a few lines).

Formally I am an architect, designer, artisan and passionate about product design. I love getting my hands dirty and living creatively makes me happy, so I felt the need to develop a project in which I could freely express myself.

The fact of having chosen this particular trade, stems from personal research on the nature of human relationships and on the importance that empathy and love assume in the construction of a happy and cooperative society.

I wanted to make my own product, I wanted to make it in a craft way to feel in touch with it and give it uniqueness. I wanted to give character and meaning to my work.

I have put together these aspects of my way of being and I have undertaken this new, very personal path.

Your Italian compatriots Persian Palm opted for ceramics for their dildos. You’ve chosen wood. What are the key advantages and selling points of wood as the key ingredient rather than other substances?
I think it’s not a matter of advantages of a material over the other, but rather a matter of personal sensations and tastes.

Each material to the touch, offers different sensations. The ceramic, glass and steel sensations of cold and heat, the stone is heavy, the silicone is realistic. Wood is natural, it is a living and warm material.

The soft warmth of the polished, solid wood, but still able to gently press on the natural forms of the human body, offers intense sensations of warmth and fullness that is definitely worth trying.

In addition, I personally find it beautiful. The veins and shades of color are always different and make each piece unique. Even if produced in series, two wooden toys will never be identical to each other. Because of its unique nature, this material as well as pleasant, dignifies the very act of giving pleasure.

How much support did you receive from friends, family, and business contacts? Is this a bootstrap enterprise or did you look for funding from other sources, enterprise grants etc?
I received and received a lot of support from family and friends. They are my main supporters and advisors and they actively help me when I need it most. Since I started this business, I was lucky enough to meet many people who were enthusiastic about my work and collaborations that made me grow professionally.

Mine is a small craft business born less than a year. I care about the craft aspect of my work, but as with all new businesses, it is precisely when we start that we need more support. I am working to find funding, but I have to admit that in Italy from this point of view, we lag behind.

As well as offering products for immediate purchase on your website, you also offer tailor-made experiences for clients whereby they come to your Turin premises to be directly involved in the construction and finishing of their products. How well is this being received by the media and customers? Is this a growing offering, or is it still quite a small select customer segment?
The tailor-made experience is also possible for those are not in Turin. From anywhere in the world, the “tailor-made” purchase includes a meeting / consultation by appointment that, if you do not have the possibility to reach my workshop, can be at the customer’s choice, by Skype, phone or mail. This meeting is designed to establish a direct contact between the customer and the realization of his personal toy.

This kind of experience is perceived in a very positive way because it makes the purchase a participatory and conscious action rather than a passive exchange of assets. I consider it a fundamental aspect of my work, the added value that differentiates my products from those in series.

According to my experience it is definitely a growing offer and I am working to improve it more and more.

You previously operated under a different moniker. What was the reason for the change of identity? And what was the rationale behind choosing to use your own name rather than a more descriptive, symbolic or metaphorical brand name?
The reason is that the very idea of ​​this project, as I told you before, comes from a personal research path and is strongly linked to my way of being. For this reason, it evolves and changes with it.

When I started this project I wanted to show my products and underline the playful and sex-positive aspect of the design. For this reason I chose an onomatopoeic name, a “vibrant” logo and, in general, a sparkling and colored image.

In the meantime I have perfected my craft skills, listened to tips, suggestions and selected the most interesting shapes and colors to create new models. I acquired skills and awareness, I grew up and I decided that my project had to grow with me.

This new image wants to better tell the way in which my objects are born, from the idea to the realization and to represent that personal growth that translates into the continuous intent of improving my work. Using my name it means to presenting myself to those are interested in my products, by establishing a more confidential relationship and thus underlining the added value of a craft product.

What three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
Unique.  Because I care to underline the craftsmanship of my products. Each piece is handmade and as such is always different from the previous one.

Ethical.  Because it comes from sustainable production and ecological materials. Because the design of products is designed to represent a healthy and positive idea of sexuality and relationships between human beings.

Familiar.  Because I like to have a direct contact with people who are interested in my work and my products. I am pleased to inform and advise the customer in buying the product that best suits his needs and make sure that he feels comfortable during the purchase.

A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
I would say that my word is “Love”.

Like the love I put on crafting each piece. Love, empathy and sharing is also the concept that gave life to my products, and an instrument of love is the dildo itself, through which we learn how to love ourselves and consequently also others.

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?
Surely I have learned that marketing is very important, but also that there’s a way of doing it.

