WIA Profile: Kim Faubel

WIA Profile: Kim Faubel

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.

Kim Faubel is a badass, and not just because she’s decked out in tattoos, piercings, and a take-charge aura that manages to permeate even the tamest of professional headshots.

Honestly, it’s kind of amazing to see how many women and non-binary people are making a difference in this business, particularly on the retail level.

While the rest of us were working our way up the corporate ladder in any number of vanilla gigs, the 18-year-old, green-haired Faubel was taking charge of the sales counter at a popular Pennsylvania sex toy shop and fawning over the career of a successful porn director (who would, as luck would have it, eventually become her boss).

Now Faubel leads one of the pleasure industry’s hottest boutique companies, and when she’s not directing the operations of, well, everything, she’s hitting the stage with her local Las Vegas improv troupe. Is there anything this babe can’t do?

XBIZ: As much as we’d all like to think that sex toy sales reps were born with a vibrator in their hands, we know you probably had to start somewhere. So how did you wind up selling sex toys?

Kim Faubel: This is my favorite question! I was 18 years old and I had moved back in with my mom after I ran out of money for school. I needed a job — bottom line — but I had green hair and a lip ring and as a stubborn 18-year-old, I refused to work at Hot Topic. I decided to see if the local “porn shop” was hiring and, wouldn’t you know it, they were! Not only were they hiring, but the manager on duty had a turquoise mohawk and her associate had facial piercings.

I immediately knew I wouldn’t have to sacrifice my angsty aesthetic to get this job. They hired me almost immediately and I began as a part-time associate making $6.50 an hour in the spring of 2003. Within a year I was managing the store, and by 21 I was the district manager for the Central Pennsylvania locations of Excitement Adult Stores (formerly Excitement Video) and I was leading their Ladies’ Night events! My time with Excitement came to an end in 2010 and the following year I relocated to Las Vegas, where I was hired immediately at the Deja Vu Love Boutique.

My experience at Excitement was invaluable, but it wasn’t until I started working for Megan [Swartz] at Deja Vu that I learned so much about the workings of this industry. Working for Deja Vu also meant that we had a presence at the AVN convention in Las Vegas, which is where I ran into a guy you may have heard of — Jules Jordan. Jules happened to have worked at Excitement as well, but he was already a big deal by the time I started there in ‘03. We met in 2015 and he ended up tapping me to help him start his brand, Clandestine Devices. He wanted someone who knew the retail and product side of adult and I wanted an opportunity to progress into the other side of the business — it was kismet, I believe, and I’m grateful for it every single day.

XBIZ: From the sounds of things, maybe you were born with a vibrator in your hands! Unlike most industry vets, you skipped the vanilla jobs and went straight into adult. Were you always pulled in this direction?

Faubel: It definitely started before I was even working. I had a natural fascination with porn, to be honest. I was the one in our young group of friends that was suggesting we all watch Wendy Whoppers in “Park Ranger.”

My fascination, at that point, wasn’t even sexual ... but more like “why aren’t we talking more about this sex stuff?” I also attribute my attitude surrounding sex to my parents being the open-minded and honest people they are. My mother, in particular, made it very clear that there are all types of people in the world and what they fancy in the bedroom (within consensual limits, of course) was nothing to be ashamed of. I had a million gay uncles that were not actually related to me, and both of my parents are theater people, so I was exposed to a wide array of colorful, eclectic people from a very early age.

XBIZ: So needless to say, you took to adult retail like a duck to water (or like a Mimic vibrator to a woman’s nether regions). Was there anything that could surprise you at that point?

Faubel: I was actually reprimanded for greeting customers as they would come into my first store. My manager at the time said, “people coming in here don’t want to talk. They want to come in, get what they want, pay and leave.” I just couldn’t accept that as truth. I also recall the shift from video-dominated business to toys and lingerie.

One of the locations was the last to stock LELO items because the buyer didn’t think they would sell at that store ... I proved him so wrong! When I was running “Ladies’ Night” events, I earned a pretty funny nickname because almost every educational seminar would inevitably turn into a discussion about anal sex and that is a topic I refuse to shy away from. Truly, working in an adult shop did a lot for me professionally but it also exposed me to an entirely new level of confidence in myself, and my own sexual journey.

XBIZ: You’ve obviously worn a lot of hats in adult business. How did you bring that signature fiery passion and biz know-how to every new gig?

Faubel: I’ve been a sales associate that helped create an inviting atmosphere for our guests. As a district manager, I was able to assess conditions at different locations and implement what was working in the more struggling locations as well as evaluate the essential employees who were destined for higher management positions. I wrote newsletter content and management training manuals and helped institute a return policy that would inspire confidence for our shoppers.

