Category Archives: Blog

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.

Italian artisan sex toy creator, Silvia Picari, interview with erotic marketing agency, Lascivious Marketing [credit: Silvia Picari]
[credit: Silvia Picari]
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.

Italian wooden sex toy artisan Silvia Picari working, interviewed by erotic marketing agency, Lascivious Marketing [credit: Silvia Picari]
[credit: Silvia Picari]
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.

Sivia Picari artisan wooden sex toys and packaging, interview with erotic marketing agency, Lascivious Marketing [credit: Silvia Picari]
[credit: Silvia Picari]
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.

Italian artisan sex toy maker Silvia Picari in factory, interviewed by erotic marketing agency, Lascivious Marketing [credit: Silvia Picari]
[credit: Silvia Picari]
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.

Italian artisan wooden sex toys from Silvia Picari, interviewed by erotic marketing agency, Lascivious Marketing [credit: Silvia Picari]
[credit: Silvia Picari]
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.

Italian artisan sex toy maker Silvia Picari painting a wooden sex toy, interview with erotic marketing agency, Lascivious Marketing [credit: Silvia Picari]
[credit: Silvia Picari]
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 2018 and beyond! 

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


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
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!
Brian

 

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.

Flash You and Me, Liva Steina interview with erotic marketing agency Lascivious-Marketing [credit: Flash you and Me]
Liva Steina, Founder, Flash You and Me [credit: Flash you and Me]
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.

Flash You and Me, interview with erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing, Redelicious [credit: Flash you and Me]
[credit: Flash You and Me]
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?
Sensuality

Flash You and Me, interview with erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing, Twins [credit: Flash You and Me]
[credit: Flash You and Me]
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.

Flash You and Me, interview with erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing, model Heidi Romanova [credit: Flash you and Me]
[credit: Flash You and Me]
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.

Flash You and Me, interview with erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing, Redelicious-black [credit: Flash You and Me]
[credit: Flash You and Me]
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.

Flash You and Me, interview with erotic marketing agency, Lascivious Marketing, Liza [credit: Flash You and Me]
[credit: Flash You and Me]
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.

Heidi Romanova wearing Flash You and Me lingerie, Founder Liva Steina interview with erotic marketing agency, Lascivious Marketing [credit: Flash You and Me]
[credit: Flash You and Me]
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.

Flash You and Me, interview with erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing, model Heidi Romanova in red [credit: Flash You and Me]
[credit: Flash You and Me]
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.


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
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!
Brian

 

INTERVIEW: Naomi De Haan, Edge o’Beyond

Erotic lingerie AND jewellery? Meet London-based Edge o’Beyond.

Founder and designer Naomi De Haan offers a brief (pun intended) overview of the brand and their marketing.

 

Edge o'Beyond Founder Naomi de Haan, interview with erotic marketing agency, Lascivious Marketing [credit: Edge o'Beyond]
Naomi de Haan, Founder, Edge o’Beyond [credit: Edge o’Beyond]
BRIAN GRAY: So, Naomi, tell me more about your own lingerie background, and your decision to launch the brand.

NAOMI DE HANN: I have always loved design and as I grew up I was drawn to pretty lingerie and jewellery so I decided to start a brand that merged the two. We are still the only brand to combine lingerie and jewellery.

It’s refreshing – and arguably more effective – to see a brand identity which potentially conjures up images or impressions of something, rather than the name of a person (which doesn’t convey anything). Tell us more about the importance of the name, why you chose it and how you’d like your target audiences to perceive it?
Edge o’ Beyond is the name of the house I grew up in with my parents and 4 siblings! Family is hugely important to me, I’m very close with all my family members and they have inspired me and helped me so much with the business. Each range is named after a family member too.

Erotic lingerie and jewellery brand Edge o'Beyond, interview with Brian Gray from erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing [credit: Edge o'Beyond]
[credit: Edge o’Beyond]
Who do you define as your target customer? What attitudes and attributes will they likely possess?
A fashion-conscious female who has an eye for detail. She buys into lifestyle brands as opposed to throw away fashion. She is independent and knows the power of beautiful lingerie and how it boosts confidence and empowers her.

You sell both lingerie and jewellery. Are you finding that customers are looking to buy one more than the other when they visit your website? Or is there a segment who come away having bought something from both ranges?
People love the jewellery attachments, a lot of the time, our customers will buy the lingerie first then add on the jewellery in another order.

Erotic lingerie and jewellery brand Edge o'Beyond, interview with Brian Gray from erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing [credit: Edge o'Beyond]
[credit: Edge o’Beyond]
What three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
Unique, empowering, beautiful

As well as a visually appealing website, you regularly post on social media. Tell us a bit more about your social media strategy and execution, and your thoughts on its effectiveness in relation to your overall marketing efforts.
I love our Instagram, I post in 3s, so 3 posts per day, it keeps everything neat! We have nearly 90k followers on Instagram now and this converts nicely into sales through the site.

What has been your personal highlight so far with your involvement with the brand, and why?
Seeing our work being worn by people like Gigi Hadid and Nicole Kidman is always extremely exciting. I also love having pop up shops and getting to meet our customers! We have just started a private Facebook group for our female customers but I can’t tell you what goes on in there…

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given, and from who?
“You can’t dance at everyone’s wedding”, so when you see buyers and they tell you all the different things they want from you, you have to politely decline and stick to what you’re good at! This was from a lovely mentor of mine.

Erotic lingerie and jewellery brand Edge o'Beyond, interview with Brian Gray from erotic marketing agency Lascivious Marketing [credit: Edge o'Beyond]
[credit: Edge o’Beyond]
Time is our most precious commodity. How do you maximise yours, and what tips have you picked up along the way?
My entire wardrobe is black, this way I can get ready in a minute as everything matches! For me lingerie is the most important part of my outfit anyway! Also, on a more practical level, I carry my diary everywhere and as a team we use Asana to keep organised.

And what do the next twelve months hold in store for Edge o’ Beyond?
SS18 sees the launch of our lingerie inspired swim range!!!! Watch this space…


Thanks Naomi!  

