Rebecca Weinberg began her product development career working with major mainstream brands such as Coca-Cola and Disney prior to joining adult novelty manufacturer Topco Sales in 2005, where she helped develop several successful brands including 69 Collection and the Climax Series. In 2009 she moved to Doc Johnson Enterprises, where she specialized in private label partnerships, sales and product development. After a brief period of consulting for accounts including Icon Brands, the company offered her a full-time position. Weinberg’s extensive background now serves to cultivate the burgeoning success of Icon Brands. In this edition of Executive Seat, she talks to XBIZ about her inspirations in product development.
How did you get your start in the product development field?
I don’t like to take no for an answer. I believe that if I can dream it, there has to be a way to produce it.
I got my start working as a packaging consultant for a mainstream packagedgoods manufacturer. In that capacity I was involved in projects for Disney, Coca-Cola and Sally Beauty. One of my clients was adult novelty manufacturer Topco Sales. I worked with them on the Jessica Simpson Dessert beauty line. Meeting with them opened my eyes to their main business, the wonderful world of sex toys. After a few years of working with Topco as a packaging vendor, I expressed interest in joining their team. I landed a job and was taken under the wing of their director of product development, Autumn O’Bryan (now vice president of SexToy.com). Developing over 200 new sex toys per year wasn’t the easiest of tasks, but learning first hand from the best made it that much easier.
What project are you especially proud of? Why?
Being the first to create something definitely gives me a proud feeling of accomplishment, especially when the item is unproven and a bit of a risk. At Topco that product was “The Perfect Ass.” We not only went big, we went huge, which ushered in the era of largescale, life-size anatomical pieces. At Icon I have that same pride in Impressions, the first memory gel made from silicone in the form of a vibrator. It’s rare to come up with a new material for a vibrator, but Impressions does just that and the response has been overwhelming.
What drives your creativity and inspiration when it comes to product development?
Supplying what the consumer demands, while always keeping in mind quality, innovation and brand awareness, is my ambition. The most important part for me is to have fun with it. If I can put a smile on a customer’s face because of a product that I created, then my mission is accomplished. I particularly love to keep an eye on new techniques in both manufacturing and packaging. Watching trends, analyzing costs, growing vendor relations, and ultimately impressing with an amazing and unique product is my goal.
What is your philosophy in product development?
To develop products that are desired, that impress and most of all, that please.
What are the challenges you face in creating new products/brands?
I don’t like to take no for an answer. I believe that if I can dream it, there has to be a way to produce it. Trial and error plays a big part in development. Looking at the big picture, we are constantly faced with rising costs of labor, materials, and import fees. Staying abreast and conforming to international regulations is a full time job in itself.
What’s the most rewarding part of establishing new products/brands?
It’s quite an amazing feeling to turn one’s vision into a reality — to hold that finished item that was just a concept a few months prior. And of course, watching the success of the product in which you’ve invested your blood, sweat and tears is the ultimate reward.
How has your background prepped you for your current role at Icon Brands?
I gained my skills and strong points from the environments in which I worked and from the mentors with whom I worked. My military background ingrained in me the importance of paying attention to detail in everything I do. My Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science has been extremely helpful as I work extensively with multiple computer programs. As a packaging consultant, I learned the ins and outs of sales and design. Workingfor large manufacturers Topco Sales and Doc Johnson, I learned firsthand the art of maneuvering projects through multiple levels and departments to see them through completion. I use all of these tools on a daily basis and would not be able to do what I do without them.