Tag Archives: Lingerie

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: 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!

INTERVIEW: Monika Tomcalova, Persephonie Ncredible

Persephonie Ncredible is the London-based fetish lingerie and jewellery brand helping you to release your inner goddess.

Multi-talented Founder, Designer (and everything else as well!) Monika Tomcalova talks more about mythological inspiration, her brand, blogging, even Playboy, in this insightful glimpse into her world.

BRIAN GRAY: So, let’s start at the beginning. Who is Monika Tomcalova, and what brought you into the world of fetish lingerie and jewellery?

MONIKA TOMCALOVA: I am originally from Slovakia and have now been living in London for the last twelve years.

I was very young when I came to the UK to study Psychology. It was a massive shock and a major step towards what I really wanted to do with my life. After getting my degree real life happened and I got caught up in the daily grind of working life. The monotony of this repetitive cycle left me with the feeling that something was missing.

I have art in my blood, my Dad was a musician, and I really wanted to share my creative side with the world. I was always into dressing up and I loved sexy costumes and niche lingerie. To begin with I only wanted to create one piece of lingerie for myself and when I started to look for materials, upon entering trim shops my mind went into overdrive with many ideas and I just could not stop creating. I would like to show women that they are beautiful, sensual and they can wear really amazing bespoke pieces and make them feel like Goddesses. I would really like to concentrate on how women feel, help them to love themselves, but I would like to do this gently with understanding of their individuality.

You’ve certainly chosen a distinctive name: Persephonie Ncredible. How did you arrive at this particular identity?
Persephonie is altered from the Greek Goddess of the Underworld, Persephone. This Greek myth is amazingly dark, very powerful and full of symbolism, describing how Persephone became a real woman. I chose this name because I just instantly fell in love with it, the mystique of it all. I knew right away this was the perfect identity for my brand. Besides, I always try to use original names for my products so I am always searching for distinct words and names.

Who do you define as your target customer? What attitudes and attributes will they likely possess?
At the moment my target customers are from the fetish community mostly, but also people who would like to play and people with a love for extravagant jewellery. Mostly for open-minded individuals who wish to stand out a little.

What three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
Erotic, mysterious, wild.

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

Your website is a visual feast: beautifully shot models in equally distinctive locations modelling your own unique wares. How much involvement do you have with both the photo shoots and the website? And how do you manage your time?
Ha, this is an interesting one. Everything you see on the site is out of my ideas. I even created the website from scratch, the lingerie used was all handmade by me. The administration of social media content and art projects are all managed by myself. I am of course collaborating with talented artist photographers, MUA’s, models and illustrators. I am very grateful for all the input they provide in order to bring my ideas to life. It is so important to find people and have a commonality you can just click with. Strong collaborations are ever so vital for my projects. I’m now beginning to realise how much goes into running a business. It takes up pretty much all my time and is not just a case of creating and selling: this has pretty much taken over my life, in a good way.

As well as a visually appealing website, you regularly post new blog content. As there are many content marketing methods available to employ, what made you decide on blogging? And how effective do you perceive it to be in relation to your overall marketing efforts?
I didn’t really set out to create blog content. I sort of wanted to add substance to my website with an interactive part about upcoming news, creative works and collaborations I do. I am working on many projects and it is not always displayed in my website gallery. I use the blog to try to explain to my audience what I do and how I do it. I would like to inspire them and tell them that everything is possible and not always easy as it looks on the pictures. I would like to try to use the platform to invite people for events, collaborations and to even promote offers to potential customers.

Major bragging rights are surely awarded to you for being invited by Playboy to showcase your brand at one of their parties. Tell us more about the evening. How beneficial was it, and in general how important do you view face-to-face exposure like this for brands such as yours?
It was extremely fun!!  Slovakia is a very conservative country. In general people tend not to be very open-minded and edgy topics or publications like Playboy can still make people a little shy. I have to say that I massively enjoyed all my interactions at their event. I met some very chatty individuals and even had the pleasure of listening to their secret fantasies and fetishes.

It is very important to be there with potential customers and talk to them, to help them and boost their confidence a little, because by the end of the day, we are all the same.  I was also recently interviewed for the Slovakian edition of Playboy, so I really hope I will help to Slovak customers to be more open and more natural about sexuality. I would like to shine a light into this dark area, open the door to it little bit more…

What has been your personal highlight so far with your involvement with the brand, and why?
I always say every little success is big and important for me and for my brand. I always give my all to every single project I am involved with. Every bit of success will take me somewhere else. It really is an amazing feeling when a project works out after long hours of hard work and sleepless nights. So I say: “Everything is important.”

