The Noughties heralded in some massive changes in the adult industry, although it wasn't completely revolutionised in the way I would have hoped for. There were some massive changes for me too with a marriage and two children in the mix.
One of the biggest thing to happen was LELO. Yes, it was thanks to these Swedish designers that the perspective began to swing towards WOMEN as consumers of sex toys.
One of the first prototypes of the Lily clitoral stimulator in clay.
Up until then, it was almost impossible to find products with good design and packaging. Everything was low end and largely marketed to men, not the women who used them.
Lelo turned all this on it's head with a range of products that were as beautiful as they were functional - which makes their fall from grace so much more difficult to bear (but more on that later).
Having a company like Lelo in the mix, meant that I no longer had to repackage all of my products. Their packaging was stand alone and brought about a new way of merchandising and upscaling.
The other massive change was of course, the internet.
Early on in the 2000's I spent over $10,000.00 producing a catalogue which was a huge expense for me and a massive waste of money (I still have hundreds left over). Even so, I was proud of my beautiful little catalogue and to avoid the ugly stock pictures of the products, I had each one individually illustrated to make them shine.
I put a few ads in The Age (before they stopped letting me) and they cost $5,000.00 - $10,000.00 too, although I always grabbed the late rates which were significantly cheaper. No wonder newspapers and magazines are all but finished. Who could afford that now when you can advertise your product for free on the internet?
Today I have a beautiful website that was created with a lot less money and maintained at virtually no cost. Hallelujah!!
Curating the products was a lot easier then because there were so few companies producing anything of quality. On the other hand, it was a lot more difficult to fill the store. Often times I diversified into gift categories to enhance the merchandise but this is a quick and easy way to lose focus and many times I did.
Having a world of incredible products at my fingertips has helped me to fine tune my radar and stock what I believe is best for my customer and fits within the brand. The 90's were a jumble of ideas that I think were still evolving during that period.
To be honest, I don't think I had a clear direction for much of the noughties and just plodded along. Having no role models in the industry makes it difficult to know what to aspire to and I didn't seek out help. And being in the 'sex' business can create barriers when asking for advice from the traditional fields of mentoring and banking, where support is not forthcoming.
Having two children moved my focus away from the shop and that was reflected in a downturn of business by the end of the noughties. So often for us business owners, life gets in the way and business can suffer and die. My business took a massive downturn my the end of the 2000's and something needed to change but it took a few years to figure out how.
Stay tuned for the next installment 'How I Turned My Business Around'.