Pop over to the Edge o’Beyond website to see Naomi’s wares. Look out for them on Instagram too.


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
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!
Brian

 

Get Serious About Your Erotic Retailing Business

Attention all lingerie designers, sex toy sellers, and fetishwear creators: just how serious are you about your erotic retailing business?

Are you in the erotic retailing business for ego or for profit? Make your mind up. For everyone’s sake.

In short, there’s a few reasons as to why you’d want to be in the erotic retailing industry. Some of these are more notable – and noble – than others. Talking of the ‘others’….

  • Is it just a hobby for when you’re bored?
  • Is it something for you to do just so you can brag and gain social proof by exclaiming “I sell sex toys! I design lingerie!”
  • Perhaps it’s something you want to shock your stuffy relatives with over the dinner table, and no more.
  • Maybe you think it’s something which will excite potential boy- or girlfriends.

Perhaps you’re spending more time posing for and uploading self-validating images to Instagram rather than actually getting down to the hard graft.

Or perhaps you’ve established a drop shipping account to sell sex toys, and set up a cheap looking website that’s devoid of any personality or distinctive identity. I’ve seen so many of these without any identity, enthusiasm or personality that it’s almost enough to make a marketer weep. And that’s never a pretty sight.

Let’s not pull any punches here. If you’re going to be lackadaisical about not only your marketing but the way you run your entire business, don’t be surprised if your (lack of) effort results in equally lacklustre revenue and profits. Why the hell should prospects give a damn, never mind their credit card details, if you can’t even be bothered to introduce yourselves to them or engage with them to any meaningful degree?

Running a successful business isn’t easy, otherwise any damn fool would be in this game. That said, it could be argued that – through no fault of their own – sex toy drop shipping enterprises and online marketplaces such as Etsy have done exactly that: opened the doors and facilitated the proliferation of erotic industry ‘wannabes’: whether dreamy lingerie designers who are wonderfully creative but lack the necessary grit and business acumen, or the stack ‘em high (or dropship) and sell ‘em cheap sex toy tat peddlers.

Because, make no mistake, with non-existent entry barriers, there are plenty, and I mean PLENTY, of new ambitious, #sexySME entrepreneurs – I also like to call them Risqué-takers – who HAVE entered the industry. There’s also the hard grafters who’ve been in the industry for years who’re still surviving through blood, sweat, tears and acquired industry nous. You’ve come across both types in my interviews. And they mean business. They’ll also be laughing at (your?) vapid social media posts or personality-free websites while they’re slogging away, slowly but surely building traction, following a plan and standing out from the crowd for all the right reasons.

Let’s sort out the men and women from the boys and girls, shall we? Question time:

  • Do you have a clearly defined mission specifying why you’re in this business and what you hope to achieve?
  • What are your marketing and overall business objectives for the next 3 / 6 / 12 months?
  • Where are your efforts to be concentrated upon to achieve these objectives?

Lascivious-Marketing-Give-A-Damn-Ometer [credit: Lascivious Marketing]
Time to make your mind up: Where do you lie in the erotic retailing business? [credit: Lascivious Marketing]
If you can’t answer these questions reasonably quickly, then you have to ask yourself with brutal honesty where exactly you sit on the wonderful Give-A-Damn-Ometer™. Is this a mere hobby for you or something that directly determines whether you have food on the table and your bills are paid each month?

Think about the time and effort and money spent on developing a website or even a bricks and mortar store. How can you not be trying to recoup the investment, and meet your sales targets without the requisite marketing effort ?

If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well, n’est-ce pas?

You get out of this what you put into it. So if you are indeed serious about surviving and thriving in this industry, then act like it.

Don’t procrastinate. Answer these questions right now:

  • Where are you now?
  • Where do want to go?
  • How will you get there?
  • How will you know you’ve arrived?

Sure, these are baby steps when it comes to marketing your lingerie, sex toy or fetishwear business. But if you’re reading this and haven’t even thought about these questions before let alone answered them, then it’s imperative to walk before you try running.

You’ve only got one life. Make it count. If you’re not serious about being in the erotic retailing business, then get out of it. Don’t waste another second of your time. Take up a new hobby, follow your passion. Life is too short by half to be dedicating your precious time and effort and possibly money to something that doesn’t captivate you and make you lose track of time when you’re doing it (even the boring admin).

For the rest of us, you’re also doing us a favour by bowing out (preferably as soon as possible). And before you metaphorically turn off the light and close the door behind you, do please deactivate your business social media accounts as well so you’re not clogging up our ‘who to follow’ lists years after you’ve shuffled off. Twitter is awash with the ‘bodies’ (lapsed accounts) of failed erotic retailers. We don’t want yet another one to add to the heap.

So what’s it to be? Are you going to get serious about sexy, and give it your all? Or is it time to call it quits on your time-consuming hobby, and use your time more passionately and productively on something else?

Tick tock….

And if you’d like to not only stay in the industry, but get some help so you can survive and thrive, well, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s how we can help.

INTERVIEW: Julia Akers, Kamorii

There’s a new sex-ed school where you don’t need to turn up on time, wear a uniform (unless you want to) or get six of the best for being naughty (unless you really want to). Kamorii aims to provide – with style and substance – adults around the world the knowledge with which to enjoy great sex and intimacy.

Founder Julia Akers proves to be most receptive to questioning, providing a unique insight into the behind the scenes development of the Kamorii website, online marketing issues and more. And while the website boasts HUNDREDS of beautifully illustrated sex positions and guides (and much more) you’ll understand the absence of such images here – what a shame!

Julia Akers, Founder of Kamorii. Interview with Lascivious Marketing [credit: Kamorii]
Julia Akers, Founder of Kamorii [credit: Kamorii]
BRIAN GRAY: So let’s start from the beginning. Who or what is Kamorii, how was it conceived, and when did it start trading?