What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
To be professional at all times.  It is difficult not to be personally involved when your work is a piece of you. With every piece I sell a piece of my heart.

What are the most valuable things you’ve learned so far on your entrepreneurial journey?
I’ve learned that if you love something, you believe in yourself and you put your heart and soul in to it, opportunities will start to pop up out of nowhere. My advice would be: never say no to an opportunity. Sometimes you will have to do volunteer work or something totally not related at all to what you do. This just helps with exposure and can lead to other ventures. You cannot be always right, and you might not like everything published but that is fine.

Most valuable advice is, to ignore discouragement, as discouragement will be all around you all the time.  It is important to learn what direction is best for you and what is good for you and who you are even when the results may take few years to show.

And what does the next twelve months hold in store for Persephonie Ncredible?
I am actually planning my year 2018 at the moment. I believe that next year will be a very busy year full of changes and transitions. At the moment I am already planning two fashion shows and around eight pop-up shops in London, Prague and hopefully Germany. A new collection and photo shoot will be on the way.

I am of course going to try to push boundaries in countries where fetish is still a hush topic. Also I would like to move from fetish community to regular people and to their bedrooms. I would also like to go back to writing my articles and stories, as I’m beginning to miss it a little at the moment.

Thanks Monika, for an extremely open and insightful look into your world. Here’s hoping you and Persephonie Ncredible reach mythical levels of success!

No doubt you’re already in awe of Monika’s fantastic images let alone her items for sale. Head over to the Persephonie Ncredible website for more, and say hello to Monika on Instagram 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!

INTERVIEW: Steff McGrath, Something Wicked

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good marketing is important for any company, not only to thrive but just to survive. What have been your key marketing learning points and observations so far?
The distribution channels used are important; we are more than just a B2C brand and must also consider B2B.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: Isabella, Xenses

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

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

BRIAN GRAY: So let’s start from the beginning, Miss Xenses. ‘Name, rank, and serial number’ as the military used to say! Who are you and what’s been your adult retailing journey so far?

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

What made you decide on the name Xenses for your business?
It was actually quite the process to find a name, I had a page filled with dozens of names in front of me, the end result of weeks, even months thinking of names. In the end I’ve chosen Xenses, a mixture of Senses and seX.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good marketing is important for any company, not only to thrive but just to survive. What have been your key marketing learning points and observations so far?
As a small business I do most things myself including marketing. I do work with others at times, but it has been my experience that this business is so elusive, a lot of marketing principles just do not apply. And I have spent a lot of my business capital on expert third parties finding this out. Also the fact that it is an adult business means that restrictions are in place, you cannot do what other regular companies can.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

SIX reasons branding matters for adult retailers

What’s more important to your adult retailing business? The products you’re selling or the brands themselves?

It’s a question that stirs up discussion in marketing land across multiple industries. And it’s easy to see why the brand vs product debate will also run among adult retailing and marketing professionals. So here we are !

The ‘product’ camp will highlight that goods have to be built well, be of sufficient quality and satisfy wants through specific features which will bring certain benefits to the end-user. Most people can see the logic in that. Afterall, you wouldn’t want a pair of knickers disintegrating after one wash, or battery issues with a dildo (ask Martin from Sinsins about that!).

Meanwhile, the brand camp will emphasise the emotional connection that exists between a brand and consumers. Good products can be provided by a brand, but if there’s a non-existent emotional bond between brand and buyer, then the utility of the product is meaningless – it won’t be purchased.

If you’ve read Al Ries’ brilliant (and concise, and very easy to read for non-marketers) book “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding” you might have an idea as to which camp Ries certainly belongs to.

I’m not attempting in this blog post to decisively answer the question once and for all. Like a lot of things, I think the truth is to be found in the murkier waters between both extremes.

But there’s no denying that concentrating purely on products and product quality is not a good thing to do. That emotional connection, that personal psychological bond between consumer and brand is one that has to be forged, embraced and worked on. Yep, you guessed it, just like the relationships we create with one another.

