XR Brands’ Rebecca Weinberg, Lynda Mort Talk Company Restructuring, Growth
The past two years has seen XR Brands evolve with the streamlining of its sales force that included the addition of multiple industry professionals, bringing a combined experience of 30-plus years to the company.
Leading the revamped XR team, Rebecca Weinberg, director of sales and marketing, and Lynda Mort, director of strategic planning, have established growth for the company domestically and internationally.
Weinberg was first to join XR Brands just over two-and-a-half years ago.
“It has been a wonderful challenge so far and I have experienced much personal and business growth since I started,” Weinberg said. “In the last two-and-a-half years we have made quite a few changes and I’m confident that we now have the right team in place to take us to the next level.”
Mort entered the company just over a year ago.
“The experience with XR has been pretty incredible,” Mort said. “I have learned so many things and as Weinberg said, I have grown a lot both personally and professionally since I have been here. I attribute that growth to the incredible staff we have here as well to [XR Brands CEO] Ari Suss, who encourages an open minded and creative team.”
Both women — possessing ample experience in the private label sector of the pleasure products industry — have worked with Suss and XR Brands in the past.
“I have worked with XR Brands since my career in the adult industry began,” Mort said. “I have watched it grow and develop over the years and had the pleasure of working with the team here throughout my career.
“When I started my career in the industry six years ago, Ari was the first person to give me a shot at his business when XR Brands started and to take me under his wing. Ari has been a loyal friend and mentor to me and has taught me so much. For me, it was a no brainer to come and work for him.”
In this exclusive Q&A with XBIZ Premiere, Mort and Weinberg discuss their careers, inspirations and the future of XR Brands.
XBIZ: Discuss XR Brands’ growth over the past year. How has the expansion of XR’s sales team impacted the company and its clientele?
Rebecca Weinberg: Now that we have the right team in place and our brand strategy down pat, we have been taking the world by storm. Our team is at every show and every event. We are on the road, in stores, training, selling, and growing worldwide.
Lynda Mort: The last year has been an absolute whirlwind for XR Brands. We have grown so much through the strategic partnerships with key companies; we have all grown as individuals; the company has created a new image for itself and we have been getting back to our roots. We have a unique offering of products and I think that is what the industry needs right now, which is why we are seeing the kind of growth we have. We have brought in industry veterans who have helped us with identifying and partnering with these companies. It also gives us more leverage to support our clients and their customers, which is what they need and want. This year has been all about restructuring, rebranding and education for us.
XBIZ: How do you collaborate and support each other?
Weinberg: Team Extreme actually functions as a team where everyone is respected and encouraged to have an opinion. We are much like a family that works together and plays together. We support each other and have each other’s backs at all times. I believe that a force that works together with the same goal is unstoppable.
Mort: We never stop collaborating! I have never worked for a company that encourages everyone to have an opinion and to share their ideas. We host weekly roundtables to discuss overall business and ideas, new products — it is very refreshing. It’s fun to get a phone call at 10 p.m. at night from someone who has been up thinking and has a new idea. We came up with the new tag line, “Play Hard” and the new look during an Uber ride after an event at midnight. It was a two-hour conversation that led us to where we are right now. Because we have such a diverse team, it means we bring different experiences and expertise to the table. We help and support each other and call on others when we know that their experience can help us move that idea or situation forward.
XBIZ: How expansive is XR’s product range? How does its wide selection benefit retailers?
Weinberg: XR has grown to an offering of roughly 2,500 products and launch about eight new products per week. Although our roots are in fetish we also offer a wide variety of brands that cater to just about everyone’s needs. Having such a wide variety of products is a huge benefit to retailers as it gives the retailer flexibility to not only create a full wall in their store of one brand but to tailor it to specific products that the store knows sells well for them without compromising the merchandising of a full wall.
Mort: We have grown slowly but steadily because we have started with what we knew and have grown through our customers’ suggestions, which have helped us create the demand for our product. Our customers love our products and we allow them to have a voice in what we offer. We now offer a wide range of bondage and fetish, sex machines, electro-stimulation, anal douching systems, cosmetics, high-end rechargeables, and basic inexpensive vibrators.
