When Dean Elliott founded Sliquid in 2004, he had a long list of mainstream accomplishments. The Dallas resident, now 51, helped coordinate well-known reality television shows such as “Joe Millionaire,” “The Bachelor” and “Temptation Island,” and he worked in the music industry as well. Elliott (whose father was the late jazz musician Don Elliott) spent nine years doing voice work for WEA (Warner Elektra Atlantic) and had a role in the 1984 hip-hop film “Beat Street.” But in recent years, Sliquid’s high-quality lubricants have been giving Elliott a strong presence in the adult industry’s pleasure products sector. And in 2015, Sliquid’s CEO expanded into the smoking accessories market when he founded Mad Toto.
In this exclusive interview with XBIZ Premiere, Elliott discusses Sliquid’s activities as well as his ambitions for Mad Toto.
As far as companies, Babeland, Good Vibes, SheVibe, OhMiBod, Fun Factory, and the Pleasure Chest all inspire me.
XBIZ: In what ways have you evolved as a business owner?
Dean Elliott: Sliquid was the first time I had a product business. Before Sliquid, the businesses that I had were service-type businesses. I was a logistics coordinator for reality television, which is a service industry — and during that same time, I was doing voiceovers. I was the voice for Volvo for six years. And for nine years, I was the voice for WEA: Warner Elektra Atlantic Records — mainly Atlantic, but I did some Warner and Elektra as well. I did everything from Led Zeppelin box sets to Brandi.
XBIZ: What are some of the challenges that Sliquid has faced and overcome?
Elliott: We are adamantly a cruelty-free company at Sliquid, and we have been on our soapbox about trying to circumvent animal testing — which the FDA requires to become 510-compliant. That is the biggest challenge. Keeping our retailers happy is a challenge, and finding the right personalities to fit the brand is a challenge. But we’ve been fortunate that most of the time, we have found fantastic people. Many of the people at Sliquid have been with me for many years.
XBIZ: What is in store for Sliquid in 2016?
Elliott: We have new formulations for coconut oil moisturizers. Sliquid is now aligned with even greater partnerships outside of the U.S., which helps build our international branch.
XBIZ: Outside of the U.S., what are some of Sliquid’s strongest markets?
Elliott: North America is obviously No. 1. I would say that Asia is number two, Australia is number three, and Europe is number four.
XBIZ: Sliquid has been in business for 12 years. What professional accomplishments at Sliquid are you the most proud of?
Elliott: I think that professionally, the thing I’m the most proud of is the team that we’ve put together. We’ve won a battery of awards from XBIZ and from StorErotica, and those are all wonderful. But the thing I’m the most proud of is putting together the team that I have.
XBIZ: What companies and/or individuals in the adult industry inspire you?
Elliott: As far as companies, Babeland, Good Vibes, She-Vibe, OhMiBod, Fun Factory, and the Pleasure Chest all inspire me. OhMiBod is always innovating. The things they think of are just incredible. And these companies keep us at the top of our game and keep us striving to do better.
XBIZ: What is a typical workday like for you?
Elliott: I spend a good third of my life on an airplane traveling to go see some of these fabulous retailers or distributor partners. And when I’m here, there is no typical day for me. The only thing that’s typical about my day is that I start my day by kissing my children goodbye in the morning. I have a seven-year-old and a nine-year-old. When I get into the office, I never know where the day takes me. It could be working on a new project for Sliquid. It could be working on a new project for Mad Toto. Everything that happens during the day doesn’t matter as long as I start it and end it by kissing my children.
XBIZ: Please discuss your expansion into the smoking accessories market. What inspired you to launch Mad Toto? How has that experience been so far?
Elliott: Medically, there are so many benefits to marijuana. When my father was battling cancer back in 1984, he had the best doctors in the world. But they just couldn’t figure out the cancer. After chemo, my father would smoke a little grass. It helped with the nausea. It would help him get an appetite. And so, I saw the medical benefits for marijuana early on. My mother used to give a lot of money to NORML, which was the only nonprofit at the time for the legalization of marijuana.
XBIZ: Your father was a busy jazz musician.
Elliott: He played with everybody: Count Basie, Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, Dave Brubeck.
XBIZ: What are your goals for Mad Toto? Where do you see the smoking accessories industry headed?
Elliott: Mad Toto is still a growing brand. We’re constantly working on new stuff. People are being more open-minded about the legalization of marijuana, and they see the good that it can do. The accessory market will follow. New territories are being explored. We believe that the accessory brands of today will be the Budweisers of tomorrow, and we want to be one of those brands.
XBIZ: When not thinking about the adult industry, what do you like to do?
Elliott: No. 1, spend time with my family. My kids, I realize, are only going to be young once. And when I’m not in business mode, I’m in daddy mode.
XBIZ: What was your reaction to winning Businessman of the Year at the XBIZ Exec Awards?
Elliott: Obviously, I’m ecstatic about winning Businessman of the Year. I’m so fortunate that I have the family I have in this business. I have a fabulous family at home, and I have a fabulous family not only within the walls of Sliquid, but within the adult industry. I consider all of my business partners family.