Launch of Magic Wand ‘Mini’ Praised by Vice, Cosmopolitan

Vibratex, the exclusive North American distributor of the Magic Wand brand, has received positive mainstream coverage from Vice and Cosmopolitan for the recently launched Magic Wand Mini.

Additionally, Kinkly.com has profiled Vibratex owner Shay Martin.

“You can never have too many vibrators, especially when they’re this legendary, and most importantly, this good,” Veronica Lopez wrote for Cosmopolitan.

Wrote Mary Frances Knapp for Vice, “Not only is the vibrator beloved by beginners and seasoned sex toy users alike, but its history and pedigree allow it to say, ‘Look dude, I got here first, and I know what I’m doing.'”

The Magic Wand recently appeared in HBO Max’s “Peacemaker” and the new Netflix series “Principles of Pleasure.” It was also just featured by New York Magazine’s “The Cut.”

Powered by a rechargeable battery, the Mini’s 6,000 RPM brushless motor delivers deep, rumbly vibrations and offers up to 2.5 hours of continuous cordless use on a full charge. Intuitive buttons provide seamless control of its three intensity levels.

“We knew the Mini was going to be something special, but we’re blown away by this reception,” Vibratex CEO Ken Herskovitz said. “Mainstream attention is something that helps everyone in our industry, and I hope our recent coverage supports all of our resellers’ success.”

For retail support, new color wave images, web banners, product description and a printable sell sheet with training information are available here.

Tips for Creating Inclusive Imagery That Inspires Shopping

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in the era of online shopping, we really do rely on images to communicate our message of acceptance and appreciation to our customers. One way to achieve this is to let your promotional images be a literal reflection of your customers, making your imagery more relatable and allowing them to build a deeper personal connection with your product and your brand.

Often, at the corporate level, it is easy to lose sight of exactly who our customers are for each market category. It is important to regularly review sales statistics to continuously reassess your target demographic and what products are important to them. In doing so, you may recognize niche demands that have flown under the radar. In recent years, my lingerie company discovered that our imagery was not necessarily a true reflection of many of our customers and we decided to do something about it. We realized that our women’s lingerie category wasn’t just for size-2 women. In fact, it wasn’t even just for women. We had been excluding many of our customers with our imagery without even realizing it. We decided we needed more variety.

Given an increasing demand for gender-fluid pieces and androgynous looks, consider compiling a style capsule, consisting of transitional pieces styled to inspire your customers to think outside the lines. These looks can range from high-fashion chic to festival, industrial goth and everything in between. The intention is to accommodate everyone regardless of their gender, sexuality or lifestyle choices. The goal is to encourage both retailers and customers to see pieces in a new light and consider all potential styling alternatives. In doing so, you will broaden the marketability of your products while leaving a lasting positive impression on your customers, who will develop a sense of loyalty to your brand. For a consumer, it is not always just about the product itself, but more about the experience. Customers want to feel seen and understood, and for some demographics this can be a rare find that could give you, as a retailer or wholesaler, an advantage over your competitors.

In addition to gender-fluid imagery, it is important to represent a wider variety of women in your marketing photos as well. At Coquette we always strive to include curvy models in our launches, as a major portion of our sales revenue can be attributed to our plus sizes. With the growing popularity of online shopping, it is so important to have product shots on different body types to make it easier for our online shoppers to choose their size and style. It is also worth mentioning here that excessive photoshopping is not helping our online consumers establish what will work best for them. Although lingerie is about creating a fantasy, it is also about feeling confident with your own individuality. We want to encourage customers to feel sexy, regardless of what society may have traditionally deemed as “flaws.” Stretch marks are the new beauty marks and unique features surpass “conventional beauty.” This is not to say we can’t include our size-2 models too. This means we need to work to include both.

Aside from featuring a variety of body types in your imagery, it is also crucial to include as many different looks as possible. Models of different ethnicities are essential for so many customers to connect with and unfortunately this fact is often overlooked in this industry. Statistically, it is harder to measure the volume of sales attributed to each ethnicity, especially online. What we can see is that when we have images available of multiple models with varying ethnicities, we do see a spike in sales. Again, it’s about connection and relatability. The more relatable the imagery, the more consumers will connect with your brand. More consumer connections means more sales and a more positive brand image.