Personally, I like to think about it as a way to tell the company and its products, to share the enthusiasm and passion behind the realization of each toy.

I don’t agree with aggressive marketing made of glamorous ads and invasive mailing lists. I prefer the idea of a confidential and kind storytelling, aiming to make people interested on what the company does. Content-based marketing, whose purpose is to establish a sincere and lasting interest from the customers, that respects the intelligence of consumers, involving them in the business experience rather than making them a passive target of announcements and declarations. In this way the customer purchases because he understands the product, appreciates it and shares its value.

What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
My biggest challenge is certainly being able to tell and explain my products in the best way.

They are pleasure objects, but they are also wooden sculptures, artistic totems to be exhibited, symbolic objects that represent my point of view about love and sexuality in a provocative and amusing way. They are artisanal objects and as such, the result of an ethical process.

To tell all this, I work a lot on the website, writing clear and detailed contents and updating the photos. In addition, I use social networks discreetly, publishing photos and videos of the various stages of processing or examples of customized products to give an idea about the possibilities offered.

If you could get another erotic brand (whether lingerie, sex toys, fetishwear, pleasure products, BDSM equipment, events or other) involved in a joint marketing campaign, event or other collaboration with yourself, who would it be and why?
I am very interested in collaborations with brands not necessarily related to the adults products trade. I am fascinated by the idea of bringing my products closer to the world of design and culture, for example.

This is not to deny the natural belonging of my products to the sex toys trade but, on the contrary, because I think that this type of objects should be part of everyday life in people’s lives. I like to think that, exposing a beautiful dildo on a beautiful bookshelf, it would be viewed into the common imaginary, as a sign of a peaceful relationship with sexuality and, more generally, of an open and tolerant mentality towards others.

Nevertheless, I adore the experimental part of my work. I like to develop new ideas and products, so another kind of collaboration that I dream to have, is with other artisans specialized on crafting materials different from wood.

Time is our most precious commodity, especially for entrepreneurs. How do you maximise yours, and what tips have you picked up along the way?
For a craft company, time takes on a different value than a company that produces in series. In this dimension, we do not work on quantities, but on the quality of the product. Quality means experimentation, thoroughness, attention to detail. We work on customized pieces and this means listening carefully to the needs of the customer and studying the right solutions to satisfy them. You work with your hands and this can lead to unforeseen problems. For all this, it takes time.

Of course, my week is organized on a regular way. I divide the days between production and painting of the pieces, I have dedicated days for contacts with retailers and collaborations, others for communication and marketing and so on, but if I have to be honest, when it comes to making a piece, I’m so absorbed and involved in the processing that I’m not very careful with the flowing time.

And what do the next twelve months hold in store for Silvia Picari?
I am very positive about next year. It will start from January with a collaboration that fills me with enthusiasm, the one with The Fish & Chips Film Festival – Turin International Erotic Film Festival. The festival, will take place in January from 18th to 21st and, as for previous editions, the third will also feature from a careful selection of films and short films that, as a fundamental requirement, represent sex as liberating and never discriminatory. For the Festival, I will be a technical sponsor. I will make the trophies for the winning feature and short films, a limited edition of pieces for the crowdfunding and a new line of personalized products.

Other interesting collaborations are planned with art and design galleries and a project related to publishing with Valentine aka Fluida Wolf (feminist, writer and interpreter): a limited series of plugs to be attached with the book by Tristan Taormino “The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women “, of which Valentine wrote the preface and edited the translation.

In the meantime I am working on the development of new products, but I don’t want to anticipate anything, it will be a surprise for 2018, stay tuned!

Thanks Silvia, for a very informative interview. Best of luck for all your future endeavours! 

To see more of Silvia’s wooden wares, head to the Silvia Picari website. Say Ciao! to Silvia on Instagram for good measure too!

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!

INTERVIEW: Liva Steina, Flash You and Me

As countries go, Latvia is a lingerie powerhouse – within the EU only France has a higher concentration of lingerie manufacturers. Time to meet one of these ambitious companies, then. Say hello to Riga-based Flash You and Me.

Founder Līva Šteina gives readers a flash (pun thoroughly intended) of what’s going on in the company.

BRIAN GRAY: First things first, Līva, tell us the story behind Flash You and Me. When did it begin, what were your motivations and inspirations for it?