But before we risk descending into group hugs and all that malarkey, let’s concentrate on the matter at hand – your business. Your brand is vital to your business success. Furthermore, a brand that’s in rude health will bring several benefits to your company.

So, here we go. Short and to the point.

Standing out from the crowd
When you have a clearly differentiated identity and values from others, you stand out from the competition. A strong brand has higher visibility in a category: think of this when you are seeking new customers. You can charge more than undifferentiated rivals, especially if you are perceived to be of higher quality (this can be achieved through, yes, superior product quality, COMBINED WITH the words and images utilised in your marcoms, website etc.). Greater share of wallet is also likely.

Defending market share
If you were thinking of entering a new market, would you think twice knowing there’s a brand giant ready to stomp on you? Furthermore, how difficult do you think it will be to steal their customers away who are loyal to that brand? A strong brand is one that will be hard to beat in a category knife fight.

Brand Elasticity
This is a big ace in the hand of the ‘brand’ camp. A strong brand can be ‘elastic’; able to enter new categories or geographic territories based on the inherent transferable brand values and strengths – and not product excellence. Think of Virgin (credit cards to space travel), or in a similar rock n’ roll vein, the mega-selling rock band KISS (condoms to coffins!).

How easy would it be for a company that concentrates purely on product development and excellence in one particular sector, to easily diversify or enter new categories at the drop of a hat? Not very. There’s an uphill battle to be won convincing a potentially cynical prospect base.

Loyal customers have a ‘goodwill bank’ allowing a company to recover easier from a crisis or a negative service encounter. Customers with a strong emotional connection to a brand – reinforced from previously consistent positive experiences – may well give the company the benefit of the doubt and be less harsh in their response to that company than they would with other brands they are less favourably disposed towards.

And let’s not forget – if the situation has been successfully resolved, there’s a very good chance customers will become even more evangelical towards the brand. And they’ll tell others.

Balance Sheet bonus
Strong brands possess their own monetary value or equity. From the 1980’s onwards major companies have listed their brands on the company balance sheet and placed a monetary value on them. Indeed, one major UK household food and drink brand fought off a major hostile takeover in the late 1980’s when it listed the value of its brand on its balance sheet.

Comfort blanket during tough times
Finally, let’s not forget just how challenging the current business and economic environment is. While mainstream media like to tell you that things are rosy, the reality is something different. There’s been a ‘lost decade’ of wage growth; indeed forecasts from the Institute of Fiscal Studies predict that by the year 2022, UK average earnings will be similar to what they were back in 2007. Add to that proposed big welfare cuts on the way. That’s sobering – and pretty depressing – reading.

So when times are tough and spending (household or corporate) is heavily scrutinised, customers tend to stay loyal to strong and dependable brands. It’s not really a time for trying out new alternatives. And while customers want quality and value, that doesn’t simply equate to cheaper prices. Don’t be tempted to slash prices during tough times.

So, in a nutshell, give a damn about the lingerie, sex toy or fetishwear brands you own, or those from other companies you sell.

And if you own your own adult brand: nurture it, build it, love and cherish it like a real loved one (almost).

Do it well, and it will show its worth in many ways back – including, financially.
Until next time!

PS. Want to talk more about branding and how Lascivious Marketing can help your adult retailing business? Get in touch now!

INTERVIEW: Sophie Thorne, Twisted Lingerie, making you misbehave

Deliciously provocative lingerie, that’s made for misbehaviour? That’ll be London-based Twisted Lingerie then.

CEO and Founder Sophie Thorne gets Lascivious-ly interrogated but she’s the one brandishing the whip. Well, the brand is anyway.

BRIAN GRAY: So let’s start from the beginning, Miss Twisted. Name, rank, and serial number. Who are you and what’s been your lingerie journey so far?

SOPHIE THORNE: Hi Brian! So I’m Sophie Thorne, the CEO & Founder of Twisted, a deliciously provocative lingerie brand which launched last month. Since my background isn’t in lingerie (or even in fashion), it’s been a steep learning curve and a lot of hard work – from ordering every “How to run a fashion business” book Amazon had on offer to competitor research at any lingerie shop within a 100-mile radius of my flat, to business plan writing and brand development, to pattern-making and god knows how many sample iterations, to the long hunt for a factory that not only met my quality standards but would also accept the tiny order quantities (I eventually settled on a small factory in Latvia), to pricing and distribution decisions, to production, shipping and launch. It’s exhausting just writing that list and it’s only a whistle-stop tour!

