Dildo or decorative object? Italian luxury sex toy firm Persian Palm has the answer: they’re both.
Co-founder Eva Cincar answers questions on branding and butt plugs, design and dildos. Brian Gray handles the alliteration.
BRIAN GRAY: So let’s start from the beginning. How did you meet one another and how did the relationship develop into one that said “Hey, let’s make sex toys together!”
EVA CINCAR: I’d start with the fact that we are both from the Italian region of Tuscany, which has a long history of ceramic production since the Middle Ages, so we have always had a close connection with ceramics. Also, I’m an archaeologist, which I studied at the university.
Luana and I have known each other for many years, we’re friends thanks to our husbands. Our friendship has become very beautiful and with a few secrets shared between each other. One night at dinner, talking passionately about what we could make from ceramic, the idea of producing artistic ceramic sex toys was mentioned. At the beginning we treated this as a bit of a joke, laughing about it. But some time later, talking about it again, we realized that it was no longer a joke but actually a really good idea. We began studying the market, to understand if there was a place in the market for such a product. Not long after that initial dinner, Persian Palm was born.
Many businesses begin either with a passion for a product or service, or experiencing a personal situation in which a need was subsequently identified, or because what’s already on sale isn’t good enough. Is one of those responsible for Persian Palm or was there another motivation?
Even before we had the idea of Persian Palm, we knew a little bit about the world of sex toys. We noticed that most of the products were so similar, and mass-produced using silicone, with more or less similar shapes. We also realised that people using sex toys usually keep them in their drawers, away from prying eyes. We noted that in today’s market there are few sex toys that a person can put on the shelf, without arousing comments from others. This is why we decided our line of sex toys would have a base, so they can stand by themselves as a decorative object in their own right, hand painted by ceramic artists, while being a fully functional, and safe, sex toy.
Another advantage of our sex toys is the fact that, all being individually decorated by hand, they can be personalised, which makes it even more of a personal, intimate toy. It becomes an object made just for you, as you want, and this item is your toy. So our goal is to create unique artistic sex toys for every single person exactly like they want it.
How did family and friends react when you first announced that you were setting up a sex toy company?
Reactions were very positive all round. Some people found it just an interesting idea, but others were very ecstatic. We never found hostility from anyone whom we told our project: indeed, a lot of our friends and helped us all with their own ideas.
How are the responsibilities split between the pair of you? Do your skills complement each other?
We divide our tasks, complementing each other. As I have a little more time, I take on the production, promotion and sales responsibilities, while Luana stands behind the administrative aspects.
In the UK, it can be an issue for sex toy companies getting business bank accounts due to the banks citing ‘reputational risk’ – which is ironic given their misbehaviour in the last decade or so! What if any challenges did you face in Italy?
Even if Italy is a country more closed regarding a lot of aspects, we have never encountered such problems. Indeed, our project was funded with a very soft loan, promoted by the Tuscany Region, and then also the banks were always ready to help and find the right solutions for our business.
What three adjectives would you like Persian Palm to be perceived as, by your target buyers?
Unique, artistic, and enjoyable!
When it came to designing your logo and selecting your logotype, how was this achieved? Talk us through the process.
I would start from the name chosen for our brand, Persian Palm. The Palmetta Persiana (‘Persian Palm’, in English) is a decoration of Tuscan tiles that was very widespread in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. As it is our favourite Tuscan ceramic decoration, we choose it for our brand. Our logo is in fact based on that decoration, with a palmetta drawn on the letter P of the logo.
Your toys are all hand painted. With this, there’s an obvious opportunity for customers to come to you with a particular paint scheme or design, or perhaps a naughty inscription, to be added. How often does this occur and is this something you’d like to see more of?
Yes, absolutely. Requests for customisation are very popular, taking advantage of the fact that ceramic materials allow such opportunities compared to mass production sex toys. Certainly we would like to see even more of these things, because as I said before, we want to produce a sex toy and a piece of art that is unique to each person, and with the customisation it becomes even more.
What have been your biggest marketing challenges so far and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenges for Persian Palm have been, and still are, increasing brand awareness, communicating the artistic value of our products, and introducing an uncommon material for the production of sex toys. Ceramic is a tough, durable, safe and beautiful material. We are still working to highlight its extraordinary qualities. It’s been used by humans in everyday life since the dawn of civilisation; indeed its discovery in the neolithic age was the beginning towards civilisation as we know it today.
Talking specifically about marketing, if you could go back to the beginning and start Persian Palm from scratch, what – if anything – would you do differently, second time around?
Sure, as beginners, we have made some small mistakes. But now, thinking on the spot, we would not have done anything differently. Perhaps one thing would be to communicate a little more the fact that, beyond the sex toy of Persian Palm, there is a really unique piece of art.
What are the most valuable things you’ve learned so far both about competing in the adult retailing industry?
The most valuable thing we’ve learned is about the market segment we’re competing in. Our sex toys are sex toys, but at the same time we are producing design items, that not necessarily have to be sold in a sexy shop or erotic boutique. We realised that a lot of resellers of any kind of artistic and design items, are looking for us and our products.
And finally, what has been your most enjoyable moment or experience with Persian Palm, that has made it all worthwhile?
I can tell that the most enjoyable moment was our first Persian Palm dildo sold. It was an indescribable sensation. After that, the best moment was our first fair, EroFame. It was the first time we went out with our products, showing them to an expert audience. Their reactions – and admirations – were priceless.
For a company that most definitely (thanks to their butt plugs) puts the ‘-anal’ into artisanal, opportunites abound for Persian Palm to seek mutually rewarding partnerships not only with high-end adult retailers, but also with independent luxury art and contemporary interior design boutiques who are open-minded enough to accept PP’s wares as sex toys while also recognising their unique decorative values.
Good luck, ladies! Ciao bellas!
So, if your appetite has been whetted for some of Eva and Luana’s decoratively debauched delights, then head to www.persianpalm.com and don’t forget to say hello to them on Twitter too, at @PersianPalm
UPDATE: Unfortunately the Persian Palm brand seems to have disappeared and their gorgeous products no longer available. A real shame, given the heritage, attention to detail and jaw-dropping aesthetics on offer from this artisanal start-up.
ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING SECTOR?
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Until next time!