People of Holiday: Gracie Obadele

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In her 22 years in the wholesale distribution sector of the pleasure product industry, Senior Account Manager Gracie Obadele has found that the most rewarding part of the job is the great people she gets to connect with, including customers, coworkers, and manufacturer reps.

Her motto of “Be the best you. You know how to be and stay positive!” is part of what she’s known and loved for industry-wide.


How many years have you been in the Industry? With Holiday?

I have been in the industry for 22 years on June. I have had the privilege of being a Holiday employee for 9 years.

How did you get into the business?

I was working as a legal secretary and found it kind of boring, when my best friend (Angela Blackmon) called to tell me about her cool job in the industry and how her company was looking for a customer service rep. It sounded like fun and a bit of a challenge, so I decided to apply and see what it was about.

What challenges have you confronted in your career and how have you overcome them?

The challenges have been few and far between. Most of them have come recently with all the crazy industry changes that have come about, but still with trying to keep up with all the new people and technology, it’s still very minimal.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding parts are the great people, constantly seeing new products developed, and having great friendships with co-workers, customers and all the fabulous industry folks.

What is your personal motto or mantra that you live by? 

Be the best you. You know how to be and stay Positive!

What career accomplishment are you most proud of? 

All of them, too many to list, I’m super proud of my whole industry life and service.

What are your professional goals for 2020 (and beyond)?

My biggest goal for 2020 at this point is staying healthy through this Pandemic, and getting back to normal, so we can all be #togethertogether and not #alonetogether really soon.

People of Holiday: Tammy Nanawa

 

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In her 30+ years in the adult novelty business, Account Manager Tammy Nanawa has seen and done it all.

From her start at pleasure product pioneer CPLC to the early years at Swedish Erotica (now known as CalExotics,) to her current position at Holiday, she has worked in accounting, shipping, customer service, and now sales.

Tammy has touched so many parts of The Industry and is a valuable asset to everyone she has worked with.

How many years have you been with Holiday Products?

I have been with Holiday Products for the last 10 years, and in the Industry a little over 30 years.

How did you get into the business?

In 1988, I was working for the West Coast Branch of American Intimate Apparel. The company closed. My Mom put in a call to a vendor and friend in the Industry. Her name – Susan Colvin. Shortly thereafter I was interviewing at CPLC. Yep, it was my MOM that opened this door for me!

I began working as an invoicer and gladly took on other tasks in the customer service, the credit department, and even did some “fill-in” receptionist work.

CPLC closed in 1990ish and I gratefully accepted an offer from Susan to begin a new journey of what is now the fabulous CalExotics!

The next phase of my life began with the birth of my beautiful baby girl, Joelle. I worked with Susan until 1993, but then chose to raise my girl full time. I accepted an opportunity to work from home with a former salesperson from CPLC, Helene Kusens.

We were a two-person team. She did her amazing sales thing and I was her behind-the-scenes partner. Everything from invoicing, customer service, even packed and shipped the orders from my little bungalow in Venice, CA. I remember how funny it must have looked to my neighbors. UPS would pick up every day, but daily more and more boxes were ready to go!

So much so that we had to find a small warehouse, and then a bigger warehouse . . Hence, the creation of Honey’s Place.

Sadly, Helen passed away. Her daughter took the reins and continued the growth.

In 2010 I moved over to Holiday Products. Yes, here we go again – YAY!

What challenges have you confronted in your career and how have you overcome them?

It’s a good thing that Helene pushed me out of my comfort zone. I loved being in the background. I fought tooth and nail, but she wanted to show me the art of selling, and now today, it is what I thrive on!

Now, with the amazing guidance and support of Ken Sahn, Holiday Products is my home.

The challenge of being in sales has been well worth the journey. I enjoy it so much. I am grateful every day for my blessings. I am still learning everyday how to be the best account manager that I can. With Ken Sahn and my coworkers’ knowledge and support – it’s all good.

 What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I spend my days with some of the most loving, mindful customers. My customer account base is FILLED with people who are always very grateful for who I am for them and I am so grateful to all of them. They are personal relationships in every way.

 What are your professional goals for 2020 (and beyond)?

As for 2020 and beyond, I don’t think I would change a thing.

 What is your personal motto or mantra that you live by?

My mantra is – Happy, Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise.

People of Holiday: DeAndra Smith

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After a stint in car sales and a break to take care of her beautiful family, Senior Account Manager DeAndra Smith entered the Adult Novelty Industry via wholesale distribution and continued the adventure by joining Team Holiday in 2016. Since then, she’s stayed focused on helping her customers by partnering with them and gaining their trust.  With a main objective of focusing on the big picture and celebrating successes, she says that joining the Holiday Products family was one of the best decisions of her career.