JULIA AKERS: Kamorii is the web’s first comprehensive sexual technique website created by women. Our purpose is to use tech to help transform the quality of people’s intimate relationships and take them on an exciting journey of sexual exploration. Our first product, kamorii.com, was launched in early September and we will be releasing other products in 2018. There are literally 1000’s of sexual techniques and positions out there and we make learning them easy and fun. Kamorii has 86 guides, 1000+ illustrations and 540+ sex positions. We cover tantric sex, man & woman user guides, intimacy, kama sutra, kinky time and solo play. We have also created the first ever Sex Position Player with 100+ sequences to play. Trying out different techniques and positions will inject sex life longevity and fun into people’s relationships.

The idea was conceived from my own experience of low quality sex advice and was inspired by the findings of a few studies. A 2015 survey by the UK’s National Union of Students, found that 60% of students use porn for sex education. This worried us greatly as porn is purely camera pleasing material and using it for sex guidance can cause major issues for young people. Simply Google “risk of porn for young people” and you will see that this is a very hot topic. We are therefore happy to see so many 18 – 25 year olds joining Kamorii.

Kamorii also responds to the findings of the 3rd National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. These remarkable British surveys are amongst the largest and most detailed scientific studies of sexual behaviour in the world. Principal Investigator Professor Dame Johnson (UCL) stated,

“Positive sexual experiences are related to health and well-being throughout the life course, and it’s time for this to be given wider recognition by health workers, educators, and society as a whole. We need to do more to create an environment in which it is easier for people to discuss sexual well-being as an integral part of the conversation we have with people about our health.”

We hope that our products will go some way to responding to these highlighted needs to improve people’s sexual knowledge and experiences.

Kamorii-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-category-selection [credit: Kamorii]
A fund of naughty (and very nice) knowledge awaits… [credit: Kamorii]
Anyone visiting the Kamorii website sees there is a solid raison d’être driving it all. When you first got the idea for the website, what did you think was missing online that you felt Kamorii could provide?
During our research we observed significant gaps in sexual technique advice. First we noted that most websites are owned by old brands which have outdated web design, minimal content, low quality illustration and mainly exist to push products. The online magazines and tabloids tend to use sex advice as click bait and unfortunately they dominate Google searches in this area due to their high domain authority. This means that most people will only see low quality snippets of sex advice designed purely to grab attention. One site we do love is OMGYes.com as this is a beautifully constructed site, but this is strictly focused on female masturbation research and technique.

Secondly, we were alarmed to see that most sex advice is given by men, dating way back to The Joy of Sex through to the Bad Girls Bible and Masterful Lover. This results in men missing out on sex advice from women. In many cases the manner in which such advice is given is also worryingly based on very old-fashioned ideas about men and women and attempts to manipulate people on the basis of sexual insecurity.

Kamorii-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-kinky-time [credit: Kamorii]
Get kinky with Kamorii (with their help at least). [credit: Kamorii]
The Kamorii website is clean, crisp, beautifully illustrated, and all in all, visually appealing on many levels. When you were thinking of how the site should look, the mood it should convey, which other erotic or adult brands did you want Kamorii to be at least equal to, if not better than, in aesthetic terms?
We actually took our design lead from graphic novels. I have always been a huge fan of this genre and Fiona Staples of the Saga series is one of my all-time favourite artists. Kamorii is a little nod to her work and it is why we hired concept illustrators who do a similar artistic style. We hope that this has given the site a unique look and that it stands out from the crowd. As regards other sites, we wanted it to stand up in quality against sites such as OMGYes, Lelo, Bordelle and Agent Provocateur.

Kamorii-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-sex-guide [credit: Kamorii]
Be your own sex goddess…with help from Kamorii. [credit: Kamorii]
Theoretically, your target customer could be any adult. That’s a wide demographic. But there’s always the risk that in trying to appeal to everyone, you actually end up appealing to less than you should. So how do you think your customers are instead defined from a psycho-graphic perspective? What common attitudes and/or attributes do you envisage your customers possessing?
We believe our customers are keen self developers who are always seeking to improve their lives and wellbeing. They are also people who want to give their partner(s) maximum pleasure so we think our customers are simply amazing. Of course, we are aware that there will be those who just click kamorii.com out of intrigue as to what we do, but we hope we convince them that sexual knowledge is worth exploring and that sexual technique deserves some time and thought.

What three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
Exciting, modern and adventurous

Kamorii-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-out-and-about-orgasm [credit: Kamorii]
“There’s nothing quite like a quickie orgasm at work or when out and about,” opines Kamorii. And the rest of us for that matter? [credit: Kamorii]
A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
Ah that is a tough one but it must be “pleasure”.

If you could get another erotic or adult brand to join forces with you for an event or other product proposition, what would it be and why?
The team at Kamorii is a huge fan of well-thought-out sex toy products and those companies that continually try to improve them. We are therefore big fans of Lelo and WeVibe and we provide guidance on our website on how to use some of their products. We wish to expand this knowledge and would love to join forces to create more “how to” guides.

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 have found marketing in this industry to be hugely challenging. Google PageRank, social media signals and backlinks are key to any new business’s online marketing strategy, but each delivers huge challenges for the adult industry. Social Media has delivered us a series of highs and lows. YouTube, Google+, Pinterest and Twitter are adult friendly and we are having success with these. The first 2 are of course critical for search visibility as they are Google products.  Facebook and Instagram are not so adult friendly and carefully tailored content is key to being allowed to advertise. Facebook Ads are an absolute no for many adult products, which is a shame as Facebook has by far the highest user numbers.

We are about to launch our media campaign and hope that this delivers some good results. We learned very quickly that getting the press, bloggers and vloggers to talk about a brand is key to good backlinks, which in turn will fly your brand up the Google search results. This was the route to OMGYes.com’s success which has minimal social media activity and has done little paid advertising. As regards paid advertising, we only use AdWords at the moment and this has been a huge success, albeit time-consuming to set up and optimise.

What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
As we are a tech/online business our biggest challenge has been Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Everyone knows that the online market dwarfs all others and wanting a piece of this vast market catapults you into a battle with Google. Basically you want people who are looking for a product like yours to find it, it’s a simple concept, but astronomically difficult to achieve. You can pay someone to do it, but finding a good SEO expert is difficult and expensive, we therefore decided to do a DIY approach so that we know how to continually improve SEO in-house. There are some great gurus out there to help such as Neil Patel, Brian Dean from Backlinko.com and Chase Reiner on YouTube. We follow them religiously and implement their advice. We are now seeing great results from our SEO strategy such as an 8-point increase in our domain authority and a huge jump in kamorii.com’s global and US ranking.

