Europeans have had a reputation for discovering sexual liberation long before Americans could wrap their heads around bringing a vibrator into the bedroom. With a leg-up on what makes people crave sex toys, E.U. companies have grown new ventures by leaps and bounds in under a decade. Netherlands distributor and manufacturer EDC Wholesale is already at the top of its game and playing with the pleasure industry’s big-wigs across the world.
EDC’s rags-to-riches story is a classic tale of an entrepreneur starting a business out of his closet — a narrative that has played out quite literally for several now-thriving pleasure industry companies.
Our company is young and dynamic, constantly developing and looking for new opportunities.
Founder and CEO Eric Idema initially had vague goals, but sales picked up faster than he expected.
“I opened an online shop from my attic, selling sex toys I stored in my wardrobe closet,” Idema said. “It started with the thought, ‘How far will this take me?’”
Over the course of a few years, Idema had to drastically up-size his storage space. He re-homed his closet inventory into a small stockroom and four big moves later, eventually wound up with 8,000 square meters and 35,000 wholesale sex toys at the company’s current location in Veendam, The Netherlands. By this time, much to his surprise, Idema was a full-fledged CEO.
“I started small and could only dream of becoming CEO of an international company,” Idema said. “I never expected we would be where we are today in only 10 years time.”
EDC plays host to all of the industry’s major players, from luxury lines like The Rabbit Company, LELO and We-Vibe to old-school “Big 5” powerhouses like Pipedream, Doc Johnson and CalExotics. Idema credits his reputation with top companies to his focus building meaningful customer relationships.
“We value personal contact with our customers,” says Idema. “Meeting each other in person cannot be replaced by online communication. That is why Andre Visser, our international sales director and his team dedicate a lot of their time to visiting customers.”
Although still a relatively young company, a full staff of IT specialists, web developers, marketing and sales executives and warehouse staff are on-hand to ensure smooth, flexible solutions for manufacturers and retailers.
“Our entire team is trained to be resourceful to work with any customer and solve any problem,” Idema said.
Unlike the majority of pleasure industry distributors, who often strictly focus on the business-to-business market, EDC thrives on feedback from end consumers.
“Consumer feedback has had a big influence on the company and our product development,” Idema said. Idema’s e-tailer beginnings are evident in every aspect of his business plan, giving retail customers a head start on the hottest sellers.
“It’s a different approach, but in considering the experience from the end user, we really understood the needs of our B2B customers and were able to serve them in the best way possible,” says Idema.
The company stays on top of the current trends in sexual wellness with the help of a staff sexologist. Customers are encouraged to ask questions and make suggestions through EDC’s consumer website, EasyToys.com, where they’ll be directed to the company’s appointed sexpert. The website also hosts a blog filled with the latest sex-ed news and tips for making the most out of purchases.
“Our sexologist talks about subjects that might need more explanation and educates readers on our products,” notes Idema. “Her goal is to provide content that enriches people’s sex lives and helps to solve issues that will lead our consumers to feel even more satisfied with our sex toys.”
Idema’s sex toy enthusiast consumers, ever eager to lend their two cents, have inspired some of EDC’s own branded toy lines: Easy Toys, Sway Vibes, Sinner Gear and My Magic Wand. Composed of classic staples like wand vibrators, anal toys and fetish accessories, EDC’s self-produced product lines have quickly become some of their best sellers — because they were inspired by the people who actually use them.
“Because we know the market demands and the target audience, we are now specialized in niche markets. We have taken on some very special niche products and started developing our own brand,” says Idema.
One brand in particular has taken center stage on an international scale.
“Fetish and anal products are highly popular at the moment,” Idema said. “There is a high demand for one of our house brands, the Easy Toys Fetish Collection.”
The series of kink must-haves, including gorgeous, faux-leather buckle cuffs and faux-fur, animal tail luxury anal plugs, has recently gone exclusive in the U.S. with award-winning distributor Eldorado.
“We have high expectations regarding this line,” Idema said. “We are very excited about this new partnership and couldn’t wish for a better U.S. partner to start this new venture.”
The EDC team launched its latest product launch at the October eroFame trade show in Hanover, Germany. Several new brand lines joined the lineup in the booth this year in addition to their signature favorites.
“We are excitedly anticipating the launch of four new collections, designed by our in-house team, during the show,” Idema said. “We can’t wait to see how these collections will be received by the public.”
EDC has some big shoes to fill — their own, to be exact — to keep up with the quick pace they’ve set throughout the company’s growth. For Idema and his team, chances for growth are everywhere, and their eyes are constantly on the next prize.
“Our company is young and dynamic, constantly developing and looking for new opportunities,” Idema said.
The current market of sexually liberated consumers has provided a rich soil to sow the seeds of EDC’s future goals. According to Idema, there’s never been a better time to dive into pleasure product business.
“Pleasure products are more accepted, easily accessible, and no longer bound to age, as we see more and more curious youngsters using pleasure products,” Idema said.
Sexual pleasure has come out of the bedside drawer, and that’s exactly where Idema says he hopes his sales wind up. “The demand for high-quality, diverse and affordable products will continue to grow,” muses Idema. “We see a bright future for the pleasure industry.”