How many years have you been in the industry? With holiday?

In the Industry 9 wonderful years, and with Holiday for 4.

How did you get into the business?

I started my sales career over at Galpin Ford. I took a little break from the work force to focus on my motherly duties. An opportunity presented itself for a position at an adult novelty wholesale distributor, so I went out for the position and the rest has been an absolute adventure.

What challenges have you confronted in your career and how have you overcome them?

Sales has a ton of ups and downs. The ups are the best part of life, but the downs can prove to be challenging. The way I have overcome this is I just stay laser-focused on moving forward and taking the good with the bad. My main objective is to not get stuck or focused on the deals I may have missed but celebrating my successes.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Being put into a situation where I’m competing against other distributors and the customer choses me because of how effectively I have serviced them.

What is your personal motto or mantra that you live by?

Customers will come and go but we can’t take it personally.

What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

One of the best decisions I made in my career is choosing to come to work for Holiday Products. The president of Holiday, Ken Sahn, has been one of the most supportive managers I have ever had. Holiday is a family and I’m so proud to be a part of it.

What are your professional goals for 2020 (and beyond)? 

First, not to die from coronavirus ? I would love to maintain and sustain the accounts I have grown with. I’m praying we can continue to grow together. These are hard times, and nothing is certain, but this industry has proven, it’s resilient, and will be here.

People of Holiday: Angela Blackmon

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Holiday Products Senior Account Manager Angela Blackmon entered the adult novelty industry in 1998 as a sales assistant and quickly worked her way into sales. After a cross-country move to join Team Holiday in 2011, her hard work and determination has earned her the distinction of being one of the top distribution reps in the country. Angela prides herself on a level of service that is not only a true partnership with her clients, but has resulted in customers becoming life-long friends that are like family.

How many years have you been in the Industry? With Holiday?

I have been in the Adult Industry for 22 years, and with Holiday Products for 9. Moving to Holiday Products was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

How did you get into the business?

My boss Ken Sahn originally hired me to work for him as an assistant to the sales staff. One year later, his top rep at the time was retiring. I ask him to let me try my hand in sales, and the rest is history.

What challenges have you confronted in your career and how have you overcome them?

One of my biggest challenges being in this industry for 22 years is the amount of competition we now have. Everyone is now calling themselves a distributor and it has really convoluted this industry. I think what most in distribution neglect to understand is, we are all going after the very same accounts. No one has an account base that is exclusively theirs. When we keep allowing non-industry people to come into our industry and tarnish it, it hurts us all.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? 

Some of my closest friends that I have gained over the years are my customers. One of the most rewarding things is I have gained life-long friends that are now family!

What is your personal motto or mantra that you live by?

Don’t take it personal and always keep it professional and respect is key!!

What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

Becoming the number one rep in the industry has been my most valuable accomplishment throughout my career. I went from assistant to 22 years later dominating with record growth. I hugely proud of that.

What are your professional goals for 2020 (and beyond)?

I would really like to make it to the other side of this pandemic with most, if not all, of my retailers intact. I have serviced some incredible accounts through all of this and my support to them and their support back has been the saving grace through it all. I thank my customers for being my sound board and for calling on me when they just needed to talk. I would love to do another 10 years if the industry will permit and then retire and enjoy the sacrifices of all my hard work.

People of Holiday: Ken Sahn

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Holiday Products President Ken Sahn tiptoed his way into the adult world in the ‘80s with five trendy, risqué retail locations in major malls, which he co-owned in suburban Detroit. With retailer experience and natural people skills, Sahn’s career in wholesale distribution burgeoned as a jack-of-all trades during a long stint an adult novelty distributor.

Now as an executive at Holiday Products, Sahn employs his wealth of knowledge and industry relationships to methodically rebrand and rebuild the company as a solid distribution channel for retail stores, websites, and home party planners.

Sahn obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and a minor in business from Wayne State University before entering the retail business.

“[I graduated] never realizing that my psychology degree would be more valuable to me in business than the business degree,” Sahn said. “Even in this technological age, people are still the number one resource for businesses. Managing them properly can be the key to success or failure.”

Sahn recalls another event, in which a software company CEO spoke at a seminar on the importance of human resources that further validated his belief that business relationships are key.

“Managing employees and relationships can be very trying and difficult at times,” Sahn said. “However, it can also be extremely rewarding. Anyone can read management books and regurgitate proper techniques. To be successful you have to execute those strategies. I am lucky because it actually comes easy to me. You have to be a really good listener, have tremendous patience, treat your coworkers and employees with respect, be honest, to the point, don’t play games and most importantly lead by example through action and integrity.”