As the special events coordinator, it was my goal to create an environment that felt entirely safe for first-time shoppers or anyone who didn’t normally enter our stores. My role at Clandestine Devices is basically all of it; sales, marketing, social media, customer service, but my heart is really in retail outreach. I remember having a vendor do a training at our store and thinking ‘How do I get to do that?’ Now I get to do that and I’m eager to help anyone else along who is interested in turning their job into a career.

XBIZ: You’re obviously a tenacious woman on your own, but what or who kept you motivated as you climbed the ranks?

Faubel: Back in the 2000s when I was still working at Excitement, Jules came in to visit. I don’t know if he remembers this but I told him, “I want to be Jules Jordan when I grow up,” because I admired his come-up. Originally I am from New York, but there I was in Central Pennsylvania, actually living in the same neighborhood as Jules used to, working where he used to, and desperately trying to make a life out of this job.

I also have to give Megan Swartz credit. Working for Megan was so powerful for me because I had not met anyone who had been on the retail side for as long as I had been with such an unflinching work ethic and a desire to constantly be improving. She’s not even my boss anymore but when she says jump, I ask “how high?” because I would move mountains for that woman and how much she’s inspired and believed in me. I hope this makes her cry.

XBIZ: Now that you’re kicking ass and taking names, what’s life like at one of the industry’s most popular boutique brands?

Faubel: I’m always busy and it’s always for good reason! Like I mentioned, my hands are in a lot of pies at Clandestine Devices, but I really enjoy having a voice in every department. I help design our products, I run our social media, I write content, I make calls and send emails, I attend trade shows and store events. I’m extremely grateful that as a remote employee, I can rely on people in the L.A. office to help out when I need it. My graphic designer Noe is often a lifesaver when I ask for a last-minute banner or ad, and Michelle and Maureen are on base when I need help checking on outgoing orders. As much as I like to say I do everything, I couldn’t do it all without them. I hope that makes them cry ... especially Noe.

XBIZ: Now for the juicy stuff! Tell us some unforgettable funny stories from all your years in the industry.

Faubel: Oh boy, now I have to dig into almost 16 years of memories. One of the first customers I ever interacted with was definitely worth remembering. I was still slightly nervous at the store after a few days of learning the computer system and, believe it or not, I was kind of shy. A gentleman walked in with a black plastic bag and slammed it on the counter as he exclaimed, “I broke her!” He had purchased a blow-up doll and wanted to know if we sold a patch kit.

Another fun time was when I was working at a consumer expo and I brought a banana to eat since I knew we wouldn’t have a solid lunch break. I took the banana out of my bag and the room started moving in slow motion. It was as if an announcement was made as every apparent dude within eyesight of our booth was ready to watch me perform on this banana. There may actually be pictures floating around of me eating that banana.

XBIZ: The pleasure industry has evolved a lot since you first began. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve noticed, and how has women’s leadership impacted the direction of adult retail?

Faubel: I think the inclusivity has begat even more inclusivity. Did I just use a bible term? Honestly, it’s kind of amazing to see how many women and non-binary people are making a difference in this business, particularly on the retail level. Ladies’ Nights made way for other special events that cater to particular demographics, but these “exclusive” themes help create a world where we all feel better about what we are looking for, whether that be products or just guidance. I also think that women have had it easier in the sex toy world because there is still some societal shame surrounding men and their sex toy use that women aren’t subjected to. We have to know that for our struggles and triumphs, it’s our duty to help others through their struggles so we may celebrate their triumphs.

XBIZ: So what’s next on your overflowing plate of personal and professional goals?

Faubel: I will be traveling a lot for store visits. The Mimic + Plus was released in late October and our next product line is already in development. My personal life is just as busy and full. I recently won the first place Playwright Award at the 24-Hour Play Project in Las Vegas and my incredible best friends and I are producing and performing in a variety of sketch and improv comedy shows in the Downtown Vegas scene. I have a fantastic partner, Beau, who is just the most supportive and enthusiastic man/cheerleader I could ask for. And my dad and not-so-wicked-stepmother will be visiting me from New York once I return from my Euro-trip. Gah! I’m so lucky!

XBIZ: So now we’re going to do a little bragging for you. We know you’re unforgettable, but what do you think makes you a truly unique Woman in Adult?

Faubel: My intentions are true and I’m always honest about business, even if it means I made a mistake. I think accountability is a tremendous gift that allows us to be transparent with our colleagues, hopefully building a foundation of truth to work from. I also feel that my history as an improv performer helps me when I need to be quick on my feet and gives me insight into team-building. And, well, have you heard me sing at XBIZ’s karaoke events? Please ... you wouldn’t forget that.

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