LĪVA ŠTEINA: It all began at the end of 2013. Myself and my husband had just returned to Latvia after living abroad for several years and we just wanted to grow some roots. We both entered Master’s studies, created a company and also a family. Flash You and Me actually started as an underwear brand that made cute couples underwear sets from cotton jerseys. We started exploring lingerie only a year later as a side project to increase sales in summer time. Our motivation and also inspiration at the same time was always love – our love, our customers’ love and love for what we do. With our products we are just trying to undress love to its most pure essence.

What made you decide on the name ‘Flash You and Me’, and what is your overall mission with the brand?
The original name was FL*SH, meaning that the * could be A, I or E, but when we launched our lingerie collection, we settled on the name FLASH You and Me, because we just wanted to create lingerie, that, when put on, would make you want to flash someone.

Who is the typical Flash You and Me customer? What are their particular wants and needs that you cater for?
Our customer is not typical. She is strong in her beliefs, she is a risk taker, inventive and curious soul. She seeks the good things in life, plans for them and gets them. Flash You and Me supplies them with quality lingerie, that combines the need for comfort, sensuality and creativity.

What three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
Fierce, reliable, adventurous

A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?

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?
We use social media tools to stay in contact with our customers. As we are a rather small company, we have the luxury of providing individual contact with them. Customer service is very important to us. We also do a lot of collaborations with great photographers around the world. I love collaborations in all its forms: for instance at the beginning of this year, we collaborated with another clothing brand to create the “Enchanted” collection and it turned out to be a huge success.

You blog regularly on your website. Was it a conscious decision to choose blogging as your main content marketing vehicle compared with other techniques? How effective are you finding it to be, and how does it compare with the other marketing methods you employ?
I actually started blogging only recently. The main reason for this decision was to educate about our products and lingerie business in whole and also to tell the story behind everything. As we are not just blindly making the same five designs in different colours every year, there is always a story behind everything that happens at Flash You and Me and I wanted people to have a chance to know it. Also, a lot of our products are transformable and have room for creativity so I blog to let our customers know about the tips and hacks.

What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
Well, the biggest challenge was probably to gain trust in my decisions. We tried out every standard marketing method that there was – Google AdWords, advertising on social media and magazines, but we understood that we do not comply with the standard market base and customer. We needed to create our own path and follow it in good trust. So we just took the risk, held our heads high and let things happen. It has been a constant road of experiments.

What are the most valuable things you’ve learned so far both about competing in the erotic retailing industry, and as an entrepreneur?
The most important thing is not to follow blindly any trend. Everything has to be tried on, to see if it actually fits. The challenge is not to do something that has worked for somebody else, but to actually check if that’s for us and our brand.

What has been the highlight so far in your entrepreneurial journey, and why?
I think our road consists of constant highlights. As I am very involved with every process in Flash You and Me, I can see, feel and compare the process of all things. For instance – photography – I think that it just gets better with every session that we do. I am a perfectionist so I also constantly perfect our products, production techniques and our material suppliers. If I would have to name only one, I would say that the highlight of Flash You and Me is the constant progress I feel. The close second would probably be our first fashion show in 2015.

You’re running Flash You and Me (including some stunning photographic images) and also have two boys (of very different sizes!) in your life as well. You have to wear a number of different ‘hats’ on any given day. How do you stay sane?! How do you manage your efforts accordingly in terms of goals and objective setting but also maintaining some semblance of a life outside it all?
I only have one little boy to take care of in my everyday life. The other one is my husband’s first born son ☺  So how do I stay sane? First of all, I let myself get a bit insane every once in a while. As my day is full of different roles and I have to constantly present myself as a different person, my dream holiday is to go to work on a Saturday, when there is nobody inside and watch a movie, so basically I get my rest by not working at work on a day off or by restfully working on my photos at home. The more intense brain work my work asks of me, the more zombies I have to catch at home with my son (yes, he has an imaginary friend who is a very small zombie) or the more I have to exhaust myself at the gym. My sanity hides in balance – I actually love to work a lot, but I also leave some time to exhaust myself in other fields of life.

And what do the next twelve months hold in store for Flash You and Me?
Probably something fantastic! I love to challenge myself – last year it was a swimwear collection, this year it was active wear, but next year I would actually love to make a little retrospective presentation of all the good that we have experienced over the years – in a form of a photo and story book.

Thanks Līva! 

If you’d like to be ‘flashed’ at – in the most appropriate sense of course! – head to Liva’s website and keep up with them on Instagram too.

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!