“I want to be you!” the clerk in the adult store exclaimed. “You have the most awesome job and I want to do that, too!”
Why yes, I do have the most awesome job in the most awesome industry. So how does one wind up with such an amazing career choice and how does one get there?
Learn it all. Learn who the manufacturers are, where they are, the distributors and the retail stores.
I’ve been thinking about the twisted path so many of us have been on to wind up in the most wacky and crazy industry that exists — the sex industry. Specifically for me, the sex toy industry. I certainly wasn’t born with a dildo in my mouth and probably you didn’t either but I did slide out of a vagina so maybe that has something to do with it.
I grew up on top of my father’s furniture store and his father was a trouble-shooter for Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. My mom’s parents were crazy and successful artists in Paris and I think that explains even more about my background. In other words, retail has never scared me.
Neither has sex. In fact, I find it pretty damn fascinating and even after living my lifetime with an undying curiosity of everything sex, I still am soaking up on a daily basis as much information about sex as I can. And living and doing as much as I can regarding sex in the name of research and I don’t want this column to be a TMI piece so you’ll just have to fantasize about it (just like I live it).
“I want to be you,” The clerk said to me. It got me to thinking. How does one actually get such a fantastic job in this industry? How does one go from a sex toy store clerk to being an on-the-road dildo slinger, traveling to all corners of the U.S. and the world? Now that I’m representing the global brand, Topco Sales, I can really get out there to spread the word of sex toys and pleasure. You can, too. Listen up — here’s a way.
Learn as much about this industry as you can. By the mere fact that you’re holding a copy of XBIZ in your hands (or reading it online), means that there’s something you want to know. Read all of the pages, the advertisers’ ads, the editorial intros, the product release information, the reviewers’ wise contributions whether they are for toys or DVDs, gay or straight. Learn it all. Learn who the manufacturers are, where they are, the distributors, the retail stores. Learn about your own retail store. With a good set of balls or ovaries, you may very well be able to open one of your own. Like I did.
Learn how the processes work at your store. Who your buyers are and where they get their products. Ask how your manager got to where they are and if the company promotes from within. Learn what products are made of to make suggestions to your customers but without insisting on your own agenda to choose this over that. Give your customers product facts and let them decide which will impress those shoppers by being an intelligent resource instead of merely someone who rings them up at the register.
Once you dig into your own store and learn as much as you can, congratulations! Hopefully your upper management will recognize you for standing out with your drive and smarts. They both go far in any industry, sex toy biz or otherwise.
The U.S. is a pretty big country and the next step might be working for a distributor. Do you know where they are? Here are a few clues: California, Florida, Texas, Michigan, New Jersey, Colorado and other states. To choose to work for a distributor, you might have to pack your bags and relocate although many distributors let you work from home since so many orders are placed electronically and work can be done in front of your computer. But what distributors do that? Time for more research!
Maybe you want to represent a manufacturer. Some companies advertise these openings on Craigslist or even on LinkedIn (do you have your sales profile up there with all of the strong keys words you’d need? Hint: leave out key words such as “pussy” and “cock” They won’t help you). If you’re lucky enough to work in a store that has company representatives such as myself come through for trainings and presentations, talk to us when we’re there because to me, that shows a drive and interest and that’s the best place to start when looking to advance oneself (I’m thinking of Jen at Pleasure Island in Torrance, Calif.)
Attend industry trade shows to network as much as you can and bring your resumé when you’re there. There are several industry trade shows and they are in the western states so get ready to fly there if you can’t drive to them. Ask questions when you are there. Talk to manufacturers and sales representatives. If there is nothing open at their companies, maybe they know somewhere that there is. Networking pays off.
There you have it. Success comes to those who reach for it so the next time you ring up that customer who’s buying the latest vibrator, think of how it got onto your counter and who helped to get it there. You may be joining forces with them before you know it.
Kim Airs is the founder of sexuality boutique GrandOpening.com, and currently works as the on-the-road sales representative for adult novelty manufacturer Topco Sales. She is also a consultant for all aspects of the adult industry, including training, sales and marketing.