Execs of 2015: Retail Industry Leaders Discuss Value of Camaraderie

XBIZ Premiere is pleased to present “Execs of 2015: The Year in Review.”

Each of the executives we spoke to below has one thing in common — they are among the finalist nominees for the online industry edition of the 2016 XBIZ Exec Awards.

The old adage ‘strength in numbers’ holds true when you look at how the members of our unique industry band together to support a singular message: sex is good. -Sunny Rodgers, Doc Johnson

XBIZ captures the thoughts of these influential and motivational leaders as we sought their take of the year 2015.

The following question about the year in review was asked to those running for the Community Figure Of The Year:

XBIZ: How does a sense of community within the industry benefit its growth?

Sunny Rodgers
Marketing Director, Doc Johnson

“I feel honored and privileged to be a part of this industry and can vouch for the sense of community. The old adage ‘strength in numbers’ holds true when you look at how the members of our unique industry band together to support a singular message: sex is good. Whether it be adult movies, pleasure products, or sex education, our community is formed on the basis that we together communicate to the general public — and more specifically, potential customers — that the products and services we provide as a whole will enhance his or her quality of life. Buyers choose based on the experiences they believe they will have. Together, as a community, we stand strong and cultivate smart collective growth and deliver cohesive messages about positive encounters that our products can provide. I feel every step taken to enlighten another person helps our evolution towards redefining what is termed acceptable.”

Rob Phaneuf
Vice President of Product Development, Pipedream Products

“This industry is very unique and special in that it really is a community. For Pipedream, it’s a global community. Our distributors and retailers around the world are also our friends. We have very close relationships with our customers. Whether it’s our parties or events, it’s more than just business for us. We have longstanding ties with all of our customers, and that’s an important part of what makes us Pipedream. It starts with Nick Orlandino being an industry pioneer; part of his path to success is always taking care of the customer. This priority has been directly imparted to the team. So-called ‘soft skills’ like knowing how to read and talk to people, making them feel comfortable and at home is all part of the Pipedream experience. Despite all the advances in technology and social media, this is still very much a face-to-face business.”

Coyote Days
Product and Purchasing Manager, Good Vibrations

“The challenges we face run parallel to each other, and building community is the key for not just individual survival, but for continued industry growth.”

Bill Pyne
Co-Owner, Williams Trading Co.

“Having a sense of community within the adult industry is the rare cornerstone that sets us apart from every other field of industry. All communities have a story. Members will have a history of experiences together and the belief that there will be more experiences together in the future. Forty years ago, there were just a handful of us ‘outsiders’ selling product and building this industry. Look how far we’ve come. I’m so proud to be a part of the adult community and its cast of characters.”

Kim Airs
Sales Representative, Topco Sales

“Community is created by the people within, no matter if it’s where you live, the sports you play, the family you have. Most importantly, the adult toy industry’s community is based on honesty and being real — two factors that drive my life. In my book, there is nothing more real than sex and being at ease sharing information — which encourages growth, knowledge, truth. Knowing that sharing my knowledge will most likely not freak anyone out, unlike in other communities, only strengthens my love for the adult toy community. This sense of community creates friendly competition and a closeness that doesn’t occur in other industries.”

Metis Black
President and Founder, Tantus

“The adult industry is very unique in the intermingling of sales people and owners sharing ideas with one another, tips on potential markets, traveling together, etc. You just don’t see that camaraderie within other industries. I started doing ANME 16 years ago, and at the time, I was the only one talking about the materials sex toys were made of, their potential health issues and the reason Tantus’ products were silicone when no one else’s there were. I educated an industry to a better way of doing business, and not only has it benefited adult novelty manufacturers, distributors and retail businesses, but it’s reached out to consumers. And in that way, we’ve created a much stronger community — a community that embraces pleasure as a human right.”

April Lampert
Director of Sales, Fun Factory USA

“Community supports the livelihood of the industry itself. By nurturing strong relationships with people throughout the industry, we learn what we’re doing right, ways we can improve, and what kinds of innovations people are eager to see. Just as importantly, we learn which communities we’re already serving and how we can reach out to those who might be excited by what we have to offer. Fostering community within the industry makes us all more inclusive, more innovative and more successful. Fun Factory has depended on the support and feedback of our community in creating design-centric, body-friendly toys since 1996, and we thank you for 20 years of fun.”

Dr. Emily Morse
Founder and Host, “Sex With Emily”

“Cultivating community is important in all aspects of our lives, directly increasing confidence both personally and professionally. In this industry, there’s no denying that it still carries a stigma from people outside our field. This is why it’s crucial to build strong community ties within the industry. When we truly support each other, connect and collaborate across common goals, we all benefit. Investing time to develop connections will lead to tremendous learning opportunities from peers and teaching opportunities to mentor others. A trusted community will also help build brands, grow audiences and provide an overall sense of belonging where everyone can thrive. There’s power in numbers, so rather than isolating and stifling growth out of fear or competition, it’s essential to focus on creative ways to work together so the industry continues to flourish and prosper collectively.”

Jacky St. James
Publicist, New Sensations

“The adult industry still faces a lot of resistance from the civilian world. There’s a ton of misinformation being spread by mainstream media about the goings-on of pornography and the people that make up our community. By banding together as an industry and creating a safer, more positive environment, we all benefit. Discord within the industry stalls forward change because it creates another hurdle we as individuals must overcome. Having a community of cheerleaders breeds creativity. It promotes forward energy that we can pass on to others. The more successful everyone is within adult, the more positive change we can make as a whole — both inside and outside of it.”

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