WIA Profile: Rebecca Cook
Each month, industry news media organization XBIZ spotlights the career accomplishments and outstanding contributions of Women in Adult. WIA profiles offer an intimate look at the professional lives of the industry's most influential female executives.
Eleven years ago, Rebecca Cook left a career in the corporate world to join Sinclair Institute — a leading source for information, guidance and products focused on improving the quality of sexual health, intimacy and communication in relationships. Her dedication to sexual health education and acceptance keeps her busy playing multiple roles as the company’s director of marketing, new business development and wholesale operations. One of her upcoming projects includes the rebranding of the Sinclair Institute brand. In this month’s WIA Woman of the Month spotlight, Cook discusses her motivation and accomplishments with Sinclair Institute.
What is your role and responsibility at Sinclair Institute?
I am director of marketing, new business development and wholesale operations. Sinclair is in the business of empowering people to live positive, healthy lives by providing sexual health and wellness solutions. To that end, I not only design new products for our Sinclair Institute SELECT branded line, but I also seek out the opportunities to distribute our products, brand and message. Whether we are collaborating with the Discovery Channel, or delivering one of our free webinars, training a chain of retail stores, or educating Whole Foods why sexual health is the most natural product category they should carry, I wear many hats that lead to one ultimate goal, and that is for Sinclair Institute to be the trusted resource for innovative sexual health solutions, products and information.
What is a typical day at the office like for you?
First thing in the morning, I catch up with the wholesale team to make sure that we are on task meeting our clients’ immediate and long-term needs. We work with very large mainstream catalogs, Internet and retail chains who require detailed, deadline-oriented customer service. We are masters in our B2B space. I then have varied projects in the hopper that are ongoing, long-term and include new customer acquisition presentations, new product development, box design, copy for sell sheets, email and print ads, press releases and social media. We then collaborate weekly to brainstorm company-wide branding initiatives whether we are working on a new webinar series, public TV project, PR holiday event or trade show. There are never enough hours.
How did you get into the pleasure products business?
I started with Sinclair Institute in 2002, nearly 11 years ago. I was working as a Biotech Recruiter in the same office building as Sinclair and they clearly seemed to be having a lot more fun than I was every day at work. As a good recruiter would do, I walked into their office and introduced myself to then [Sinclair Institute] President Peggy Oettinger. I was working with them within the year, and ever since. I knew very little about the industry, but I did know how to sell. To me a product was a product was a product. Sinclair, however, is a brand that crosses over into many markets and has been successful legitimizing sex education and toys in the mainstream world. I appreciate how Sinclair was the first to bring instructional DVDs into the home in 1991 and has ever since been supplying valuable, permission giving, advice, instruction and products. It is a really fantastic company to work for.
What challenges have you confronted in your career and how have you overcome them?
The economy has challenged our wholesale business since 90 percent of it is large mainstream retail. The demographic of that customer is an average age of 65, which is precisely the group that needs our sexual health solutions, but who were also most directly affected by the recession. In addition, Sinclair instructional sex education DVDs as a hard good is declining due to this same demographic, but also due to the move to digital. This age group is not yet digital savvy so we are right now in the middle of the change in medium that they are comfortable using. We thankfully had the foresight to see these changes as they evolved and we moved into designing and manufacturing the SELECT brand of his, hers and couples’ toys. We also recognized other evolving channels with huge opportunity, and that despite the recession have continued to grow exponentially. We are moving Sinclair in the direction of the largest potential return on our strengths and are really excited about the future.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I have to say that the education part of my position is most rewarding. When I am at a mainstream show where we are the only sexual health company represented, and a person comes to me with a question or issue, usually with much anxiety and trepidation, but at the end of the conversation gives me a hug and thanks me profusely for listening, hearing them, educating them and giving them a solution. That is what it is all about. It is even better, when they return the next year to thank me again for “changing their lives.” It can be very rewarding.
What is your personal motto or mantra that you live by?
In this industry, as in life, I do my absolute best not to judge others — live, and let live. I recognize that there is a huge swathe of sexual behaviors and interests, and it is not my job to decide right or wrong, but to provide the information and products that answer those needs and interests.
What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
I spent many years in corporate America where I learned a tremendous amount, traveled the world and feel like I truly benefited from all of the hard lessons and valuable information acquired. In this industry, I put all of that into action by approaching sexual health as though it is any other “mainstream” business. We provide valuable services and products to the marketplace and we do so in a professional, knowledgeable and authoritative manner. We are experts in our field and I feel that Sinclair Institute is a pioneer who blazed the trail and opened the market for many other companies to be successful. I am proud that Sinclair continues to be a positive influence and feel that we are not only an “institute” but an “institution” in the industry.
What are your professional goals for the remainder of 2013?
We are currently working on a large re-branding project encompassing everything Sinclair. This includes B2B and B2C channels, the SELECT line packaging, new line extensions especially in organics and a further push into the mainstream channel utilizing our incredible Advisory Council. We are working on many exciting projects and initiatives and will keep you informed as they come to fruition.