WIA Profile: Deborah Semer
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.
Last summer, Passionate Playground rolled out its first product, Joyboxx — a hygienic and lockable adult pleasure product storage system. As her first foray into the industry, Joyboxx inventor Deborah Semer tapped Phyllis Heppenstall, a 30-year industry vet for support and advisement. Now that the company has made its way into retail stores, with new product designs on the way, Semer remains true to her go-getter attitude as she sets her eyes on future goals. In this month’s edition of Women In Adult, we profile Semer’s diverse professional background and ambitious spirit.
XBIZ: What inspired you to launch Joyboxx?
Deborah Semer: Necessity. Every feature and function of Joyboxx and Playtray was developed because I personally needed it. Then I asked my friends... and learned they needed it too! Then I searched the world for this product and discovered it didn’t exist.
XBIZ: Is this your first foray into the pleasure products industry? How (and when) did you get into the pleasure products industry?
Semer: Yes it is my first foray as a manufacturer. I’ve worked a bit in the retail marketing side and content production side. The exact moment I committed to making Joyboxx was in Vancouver, B.C., Canada Day, July 1, 2011, when my friend said she would help fund this. After that I went to my first ANME and XBIZ and started learning.
XBIZ: What did you do prior to launching Joyboxx?
Semer: My background is in the arts and charity work. I built a national non-profit organization called, Operation Ward 57 to help America’s amputee soldiers and their families at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and had my own artist management/consulting company. Prior to that I worked for the GRAMMY Awards and built and ran their PNW Chapter in Seattle.
XBIZ: What challenges have you confronted in your career and how have you overcome them?
Semer: Negative people. One of my personal mantras is, “Go ahead; underestimate me.” I’ve learned to ignore naysayers, rally my supporters and blow them away.
XBIZ: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Semer: The giant smile on a person’s face when they discover Joyboxx and Playtray. I get to provide a much-needed solution for a problem and help make the world a more passionate place! (Oh and the never-ending puns that cum with the job. Hehe.)
XBIZ: What is your personal motto or mantra that you live by?
Semer: My mom loves to tell the story from when I was two years old; I started saying, “I do myself!” Meaning, “I can do it.” That’s my motto... except now it means two things.
XBIZ: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
Semer: For my current career in pleasure products I am most proud of these moments: When Phyllis Heppenstall (founder, Peekay Inc.) and a few other incredible lady friends, wrote me a check to help build this; when I held the first Joyboxx in my hands; when I put Joyboxx on the shelf at Babeland in Seattle; and when Joyboxx was nominated for Best Sexual Health Product at the inaugural SHE Awards!
XBIZ: What are some of your professional goals for the future?
Semer: Every pleasure product sold will have a Joyboxx and Playtray with it; to expand the product line into other industries; sell Passionate Playground; write books and do comedy (not sure what form that will take yet.)