In your few years since graduating from university, you’ve had various business roles. What persuaded you to change direction and enter the lingerie industry?
Twisted was a several-years-in-the-making project. I’ve always been obsessed by lingerie; whilst my friends drooled over designer shoes and handbags, I was obsessed with Bordelle and Nichole de Carle, and would spend my weekends loitering in either Coco de Mer or Agent Provocateur.

As I became more familiar with the industry, I noticed the ever-increasing gap between cheap-and-tacky and super high-end lingerie. As I saw it, not many of my girlfriends felt comfortable spending £250 on a lingerie set but they didn’t necessarily want to buy a bright red push-up bra either. I felt there was a gap in the intimates market that the wider fashion industry had already acknowledged and started to fill: I could pick up a new dress from Zara or Topshop for £30 but I wasn’t able to find well-made and well-priced provocative lingerie – the kind made for after-dark frolicking rather than functionality – to wear underneath it.

Twisted was born out of a desire to build an accessibly-priced brand, without compromising on the designs or the quality of the production. Women shouldn’t have to wait for a special occasion to treat themselves; I wanted to give women a reason to make every day that little bit naughtier without breaking the bank.

And how much support did you receive from friends, family, and business contacts? And is Twisted a bootstrap enterprise or did you look for funding from other sources?
My friends and family were – and continue to be – hugely supportive, and I’ve had a great response to the brand from ex-colleagues and business contacts.

Twisted is entirely self-funded; I put my salary and savings into the company, and I’m keeping the business going using profits. I have big ambitions with Twisted but I am not sure how I feel about looking for funding from other sources. It would help the business to scale quickly but, by continuing to subsidise Twisted myself, I am able to maintain my vision, grow organically and create a sustainable brand.

So, let’s talk branding and positioning. Describe who you think the ideal Twisted Lingerie wearer is, and what three words would you want your customers to associate with Twisted Lingerie?
I don’t really believe there is an ideal Twisted Lingerie wearer. In my mind it’s about how the lingerie makes women feel when they wear it. Whether women conceal their Twisted side under their workwear or style their underwear as outerwear, we want our customers to feel confident and sexy.

The three words I would want customers to associate with Twisted are: ‘Made for Misbehaviour’ – our key strapline. But if pushed for three separate adjectives, I’d opt for provocative, bold, and….if you’ll let me, twisted, of course!

One of the things that impressed me when first coming across your company was the branding. You’ve got a very distinctive identity, one that looks professionally conceived and designed. Tell us more about the whole process you went through. Logotype choice, meme choice, strapline, the whole shebang!
The hardest part of the branding process was coming up with a name! Once I had – it came to me on the train as I was thinking about Shibari (Japanese rope bondage) – the rest sort of clicked into place. I worked with a fantastic branding consultant who designed the logo; the whip is inspired by one of my favourite leather accessory designers, Paul Seville. It did take a few iterations – the first set of designs were a bit too tame – but I’m thrilled with the final result.

Your website is wonderfully sprinkled with words and phrases such as ‘debauched’, ‘after-dark frolicking’ (I loved seeing that!), and the premise that ‘even sex can be sexed-up’. You’re definitely trying to appeal to women who want to be naughty rather than a shrinking violet. How much of this is due to identifying with a defined buyer persona, and how much of this is a hint of Sophie being expressed?
A bit of both I think! I definitely believe in the value of a strong tone of voice and that runs right through the customer’s experience, from the website to our care labels (“You can get me as dirty as you like, but wash me gently”). The language we use communicates the core ethos of the brand and I’m not apologetic about it. It won’t appeal to everyone, but that’s ok; it will appeal to the women (and their lovers) who want to break aware from the status quo and surrender to their desires, whatever they may be.

You offer student discount for all your products. This isn’t something I’ve come across at least before now. Is this quite common? What was the rationale behind this?
I think it is quite common amongst the likes of New Look, Misguided and ASOS. Given Twisted’s accessible price point, I’m in part competing with that type of brand so it felt right to offer the same types of incentives as they do. Plus I remember what it’s like to be a student – they’ve invariably blown all of their cash on nights out but still deserve to look hot on the next one!