While extensive photo shoots may involve a significant financial investment and may prove to be time-consuming, the numbers show that they do pay off. One way for smaller companies to manage the cost is by sending product to a variety of social media influencers in exchange for content. Another option would be giving your customers some incentive to tag your company’s social media in a post of them wearing or reviewing your product. Be sure to have them consent to your company using the images on your website. One of the benefits to an online retail platform is that there is no limit to how many product images you can include, just like there is no limit to the different types of customers your product may be attracting. If in doubt when it comes to how many images you should have available, more is more. Variety is the key. An aesthetic that is eye-catching to one consumer, another one might scroll right by, so give them everything! If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine what five or even 10 pictures are worth.

Tips for Creating Inclusive Imagery That Inspires Shopping by Marcus Horea originally appeared in XBIZ

OneUp Innovations Founder Louis Friedman ‘Liberates’ Brands With Clever Approach

As niche and specialized as the pleasure industry may be, some of our best-known brands don’t just succeed because their founders know sex; they triumph because they also know business.

Louis Friedman, founder and CEO of OneUp Innovations, can pivot between the respective worlds of adult and mainstream products like a pro — which is exactly what he is. We all know Friedman as the brains behind Liberator, a brand that’s arguably the originator of soft, affordable sex furniture. Friedman, however, knows how to flip a pillow regardless of his audience.

“Adjusting to life with the threat of COVID was all about staying home, working remotely and playing outdoors,” Friedman reflects. “These conditions allowed all of our brands to flourish as the need for intimacy enhancements, home furnishings, children’s play systems and comfy outdoor furniture grew substantially.”

Friedman is talking about his trifecta of consumer product families: Liberator sex furniture and positioning pillows; Jaxx, a lifestyle brand of bean bags and convertible furniture; and Avana, which creates sleep support aids and stylish comfort furniture with a holistic aesthetic.

Though Friedman’s approach to his newer, mainstream brands is always purposeful, their creation happened almost by accident.

“Most pleasure product manufacturers work with materials like plastics, motors and electronics, whereas Liberator’s mediums are polyurethane foam, fabric, wood and vacuum compression. Our other brands evolved as a byproduct of Liberator manufacturing,” explains Friedman.

“As Liberator sales grow, so does our waste stream of foam trim,” says Friedman. “This prompted us to make the eco-friendly decision to repurpose our foam and fabric trim to create products for other sectors through Jaxx and Avana.”

Imagine handing your collection of Liberator wedges to your 8-year-old nephew, or letting your fashionable, Gen Z niece design Liberator’s next sex pillow, and you’ve got the Jaxx brand in a nutshell. Adult industry veterans will instantly recognize the familiar shapes of Jaxx’s furniture and pillow play sets for kids, and the brand’s modern take on lounge bean bags for the whole family.

The difference is, of course, all in the marketing and product exteriors. Kids can create princess playhouses with the Jaxx Zipline PlayScape Castle Gate or space stations with the Jaxx Zipline PlayScape Convertible Kids Couch. Adults and families can relax in style on a giant Jaxx Lounger bean bag, outfitted in faux fox fur, or play video games from the comfort of a full-body Jaxx Arlo Indoor Bean Bag Lounger.

Similarly, Friedman tells XBIZ Premiere that Avana is also born of Liberator designs. Friedman explains that the Avana comfort brand specializes in assistive products for relaxation, rejuvenation and top-of-bed therapy. Targeting adult consumers with a “luxury” marketing approach, Avana features orthopedic memory foam support pillows, slanted pillows and mattress toppers for acid reflux relief, and the unique Uno Snuggle pillow for side sleeping, smartphone scrolling and traveling.

Again, Avana’s designs will garner sly smiles and maybe a giggle or two from adult product salespeople, as those in the know will recognize exactly what kind of activities these pillows were originally designed to encourage.

Friedman says adjusting the sails from sexy to subdued came naturally to his team and was further prompted by the quick, clever changes required to survive during COVID.