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 was lucky to train in Prince2 Project Management in my last job so I have been able to implement full project management with Kamorii. It is very easy to become overwhelmed as an entrepreneur as there is always an endless list of things to do. I mapped out the main workflows last year and add new requirements as they arise. I then transfer the items to a handy monthly planner which I follow to the letter.

You’ve had a legal background in the City of London. To what extent (if any) has this been to your advantage in your new entrepreneurial role with Kamorii? What transferable skills are serving you well so far, and likely to in the future?
I have found great use for both my previous legal and business skills in my entrepreneurial journey. I think having worked as a commercial in-house solicitor has given me a great advantage as far as the business set up and management of Kamorii is concerned. There are simply so many matters I would not have been aware of if I hadn’t worked for a big company before. The main key transferable skills have been project planning, company management, business planning, start-up planning, team management, accounting, contract drafting and intellectual property protection. An added bonus is that I have not had to pay others to do this work for us. Time-wise this has also meant I have not had to spend time learning these things so I have been able to spend more time on the fun and exciting aspects of Kamorii.

Kamorii-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-cliffhanger [credit: Kamorii]
Taking no chances: the universal language of love is nonetheless being further translated in 2018 by Kamorii! [credit: Kamorii]
And what do the next twelve months hold in store for Kamorii?
The key workflows for next 12 months are media marketing, mobile application development and translations.  We have mocked up a series of mobile applications and we are currently building our first, which will be launched in early 2018. These apps aim to carve up the distinct areas of sex guidance to make them more accessible and easy to learn.

In addition, Kamorii has been translated into 4 languages so we are currently building our language sites for Spanish (Latin & Provincial), Italian and Portuguese speakers. These will be standalone sites on their own domains so that we can tailor these to their specific markets. We will then begin our next set of translations and site builds for French, German, Russian and Mandarin speakers.

So watch this space for more Kamorii products and news!


Thanks Julia, for a very detailed appreciation of the work that has gone into – and continues to do so – bringing Kamorii to fruition. And some great online marketing advice as well for all #sexySMEs out there with an online presence.

Want to enrol at online sex-ed class? Head to Kamorii at the double! and if you’re really keen, Twitter too.


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
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!
Brian

 

INTERVIEW: Steff McGrath, Something Wicked

British lingerie brand Something Wicked offer customers evocative and provocative product ranges, while proudly flaunting their ‘made in Britain’ credentials.

Managing Partner Steff McGrath talks about the brand, masks, connecting with customers, events and distribution channels in this brief but all-encompassing chat.

 

Steff-McGrath-Something-Wicked-interview-Lascivious-Marketing
Steff McGrath, Managing Partner, Something Wicked [credit: Something Wicked]
BRIAN GRAY:  Something Wicked is a relatively new brand, starting in 2013. What led up to your appointment as Managing Partner and what were your immediate marketing challenges to be addressed when sitting down at your new desk?

STEFF McGRATH: I came on board at the end of last year to head up the brand. I had always loved the product and the brand, and the opportunity arose to get involved. It has had a complete change in management structure, new investment and a new website. My first priority when I came onboard was to ensure everything was spot on in terms of production. All our products are handmade from start to finish in-house, and the fact that we are a British made brand is something that is really important to me. It was important to make sure we were ready for trade and able to upscale when necessary.

Something-Wicked-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-portrait
[credit: Something Wicked]
As you’ll well know, there’s no shortage of lingerie brands for consumers to choose from. Why should people buy something wicked from…er…Something Wicked ?
At Something Wicked, we believe in exploring the real you. The passionate, seductive, devilish you. The you that not everyone gets to see. We bring together the finest quality materials with sumptuous design to create the most exquisite and exclusive lingerie, so you can continue to explore your true nature.

We realise that in life we wear different masks. One for the boardroom, one for drinks with friends… We conform to standards set by others and hide our true nature. But no one wants to conform all the time.

We allow people to be their true selves. To be Something Wicked.

What characteristics do Something Wicked customers share?
What buyer personas have you created?
We have identified customers that are often successful and confident, they lead fast-paced, ‘work hard, play hard’ lifestyles. They can come from many walks of life but something that unites them is the need for release, release from their fast-paced lives, release from the everyday, release from what’s expected of them. There is a side to all of our customers that not everyone gets to see. When they can lay themselves bare and be themselves, their true selves… and it’s for those moments and experiences that Something Wicked exists.

What three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
Powerful. Seductive. Confident.

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

Something-Wicked-interview-Lascivious-Marketing
[credit: Something Wicked]
The old adage still holds true that ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ Talk us through your marketing planning process. Also, how long does it normally take? How far ahead do your marketing plans cover?
Our process begins by taking a look at the wider market and other brands out there to ensure we can say something that is both differentiated and unique from the competition.

We also looked at our own brand to understand what we can say and how we can talk and act.

Once we have a really good idea of both of these areas, we need to look at the most important part which is making our brand relevant to the customers. We delve into their lives to discover what they really want to see and hear from a brand. This is where we connect on a more meaningful level with people rather than just on our products.

Typically our communication plan has a 12 month view relating to activity and budget focus, with detailed plans on a monthly basis.

A few months ago you attended the Dessous London lingerie trade event. What were your impressions of it and how beneficial was it to your company?
It was a great event, not only a good venue and location, but a good mix of people through the door. It came at the perfect time for us, as we were ready to reintroduce the brand to trade. We met a great combination of buyers, bloggers, and other brands, and have secured several trade orders from being at the show.

Something-Wicked-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-piano
[credit: Something Wicked]
What has been your personal highlight so far with your involvement with the brand, and why?
It was really exciting to develop the shoppable videos that we have on our website. Not only was the shoot itself an unforgettable experience (there was cake everywhere!), but to be able to produce the videos with their unique technology behind them was amazing! They bring our collections to life  perfectly and allow our customers to interact with the brand. They simply choose what they want to be – whether that’s powerful or playful, dominant or revealing, and a shoppable video to match their mindset or mood will play for them.

