Kings of Kink

Ariana Rodriguez
Leading BDSM gear supplier Stockroom has established itself as a one-stop shop for kink with arms that extend into the online adult sector,video productions, book publishing and educational courses. With more than 20 years under its belt — and more than 4,000 high-quality, unique offerings, Stockroom fights tooth and nail to protect its brand while it lends a hand in the reinvigoration of the adult entertainment industry.

Stockroom President Mike Herman lives literally a few steps away from his office in an apartment within the 30,000 square foot, vertically integrated, three-story manufacturing facility on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.

The first floor handles shipping, receiving and warehousing, as well as housing Stockroom’s retail store and a studio for photo shoots. The second floor is for leather production and the third floor is split between offices, latex production — andapartments all designed by and created for the creative minds within the company to use when production runs into the late night and for out-of-town partners.

By keeping operations inhouse, Herman said Stockroom is able to maintain its high-end aesthetic by overseeing production to ensure that only perfection makes it out the door. Onsite production also allows the company to create tailored items for clients that range from mainstream Hollywood films, magazine layouts, music videos and red carpet appearances totheir kinky adult counterparts.

“We have the opportunity to create high-quality, unique pieces for adult movies in limited amounts as opposed to having to order thousands from China,” Herman said. “We’re helping adult studios improve production quality and that in turn aids in the battle against tube sites.”

He added that adult studios and web content producers are offered discounted prices and rental options on its products. The incentive seems to be working as a Stockroom retail associate told XBIZ that content producers — especially those in mainstream — make up a notable fraction of the store’s shoppers. Stockroom also puts money in the pockets of adult content producers by offering crosspromotionalopportunities. “Consumers often see our products in movies or magazines and want one of their own,” Herman said. “If they can direct their customers to Stockroom’s product along with a code, the studio can make commission from that upsell through our affiliate program.”

With a ranking in the top five most-visited online adult toy stores, according to web traffic reporting and ranking service, Stockroom lends its web presence to affiliates through co-branded stores that offer the fetish retail giant’s copyright-protected product images. Herman said the Stockroom affiliate program and its expanded network is nearing a rebuild and will offer “never before seen features.”

The aesthetic of Stockroom’s brand and its products has made it necessary for the company to patent and copyright all of its offerings, and to hire legal firms to protect them in court.

“Stockroom is constantly innovating and still we see our designs being knocked off,” Herman said. “This year we will probably file at least six patents.”

Its marketing material consisting of high-quality images shot by renowned fetish photographers in elaborate settings at exotic locations also requires protection. Herman said he’s seen overseas manufacturers market Stockroom knockoffs with its catalog images.

Regardless of whether competitors are obvious with their cheap knockoff products, Herman said he sees plenty of them and the main key to combat them is through education.

“Duplicating products simply by looking at them is dangerous,” he said. “Fetish is a growing niche and something to be educated about before getting involved with. For example, I’ve seen some companies that market electrosex products with ads depicting users with the pads attached their nipples when in reality, placing them that close to someone’s cardiovascular system could be deadly. You have to know what you’re doing.” Herman added that Stockroom’s array of educational offerings is meant tohelp consumers recognize possible dangers and encourage physical awareness.

Daedalus Publishing is Stockroom’s line of educational books about sex and sexuality, with a particular focus on instructional books introducing readers to aspects of the BDSM, leather and fetish lifestyles. Written by top, respected authors in the field such as sex educator Midori; Daedalus’ books are a staple in many private libraries and university classrooms, and are carried by a wide range of both mainstream and adult retailers.

Last year, Stockroom introduced the Stockroom University series of sex education workshops offering healthy tips and tricks for BDSM players of all levels.

“There are so many people that are curious but don’t know where to start,” Herman said, adding that classes have covered blindfolds, whips and simply pleasuring a woman. Workshops are taught by trained and recognized professionals, including Ms. Nikki Nefarious and Midori — who has drawn more than 40 attendees at a time.

As Stockroom takes up DVD sales of movies covering various niches, it has also acquired exclusive distribution rights to fetish lines Gwen Media and Ivy Manor. Herman said future plans include possibly producing its own line of educational titles.

Stockroom and its two other major brands represent three of fetish’s oldest brands. Syren, which offers hand-tailored garments created from European sheet latex fabric and has existed for more than 20 years; and Stormy Leather, which was established more than 25 years ago, offers handmade-style corsetry in satiny silk and soft garment leather.

The growing popularity of fetish fashion has allowed Stockroom to provide costumes and wardrobe for films and television shows like “The Matrix,” “Watchmen,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” “Men in Black,” “CSI: Miami,” “True Blood” and “Ugly Betty” as well as for music videos for artists like Britney Spears and the Pussycat Dolls.

“We are the most wellknown brand in fetish,” Herman said. “It’s gone outside of adult. We do spend extra time and money in our product — it’s paid off."