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, not only for Twisted Lingerie but the industry as a whole?
It’s still early days for us but the one thing that really struck me is the lack of awareness amongst some of the smaller lingerie brands of the importance of marketing. As a lingerie fan myself, the most frustrating thing is knowing there are some fabulous indie brands out there but they lose out to the big players because they don’t use marketing effectively. Coming from a business background, I place a huge amount of importance on data gathering, A/B testing, optimisation, etc. but I am often met with blank faces when I try to discuss this in fashion circles.

What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
My limited marketing budget! Since I’m operating on a shoestring budget, I’ve had to be very creative about what I can do with little to no funds. Using social media and writing a blog has been at the heart of my marketing strategy. It takes patience – building a following doesn’t happen overnight – but by genuinely interacting and engaging with my customers and the wider lingerie community, I have started to see organic growth.

Time is our most precious commodity, especially for entrepreneurs. How do you maximise yours, and what tips have you picked up along the way?
About five years ago I read a Vanity Fair article about Barack Obama. In it he explains that he only wears blue or grey suits because he doesn’t want to waste time making decisions about what he’s wearing when he has so many other decisions to make. The concept really resonated – having a fixed routine means I’m able to be more productive as I don’t get distracted by trivial things; for example, I decide what I’m going to wear and eat the following day before I go to bed, I only socialise (be it for business or pleasure) once in the workweek, and if something comes up that isn’t on my to do, I won’t do it (at least not that day).

What are the most valuable things you’ve learned so far both about competing in the lingerie industry, and as an entrepreneur?
As a self-funded startup with a super small team, I had to make it work with limited resources so I quickly learned to keep things basic. I think with new businesses there’s often a temptation to do too much or to try to appeal to everyone but I believe that zeroing in on one idea and executing it exceptionally is the key to success not only in the crowded lingerie industry, but also as an entrepreneur.

And finally, what has been your most enjoyable moment or experience with Twisted Lingerie, that has made the blood, sweat and tears all worthwhile?
My first sale – it was an incredible feeling having worked so hard to make my vision a reality, and then seeing that reality start to take form.

For someone who by her own admission hadn’t a stitch of formal exposure to the lingerie industry before founding Twisted, Sophie’s bootstrapping, whip-cracking ways are noteworthy. And while lingerie snobs may question the lack of training or experience, it’s more than offset by her commercial background and an intrinsic understanding of the importance of branding, positioning and data-backed decision-making. In fact, between you and me, it’s this which will arguably hold her in far better stead than the designers full of lofty dreams and ambitions who have a eye for figures, but not those on a spreadsheet never mind a balance sheet.

Good luck, Sophie!

So, if Sophie’s sexy wares have got you in the mood for some after-dark (or daylight, we don’t judge!) frolics, then head to www.twistedlingerie.co.uk  and don’t forget to say hello to them on Twitter too, at @TwistedLingerie

UPDATE: Sophie made the decision to wind the brand down a few years after Twisted Lingerie’s birth. It’s a shame given the business acumen and the strong brand identity – c’est la vie.

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

Until next time!

Lingerie Industry Snobs: Know your Place!

Is the lingerie sector guilty of being a bit too precious about whose company they keep?

In all the sectors that can be included in the umbrella industry of love, sex and everything in between, the lingerie sector is arguably the one to care most about branding and positioning.

Firstly, it’s great to see lingerie marketers looking out for their brand. This is entirely understandable, and highly commendable. For the most part, lingerie isn’t a commodity purchase. If a branded item is of genuine high quality and carries with it a premium price, then the brand values and touchpoints should reinforce this.

But the industry could collectively have a bit of a reality check too, and realise their position in the grander scheme of things.

Unfortunately, there’s an impression that the lingerie industry can be snobbish when considering the other sectors involved in the love and lust business. This has been backed up with one or two personal discussions I’ve had where I’ve had the distinct impression this has been the case. I’m not mentioning names.

Here at Lascivious Marketing our target sectors have a common link: they all play their part in the journey of lust, love, and maybe, just maybe, happy ever after (no promises, ‘mind), from the very start. Lingerie is but one sector.

Need a bit more convincing? Take a look at this highly elaborate piece of infographic-ery I rustled up to visually bring home just how many other sectors the lingerie sector has for company when it comes to your fellow man and woman satisfying their love and sex lives.