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?
The distribution channels used are important; we are more than just a B2C brand and must also consider B2B.

It’s about more than just creating beautiful products, we must connect with customers on a deeper level and identify with them as a brand.

A lot of brands talk about what people want to be or what people should be and we didn’t want to be one of them. We want people to be their true selves.

Something-Wicked-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-sofa
[credit: Something Wicked]
What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
When we began to look at the brand, we found that we had one of the best stories of quality, luxury and craftsmanship out there however when we looked at the wider market, we realised that the story of luxury and quality was already being told by many of other brands. We therefore knew that we had to connect with our customers on a deeper level.

By really getting under the skin of our customers we were able to develop a deep and vast understanding of them and the way they live their lives. We discovered that these highly driven, ambitious people needed a time to explore their inner nature instead of trying to be something they are not naturally… and we can facilitate that with beautifully made lingerie with a dark twist.

And what does the next twelve months hold in store for Something Wicked?
More international trade shows, gaining a presence in new territories, and a new collection in the pipeline!


Thanks Steff, and the very best of British (seems rather apt saying that) to you in your endeavours!

Want to wear Something Wicked, or at least see it first? Head to the Something Wicked website, and follow them on Twitter too.


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
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!
Brian

 

INTERVIEW: Peter Cooke, Fetters

Warwick doesn’t only have a famous castle worth visiting. Renowned BDSM and bondage retailer Fetters entices customers from far and wide to see for themselves the wares on offer.

Taking time to speak to Lascivious Marketing is their Marketing Director, Peter Cooke. Here he highlights marketing segmentation and targeting among their diverse customer base, and more.

 

Peter-Cooke-Fetters-interview-Lascivious-Marketing
Peter Cooke, Marketing Director, Fetters [credit: Fetters]
BRIAN GRAY:  So let’s get started. Who are Fetters and what are your #sexySME credentials?

PETER COOKE: Fetters is a manufacturer and retailer of BDSM furniture, restraints and fetish accessories. We make many items below our showroom in Warwick but we also retail popular kink brands through our showroom and online.

The business was started in 1976 and in 2015 fetish brand REGULATION purchased the business to bring more bondage focused products into the family. Fetters has changed a lot since the 70s. It’s gradually moved from selling mostly gay S&M products to a more pansexual customer base.

Fetters-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-colour-restraint-pile-crop
[credit: Fetters]
Looking at your website, you offer a wide range of different products in key groups. Which are the most popular items? Have there been any changes in purchasing patterns or new trends that you’re witnessing?

Fetters-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-backrestraint
[credit: Fetters]
Our most popular products tend to be the smaller bondage accessories, so leather collars, cuffs and mitts. They really are great essentials that everyone starts with. Over the last two years we’ve introduced more dildos, usually at the more premium end such as Square Peg Toys from the USA. These have been extremely popular which was a little unexpected.

Overall, we’re seeing greater interest in products that can help make a great BDSM session; canes, gags, toys etc. People are increasingly ordering products for their weekend plans and we’re realising it’s important to make more of these available to ship quickly and easily.

Fetters-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-cage
[credit: Fetters]
You’ve got a showroom in Warwick. How would you describe the people who walk in the door? Also, are they curious browsers or do they tend to be quite specific about what they’re coming in for?
We have quite a broad range of customers. Many couples come in together, especially younger couples. Some have experience on the “scene” but many are just curious individuals who are looking for tools to act out a fantasy or indulge in a desire they’ve discovered online. Our showroom is one of the best places to see and sample our furniture so some do travel from greater distances, even outside Europe, to visit us.

What defines your typical Fetters customer, and what three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
I couldn’t even start to define a typical Fetters customer. Some are discreet, others loud and proud. Some comfortable curious while others are highly experienced and heavily involved in the BDSM community. There’s everything in between. Whatever their story, I’d like our customers to see us as Deviant, Exciting and Genuine.

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

Fetters-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-bondage-tape
[credit: Fetters]
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’re still very much on a journey with our marketing approach but we’ve definitely learnt not to overreach with our target market. Many of our products can appeal to both gay and straight customers but these scenes rarely mix and images or copy written for one group won’t be well received by both.

We decided to continue with a more pansexual approach but we’ve learnt to also be aware of what is resonating with customers who have a personal identity preference such as submissive females or switch couples etc. It’s quite a tall order but we’re trying hard to create a brand that speaks broadly to many BDSM individuals.

It’s not hard to imagine – at least in the past – that some locals (such as the NIMBY – “Not in my back yard” – brigade) might be concerned or even outraged about your showroom and types of wares being sold. To what extent – if any – does this affect day-to-day operations?
We try and keep a relatively low profile with our showroom, especially with the exterior. Our interior is designed to be warm and welcoming even though some of our pieces might seem less friendly. Customers appreciate this and our neighbours are either content or less aware. We’re also careful to ensure we don’t seem too seedy or sleazy. We’ll leave that to our customers once they’re home!

Ultimately though, we do have a certain level of pride in hoping our business can enrich the sex lives of people in a positive way. We would do our best to defend that freedom but thankfully we’ve not encountered many issues along the way.

Fetters-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-sleepsack
[credit: Fetters]
As well as actual and prospective customers, bricks and mortar adult retailers have to engage with other audiences such as the local council, licensing authorities, media and so on. What has been your experience of this, and what do you see as being the key to maintaining good relations with such groups?
Openness and transparency are important. We don’t want to seem underground and obscure. On the other hand, we have to consider customer privacy very carefully. We regularly get press requests for interviews, tours or journalists asking to be connected with customers for editorials. There are benefits to bringing kink, fetishes and adult products out into the mainstream, but my experience is that the reception of this kind of coverage is often not positive, especially online. We choose very carefully and always favour adult or fetish media if we can.