“[The pandemic] was chaotic for every company out there regarding supply shortages and health scares, and ours was no exception,” says Friedman. “Challenges aside, the pandemic resulted in some of our best sales years yet. Not only did those in quarantine come to Liberator to enhance their days and nights, but we were also able to pivot into creating masks and gowns to support local hospitals thanks to the diversity that being a vertically integrated U.S. manufacturer allows us.”

Thankfully for us in the adults-only sector, Friedman is far from refocusing his efforts on his mainstream brands alone. He’s got plenty of ideas and new designs to keep Liberator at the forefront of pleasure innovation.

“Liberator has already started rolling out new plush fabric offerings on some of our most coveted items,” he reveals. “In terms of future goals, we plan to produce more erotic home items that seamlessly transition from furnishings to fuel for heightened passion.”

Keeping up with sex toy trends, products like the Humphrey sex toy pillow and the Wanda Magic Wand toy mount have grown in popularity with solos and couples alike, allowing for seamless integration of vibrators and dongs into pillow play.

Liberator will additionally follow the ecoconscious movement in manufacturing and shipping, which will coincidentally help retailers by temporarily shrinking the brand’s larger products to better fit small shelves.

“We’ve expanded our sustainability efforts a lot in recent years, taking a ‘size matters’ approach to all aspects of the business,” says Friedman.

“Utilizing vacuum compression to reduce our product and packaging sizes has played an enormous role in both our success and our limited carbon footprint,” he explains. “Now Liberator products fit perfectly on standard retail POP displays and are convenient for easy carryout and low-cost UPS ecommerce.”

As Friedman consistently demonstrates through the actions of his business, responsibility lies at the heart of his personal and professional values. Though his team may be eager to return to travel and sales trainings, for the foreseeable future they’ll be staying put safely behind computer screens.

“We love participating in the adult space and conversing with others in the industry, but feel that the most responsible way to do so right now is virtually,” concludes Friedman on Liberator’s plans for 2022.

OneUp Innovations Founder Louis Friedman ‘Liberates’ Brands With Clever Approach by Colleen Godin originally appeared in XBIZ

What to Know About PVC in Pleasure Products Manufacturing

The adult retail industry has come a long way when it comes to product quality. In the span of the last decade, we’ve seen manufacturers grow more aware of what materials make for high-quality toys and, in response, move away from using lower-quality materials that led to the greasy, melty, smelly dildos of years gone by.

Consumers have also become savvier when it comes to shopping for toys. They know that some materials are “good,” and others can be “bad,” which informs their buying decisions. But as we manufacturers know, it’s not as simple as “good” and “bad” — and what if the materials that are often deemed “bad” got that reputation from misinformation and misunderstanding?

Today we’re going to talk about one such material: PVC. We’ll look at what it is, why it developed such a bad rep, and how companies like Blush are working to create PVC toys that are body-safe, high-quality and accessible to the masses.

WHAT EXACTLY IS PVC?

PVC is an abbreviation for polyvinyl chloride, the third-most-produced plastic in the world. In the adult industry, PVC can be found in many pleasure products, including dildos and anal plugs.

PVC is incredibly versatile and can be used to make hard plastic and softer realistic toys. Its durability allows a well-manufactured PVC dildo to last decades. It is also the least expensive material, which allows the sex toys made with it to be priced well below their higher-end counterparts.

WHY DOES PVC GET SUCH A BAD RAP?

There is a lot of misinformation online about PVC. Some of it stems from how PVC products were produced in the distant past. PVC used to be synonymous with phthalate-ridden products that leaked an oily substance through their packaging and smelled like a cheap shower curtain. With a reputation like that, it’s no wonder people think PVC is bad!

WHAT HAS CHANGED ABOUT PVC?

In recent years, as we have learned more about material safety and consumers have been more vocal about material preferences, companies like ours have worked to find ways to create PVC formulations that are rid of the unpleasant features that people have come to associate with the material. Nowadays, PVC is used to create a wide array of high-quality body-safe products — adult and non-adult products alike.

That said, many of the old beliefs about PVC live on, so let’s take a moment to bust some of the most pervasive PVC myths.

Myth: All PVC products contain phthalates.

