WIA Profile: Layla Ross
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.
In under four years, Layla Ross rose from a part-time sales position at Stockroom’s retail location to distribution and packaging manager. Along the path, her handson approach to understanding and serving the fetish market has made her a valuable source for Stockroom, its clientele and those seeking knowledge of niche products.
“In Stockroom’s 24-year history, among the many bright and colorful characters the company has attracted and employed, Layla has proven to be one of the most capable, dedicated and effective,” Stockroom founder/CEO Joel Tucker said. “She has done an excellent job of leading and developing her department, embracing and implementing the company’s values, serving as an ideal ambassador to the industry, and making Stockroom Wholesale the fastestgrowing part of a many-faceted company.”
In this special Woman of the Month interview, XBIZ went in depth with Ross about her new position with the company.
What is your role and responsibility as Stockroom’s distribution and packaging director?
My new role has different facets that all fit hand in hand. The distribution area of my job incorporates overseeing that all of the Stockroom Wholesale accounts are being handled properly for each of their needs and that they are all satisfied and happy. Being a vertically integrated company, that includes manufacturing, distributing and retailing, I am always in clear communication with purchasing to forecast what our clients’ needs for the upcoming months will be, be it items we manufacture in-house or third party goods.
I also offer hands-on support to our clients by travelling to meet their sales staff and train them on how to sell and merchandise our products as well as educating them on fetish and bondage in general, since it is still a niche market that not a lot of people are familiar with. I am also responsible for attending trade shows and vending at them. Since I am so hands-on with our clients and out in the marketplace, another exciting part is that I am involved in product development and suggesting new items. I hear what our clients are looking for, and/or what works or isn’t working for them. So, I bring all of this information back to our production and purchasing departments.
Another part of being so hands on with the other retailers and distributors, is I see what is currently out there, and what they need, so with my recent promotion, I am able to oversee the direction of the packaging; from the aesthetic, to the content that appears on it, to the instructions that come inside.
How long have you been at Stockroom and how has your role evolved to what it is today?
My position at Stockroom has completely evolved from when I started here three and a half years ago. I started in the retail store as part-time sales staff. Within four months, an opening arose and with my previous experience, this is the department they saw being the best fit for me. They were right! Since then, I have had several promotions within in the department and Stockroom Wholesale has also grown on a consistent basis and is now the fastest growing department of the company.
How did you get into the business originally and how has your previous experience prepared you for your current position?
It is actually a nice progression of things that have been happening throughout most of my life. Growing up in subcultures, the clothing we wore always incorporated bondage accessories or inspired items such as latex, PVC, leather and patent leather clothing, as well as bondage belts, leather wrist cuffs (we called them bondage bracelets), collars, leashes, lingerie and high heels. So, it is safe to say my fascination with the fetish world began at a very early age. In college, I got my degree in fashion design which gave me the knowledge of manufacturing and designing clothing and the ability to effectively communicate with production.
Immediately after graduating college, I became a costumer and a wardrobe stylist for about nine years. This gave me a lot of experience working with people discreetly and creatively, as well as being able to see creative projects from start to finish. My next career move was opening my own lingerie store which had a fun and a little bit of a cheeky, kinky vibe. Owning the lingerie store, helped me realize talking about sexuality, having a healthy active sex life, and providing things for people to do so felt completely natural.
Since I had always been curious about fetish and bondage, later on down the road I applied at Stockroom. They were only hiring part-time, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to get my foot in the door. When I began at Stockroom, I knew I found the ultimate company I had always dreamed of working for. It fit like a rubber dress — just perfect. I had never been so comfortable and inspired at a company in my life. It felt like I was actually doing this for fun, rather than because I needed a job.
What challenges have you confronted in your career in this industry and have you overcome them?
My biggest challenge thus far has been hitting small bumps in the road as we experience growing pains. These little bumps helped me realize that unforeseen steps and nuances need to be taken into consideration as we go along our way.
What is your personal motto or mantra that you live by?
Stockroom coined it best, “It only seems kinky the first time.”
What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
The accomplishment I am most proud of is working for a company that is innovative and reaching out to people to broaden their sexual horizons. Realizing that the industry and market has changed, and that our scope in price and products needed to change as well. Being a part of the team that made this happen without compromising ourselves, which in turn made Stockroom’s business grow, change and reach people we hadn’t reached before means the world to me.
What are your goals for Stockroom in 2012?
My goals for Stockroom in 2012, is to continue moving, growing, innovating and educating.