The Lascivious Marketing Guide to the Businesses of Love and Lust
Hey lingerie sector, ‘think you’re operating in isolation? Think again.

There are probably quite a few other sectors that should be added to the list but these are the ones that most quickly spring to mind
[Should we perhaps add ‘Lawyers’ too, or is that being a tad pessimistic? Yeah, let’s leave it out!]

So while certain lingerie designers may be spending a lot of time and effort in positioning their wares as aspirational, premium-priced items that suggest quality, elegance, and style etc etc….  they also need to accept that if their wares are being worn with more baser instincts in mind, there’s a good chance they will be part of a bigger picture – if even just for one evening – that involves products and services from other sectors.

“But we’re the lingerie industry…”
Yes you are, but when considering the wide range of goods and services consumed in the context of love, sex, and relationships, you’re not operating in isolation. Far from it. If Dita von Teese, who many reckon is the epitome of glamour and style in her skimpies, can attend the Erotica expo back in the Noughties – which was also choc-full of exhibitors punting everything from bondage duct tape to other mischievous wares – then you can get off your high horse.

“But, but…..you’re involved with sex toys! Smutty cock rings and dirty dildos!”
Yes, and not to put too fine a point on it, there are some very expensive – not to mention ornate and of the highest quality – sex toys out there which easily exceed the price of a pair of your beloved skimpies. And probably bring about far more pleasure to their owners, too.

So there.

Furthermore, have you ever considered the fact that your own beloved customers may very well be putting such toys to use in their own encounters while adorning your prized items? How do you like them apples ?!

At the end of the day, lingerie designers and marketers have no control over how customers wear their items, in what environments, and doing what with whom. In actual fact, they don’t have too much control over their brand either. They can ‘manage’ it as much as possible in terms of visual identity and touchpoints, but they can’t manage how it’s perceived by their target audience who are the true brand arbiters. And they’ll do what they damn well please with whoever’s items of intimate apparel.

Or would snobby lingerie designers and retailers prefer laying down some ground rules? Accompanying the care instructions for how their skimpies should be washed and dried, will be some usage instructions too.

“XXX Lingerie’s brand means everything to us. In fact, it’s far more important to us than your purchasing of one of our items. So, that means you can’t use dildos while wearing this item, or be wearing it while on a sexy rendezvous, especially if there’s the chance it’s going to be a sordid no-strings attached variety, tut tut. Nor can you wear it in a sex club, even a posh one, or in fact be getting up to any mischief at all. Better still, just don’t wear it. Leave it in its nice box comforted by its protective tissue paper. Thanks awfully. XoXo ”

Sounds pretty ridiculous, right? So let’s all grow up a little. If lingerie designers and retailers accept that the above is nonsense, but can’t accept that the Lascivious Marketing client base may include fetishwear and dildo retailers as well as those in the lingerie sector, it’s more than a bit hypocritical. Lingerie is not the sole actor in the love and lust sector. And neither is it when it comes to the sectors covered by Lascivious Marketing.

We love to work with companies and individuals who care about their brand. But at the same time, we will also ensure we work with people who show common sense, gumption and with feet firmly on the ground.

If you’re turning your nose up at Lascivious Marketing because we attend to other sectors, such as adult retailing / sex toys, you’re the type of client we wouldn’t want to be associated with either, for numerous reasons.

Now, let’s get back to spreading some love…..ly marketing!

If you’re a lingerie company and you’ve got no issue at all with the company we keep, and you’d like to chat about your marketing and how we can assist you maximise your marketing effectiveness, get in touch. I don’t bite…..unless you wa….ahh, you’ve heard that a thousand times.

Until next time!

PS. And don’t forget to sign up to receive SIX OF THE BEST – our free weekly email containing key weblinks covering the lingerie world AND hot marketing tips for your lingerie or adult clothing business.

Lingerie Branding: What’s in a Name?

How bad an idea is naming a lingerie brand after the designer?

For anyone responsible or merely interested in brand creation, positioning and visual identity, ‘Designing Brand Identity’ written by Alina Wheeler is an excellent book. It’s an invaluable point of reference for the whole process while also featuring a shedload of real examples. Lots of colours, lots of visuals, and written in pretty straightforward prose.

While the primary market for the book would probably be people working in larger companies, it’s a great introduction nonetheless for those in smaller companies or indeed starting out on their entrepreneurial journey.

