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.
With almost 20 years in the industry, Kerin De Francis has seen the business mature into its current state of acceptance and diversity. In establishing her career in sales, De Francis contributed to legitimizing a woman’s role in the adult industry and continues to flourish professionally. Last year, De Francis was promoted to director of sales for Doc Johnson — making her the first woman in that position in the company’s 35-year history. In her current executive role, De Francis continues to strive for growth, setting a goal to put Doc’s products into the hands of “everyone in the world.” In this month’s WIA Woman of the Month spotlight, De Francis sits down with XBIZ to discuss her professional past and future with the pleasure products industry’s pioneering brand, Doc Johnson.
I see many strong women in the industry now and I feel that sends a strong message. We are more sex-positive and progressive as an industry as a whole, compared to the earlier years.
What is a typical day at the office like for you?
I don’t think there is such a thing as “typical” at DJ! There are always 20 different things happening at once! And everything needs to be addressed at the same time, too! The only thing that is typical is I get up in the morning, run to Starbucks, get to the office, turn on the computer and … action! But I love it. My office is a very busy place. People from every department come in, tell me what’s happening in their departments, share their accomplishments and challenges. Every account has their own special needs, every sales person has their own set of goals they would like to accomplish. I have emails all day, phone ringing all day, being pulled in different directions. It’s a constant busy, productive energy that I love!
How did you get into the adult novelty business?
I entered the adult industry in 1994. I was 19 and still not sure what I wanted to do with myself. I was taking classes in college while working retail and I just wasn’t into it. But, I knew I had to work. Back then, you looked through the Want ads in the newspaper to find work. Monster and Craigslist were not luxuries available to job-seekers yet! I came across an ad for a file clerk for an adult-orientated business. I went to interview for a company called New Beginnings. I had no idea who or what they were, all I knew is that it was adult in nature, which sounded interesting and against “the norm,” which I liked! New Beginnings ended up being one of the largest novelty and video distribution companies on the West Coast. They hired me on for part-time work (never worked a part-time day there!) and from day one, I worked my way up. Learning every aspect of the adult industry, and putting in my dues!
What challenges have you confronted in your career and how have you overcome them?
I feel, in the beginning, there was a huge stigma attached to our industry. Especially if you are a female. Especially if you were a young female. People would tend to think you were either on drugs, easy, a performer, or just completely out of your mind to be part of the adult industry. There was no way you could just be trying to earn an honest living. You needed a thick skin, no doubt about that. And, the best way to overcome this stigma was just to be me. I enjoy people and have an easy time talking to them and relating to them. Once people see you for who you are, they tend to get over that stigma. Our industry has come a long way, and these days the stigma isn’t what it was 10 or 15 years ago. And that is fantastic! I see many strong women in the industry now and I feel that sends a strong message. We are more sex-positive and progressive as an industry as a whole, compared to the earlier years.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I am fortunate to say most of what I do is very rewarding. I know this sounds cliché, but I have met some of the most amazing people through this industry. From my customers, to my fellow vendors, to end-consumers that are always so entertaining and fascinating to talk to. But, what it really boils down to is connecting with people about the most intimate parts of their lives. We do meaningful work by helping people live healthier lives through embracing their sexuality and enhancing their sex lives with our products. I was at a “ladies night” one time, and three ladies came up to my station. One lady was probably about 20, one was around 40, and the other lady was probably close to 60. After talking to them, they told me they were all family, mother and daughters. After chatting with the 60-year-old, she opened up and told me she had never experienced an orgasm; that they just didn’t discuss things like sex in her day. And that just wasn’t ok with me! I gave her a few toys, gave her a couple of tips, and you should have seen her face! She was so excited and happy. I hope I made her night and I deeply appreciate how much courage and trust it took for her to open up to me! That will always stick out in my mind as one of the most rewarding Ladies Nights I’ve ever had.
What is your personal motto or mantra that you live by?
There are few of them I live by, depending on my mood — haha! But I believe in karma more than anything. So, I try to always treat people the way I want to be treated. Put out as much positive energy as possible. You get what you give!
What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
My biggest career accomplishment is being the first female director of sales Doc Johnson has ever had. It is very exciting. I have some very big shoes to fill, no doubt. But I very much look forward to making my team proud.
What are your professional goals for 2013?
Doc Johnson is an amazing brand and I want that reiterated over and over again. I am proud to be part of an American original. Our American manufacturing company is so important and special when so much of what we consume as a nation comes from other countries. It feels amazing to be part of such an important movement. My goal is to get this message out to the masses. To help my teammates accomplish their goals, to get out and connect with our customers, to share our pleasure products with the world. If everyone in the world had at least one of my dildos, I would be a happy girl! One dildo at a time!
Of course, while doing all of this, I’d truly love to spend more time with my husband and family. Maybe someplace tropical without any WiFi …. I think it’s safe to say I have a lot on my plate this year!