Honestly speaking, we’re not selling our products to the mainstream. There are other, very good retailers for this. We’re serving a sizable niche market. We keep this in mind when contacted by more mainstream media.

What has been your most enjoyable moment or experience with Fetters that has made the blood, sweat and tears all worthwhile?
There’s not a specific moment but when I look at how far our showroom and website have come over the past two years I’m happy what we’re moving in the right direction.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given, and from who?
It’s not a piece of advice but I have a favourite quote, “If Plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters.”
[it’s a favourite of mine too! You only need one to work.  Brian]

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 work with some great people so I’ve been fortunate that we’re able to share our workload on a lot of projects. It’s also easy to get carried away with the day-to-day but I try to just stop and reflect at the beginning of a week. This helps me plan and be more efficient with time.

And what does the next twelve months hold in store for Fetters?
We’ve got a couple of exciting photoshoots planned and hopefully the introduction of some video content to really increase customer knowledge of our more unusual products. We’re also holding a number of showroom shopping events which have become popular and provide the perfect excuse for those outside of the Midlands to visit.


Thanks Pete! And it’s refreshing to see an adult retailer that can testify that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ and markets their products and services accordingly. Different buyer personas are vital, thus requiring targeted marketing communications for each identified segment. This genuine customer-led marketing approach is to be commended and should be adopted across the industry by all manufacturers and retailers.

If you want to take a closer look at the many wares on offer, then head to the Fetters website. You can also follow Fetters on Twitter too.


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
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!
Brian

 

INTERVIEW: Isabella, Xenses

Tulips aren’t the only lovely things coming from the Netherlands. From lingerie to sex toys and erotic art, adult retailer Xenses nearly has it all.

At the Xenses helm is (Flying?) Dutchwoman Isabella, who talks about her mission, customer base, marketing lessons, and a lot more.

Mise en Cage - Weston Lace Up Brief - Photo Pierre Dal Corso
Mise en Cage – Weston Lace Up Brief [credit: Pierre Dal Corso]
BRIAN GRAY: So let’s start from the beginning, Miss Xenses. ‘Name, rank, and serial number’ as the military used to say! Who are you and what’s been your adult retailing journey so far?

ISABELLA: Miss Xenses a.k.a Isabella is a bit of a mystery and I like that not many people know who I am.  Isn’t it the not knowing that keeps it sexy? But I can confirm that I am a woman, that should do it for now 😉 Xenses is my first experience with adult retailing and that period covers about 7 years. I’ve started with no knowledge of the erotic luxury market and thought that a LELO sex toy was the most luxurious product out there. How little did I know! Xenses has grown from a main-stream adult web shop to a luxury online boutique together with my knowledge of this business.

Ludique - Diamond Lingerie - Photo Florin Opris
Ludique – Diamond Lingerie [credit: Florin Opris]
What made you decide on the name Xenses for your business?
It was actually quite the process to find a name, I had a page filled with dozens of names in front of me, the end result of weeks, even months thinking of names. In the end I’ve chosen Xenses, a mixture of Senses and seX.

Mission statements – especially from corporate behemoths – can often be vague, boring and the reader ends up none the wiser afterwards. But I’ve got faith with you, Isabella! How would you sum up the mission of Xenses?
It’s really simple: I want to bring love and happiness to lovers all over the world with unique, hand crafted products that will inspire love and satisfy desires. And in doing so curate an amazing collection of high quality and luxurious products that will WOW my clients.

Absidem - Janice Studded Handcuffs
Absidem – Janice Studded Handcuffs

Your website offers a wide range of adult retail products, from lingerie to sex toys to erotic art. Needless to say, there’s a lot of different designers and manufacturers to deal with! Tell us more about this. Who approaches who? What criteria are in place?
Well, it happens both ways, I contact designers and they approach me as well. As it is my aim to bring mostly unique brands and products together, I search the internet for new and exciting brands that could be an addition to Xenses. I prefer hand crafted products that are unique, innovative, luxurious and of high quality. But as with everything, there needs to be a balance, I need well-known brands as well to attract clients.

Something Wicked - Ava Lingerie Collection
Something Wicked – Ava Lingerie Collection

You’re based in the Netherlands but thanks to the joys of the internet your customers can be from almost anywhere. What countries are your most lucrative so far? How much of your sales comes from domestic customers?
Believe it or not, but the Dutch in general are not that progressive when it comes to erotic shopping, they also do not like to spend money on luxury. After my first year only selling in the Netherlands, I’ve opened the international online boutique Xenses-shop.com and that has been a success from the start. We sell and ship all over the world from New Zealand to Japan with the US, UK, France and Germany as home for most of my clients. I would say that 60-65% of my business comes from abroad and these order amounts are also the highest.

Who is the typical Xenses customer, and what three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand? Most of my clients are male, shopping for their special lady. And I hope they would say: sexy, luxurious and high quality.

A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
Personal Service. Okay that is two words, but it is something that I value and put a lot of effort in. Online shopping is per definition not personal, but I make it personal as much as I can without losing the discretion or anonymity most of my clients seek.

What has been the highlight so far in your entrepreneurial journey, and why?
I have never been an entrepreneur before Xenses, so I am thrilled to learn about this new talent of mine. The most satisfying part of my business experience however is that I receive a lot of personal feed-back from couples that have loved the shopping experience with Xenses and adore their purchase. I do get official reviews that are visible online, however most clients prefer contacting me directly.

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?
As a small business I do most things myself including marketing. I do work with others at times, but it has been my experience that this business is so elusive, a lot of marketing principles just do not apply. And I have spent a lot of my business capital on expert third parties finding this out. Also the fact that it is an adult business means that restrictions are in place, you cannot do what other regular companies can.

And lastly, my wide range of products can be a challenge, for example lingerie lovers do not necessarily have an interest in sex toys or bondage accessories. The challenge lies in finding a balance on social media and the right mix of products that will attract the right clients for Xenses.

Absainte - Jacinthe Body Jewelry
Absainte – Jacinthe Body Jewelry

What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
Running an adult company in the Netherlands means encountering many prejudices and obstacles on social media, Google and when contacting magazines and people in general. Erotic luxury is really not a well-known concept here, I have been challenging this notion from the start with high quality luxury products.