When it comes to lingerie branding, there’s a common tendency to use the designer’s name as the brand name. Why is this? It doesn’t come without its own issues.


Wheeler explains the different brand types available. There’s seven in total, namely:

Magic Spell
Combinations (of the above)

Needless to say, I started thinking about lingerie brands and examples of each of the different name types.

Karolina LaskowskaFounder
Attollo LingerieDescriptive (says what it does on the tin)
FoxersFabricated (distinctive, created name)
BordelleMetaphor (Using names, places, things, animals etc to project a quality)
Let me know! ACRONYM
Creme Bralee Magic Spell (altering spelling of an existing phrase)
Bombshell GabrielleCombinations of above

Although not an extensive or rigorous search (mostly comprising of LinkedIn connections and Twitter followers/followed) the biggest group would probably be the combination of ‘METAPHOR + DESCRIPTIVE’, i.e. Pounce Underwear.

Attollo Lingerie is an interesting one.  Yes, it’s DESCRIPTIVE in the sense that ‘…Lingerie‘ is part of the name. Also in a sense equally descriptive with ‘Attollo…‘ assuming you learned Latin at school! Some people might argue that it’s actually a combination of METAPHOR + DESCRIPTIVE given that the meaning isn’t obvious to non-Latin scholars. But I’ve got the casting vote in this instance and I think it’s being cleverly descriptive. So there. (Good luck, A+F)

I also think Bombshell Gabrielle is a great name: a combination of METAPHOR + FOUNDER, with the bonus of sounding great when spoken. (Take a bow, Gabby)

As you’d expect, the same applies to lingerie retailers, with many brand name types well represented. Boutiques such as Gabriella Sandham and Caroline Randell are ‘Founders’ while others such as A Sophisticated Pair belong in the ‘Metaphor’ pair. There is no shortage whatsoever of ‘METAPHOR + DESCRIPTIVE’ and ‘FOUNDER + DESCRIPTIVE’ combinations. The latter is pretty self-explanatory. There will be a differentiating name, metaphor etc coupled with ‘…Lingerie’ or ‘…Intimates’. This obviously doesn’t do any harm whatsoever when it comes to SEO.

When describing ‘Founder’ brand names, Wheeler explains:-
“Many companies are named after the founders: Ben & Jerry’s, Martha Stewart, Ralph Lauren, Mrs. Fields. It might be easier to protect. It satisfies an ego. The downside is that it is inextricably tied to a real human being.”

A few things spring to mind here. Wheeler mentions ego: something vital to possess when starting up a business. A thick skin helps too. This is amplified when it’s something as personal as designing lingerie, especially if it’s high end / couture. It can represent the thoughts, feelings, desires and so on of the designer.

But is the decision to name the company after oneself a sign of too big an ego? Or a lack of imagination? Personally, I doubt the latter. If a designer can produce some stunning designs but not a distinctive identity there’s something very wrong.

Also, what happens if the designer walks in front of a bus or gets caught in some embarrassing tabloid sting? (There’s a reason marketing and advertising agencies create fictional brand characters). What if further down the line there’s a boardroom punch up and the designer/founder leaves the company but legally cannot use his or her own name as a new trading name?  (This HAS happened in the creative industries: Saatchi & Saatchi is a prime example).

But what are the implications of using the designer’s name in the lingerie branding world?

You see, words are powerful things. Not on their own of course (they’re just groups of letters strung together), but through shared meaning and fields of experience. Basically, how words are perceived and interpreted by others. These words immediately conjure up certain images.

When I see the name Pounce Underwear I can IMMEDIATELY start forming an idea in my mind about the type of items being sold and who their likely target markets are. It also gives a clue about the brand essence (its DNA, if you like), personality and perhaps the people behind the brand.

My mind has no difficulty in visualising images around ‘Pounce’, pouncing, or being pounced upon. It suggests something racy and animalistic, verging on predatory, even. Ooh la la. ‘Led by instinct’ they proudly proclaim on their website. You see how the picture in your head is being defined that bit more?

In a similar vein, Bordelle also conjures up something. Agent Provocateur? No further explanation required. I know immediately that these aren’t the sorts of safe, homely brands being talked about in care homes or down at the local WI.

In contrast, what do the names our dear old Mum and Dad gave us convey?

Absolutely nothing.

