WIA Profile: Sabrina Earnshaw
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.
As the manufacturer of the Official Fifty Shades of Grey Pleasure Collection, Lovehoney’s reach has grown by leaps and bounds since production began on the erotic trilogy’s big-screen adaptation. Playing an integral role in the development and successful U.S. marketing of the collection is Lovehoney’s newly minted brand development manager, Sabrina Earnshaw.
The 25-year-old joined the company in 2012 and has since been promoted twice. In her current role, Earnshaw manages all of Lovehoney’s North and South American trade accounts and leads the day-today office in Bath, England. In this month’s edition of Women In Adult, we profile Earnshaw’s accomplishments and inspiration.
XBIZ: What is your role and responsibility at Lovehoney?
Sabrina Earnshaw: I’ve worked at Lovehoney for the last two-and-half years and have just been promoted to brand development manager in the international trade sales team. I manage our entire North and South American trade accounts, putting my French and Spanish language skills to good use. I also lead the day-to-day office in Bath in the U.K. and assist Ray Hayes, Lovehoney’s commercial director, with key tasks. Everyday is a school day and I am very grateful for working with a great team and mentors. I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I love my job and I look forward to going to the office every morning.
XBIZ: How did you get into the pleasure products industry?
Earnshaw: I did both my Masters in Management with Marketing, and BA in Politics and Spanish, at the University of Bath in the U.K. after finishing high school in France. Just before graduating in 2012, I went the usual route of applying to the big corporations’ graduate schemes in sales and marketing, reaching final interview rounds, but came to the conclusion that I wanted to kick start my career in a smaller organization and lay down some roots.
I always knew about Lovehoney as it’s one of Bath’s biggest success stories. One evening I saw their first TV documentary “More Sex Please, We’re British” and two and two clicked together. The following day I sent my CV over to Richard Longhurst, Lovehoney’s co-owner and co-founder, and a month later I was signing my employment contract.
Lovehoney at the time was in the midst of negotiating for the worldwide license for Fifty Shades of Grey The Official Pleasure Collection and was setting up the trade team to sell it, so I’m glad I read all the books before my first interview. Two years later, I’m traveling all over the U.S. and Europe for trade shows, delivering training sessions, meeting with our customers and overseeing a team of sales executives — not bad for a 25-year-old!
XBIZ: What challenges have you confronted in your career and how have you overcome them?
Earnshaw: Being part of the new American trade team was very daunting at first, as most of my connections were in Europe but when Ray asked me to go to Florida for a trade show everything fell into place — the industry is very welcoming. I now have the honor of developing Fifty Shades of Grey The Official Pleasure Collection, which is the most popular and powerful brand in the industry, but dealing with a licensed brand is not as straight-forward as our customers might think. There are a lot of limitations of what you can and can’t do, it’s a constant juggling act between your creative and legal side. That’s why we encourage our customers to make use of the official branded display units and our Fifty Shades of Grey retailer packs that are completely free of charge. By using them, you create a theater in-store while at the same time keeping the story together and respecting the brand guidelines.
XBIZ: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Earnshaw: Personally nothing pleases more than attending trade shows and training events whilst having the opportunity finally to meet the customers I’ve been communicating with. We believe as a team it is extremely important to develop strong relationships — ultimately people buy from people.
Moreover as a brand development manager I am able to see our brand portfolio evolve — I am very excited about launching our new Fifty Shades of Grey items in the spring and launching a new exclusive brand at ANME in July.
XBIZ: What is your personal motto or mantra that you live by?
Earnshaw: “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity” and I’m the only person who can create these opportunities through working hard and playing hard! My grandfather also encouraged me to speak to everyone and travel as much as I could — I followed his advice and moved to Chile for a year, worked every student job possible, got a scholarship for my Masters and one evening watched a TV show about a local company called Lovehoney.
XBIZ: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
Earnshaw: Working from the ground up with Lovehoney — I have had two promotions since I joined in 2012 and last year I was able to buy my first apartment. I worked throughout my studies and even working evenings at a local club when I first joined the company, so when I got my keys I thought “not too bad Sabrina, not too bad.” Most recently, I guest lectured at the University of Bath’s MBA course on brand strategy, which made my parents very proud — they have been so supportive.
XBIZ: What are some of your professional goals for the future?
Earnshaw: I have a big project in the pipeline with Lovehoney, which I am very excited about — watch this space!