Cooperation, Positivity Enables the Growth of the Pleasure Products Industry

Mark Espinosa

The best part about growing older is the super swell things you learn about the world around you. A new fun fact that I just recently discovered is that people really don’t like to be told that they are wrong. They also love to point out when other people are wrong. I’m not one of those types. I’m wrong a lot, actually. (Don’t tell my mother.) How else am I expected to improve? So… Please tell me when I’m wrong. It only makes me more awesome. It’s difficult for some people to openly declare that they don’t know something. Even worse, acknowledging that they lack an ability to see the world from a different perspective. It’s sacrilege. Especially in a retail environment where sales are determined by an ability to display a particular level of awareness that is far more advanced than the shop down the road. Our industry exists in an area of human experience that has a very personal and profound impact on the lives of our customers. In a world where sex education is severely lacking, we owe it to our end customers to put our pride aside and strive to be a few steps ahead of the mainstream bandwagon. We owe it to our customers to accept the fact that, sometimes, we are wrong.

It’s almost impossible to live in San Francisco and not learn some harsh truths about yourself on a daily basis. If this consistent crash course in reality had a name, it would definitely be called “Everything You Thought You Knew Is Wrong.” My very first introduction to the sex toy industry was met with the constant crushing of my ego. (In the best possible way) I knew significantly so much less than I know now, which is scary, because I clearly knew more than most of the people in my life at the time. It wasn’t until my first day working on the sales floor of Good Vibrations that I started to realize that there were a lot of gaps in my sexual education. I could easily blame my lack of accurate information on the obsolete educational programs in our schools or the general lack of acceptance towards any openly sexual discussions in our society. The reality is that I thought I knew everything and stopped trying to learn more. Luckily, I listened when people spoke.

Nothing is gained from focusing solely on the negatives in our industry, when so much more can be achieved when we recognize and celebrate our similarities.

San Francisco is renowned for being a progressive and forward-thinking city. New forms of sexual expression and gender orientation are constantly being explored and established. It’s the city that actually never sleeps. Well, it definitely takes a lot of “sex naps.” Extensive research on sexual theory is readily available, eager to slither into your deepest of brainy bits. I accepted that in order to better do my job and help a wider variety of customers, I had to fully commit to breaking down everything I thought I knew and rebuild from the ground up. Sometimes, there’s no one more qualified to call you out on your own shit than yourself. The Bay Area is perfect for the access and education that it provides, but it is a bubble. Not a lot of people are as fortunate with such an abundance of resources. In our industry, we are equally as fortunate to be surrounded by a diverse array of people that represent so many different cultural perspectives in our society. A problem occurs when there is an unwillingness to further one’s understanding of the world. When someone refuses to see the world from someone else’s point of view.

Sometimes, all it takes for someone to gain a different perspective is a steady dialogue. (A nonjudgmental and patient dialogue.) If we are all going to move forward, we need to move forward on a united front. We need to acknowledge our own weakness and quit trying to find the weaknesses in our peers. A superstore may not as heavily focus on education — if at all — but it still provides access. A lingerie shop may not carry sex toys, but it still inspires sexuality. A boutique retailer may only offer a limited specialized selection, but it can reach marginalized communities. Nothing is gained from focusing solely on the negatives in our industry, when so much more can be achieved when we recognize and celebrate our similarities. There’s also no way we can move forward if we are unable to evolve our own understanding of the world. We must take the time to really look at ourselves and strive to be better. We’re all just a group of rebels basking in the glory of our customers’ vastly improved sex lives. I mean that’s why I keep getting up in the morning.

As national sales manager of Pleasure Works Wholesale, Mark Espinosa believes that as the industry progresses alongside communications technology, it’s important that we always remember that we get to say that we “give people orgasms for a living!” So, why not have a little fun in the process?