Execs of the 2017: Adult Retail Senior Execs Take Fresh Approach to Business

Execs of the 2017: Adult Retail Senior Execs Take Fresh Approach to Business

XBIZ Premiere’s “Execs of the Year: The Year in Review” highlights the contributions of senior-level executives in managing and motivating their team and colleagues.

Managing a pool of talent requires a sharp mind. The XBIZ Exec Senior Leadership Award recognizes those individuals with the outstanding ability to motivate, inspire and build solidarity among all levels of personnel.

It’s less of what we’ve done this year and more about the culture of Eldorado that has allowed us to stay competitive and cutting-edge. -Preston Garland, Marketing Strategist, Eldorado Trading Company

Each of the executives we spoke to below is among the finalist nominees for the Senior Leadership Award in the retail industry edition of the 2018 XBIZ Exec Awards.

How did your company stay competitive and on the cutting-edge this year?

Austin Ferdinand
International Business Development Executive, CalExotics

“This year, we focused on advanced technology within our pleasure products. Our research has shown that consumers want more from their adult toys. Anyone can make a vibrator, but at CalExotics, we take that to another level. In 2017, we’ve released several products that provide that elevated experience consumers are searching for. With our Embrace line, we offer advanced pleasure ball technology; with Luxe, its touch-sensitive technology. And don’t forget the Jack Rabbit Signature collection, with its thrusting, rocking and beaded action. Overall, what’s helped us stay competitive is learning what consumers want and creating products that meet those needs.”

Cathy Ziegler
Vice President of Sales, Kheper Games

“Cutting-edge is a philosophy at Kheper. We’re a unique destination in the adult industry landscape. We listen to our customers along with researching the retail environment to constantly bring fresh new concepts to our line and bring to market products that are new and never before seen. Our line is like no other, and we provide a category unmatched by any other manufacturer. Most of our products are copyrighted — and we’ve patented our Disco Ball cups, with our Pineapple Cup patent pending. Our products are always a welcome ingredient to any party, whether it be private or public. We range from the silly to the oh-so-seriously sexy. We are consistently implementing new ways to bring fun into an adult lifestyle. Romance is our heart and soul. We’re tickled to offer foreplay games and ways to bring about discussions between lovers, facilitating conversations about hot sex globally. We offer many products in multiple languages. Our beginner romantic kits focus on genres and ways to incorporate bondage, massage, fetish or sex toys into a relationship, providing accessories and simple how-to for beginners and offering great value with great advice and fabulous fun.”

Colin Roy
Senior Vice President, Sliquid

“2017 was and still is a very busy year for Sliquid, and we have implemented several projects to help us remain an industry leader and on the cutting edge. Our biggest change this year was gaining NSF-certified organic status for the Sliquid Organics line of products. Obtaining this certification has also allowed us to expand our product offerings. And our newest product is Sliquid Shine, an NSF-certified organic toy cleaner. 2017 also saw the Sliquid brand expand significantly outside the USA, aided by the launch of our new multilingual packaging.”

Marcus West
President, Romance Brands

“The core philosophy of Romance Brands is that adult products belong in the mainstream market; that’s the mantra that keeps our team motivated. We all truly believe that human sexuality and sensuality are an integral part of health and wellness and that these products should empower and inspire. So, I guess that’s our secret weapon in terms of staying competitive. And our first collaboration with Cosmopolitan is the perfect match for us because their message dovetails beautifully with our goals. The Cosmo ‘fun, fearless female’ is exactly the cutting-edge consumer at the center of our mission. We strive to provide the products that embody that inner confidence that comes from being happy, healthy, sexy, radiant; I think it’s easy to stay competitive when that’s your main concern. And then on the business side, we’re very aggressively pursuing alternative distribution strategies and new, creative paths to find our people. With the world waiting right there in your smartphone these days, the tactics have to change. So, we’re open to all kinds of directions and methods that frankly didn’t even exist five years ago.”

