Tag Archives: Branding

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!

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!

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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?

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!

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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!