What are the most valuable things you’ve learned so far both about competing in the adult retailing industry, and as an entrepreneur?
Online visibility is everything, make sure you are found through Adwords, improve your SEO, use social media, keep innovating and find and promote your own unique concept. And stay true to yourself!

And what does the next twelve months hold in store for Xenses? The coming months are the busiest months for Xenses, there is not much time to do anything else. In spring I will have time to take a step back and take the pulse of the business and adapt my business to stay on top. What I can say is that we have brought a new brand on board for SS18 that will blow everyone’s mind 😉


Thanks Isabella! And here’s hoping Xenses continues to tempt new and existing customers alike in the Netherlands and further afield.

Yield to temptation at the Xenses website. And don’t forget to follow Xenses on Twitter and Instagram.

 


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
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!
Brian

 

INTERVIEW: Rebecca Allsop, Yummy Gummy Latex

Meet the sweet sounding and equally delicious looking latex brand that’s the anithesis of its fetish-esque peers. Introducing, Yummy Gummy Latex.

Yummy Gummy Latex co-founder and designer Rebecca Allsop talks branding, marketing, and the ‘joys’ of social media.

Yummy-Gummy-Latex-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-Rebecca-Allsop
Rebecca Allsop, Yummy Gummy Latex [credit: Rachel May]
BRIAN GRAY: Who is Yummy Gummy Latex and what’s the story behind it?

REBECCA ALLSOP: Yummy Gummy is myself (Rebecca) and my boyfriend (Sam). I started making sheet latex back in 2013 when I was taught how to make it by a late photographer who had previously been in the business of making sheet latex. I hadn’t discovered latex before then and wasn’t particularly impressed by it.

But after doing a bit of research I realised no one did what I could now do, which was make patterned multi coloured latex. Fast forward to me taking the little bits that I had made to the BBB (Birmingham Bizarre Bazaar) and having the latex designers there jump for joy that someone finally brought them what they had been waiting for. We saw how big the gap in the market was and after being made redundant and with some encouragement from Sam, I went for Yummy Gummy full time and haven’t looked back.

Yummy-Gummy-Latex-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-Rebecca-Allsop
[credit: Dan Thomas]
Yummy Gummy Latex is certainly a distinctive name. How and why did you settle on this particular moniker?
I literally chucked a pile of the little sheets I first made in to the middle of my room and stared at them until I found a name that described them perfectly. They looked just like gummy sweeties in their colour and texture. For me having a name that made people understand what the company was about immediately was really important, to save having to explain or for people to have to research more. It’s fun and memorable, I’ve had many people stand in front of my banners reading the name and chuckling to themselves saying how perfect it is and how nice it is that it’s breaking the dark fetish nature that latex brands usually take.

Yummy-Gummy-Latex-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-Rebecca-Allsop
[credit: Dan Thomas]
And what do you see as the brand vision and brand essence of Yummy Gummy Latex?
I always say I want to take over the world with latex.  I want to spread multi coloured latex to the masses and break down that heavy fetish stereotype that the non-latex wearer thinks it’s like. It’s not all “weirdos and gimps”, it’s fun and expressive.

What three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
Innovative, Exciting and Approachable.

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

Yummy-Gummy-Latex-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-Rebecca-Allsop
[credit: Dan Thomas, headdress by Hippy Poppins]
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?
Facebook is crap, Instagram is for the win, and I still don’t know how to work Twitter. At the end of the day I use If This Then That, as a tool to manage all my social medias at once to save myself time. I like posting little clips of me manipulating a sheet of latex as a photo rarely gets across the colours and textures and sparkles right where as a video gives customers a really good idea of what they’re getting.

You’re fairly active on social media, especially Instagram. What have been your key observations on social media as a marketing tool for Yummy Gummy? And how much of your social media activity is planned versus spontaneous?
Its pretty much all spontaneous, I really hate having to post regularly on social media, I much prefer to be making. I have to force myself to try and find something to post every day so I stay relevant and remind people whats new and what they could be buying.

Yummy-Gummy-Latex-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-Rebecca-Allsop
[credit: Dan Thomas]
You also actively sell your wares at various markets around the country. What are your opinions on these and how do your sales at these compare to those ordered online?
I do most of my clothing sales at markets as people can try on and impulse buy, or buy in confidence that something fits how they would like it. I’m very good at convincing people just to try something on for fun and before they know it they’re handing over their credit card because they’ve found their clothing soulmate. I sell pretty much all my sheet latex online however as most people are happy not seeing the latex in person before buying and all the sheet latex is made to order.

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?
I have collaborated with Godemiche Silicone who do the same thing as I do with latex but with dildos. They make multi coloured dildos! I gave them some of my glitter that matches a best selling dress and we created the Gleam dildo. We probably could have made more of a deal of it than we did but both being in similar situations we were both distracted by trying to make our own orders and run our separate companies than to make the most out of the collab with give aways on social media etc.

What has been your personal highlight so far with your involvement with the brand, and why?
Meeting customers and attending the first Sexhibition show in 2015 where I got to dress my idolised fetish models in my latex and have them walk the catwalk. Or when I won my two awards, one for Best Newcomer for the European Fetish awards, or the Sexhibition Best Latex Designer of the Year award. Having peer recognition and support from the community was just amazing to see where I had come with the brand, something I had originally just seen as a little hobby / Etsy business than my full time employment of 4 years.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given or read somewhere, and from whom?
I am advised a lot by another latex brand. As for any particular advice I can’t think of any.

Yummy-Gummy-Latex-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-Rebecca-Allsop
[credit: Dan Thomas, headdress by Hippy Poppins]
And what does the next twelve months hold in store for Yummy Gummy Latex?
I’ve just made a catusit and a bra, which doesn’t sound much, but it’s something I’ve been asked for for years and years but put off doing because they have to fit perfectly and be practically bespoke in every aspect. I am hoping to shoot my collection on some well known Instagram models, collaborate with a plus-size blogger for a joint collection for the much larger lady and I hope to approach fashion boutiques and try and get some stockists in traditional clothing shops.