Fact: Phthalates can be found in some plasticizers used to make PVC, making the material softer and more malleable. To ensure that products are indeed phthalate-free, manufacturers can obtain lab testing certificates that address the European Union’s REACH safety requirements and California’s Prop 65 requirements as part of their onboarding of raw materials vendors. Third-party lab testing can confirm that safety and quality are maintained after undergoing the various manufacturing processes. This ensures the final product meets or exceeds the standards set by the various government product safety agencies.

Myth: PVC products are porous.

Fact: We do not want to speak for other industries, but in the industry of making plastic “toys” — from children’s toys like collectible dolls, figurines, and bath toys to “toys” for grown-ups — PVC is without a doubt non-porous, even after it is softened by plasticizers.

Myth: PVC toys are low-quality.

Fact: You might be surprised to learn how broadly defined the term “quality” is in this industry, and it’s often a subjective measurement made by salespeople, buyers and end users. Some even associate a higher price with higher quality — not accurate!

The material alone isn’t what makes a product low- or high-quality. You’ll find low-quality silicone products on store shelves with $100-plus price tags and higher-quality silicone products with $50 price tags. There are high-quality PVC products with $30 price tags and lower-quality PVC products with $60 price tags, too.

What makes a product “high-quality” is fit and finish that reflects price point and overall value for the features and benefits it provides. For us, “high-quality” also includes maintaining strict quality control at the factory level, transparency with materials sourcing and testing, value to the end user and overall function. Does the product do what the package says it will? Will its components function and last for as long as is reasonable for its production cost and price point? Are we meeting demand without alienating shoppers with lower budgets? Everyone deserves access to quality pleasure products, and we know how to create quality at various price points, including using materials like PVC.

RELIABLE MEASURES OF QUALITY

First, feel in relation to how smooth a product is. PVC has a lot of drag, which is the most significant factor that can make a product feel lower-quality than other soft plastic products. However, once lubricated, PVC feels just as slippery as any other product. And remember: TPE Is only smooth because corn starch is added to it, and silicone is only smooth when a silicone-based coating is applied to the product.

Second, feel in relation to durometer. PVC can be made to be as firm and almost as soft as any other soft plastic.

Third, smell. There is a minimal smell to PVC, but it does smell like plastic. Be wary of products that use a synthetic fragrance to mask this “natural” plastic smell because the chemicals in such fragrances are known carcinogens.

And fourth, durability. PVC is by far more durable than TPE. It will melt at a lower temperature than silicone but has comparable tear resistance. As you can see, PVC offers the most value compared to any other soft plastic while giving up very little in quality.

PVC AND YOUR SHOPPERS

For retailers, knowing the truth about PVC can help expand your store’s selection. PVC is used to create some of Blush’s most popular product lines and some shoppers’ favorite items. The affordability of PVC toys makes these popular toys accessible to shoppers who otherwise might not be able to afford them. Armed with the truth about modern-day PVC, you will be able to assuage consumers’ concerns about the material.

So, there you have it. What you’ve heard about PVC isn’t the whole truth, and it’s essential to avoid the blanket statements that so often circulate about sex toy materials. Affordability is crucial, and people can’t always budget for $100-plus silicone that may or may not satisfy their desires! When made with intention and transparency, PVC is an affordable and versatile material that can give you and your shoppers a whole lot more accessible, body-safe options.

What to Know About PVC in Pleasure Products Manufacturing by Eric Lee originally appeared in XBIZ

7 Creative Ways to Orgasm from Clit Stimulation

Struggling to arouse your most personal pleasure spot? Sexual wellness writer Amanda Chatel shares some tried & tested ways to get lit with clit stimulation!

Oh, the beautiful, magnificent clitoris. Although once an anomaly, and even now somewhat misunderstood by those who either don’t have one or have yet to educate themselves on it, the clitoris, AKA the clit, is the center of pleasure for the majority of those who have a vulva.

Study after study of vulva owners has found that without clit stimulation, almost 80% of them can’t orgasm from penetrative sex alone. Granted, this percentage fluctuates a bit based on the study’s pool of participants, but the lesson here is that climax and clit stimulation go hand-in-hand for many.

What is the Clitoris?