XBIZ: How would you describe XR’s relationship with its customers?
Weinberg: XR works hand-in-hand with our customers — or as we like to call them, our partners. We offer in-store trainings, online trainings, promotions and marketing support. We take pride in educating the consumer through the XR University web series XRUniversity.com, which features dozens of training videos that help our customers educate their customers. We want are partners to be successful so we do everything we can to make sure that happens.
Mort: Our goal is to properly educate our partners and their staff so that they can properly educate their customers. We are nothing and would not grow without our partners and their customers, so we strive to support our partners as much as we can and provide great service that keeps them coming back. With so much competition in the market one of the best ways to differentiate yourself is through your service. It is one thing to have a relationship but quite another to properly service that partnership. This is something that I think XR Brands excels at.
XBIZ: What are your future goals/expectations for XR?
Weinberg: We have quite the list of goals this year. Currently we are planning a full redesign of our product showroom to turn it into a more retail-style display of our products. This will be a visual example to our visitors of how our products will display in a retail environment. We are focusing on expanding our shelf space, improving our packaging, developing new relationships in untapped markets and growing our business as a whole. We will continue with the rebranding of our company, which started with our new tag line “Play Hard” and revamping our tradeshow booth to our signature dungeon look.
Mort: The last year has exceeded all of our goals and expectations. We have moved in a whole new direction and none of us could have anticipated the type of growth we have seen. For the future, we want to continue to focus on moving forward through all aspects of our business. Continue to work on the education, image and understanding of our company, its brands and our business. I think that 2016/2017 is looking very bright for our partners and us.
XBIZ: What challenges have you confronted in your career and how have you overcome them?
Weinberg: I don’t think the challenges I’ve faced in my career are any different than what most people face. The only thing slightly more challenging in our industry is the nature of how competitive it can be. Not everyone plays fair in this biz and the only way to overcome it is to know your worth, speak your truth and don’t hold grudges. I use every experience, good or bad as a learning experience for self-growth.
Mort: This industry operates so differently than others, which is one of the things I appreciate most about it. However, it was quite the learning curve for me. Because I come from corporate America, working for a Fortune 500 company, I was used to a certain way of doing business. It took me a couple of years to fully understand how things work, the different types of product offerings, and to build the appropriate relationships. I like to think that I have done a pretty good job and that I am getting the hang of this!
XBIZ: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Weinberg: The most rewarding part of being the director of sales and marketing for XR is having built a team that is enthusiastic about what they’re doing. Their motivation and overall happiness is really the fuel for our growth. From the excitement of an accomplishment to the anticipation of the next trade show, all of these positive feelings make putting in those extra hours worthwhile.
Mort: I have to agree with Weinberg. We truly do have an incredible team of people and it is an honor to work with them and to watch us all grow. Through hard work comes success and watching someone succeed is a pretty incredible thing to witness.
XBIZ: What is your personal motto or mantra that you live by?
Weinberg: XR’s motto is play hard. My motto is: work hard; play hard.
Mort: “Love what you do and you will never work a day in your life.”
XBIZ: What have you learned about the marketplace since joining XR?
Mort: The market is ever changing and evolving. There is a lot of competition out there now and XR must find its place. It is important for us to stay focused, analyze the trends and continue to grow and develop through our research so that we constantly have an offering that is unique for our partners and their customers.
XBIZ: What sets XR apart from other manufacturers?
Mort: I like to think one of the things that sets us apart from other manufacturers is our diverse offering of product. XR started as a passion project from a visionary who saw an opportunity to give the market what it needed at the time and it grew into what it is today. We are truly passionate about what we do, we play in the areas of the products that we sell which gives us an idea of what our customers want. It allows us to anticipate the market and knowing the types of products we sell because we use them, we know how to make them better, or what someone who plays in this lifestyle wants. It definitely makes product development a whole lot of fun! Like our motto says, “Play Hard”…Well, we do!
XBIZ: How do you see XR Brands evolving in the future?
Mort: At this moment in time the sky is the limit. Our company is in the middle of substantial growth and change and we are working hard to support our partnerships. We are also watching the market and making changes to ensure our growth continues, our product offering is diverse and we continue educating the market on our products.