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 more than 10 years working with Déjà Vu’s various branches, Megan Swartz — Déjà Vu’s general manager and buyer — has made a name for herself as a dedicated and savvy, merchandising and operations-managing dynamo. Her most recent accomplishment involved playing a major role in the designing of the Las Vegas Déjà Vu Love Boutique Stratosphere. In this exclusive interview with XBIZ Premiere, Women in Adult spotlights Déjà Vu general manager and buyer Megan Swartz as she discusses wearing various executive hats and the industry colleagues that have inspired her.
In 2014, I intend to continue working closely with our vendors. These relationships have blossomed into such tremendous friendships and professional support systems.
What is your role and responsibility at Déjà Vu?
I’m the general manager and buyer for Déjà Vu’s Las Vegas locations. As the general manager my responsibilities include managing and motivating a dynamic team in order to increase sales, chair meetings on policies, procedures and product knowledge, organize special events and promotions and attend industry seminars so I may educate our staff. As the buyer, I analyze and interpret market trends to facilitate planning and I go above and beyond to ensure the very best and latest products are made available to our guests. I also regularly work alongside my team to assist them in carrying out their duties. I’m a strong believer in leading by example.
What do you admire most about Déjà Vu’s company principles and its team?
What I admire most is that our owners and leaders trust us enough to allow us creative freedom. I’ve never been in a position with Déjà Vu where my opinion was not valued or taken seriously. I’m not just another employee in a huge company and am constantly encouraged to operate as I see fit. Because of this, I’m free to encourage others to step up and speak out with their ideas. We are fortunate enough to brainstorm ideas for our sister properties that are in the hospitality business. Building experience in the retail and hospitality businesses has afforded me the role of “go-to person” for merchandising and employee development across the country.
How (and when) did you get into the adult retail industry?
After graduating high school in 2002, Tim Unglesbee hired me to waitress at Déjà Vu’s Little Darlings. I had always been eager to work, start a life in the real world and was hoping to work my way up. When our retail location on Tropicana opened in 2005, our founder Harry Mohney, recruited Tim to operate the store. Because I had worked closely with Tim, he was aware of my desire to enter the corporate world and knew I had a passion for work. He offered me the lingerie buyer position. Neither of us had much knowledge of the adult industry but we knew there are basic principles of success. We’ve learned from any mistakes made and truly believe that our method of learning has inspired us to provide the absolute best in customer service — especially in this industry.
What challenges have you confronted in your career and how have you overcome them?
Initially, I felt like my age and lack of industry-specific experience were my greatest challenges. It was very intimidating being a little fish in a very big pond. It was important for me to be taken seriously as a professional, despite my age. Fortunately, the adult industry is unique and individuality is encouraged. I decided to stay true to myself and gained respect by showing colleagues my ambition, my passion and my command of the business I was proud to be a part of. I allowed my accomplishments to speak for themselves and absorbed every piece of knowledge the key players would provide.
My dear friend, Brian Herbstman from East Coast News, once said to me, “retail is detail.” I cannot express how heavy these three little words have influenced my role with Déjà Vu. They actually presented another challenge to me; how can I ensure that every single piece is falling in the right place? Not a day goes by that I don’t find myself learning from my surroundings and staff. It doesn’t hurt to read books like, “Why We Buy,” by Paco Underhill. It’s helped me maintain a positive outlook in this business.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I can truly say there are several rewarding aspects of what I do. First of all, the relationships I have developed with staff members and vendors are priceless. The Déjà Vu team has become my family. Each location provides an enormous support system. Alicia Keka, Kimberly Faubel and Melissa Miraflor not only meet but exceed my high standards on a regular basis. They are all fantastic and I attribute a large amount of credit to them. I am honored to work with them as well as each and every associate on the front lines. Each team member, from the janitor to the manager, is an integral piece of the Déjà Vu puzzle. Our success is due to the hard work and enthusiasm shown by our entire team.
I also have to mention that I never get tired of customer satisfaction. When someone comes into one of our stores and I’m able to talk with them, answer their questions, put them at ease and show them the right products for them, I’m reminded why I do this.
What is your personal motto or mantra that you live by?
When hard work pays off, work even harder!
What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
The DV Love Boutique Stratosphere is by far my greatest career accomplishment. I was given full rein to develop an outlet that would appeal to all of the senses of adult product consumers. Kim Penny and I worked very closely to design the store from floor to ceiling. Our concept was very Walt Disney, which is obviously conveyed through the décor. It’s whimsical and fun, with a very clear message. This store was, by far, the most enlightening experience of my career. During the process we received unparalleled support from our distribution company and vendors.
What are your professional goals for 2014?
In 2014, I intend to continue working closely with our vendors. These relationships have blossomed into such tremendous friendships and professional support systems. Companies like California Exotic Novelties have shown us time and time again that they are an invaluable ally. Their executive account manager, Austin Ferdinand, has come to our stores many times to train our employees on products — not just CalEx products. Most recently, he visited our Tropicana Avenue location to assist with merchandising our entire toy and novelty department. What I love about this is the lack of ego. He and many others are truly here to help, regardless of brand.
I’ve made so many great friends in this industry. I am humbled and honored to work alongside such wonderful people. When I was approached by XBIZ for this profile, I literally cried. It’s an amazing feeling to be recognized as an influential woman in the industry I love so much and it warms my heart to know my hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Although this profile is about me, I believe it’s important to recognize those who have been instrumental in my development. I am truly grateful.