Sahn began his 19-year run at a Michigan-based adult distributor in 1990, where he served as division manager and vice president of sales and marketing. He said he was given the freedom to decide which route to take in moving the company forward after legalities restricted the sale of smoking accessories.

“I took a look at our product mix and just started adding more and more product to each category,” Sahn said. “We carried sunglasses, mugs, T-shirts, Zippo lighters, some risqué novelties and a small line of adult items. Our timing was perfect, and we rode the wave of the adult industry growth. At one time we had three catalogs: adult, risqué and gift. Our sales motto was ‘Adulting the gift world and gifting the adult world,’ and the combination worked.”

In 2009, a friendship that began as a business relationship led to an opportunity for Sahn at Holiday Products, based in Chatsworth, California.

“At the International Lingerie Shows [Holiday Products Founder and CEO] Moe Levy’s booth was always near ours and we immediately had a great, fun relationship,” Sahn said. “At some point we started talking much more. I had a lot of respect for him and what he had created with Holiday and Classic Brands but our personal friendship and camaraderie became even stronger than the business. Eventually, our wives got involved and that just solidified the relationship. I had also become very close with his son Loren who is now President of Classic Brands. So when we seriously talked about me joining Holiday Products, it was very quick and easy to make the deal.”

While spearheading the restructuring and growth of Holiday Products, Sahn said it felt like déjà vu.

“Although the times and challenges are different, this is exactly what I had done in the past,” he said. “I came into a company with a nice foundation, and I was brought on to improve upon that. In the first six months we made great strides in many areas, and but there was still a long way to go.”

Since then, Holiday has grown to stock over 8,000 items showcasing the Best of the Industry. Other changes Ken has overseen are onboarding additional Account Managers, expanding both the Purchasing and Graphics departments, implementing systems changes to streamline operations, creating a regular published catalog program, and the update to Holiday’s state-of-the-art website.

“Ultimately, I am responsible for everything that happens with Holiday Products. Specifically, I oversee the sales, purchasing and graphic arts departments. I have very competent people working with me and every day is new and fun for me.”


Excerpted from On Holiday by Ariana Rodriguez, which originally appeared on XBIZ

People of Holiday: Molly Romeo

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Molly Romeo says it was Holiday Products’ customer base that convinced her to join the growing distribution company in 2005. Fifteen years later, Romeo is still inspired by her clients and her passion has made her Holiday Products’ go-to product guru, copywriter and so much more. The spirited sales pro says that her motto is to “keep going” no matter what, and this determination has made her not only invaluable to the Holiday team, but to her clients that see her as a partner in their retail endeavors.

What is your role and responsibility as an account manager for Holiday Products?

I have all the traditional duties of a senior account manager — managing, maintaining and expanding my current customer base, presenting customers with new products, facilitating customer order placement, procuring new business, and general customer care and service. I go the extra step and offer my customers business consulting, whether they have an online boutique, own a brick-and-mortar store or stores, sell in third-party venues like Amazon or eBay, have a catalog company, a subscription box company, or do home pleasure parties. I help them with promotion ideas, provide product info so they can make the best selections to complement their current inventory, give them product presentation ideas, and troubleshooting tips to help them better service their customers. I’ve even been known to build or help build a website or two.

I also do the social media for Holiday, including our active Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts. Additionally, I write our blog, The Resource by Molly, where I feature a different item or series of items on weekdays. Plus, when there’s a press release in the works, I’m Kenny’s (Holiday’s president) go-to girl for copy.

I am known around the office as the product guru/specialist and make it a point to learn all that I can about every item, collection or brand. This allows me to help the rest of Team Holiday with product knowledge, assist purchasing in making selections that fit our “Softer Side Of Adult” inventory, help create catalogs (like our signature retail catalog, LoveLines) and help to keep our website —HolidayProducts.com — one of the best organized distribution sites out there.

How did you get into the business?

In 2005, I had just left the laser toner manufacturing industry, and was not really looking to get back into the workforce just yet. I received a call from an employment agency rep. She had seen my resume online, and based on my history of sales, customer service and management experience, thought I would be a great fit for a position at an adult novelty distributor who was looking to add to their team.

I thought, “Hey, why not?” and scheduled an interview at Holiday Products.

At the time, Holiday’s main customer base consisted mainly of home pleasure party companies, but it was the way that market segment was described that drew me in: I was told that my customers would be mostly women who were independent go-getters looking to support their families and themselves by selling pleasure products in a home party setting similar to a Tupperware party. I was also told that these customers didn’t just sell sex toys, but they helped enhance intimate relationships and even save marriages. Whoa! That was totally something I wanted to be a part of.