Hui Newnham
COO, The Screaming O

“Our dedication to quality is what keeps Screaming O on the leading edge of the adult product industry. The key to that is thoughtful development — which we bring to every step of the process, from the research that goes into our engineering through the individualized collaboration with our retailers. We ensure that each new product is streamlined, purposeful and safe, with clear financial value for our distributors and retailers. Above all, we want to be accessible to our consumers. We continue to foster relationships with our customers, emphasizing personalized engagement and top-notch customer service.”

Kathryn Hartman
Sales and Marketing Director, Nasstoys

“My goal at Nasstoys and within this industry is to be neither competitive nor cutting edge. By nature, I am not a competitive individual; I am a creative person. Instead of wasting energy focusing on what other companies are doing, I prefer to focus on providing the best product and support to our customers and theirs. As a senior staff member at Nasstoys, I do my best to lead our team by example by working smarter, helping maintain an environment that stimulates imagination, (having) a strong focus on time management and strategic scheduling, encouraging good communication, teamwork and morale and mentoring without being a know-it-all. These are strategies that enable Nasstoys to run a smart, tight ship and stay ahead of the curve. When you say cutting-edge, I think of high-end, technologically advanced items; this type of product is not our focus at Nasstoys. Products that sell volume and make good profits for our customers is what is fundamental to our continued success.”

Preston Garland
Marketing Strategist, Eldorado Trading Company

“It’s less of what we’ve done this year and more about the culture of Eldorado that has allowed us to stay competitive and cutting-edge. When Larry Garland started the company, it was a close-held belief of his that a key ingredient for Eldorado’s success was to have a keen focus on marketing and sales. That dedication has since become a natural and ingrained part of the culture of the company. Having studied marketing in college, I feel it natural for me to infuse that mindset into everything that I do for Eldorado. Speaking of marketing, I’m not just talking about who can shout the loudest about a sale or discount. When I think of marketing, a large component of that is considering the relationship that Eldorado has with our customers and vendors and how every action and communication we exchange can help each other be competitive and grow.”

Ryan Poirier
Vice President, EPI24/Womanizer

“Womanizer has stayed competitive and on the cutting edge by continuing to drive awareness of our incredible Womanizer products that all feature our Pleasure Air Technology. Whether that is on TV with Conan O’Brien or ‘The Doctors,’ in any one of the leading lifestyle publications, or on the leading sex and relationship podcasts with Emily Morse and Stassi Schroeder, we are continuing to put our brand first — and in doing so, we are driving customers to our retail partners to ask for The Womanizer by name. Often imitated, never duplicated: the one and only Womanizer!”

Sarah Tomchesson
Head of Business Operations, The Pleasure Chest

“Staying competitive in the brick-and-mortar retail space and driving traffic to stores continues to present unique challenges as the prevalence of pleasure products expands online and deep discounting continues. In 2017, Pleasure Chest redesigned and re-launched our ecommerce site. The new site translates the interactive, in-store experience to the digital space through striking lifestyle imagery, engaging educational elements and convenient and timely fulfillment that our consumers are responding well to. In addition to refreshing our online branding, we expanded our presence in the community through partnerships and extensive event participation. Replicating the in-store experience with pop-ups and pleasure programming at a number of sexuality, wellness and cultural events across the country mitigated the impact of declining traffic trends. Continuing to build on our strengths as the oldest sex-positive retailer in the country while adapting to the changing needs of contemporary shoppers keeps Pleasure Chest at the cutting edge of the industry.”

Scott Watkins
Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Doc Johnson

“More than being just manufacturers or vendors, we want to be our customers’ best partner. Their needs drive our actions. The work we’ve done over the past year to define our consumer and brand, better control our distribution and pricing and excite our customers with innovative new products and marketing campaigns has fueled increased demand from our distributor and retailer partners as well as the end consumer. We are now aggressively placing more and more of our focus on coming up with ways to make a tangible impact on a big scale and put the brand on consumers’ minds when they are ready to make a purchase. Being a leader in our industry never stops us from driving our business forward. By always being open to evolving with the times, we innovate not just for, but with, our partners. We’re highly encouraged by our recent performance, and our team is extremely motivated to build on our current momentum to drive further improvements across the business — both in the short term and in the long term.”