Each month, industry news media organization XBIZ spotlights the career accomplishments and outstanding contributions of Women in Adult. WIA profiles offer an intimate look at the professional lives of the industry's most influential female executives.
Possessing more than 15 years of retail experience, Wendi Manley is the lingerie merchandiser for the Adam & Eve chain of franchise stores that wears a lot of hats. From helping franchise operators with vendor, purchasing and point-of-sale issues, Manley also is responsible for on-site corporate training and private label merchandise for the stores. At the recent Adam & Eve Franchise Meeting in Houston that XBIZ was invited to provide exclusive media coverage of, we got an up-close look at her vast amount of responsibilities and witnessed her dedication to her role. In our exclusive Q&A with this month’s WIA Woman of the Month, Manley elaborates on her professional goals and accomplishments with the ever-growing retail chain.
I was brought on to create a private label line of lingerie for the company and expand the lingerie sales for the company across the country.
XBIZ: What is your role and responsibility at Adam & Eve?
Wendi Manley: I was originally hired as the corporate lingerie buyer for the retail division of Adam & Eve. I was brought on to create a private label line of lingerie for the company and expand the lingerie sales for the company across the country. As I learned more about the company, I redefined my role. I now coordinate monthly email promotions for all 74 of our stores across the country (and in Canada); and create a bi-monthly newsletter as a communications tool for our stores as well as the employees at our headquarters in Hillsborough, N.C. The newsletters inform the stores about different aspects that can help their business — such as events that other operators are holding, our top-selling products, ideas to help their sales, industry news and many other topics.
I am also heading up another tool to streamline communications with the stores. It will contain training manuals I have created and those will help teach new hires product knowledge, customer service and POS system knowledge. The information center will have many other resources — even training videos on new products.
An additional responsibility is being the corporate point person for the stores’ POS (Point of Sale) system. This is an exciting time for this since we are moving to a new system offering so many benefits for AEFC and its franchisees.
I also travel to the stores for field support to help their staff with training, merchandising, event support and even some business consulting. Because of this, our lingerie strategic partners have tripled for our wholesale system in order to increase selection for the stores.
XBIZ: How (and when) did you get into the business?
Manley: This is my second time being part of the Adam & Eve family. Originally, I was the lingerie buyer for the catalog in 1997-2002 and was in on the ground floor of our corporate retail stores back then. In 2002, I left the company to raise a family and pursue other professional goals. During that time I worked for a couple national retail chains, earned my associates degree in H.R. (I already had my bachelor’s degree) and received my real estate license. I’m thrilled to be back with Adam & Eve. Not only does the company support a sex-positive environment for consenting adults, they created a corporate culture that believes in giving back to the community and being involved in the areas where they do business. This relationship with the community is also carried out through our franchisees and stores, they are all committed to supporting local charitable partners and being good neighbors in each of their respective communities. We even have some employees at our corporate office who have been with the company for more than 30 years. I love being back on the retail side of the company and truly enjoy working with and supporting our store operators and customers.
XBIZ: What challenges have you confronted in your career and how have you overcome them?
Manley: I have the same challenges that most working women have with trying to balance work and family. One of my mantras is “progress not perfection.” I have always been a bit of a perfectionist — I finished college early, achieved the highest awards in school and continued that after graduation. When you become a parent, all those intentions go out the window. You reach a point where you have to let some of those high expectations go and get really good at prioritizing. With this position, all of us on the AEFC team wear several professional hats. I have the opportunity to learn new skills and implement new ideas regularly. This creates excitement every day and can also create its own set of challenges. A way to overcome this challenge is to keep moving forward.
XBIZ: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Manley: By far the most rewarding part of my job is working with our franchise operators and finding ways to streamline corporate support. Our operators are an amazing group of people that are innovative, intelligent, driven and have a strong work ethic. I enjoy the opportunity I have to help them increase their sales and achieve their professional goals. I assist in implementing the AEFC support programs at the store level. In turn, this increases revenues for the operators. For example, by learning about other areas of operations at corporate, I have been able to achieve better discounts, quality of product and faster service for the retail division. That improves corporate revenues and provides tangible benefits to our operators. Through AEFC franchise operators, our retail stores have won the Retail Chain of the Year Award eight out of the last 11 years.
XBIZ: What is your personal motto or mantra that you live by?
Manley: “A strong woman knows she has strength for the journey, but a woman of strength knows that it is within the journey she will find her strength.” — CJ Lewis
“I am too positive to be doubtful, too optimistic to be fearful and too determined to be defeated.” — Hussein Nishah
XBIZ: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
Manley: I have several career accomplishments that I am proud of with Adam & Eve. I’m proud of the quality and sales results of the private label lingerie lines I have introduced. The A&E private label lingerie boxlines and hanging lines have increased in revenue year over year. I’m proud of the AEFC resource materials I have created for the stores. These tools will help expedite the day-to-day operations for the stores we have now and as we continue to grow. Lastly, I’m proud to help represent the corporate ideals of a company that has been a trail blazer in the industry for 45 years. I feel like I have a voice in this company and am valued for all I do – this is a rare and wonderful place to be.
XBIZ: What are your professional goals for the rest of 2018?
Manley: My goals for the remainder of 2018 are to have the majority of our stores up and running on our new POS system. I also want to have the AEFC Information System completed and on their POS systems so they’re able to benefit from this valuable resource.
I also want to help develop a better internal communications system so that employees in the company have more visibility and understanding of each other’s roles in the company’s growth and success in this competitive market.