Consider two fictitious lingerie firms, called let’s say, “Amanda Jones” and “Jane Williams”. From this I have no idea if Amanda’s wares are more exciting than the ones offered by Jane, who in turn are more exciting than another brand called “Emma”.

Furthermore, are all ‘Amandas’ homogonous in their ‘brand essence and values’ ? Of course not.

Let’s step outside the lingerie sector for a moment to illustrate this more effectively.

Think of Ralph Lauren. On its own it’s just a name, but then apply an endorsed brand architecture with the introduction of ‘Polo’. The word and logo immediately conjures up images of a sport played and watched by the upper classes and all the associated trappings of that ecosystem. Wealth, status, success, influence: all these things come to mind. It’s easy to see how that one word has far more power in its ability to create a strong brand image and position in the minds of customers than mere ‘Ralph Lauren’. Capische ?

It’s all well and good if the person has already achieved widespread fame, and an enviable lifestyle that others aspire to…. And all the trappings that go with it. Think of all the actors, actresses, sports stars and athletes who suddenly have fragrances introduced in their name. It’s the intended rub-off effect of those people who’ve already made it, and the values they hold or behaviours they exhibit. Once more, their names per se are irrelevant. Its their brand values that are the big draw.

Conversely, it’s not so hot if the designer is still living with parents in the suburbs rather than a plush Mayfair penthouse overlooking Hyde Park. ‘Faking it til you make it’ won’t work. Consumers are too savvy.
(That said, moving back in with the oldies makes for great short-term business sense, keeping your cash flow and expenses in order. As for your sanity, that’s another matter!)

Perhaps there’s a certain exoticism in having a foreign name and marketing it in a foreign country.  In marketing terms it would be associated with ‘country of origin effect.’  Or some sort of perceived erotic arbitrage.  The obvious downside is that its own domestic market may view it less enthusiastically.

If someone enters ‘sexy lingerie’ into Google and the choice comes up between ‘Pounce’, ‘Bordelle’ or just someone’s name, I know which one I’d put my money on to receive the least clicks. Furthermore, if Amanda’s garments are erotic, provocative and conjuring up images of all sorts of debauchery and not at all designed with the school or supermarket run in mind, then isn’t such a nondescript name arguably a disservice?

But there’s something else to be considered: purchase rationale. What if the searcher’s key criterion is functionality rather than thrills? In this instance the named designer might get a look in, especially if the page description hits the spot. But what if the searcher is looking for something spicier?

What about lingerie bought by men for their beloved (or be-lusted) ? Smart guys will have undertaken a covert rake through his partner’s knicker drawer to see what floats her boat. In this instance if he comes across a few items from a named designer during his rummaging, then that will be his initial reference point when going online to investigate further.

But, given that men – anecdotally at least – are often guilty at the best of times of buying far racier skimpies for their partners in crime than what the women would normally buy themselves, what chance does lingerie designed by ‘Jane Doe’ stand in the Google results when listed alongside more thought-provoking brands such as Fraulein Kink and Bordelle? Again, I know where I’d put my money.

If the designer is at the very beginning of his or her career, then they may feel that simply getting their name out there and recognised is critical.  On one hand, brand awareness is of course vitally important.

On the other, lack of sales will kill a business quicker. Having a recognised name out there is useless if the revenue and profit figures are depressing. And if a brand name is not attracting attention, creating interest, and helping to arouse desire and convince consumers to take action and buy, then what’s the point of it?

Maybe the use of the designer’s name is to try and appeal to a broad church and not limit themselves to one category. But trying to appeal to everybody is always going to end in tears. If I had a heart problem, who would I rather see: my GP or a cardiologist?

But the most important priority is to be revenue earning and making a profit. Having one’s own name in lights or on a swing label is a distant second. In other words, choose the brand identity which will have the biggest impact on the bottom line.

In a fast-living world, where time is in short supply and faced with 24/7 digital media and relentless advertising assaults on one’s mind, a company can have only the slightest of moments to make an impression. Make it count. Choose an identity that immediately means something to someone.

As you’ll no doubt appreciate, branding is a huge topic in its own right. And I’ll be coming back to it in future posts.  So I’ll leave more talking points for then. But if you’re sufficiently stirred – for better or worse – by these here words, get in touch. Send a tweet or indulge yourself with flowing prose.

Until next time!