MONTEREY, Calif, – As part of its 10-Year Anniversary Summit this week, LELO treated its distinguished clientele to an exuberating experience that honored history, solidarity and future success with three days at a luxury bayside resort along the central coast of California.
Held at the five-star luxury Intercontinental The Clement Monterey hotel, situated on the Monterey Bay located on the historic Cannery Row, LELO’s 10-Year Anniversary Summit provided ample opportunities to mix business with pleasure. LELO’s event was on par with the lavishness of its venue in presentation and personal attention given to each guest. Upon arriving, attendees were assigned to their own personal LELO contact to assist them throughout the event.
The week offered LELO distributors, retailers and media the opportunity to become on a first-name basis with LELO’s approximately 20-person strong U.S. operations team, which the company’s CEO Miroslav Slavic admiringly refers to as the “A Team.”
In his opening keynote, he offered a glimpse into the company’s grandiose international team.
“Being a part of creating this intimate lifestyle factory has been a great journey,” Slavic said. “We now have more than 600 employees in nine offices around the world. We have an in-house design team, research and development, production crew, customer support and a marketing and PR department. We’re sold in around 50 different countries by more than 25,000 wholesalers.”
A significant portion of LELO’s 10-Year Anniversary Summit was honoring the company’s history that began in Stockholm with engineer Filip Sedic and industrial designers Carl Magnusson and Eric Kalen.
The presentation of LELO’s history included slides and videos with high-production value that depicted behind-the-scenes of LELO’s manufacturing processes, photo shoots for promo campaigns and photos illustrating milestones in the company’s history. LELO even immortalized the company’s history with a hardcover bound “yearbook” that each attendee received as a keepsake.
“Back in 2001, Filip was searching for a present for his friend, a successful woman that had it all, what we call a ‘rich bitch’ in Sweden,” Slavic said of the inspiration for an “exclusive sex toy” that started it all, the Volante massager.
LELO officially made its industry debut at the International Lingerie Show in 2005.
“Word started spreading about the Swedes and their sexy toys, a lot of collaboration was established and the rest is history,” Slavic said. “The future 10 years of pleasure — now that we’ve learned a lot about quality, technology and human sexuality, will include the launch of even better products to better serve the needs of our partners and our goal is to give more pleasure to more people than ever.”
To offer an even more in-depth perspective of the tech and design innovation behind the LELO brand, the company’s U.S. CEO Pavle Sedic, who is also the brother of company founder Filip Sedic, discussed the many inspirations for LELO’s high-concept designs.
“Cutting-edge design and technology is essential to many industries, not just our own,” Sedic said. “New customers are attracted to new experiences. When we first started, we were met with doubt and uncertainty. LELO products proved that there was an unrealized demand for luxury pleasure products.”
To really drive the point home, Carole Radziwill of “Real Housewives of New York City” fame and a three-time Emmy Award winning journalist, declared her love of the brand as the event's celebrity guest speaker.
“I prefer the LELO designs because they’re ergonomic,” Radziwill said. “I’m a high-end girl that wants a high end toy, and I think men tend to be less intimidated by something that looks like a massager and not a penis. I bought my first LELO about 10 years ago at Kiki De Montparnasse and then soon after bought two more.”
Radziwill, the sex-positive “Real Housewife” openly discussed her first encounter with a vibrator, which she stole from her mother, and then segued into her current, personal inspiration for encouraging sex toy consumption.
“The divorce rate in this country is out of control – it throws the whole dating ecosystem off, taking away from my already meager dating pool,” she said. “Couples should incorporate toys and other materials keep things fun, fresh and frisky. If our attitudes about sex were more reasonable, the divorce rate would drop.”
Radziwill also hypothesized about the greater benefits of a healthy sex life.
“The concrete positive benefits include a longer life span, confidence and higher salaries,” she said. “There is a wage gap between men and women. Men make more money because they have more orgasms – it leads to more happiness, higher confidence and confidence is what leads to higher salaries.”
The health benefits of sex is also behind the creation of a new department for LELO. Sales executive Laurie Allen said she scoured the country for medical professionals that are now part of LELO’s medical advisory board, bringing a lot of credibility with them.
The board members include Sue Goldstein, program coordinator for San Diego Sexual Medicine, Dr. Traci Stratler, and Dr. Debra Wickman of Sexual Health Experts (SHE).
Wickman elaborated on the overall health benefits of sex, and creating mind-body treatments to sexual health issues. She said having a sex-positive attitude goes a long way.
“Women with positive views have better functioning during sex, all-around,” she said.
LELO’s 10-Year Anniversary Summit also dedicated much of its seminar sessions to increasing business among its retailers. In addition to the presentation of new products, the Ida and Tara couples massagers and Hula Beads kegel exercisers, LELO also discussed the importance – and effectiveness – of in-store displays.
With Ida and Tara shipping this month and Hula Beads available in October, LELO sales executive Pat Manginelli ensured retailers that the new releases would be ready in time for Christmas, which is a significant period for sales of LELO products. According to Manginelli, one-third of all LELO products are purchased as gifts.
Manginelli also spoke on the effectiveness of in-store displays.
“One of the first things I learned was that when there’s a LELO display, business increases 15-20 percent,” he said, adding that the company has taken it upon itself to help retailers create the “ultimate” LELO in-store boutique.
Some of the attendees had already established a dedicated LELO area within their stores.
“Ever since we started carrying LELO it’s what’s made the store what it is today, it dominates our storefront windows,” said Linda Parker, owner of Vermont-based retailer Life’s Little Luxuries. “We’re exclusively a LELO store, it’s an experience; people come in and linger. Our sales increase of 35 percent over the last year is all thanks to LELO.”
LELO's U.S. Sales and Marketing Director Donna Faro added, “If you want to succeed in this marketplace, you have to be a resource of information for your customers. That’s why we want to support you with all of these tools. We’re trailblazers and the trail continues.”
Attendees included pleasure products distributors such as Honey’s Place, Williams Trading, Eldorado, Nalpac, Komar, Holiday Products and ECN, and retailers that ranged from mom-and-pop shops and high-end boutiques to large operations like Castle Megastore, and mainstream-friendly Fredrick’s of Hollywood.
Honors included recognizing industry media, XBIZ and AVN, with LELO “Founders Awards” for their role in putting the LELO brand in the limelight over the last 10 years; as well as a bittersweet memorial for Shannon Collins, co-owner of adult boutique Camouflage in Santa Cruz. During LELO’s 10-Year Anniversary Gala Wednesday night, LELO announced plans for the creation of the Shannon Collins Memorial Garden and Shannon’s Vegetable Patch at the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center, both in Santa Cruz.
The LELO 10-Year Anniversary Summit included nightly special events such as a bayside cocktail reception, a gala at the Monterey Aquarium, a Pico Bong beach party complete with a fire dancer, and a trip to a local winery. Attendees also were gifted daily with everything from a Tara massager to stuffed animals, jewelry, a bottle of wine and more.
“We all are very thankful that we work with such a great group of people,” Faro said. “The last decade has been abundant for us and with this event, we wanted to bring as much of that to you.”