WIA Profile: Amber Kukulya
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.
Beginning her career in the corporate world as a human resources professional has equipped Amber Kukulya with skills that make her a natural for business development at Masque Sexual Flavors. That is, once she overcame the dissonance between her past role and now working in adult, where everything she once considered inappropriate for the workplace became her bread and butter. After being taken under the wing of Michael Guilfoyle, Masque’s president, Kukulya has started to make a name for herself as an adult industry pro. In this month’s WIA Woman of the Month spotlight, she discusses her motivation and accomplishments so far with Masque.
What is your role and responsibility at Masque?
I oversee sales and operations. I handle most of the national sales strategies and customer relationships and have been assisting in our recent international launches. I work out of our headquarters in Tampa, Fla., and manage finance and accounting, shipping and distribution, office management, quality assurance and human resources. I also travel and represent the brand at industry and women’s/couples events throughout the year. We wear many hats, but have an extraordinary team that contributes to all efforts.
What is a typical day at the office like for you?
With the conversations and ad approvals that take place on a daily basis, I would not say any day is typical! If I’m not traveling, I’m usually in the office catching up on emails and calls, pushing our sales efforts, communicating with vendors and customers, organizing the finances and assuring all orders and requests from customers are being received and sent out with first priority.
How did you get into the pleasure products business?
This is always a funny story to tell. My background is in human resources and I came from a HR Generalist position working for a relatively conservative engineering company. I actually used to counsel employees on using inappropriate language in the workplace. Needless to say, what’s considered “inappropriate” has changed just a bit.
Michael Guilfoyle (president of Masque) and I worked in the same building and became fast friends. I was always intrigued by the company, watching it grow from a distance. I knew working with such a skilled entrepreneur and manager like Michael would be beneficial for my career, and eventually discussions among friends turned into a job offer. I made the move 10 months ago and couldn’t be happier with the decision.
What challenges have you confronted in your career and how have you overcome them?
Dealing with the industry switch was a bit of a challenge in the beginning. I received push back from certain professional organizations I am involved with as well as various family members. But after a few months, hesitation to discuss often turned into genuine interest and intrigue. Seeing that I was still a business professional and working for a legitimate business quickly changed minds. I still have those moments when I tell someone what I do and get the judgmental response, but that rarely happens now that I’m so used to discussing it. The funny thing is that this industry has some of the most intelligent, insightful and genuine individuals I’ve ever met. It really is proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover — even if it does have a shocking adult product on it.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Talking with couples who have used our product and hearing that it not only had a great impact on their sex lives, but their relationships. Our goal at Masque is to increase intimacy between couples, and we literally do that every day. One day we received an email from a cancer patient that was going through chemotherapy and experienced excessive dry mouth and taste distortion. She used our product and wanted to thank us for making sex for her normal again. Amazing.
What is your personal motto or mantra that you live by?
Never stop learning. It’s impossible to be an expert on everything, and we can always learn new things from others.
What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
Obtaining my PHR (Professional in Human Resources) certification — even though I’m no longer specifically working in the field, the knowledge I learned has helped me in countless situations. I pretty much didn’t have a life for the four months I was studying for the exam, but it was well worth it!
What are your professional goals for the remainder of 2013?
To continue to grow the Masque brand and fantastic relationships we have made with others throughout the industry. I’m also looking to learn a new language and travel more internationally, to help with my goal of being a more knowledgeable businesswoman. I’m excited to see what 2013 has in store for us!