I guess the sales supervisor felt the same way about me, because my phone was ringing as soon as I walked in the door after that interview, and the employment agent told me I could start right away. I have been here at Holiday ever since.

What challenges have you confronted in your career and how have you overcome them?

Keeping up with all the trends and product advancement! That’s a good thing, though. It’s fun and helps keep things fresh.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

There are SO MANY parts! I’ll just pick my top few.

I feel blessed to be part of such fantastic group here at Holiday. Our veteran team has anywhere from five to thirty-plus years in the industry, and everyone supports one another, which is pretty amazing.

I also take great joy in the fact that my customers trust me and think of me as a partner in their operations. I love nothing more than helping a startup or a current partner try something new, watching them succeed, and helping them celebrate that success.

Additionally, I’m pretty proud of what Holiday has become. When I started, we carried about 1,500 items. When Kenny came on board, his mission was to reinvent us as a true wholesale distribution company, and we have done that and then some. I love that we have our own spin on this side of the business — offering a mix of the top-selling items from many different types of manufacturers, from the major to niche brands and everything in between — because I feel like this really helps our customers pick the best products. Our curated inventory of about 8,000 items is entirely hand-picked by the sales team and purchasing based on our experience and product knowledge, and that truly sets us apart from the pack.

What is your personal motto or mantra that you live by?

Keep moving, keep growing, keep going. You have to stay current with the consumer trends, the technology and with the industry in general in order to stay relevant and to continue to provide your customers with the tools they need to be successful. That’s what makes this Industry so much fun, don’t you think?

What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

If I have to pick just one, I would have to say I’m most proud of my reputation within the pleasure product industry. I’ve been told by mere acquaintances that they’ve heard I have integrity, provide spot-on advice, and give my customers great service.

What are your professional goals for 2020?

Keep moving, keep growing, keep going. [Smile.]


WIA Profile: Molly Romeo originally appeared in XBIZ

People of Holiday: Susanna Molina

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Holiday Products’ Director of Purchasing and Inventory Susanna Molina entered the adult novelty industry at the ripe age of 18 and after gaining experience at two top novelty manufacturers, moved on to Holiday Products in March 2010. In her current role, Molina participates in many facets of the company’s operations from supporting sales and the graphic arts department to executive decision making with Holiday Products President Ken Sahn. Driven by passion and professionalism, Molina says she looks forward to keeping the momentum going for Holiday Products into the future.

What is your role and responsibility at Holiday Products?

My title is Director of Purchasing and Inventory but my role is far greater than just that. I am responsible for everything related to product. This includes vendor relationships, new product, product fill rate, all ordering, pricing, budgets and maintaining proper inventory levels. I also facilitate the sales department with special order and communication as a liaison for our vendors. I work very closely with Kenny [Holiday Products President] in product direction and inventory analysis. I work directly with Graphic Arts assisting in production of our catalogs, email blasts, brochures and images for our website.

Describe a typical Monday at your desk.

Holiday Products is a great place to work so I actually look forward to coming to work on Monday. There is pressure to perform well but not a pressure cooker atmosphere. When I get to work on a Monday morning I check email voicemail, run inventory reports, check stock levels, check the calendar for upcoming meetings that we will be having that week and prep myself for those meeting, which are for the most part vendor meeting/sales meeting and purchasing meetings.

How did you get into the business?

Pipedream Products — it sort of just landed in my lap, I started at Pipedream when I was just of legal age to work in the adult industry. Then I went on for a brief stint at Stockroom and was actually prepared to move into another field when I got the call form Kenny and we both felt it was such a good fit he hired me on the spot.

What prepared you for what you are doing now?

I am not sure that anything prepares you for being in the adult industry. But my experience at Pipedream certainly was a big factor in preparing me for my work at Holiday. With that said, I brought a lot to the table for our team but I have learned so much since being here and that is exciting to still be learning and growing in your field.

What do you see as the challenges of working in adult novelty sales? How do you overcome them?

Being a woman in the adult has been somewhat difficult especially at the beginning of my career now that I have 19 years under my belt it has definitely gotten a lot easier, but I honestly have to say the most difficult thing about being in the adult business is trying to explain to my two boys — ages 18 and 22 — what I do for a living.

Do you have a personal motto or mantra that you live by?

“Live life with passion — love what you do, do what you love.”

What are your goals for Holiday Products in 2020?

Personally, I just want to keep on contributing and adding to our success. I joined the company in March of 2010, just four months after Kenny joined the company. Since then we have seen such enormous growth, added so many great members to our team and are having so much fun while doing this. My goal is to do my part to keep the momentum going!


WIA Profile: Susanna Molina by Ariana Rodriguez originally appeared on XBIZ