WIA Profile: Ruth Arceo

WIA Profile: Ruth Arceo

In the beginning, all Ruth Arceo knew was that she dreamed of being a buyer — but when the opportunity presented itself for a career in the adult world, she found she’d struck it rich.

Today, Arceo is the lucky lady who gets to pick and choose how to line the shelves at The Pleasure Chest in West Hollywood, California. The neighborhood is an LGBTQ+ mecca, and Arceo’s openly kinky clients are rarely shy about asking the staff about all things sex-ed and pleasure products.

While I feel more confident as a buyer and I feel like I’ve found my little corner of the industry, what’s been much more impactful are the relationships I’ve made along the way.

Despite having come over from the very vanilla mainstream apparel industry, Arceo soon found that she was a natural at navigating the sexual wellness space. From coaching sales associates on how to sell impact play accessories, to leading SEO meetings, to curating the Pleasure Chest’s coveted collection of BDSM and vibrating goodies, there’s no challenge Arceo can’t meet head-on.

XBIZ Premiere tips its cap to Ruth Arceo, WIA’s Woman of the Month, who happily wears many hats, and all of them with a smile for her beloved industry colleagues and friends.

XBIZ: How did you get started with the Pleasure Chest and the sex toy world?

Arceo: This was my first job in the industry. When I discovered a listing for the junior buyer role at The Pleasure Chest, that was the very first time I had ever heard of the company! I had no idea that The Pleasure Chest had been around for so many decades and had such a rich history. In fact, this was an entire industry I had never considered before. It was an exciting opportunity.

But before I applied, I visited the store in West Hollywood to find out if I could see myself working there. I had a wonderful experience. The staff was so welcoming and warm and full of great knowledge. At the time, I was working for a manufacturer in the apparel industry, but I couldn’t ignore my dream job of becoming a buyer. I was nervous about learning a whole new industry, but my excitement was more powerful than my anxiety. I remember talking to some friends and family to get their opinion on this potential new job. To my surprise, they all said this new opportunity made a lot of sense. Among my immediate and extended family, I was usually the only one who wasn’t afraid to talk about subjects related to sex. It all came pretty naturally to me. So I applied, and — long story short — I’m still here!

XBIZ: What are your main duties in your current role at The Pleasure Chest?

Arceo: My title is Director of Operations and Purchasing, but I am more than just that. Basically, I wear many different hats, depending on the day, or even the time of day! I do purchasing, but I also help with hiring and training for all of our managers. I oversee the web department, as well as the social and graphics team. In one day, I can sign off on a new hire, lead our SEO calls for upcoming changes to the site, re-merchandise the WeHo store and go digging for an invoice for the receiving team. I am a sponge of information for The Pleasure Chest.

XBIZ: Upon joining this industry, did anything surprise you or stand out for you?

Arceo: The people. Not only within Pleasure Chest, but the industry as a whole. I’ve never been in such a welcoming space as the adult industry. Coming from the apparel industry where it can be a bit more cutthroat, this new industry was a breath of fresh air. I remember being saddened when I found out I was losing a sales rep, but then I quickly learned the person would be staying in the industry and joining a new team. I love seeing how everyone here is truly trying to help one another. I don’t think you find that kind of caring and friendship in other industries.

XBIZ: In a nutshell, what is The Pleasure Chest’s main focus for this coming year?

Arceo: This is a complex question. In one word: growth. But that word can mean a lot of things! On the one hand, it means reassessment. How do I look at things differently and challenge my preconceived notions of how to make Pleasure Chest not only run smoothly, but thrive in a difficult economy? On the other hand, it can also mean “surprise,” as in innovating in a wide variety of ways, from how we work with vendors to how we merchandise our stores to how staff are trained. The focus above all is to keep changing. If we just set the same dials and press the same buttons and hope for the best, then really, we’re just going backwards. Growth means forging a new path, being unafraid of moving past old systems and embracing new ones.

XBIZ: Has your time at The Pleasure Chest offered you any unique opportunities for personal growth?

Arceo: Pleasure Chest has offered me some of my most challenging but rewarding life experiences, both professionally and personally. It has been a lot like being in a boat in a storm and having to learn how to steer it. As my boss likes to say, “sink or swim” — and baby, I swam, drowned and swam again. There have been many days of struggle and anxiety. But at the same time, incredible learning experiences and wonderful life experiences.

While I feel more confident as a buyer and I feel like I’ve found my little corner of the industry, what’s been much more impactful are the relationships I’ve made along the way. The friendships have really kept me going and I love that I continue to learn from my peers. I started at Pleasure Chest with only the dream of becoming a buyer. Now my aspirations are beyond purchasing, and I know that Pleasure Chest will afford me the opportunity for even more professional growth than I can dream of.

XBIZ: What do your customers want these days? Who is “the” Pleasure Chest customer?

Arceo: At Pleasure Chest, we’ve found that the kink category is one that stands above the rest. Customers want to find more on the shelves and online, and they’re much more curious and adventurous about this category. That means we take more chances on unique items, specifically in kink, such as impact toys, chastity devices and quality leather items. The topic of sex is becoming more mainstream every day with people like Dakota Johnson and Christina Aguilera using their voices to shine a light on our industry, which leads our customers to become more experienced. Luckily, our staff is also quite experienced and can help guide customers who want to learn more.

XBIZ: How has The Pleasure Chest evolved since bouncing back from the COVID years?

Arceo: We’re constantly evolving. We haven’t stopped. Everything from how receiving is done in our stores to how our web department functions and how we perform customer interactions has been through significant changes through the last four years. If we don’t adapt to new challenges, we’ll become stagnant, and our customers will feel it. For example, customers have more questions about products than ever.

XBIZ: What do you love about being a “Woman in Adult” today? What keeps you feeling proud to be in the industry?

Arceo: It feels wonderful to work in an industry with so many powerful women! It’s been impactful to me in my career to see that so many leaders in the adult industry are women. I look up to so many of them and I feel fortunate to consider several of them to be friends and mentors. I feel like in other industries, they not only don’t have the same sense of camaraderie, but also women simply don’t have nearly as strong a collective voice. That’s why I’m excited to keep going, because I feel like the growth opportunity is there.

Each month, 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.

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