Thanks Rebecca! And here’s hoping Yummy Gummy Latex hangs onto its its sweet spot in the latex world. 

Tempted by Rebecca’s latex lovelies? Head over to the Yummy Gummy Latex website and don’t forget to follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

 


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
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!
Brian

 

INTERVIEW: Stacey Mavrou, Eustratia

Meet the Manchester company guiding you the right way into the latex fashion world: Eustratia.

Eustratia Founder and Designer Stacey Mavrou talks branding, marketing, and how she and her company runs.

Stacey-Mavrou-Eustratia-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-nymeria-bodysuit
Stacey Mavrou, Eustratia, wearing Nymeria Bodysuit. Cat not included!
[credit: Richard Ayres]
BRIAN GRAY: Let’s start from the beginning, Stacey. Give us a brief history of Eustratia, your background, and motivation for going into business.

STACEY MAVROU: I first encountered latex clothes in Camden in 2004. I was initially intrigued by the seams without stitching and the fascination grew from there. I have always seen fashion as a powerful mode of self-expression and I wanted to offer people an aesthetic I didn’t see anywhere else. I guess I identified that need through an inability to find the perfect outfit for myself, I wanted something that defined me completely and I wanted to give others to be able to experience that too.

Stacey-Mavrou-Eustratia-interview-Lascivious-Marketing
[credit: Richard Ayres]
Why did you settle on Eustratia as the name? What does it signify?
The name is a translation of the first part of my (Greek) name (pronounced in Greek, Efstratia), meaning the “good” or “right” way in regards to the path that you take. I inherited the name from my grandmother who was a seamstress and the first person to introduce me to the world of fashion.

As an existing name, there are others who use it on social media, so I like to make the brand easier to identify by adding  _fashion.

And what do you see as the brand vision and brand essence of Eustratia?
The core principle behind the brand is the balance between opposites. I enjoy contrasting elements and love to explore the dynamics between them. After years of experimentation, I think I have reached a point where the balance is right and the result harmonious.

Stacey-Mavrou-Eustratia-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-deluxe-bra
[credit: Richard Ayres]
This has led to a slight shift in direction for the brand in the last year. Instead of creating a new and elaborate collection each season, I now offer a carefully curated range of customisable basics, featuring my signature latex-lace, alongside unique, seasonal motifs and items. I still want to enable customers to create an outfit that defines them, but I have used my years in the industry to streamline the process and offer options that resonate with my customers.

What defines your typical Eustratia Fashion customer, and what three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
I’m not sure if you could call Eustratia customers “typical” but I would probably define the main customer type as a party girl or performer. I make things for men on occasion, but the majority of my customers are female. They want something to wear to a club or event that defines them as a person but also works in a busy environment; something striking yet comfortable, sexy but not vulgar, fashionable and simultaneously unique.

Any of the above adjectives would do: I would be more interested to hear what they would use without my prompting!

Stacey-Mavrou-Eustratia-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-corset-closeup
[credit: Richard Ayres]
The UK is home to more than a few highly renowned latex fetish / lingerie designers. What do you think differentiates yourself from them?
I do believe we have the latex designers with the best taste here in the UK and there is certainly something for everyone. In the past, I would have said that it was my unique combination of materials and techniques that set me apart, (since I started creating my first official collection in 2010, I have used combinations of latex with lace, guipure, mesh and other fabrics, chain mail, studs, crystals, perspex and taxidermy) but as these are no longer unique to my brand, I would now say that what differentiates me, is the balance between the contrasting elements in my work and ability to look inwards when I create, instead of concerning myself with what other people are creating or comparing myself to them.

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

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?
Be consistent, overreaching to do something big is pointless if you can’t keep it up.

Stacey-Mavrou-Eustratia-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-black-shoulder-pads
[credit: Richard Ayres]
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?
I really don’t think I would collaborate with an adult brand as I don’t really consider myself one, I like to walk that fine line between fetish and fashion. I am honoured if people find pleasure in my clothes and I don’t think there should be stigma attached to that but I wouldn’t want to force a certain image onto anyone who sees them differently.

You studied Fashion Design and Technology at Manchester Metropolitan University. Hindsight is always a great thing, but to what extent has it prepared you as a commercial designer, but also as a marketer and businesswoman?
I think doing such a broad course was useful and gave a more spherical view of the industry on the whole and the different positions one could go into. However, as someone whose mind was already made up, I’m not sure I acquired any knowledge could easily be impelled while running my own business. For example, I wouldn’t say I knew much at all about marketing as a graduate, despite doing well on that particular module.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given or read somewhere, and from whom?
Be consistent. I’m sure I’ve read that everywhere but it really is integral. People have short memories and you have to constantly remind them of your existence.

Stacey-Mavrou-Eustratia-interview-Lascivious-Marketing-black-bodysuit
[credit: Richard Ayres]
Time is our most precious commodity, especially for entrepreneurs. How do you maximise yours, and what tips have you picked up along the way?
Time management has been an issue for me in the past , as a young designer, full of enthusiasm to create and be involved in new projects, it’s easy to take on too much and in turn, to neglect the more boring but essential business admin. I’ve found that routine works best for me, I have specific tasks assigned to each day of the week and a certain amount of hours assigned to making each day, to stop it taking over my life!

And what does the next twelve months hold in store for Eustratia?
At the moment, I’m just focusing on fine-tuning the business side of things. I’m having a break from fashion shows and stalls and even large-scale photoshoots, which were previously a priority of mine. Although I love defining and sharing my vision and the stories that inspire my work, I felt the need to focus more on the actual ordering process of the garments and make it easier for people to just order a piece they are 100% sure about without having to make contact first. I answer all my messages myself and I’m always happy to make suggestions and alternations to suit each individual, but I’m aware that not everyone likes to shop that way.

Thanks Stacey! Here’s hoping you’re similarly guided to bigger and even better fortunes on your journey.

Tempted by Stacey’s wares?  You wouldn’t be the first one! Head over to the Eustratia website and don’t forget to follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

 


ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
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!
Brian