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.
Elcke Wieffering says that when she first discovered Eropartner Distribution, she was fascinated by their cutting-edge vision to bring high-end pleasure products to European consumers. Seven years later, Wieffering now serves as the company’s buyer — a role that puts her in charge of continuing to bring Eropartner customers the best products on the market. In her day-to-day work, Wieffering must maintain relationships with manufacturers from all around the world, while also staying on top of the latest trends to pick the products with the most potential for Eropartner’s retail clientele. In this month’s edition of Women In Adult, we profile Wieffering to get to know more about her background, as well as her professionally.
What I think is really important both in this industry and in private life is to be open-minded, the key to being creative and accepting new ideas.
XBIZ: How/when did you get into the industry?
Elcke Wieffering: At the age of 20 (seven years ago) I completed my bachelor’s in media, information and communication. I wanted to get a job rather than searching for a new education as I was ready to gain a lot of experience by working at a company. I applied for a job at a small company in my neighborhood that I thought had a lot of potential. Eropartner Distribution in that time was already carrying brands like LELO, Fleshlight and TENGA for a while which was amazing to see. A company being one of the first to dare to stock high-end products and create a new demand — I wanted to be part of that. As branding started to become really popular in this industry, I decided to do another study while working called brand management. I wanted to get the knowledge behind building a brand, which until now is still really helpful for me to understand our suppliers and their passion behind their brand and products. I understand how important it is to transfer their philosophy behind the brand to our website and marketing activities, and the correct use of images, texts, videos and importance of making sure our customers get the right promotional materials.
XBIZ: What did you do prior to working for Eropartner Distribution?
Wieffering: This is actually my first position after graduation. I feel really lucky that I landed a job that has been interesting every day since, where I can challenge and develop myself.
XBIZ: What is a typical day like for you?
Wieffering: When it comes to the time zone, we are in the middle of the U.S. and Asia; so first in the morning I make sure everything with Asia is settled and communicated and do the same at the end of the day with the U.S. companies. In between, I am placing P.O.’s, make sure new products are being launched, instruct our designer for communication tools, discuss new promotions with our sales team, search for new items, and handle my inbox. And yes, for a buyer, the most fun part of the day is unpacking a box with samples of a completely new item. I really enjoy to see people being creative and coming up with new ideas, daring to be different and innovative.
XBIZ: What challenges have you confronted in your career and how have you overcome them?
Wieffering: When I started working for Eropartner Distribution, the industry was a little underdeveloped. It was both a challenge and opportunity to be part of the process taking the market to a more professionalized level. I think every buyer agrees nowadays it can sometimes be a little hard to find new products that are unique in design or function, but by tapping into the right resources and connections, it is possible to find this one item that is different. I make sure to keep in close contact with our suppliers and actively monitor media to see what the new trends are when it comes to pleasure products. Every product is a new challenge and each time we ask ourselves: how to market it in the best way?
XBIZ: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Wieffering: In the end all that matters is the end consumer being happy with the product and that his/her expectations are fulfilled. I like to go to Amsterdam, visit some stores and see what kind of presentation and branding the shops are providing the products with. It is incredible to see how a product lands in the hands of a happy customer and know how much effort has gone into that from production to retail. Also, my job allows me to travel to various countries and meet the most interesting people at events and see the cultural differences that exist in terms of acceptance of pleasure products in societies.
But mostly, the highlight of the year for me in Europe is Erofame, a show where we exhibit. The weeks leading up to it are some of the busiest ones, and it definitely comes down to creativity, time management and team work. When we arrive at the fair, build up our booth and get ready for three days of having the opportunity to show all visitors what products we carry and how we can help them grow their business, this is the most rewarding of all. Having worked hard for it, and then getting to have a great show is always an incredible experience as that is where everything we worked hard for during the year comes together.
XBIZ: What is your personal motto or mantra that you live by?
Wieffering: Nothing worth having comes easy. You will be only proud of things you worked hard for.
Besides that, what I think is really important both in this industry and in private life is to be open-minded, the key to being creative and accepting new ideas. I think people couldn’t work in this industry without being open-minded and having respect for one another as there are a lot of intimate things being discussed and that’s why there are so many lovely people I get to work with.
XBIZ: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
Wieffering: I have seen the company grow tremendously and professionalize in the past few years. And I am proud of having been a part of that growth. I started as the only buyer and now I have a whole team around me. I’m in contact with our suppliers daily, work closely with our art department to make sure the brand philosophy is transferred correctly to all art work, I brief my team and our PR colleagues, and meet frequently with the sales team, customer care and the warehouse manager. Being head of purchasing, I want to make sure each and every single person in this company is up-to-date when it comes to (new) products. To have new products available ASAP and to make sure our stock level is OK, those are the two things I make my daily priorities. My job has required me to learn a lot of new skills and competencies — I believe I have succeeded in that, and that it is reflected in the growth and success of Eropartner Distribution.
I’d also like to mention how honored I am to have been contacted for WIA Woman of the Month. I always read the profiles and feel blessed to be able to work in an industry that has so many professional, talented and hard working ladies. To be added to that group of women is a great honor and definitely a career accomplishment.
XBIZ: What are some of your professional goals for the future?
Wieffering: We recently moved our operations to a new building, including a larger warehouse. The new space provides us with lots of exciting new opportunities, including the automatizing of the purchasing process. This will require me to learn a new set of skills and I am very much set on succeeding in that. Working at Eropartner Distribution you get a lot of opportunities to develop your skills and competencies. It is very much encouraged to vent your ideas or discuss new projects and that makes everyone involved in the company. All in all, my professional goals are definitely to add to further success of Eropartner Distribution and to find products that we can sell in undiscovered sales channels to build and deepen the relationships with suppliers and create even better partnerships. And on a more personal note, I hope to see that pleasure products and erotic novelties become less of a taboo, and I want to contribute to that. Sexually satisfied people are the happiest, right!