The clitoris is, both literally and metaphorically, more than meets the eye. While there is the glan clitoris, the part of the clit that’s outside the body, there is a whole other part—an even larger part—inside.

Comprised of two corpora cavernosa, forming two crura (basically legs) that extend inward, the internal part of the clit resembles a wishbone and can be anywhere from 3.5 to 5 inches long, with a width of 2.5 inches. That’s a lot of behind-the-scenes that make the clit such a powerful erogenous zone. The external part alone is packed with roughly 8,000 nerve endings, with as many as 15,000 nerves throughout the pelvic area.

Clit Stimulation for Beginners

Because there is no one way to stimulate the clit, if you’re new to it (whether it be your own or someone else’s), it’s a good idea to take things step-by-step.

Locate the clit.

Not everyone knows where the clit is and that’s OK! This can especially be the case for those who don’t have one. If it’s your own that you’re trying to locate, a mirror can help. If it’s someone else’s, have them lay on their back and spread their legs so that you can get a good look at the layout of the land. Although clits vary in size and some are more noticeable than others, due to their clitoral hood, it resides at the top of the vulva. If you touch it with your finger, it will feel like a soft nub and with all those nerves, you’ll know you’ve hit the money spot.

Explore it.

For some people with a clitoris, one-quarter or half of the external part might be more sensitive than the other parts. There’s also the chance that some clits are too sensitive for too much pressure, while others need a lot of pressure and aggressive stimulation to get off. Some like tapping, while others prefer circular motions. It’s all about exploring what feels good and what can feel better.

Introduce some clitoral toys.

We’re lucky enough to live in a day and age where the range of clitoral toys is vast and the quality is exceptional. If you find you prefer a vibration type of sensation, then toys like Le Wand Deux, named for its twin-motor, can either directly stimulate the clit or be used to stimulate the surrounding area—a great option for those with sensitive clits that don’t need direct contact to orgasm

Use lube.

Although lube is often thought of as something that makes penetrative sex, both vaginally and anally better, it also makes clit stimulation superior too. While vaginas lubricate when a vulva owner is aroused, clits do not. That’s why having some lube on hand or a clitoral stimulation serum, either while masturbating with your fingers or a toy, is always a good idea. Yes, friction can feel good for some, but for others, it’s the silky smooth ride provided by lube that hits the spot.

7 Creative Ways to Orgasm from Clit Stimulation

While there are more than a few ways to stimulate the clit — showerhead, anyone? — here are seven approaches to get you started.

  1. Take a bike ride.

When women first started riding bicycles during the Victorian Era there was actual concern that the seat, combined with the bouncing along on the road, would cause women to be climaxing all over town. So, take that bike on a gravel road and see how you feel afterward.

  1. Use your pillow or mattress.

Have you humped your bed lately? No. Then maybe it’s time to get on that. Both your bed and pillow can stimulate the clit while you writhe in pleasure in your sheets.

  1. Internal stimulation.

Since we know the clitoris is also internal, stimulating along the wall against your pubic bone and lower stomach (the G-spot area) is another way to achieve pleasure. This internal part of the clit can be reached by a finger or by a toy.

  1. Look for something around the house.

Listen, with enough creativity, any household item can be used for clit stimulation. Although the showerhead may be the most obvious, take a look at your electric toothbrush—any thoughts? A 2018 survey found that 70% of people with vulvas had used a household item to get off.

  1. Hump your partner.

From the “sideways saddle” in which you sit on your partner, face away from them and use their bended knee to stimulate your clit, or straddle any part of their body and turn your partner into a playground of orgasm opportunities.

  1. Do Kegel exercises.

Kegel exercises might not seem an obvious choice for clit stimulation, but it actually is. Clenching and releasing, while strengthening the pelvic floor, is basically like stroking the internal part of the clit.

  1. Edging.

When you practice edging, either on yourself or with a partner, you bring yourself as close to an orgasm as you can, then stop; as in a full STOP. After a couple of minutes, you do it again to another full stop. You can do this as many times as you want, with the guarantee that when you finally do let yourself or your partner come, the orgasm will be stronger and maybe even longer.

Frequently Asked Questions About Clit Stimulation

Q: Help! I don’t think clit stimulation is working for me. What should I do?

First of all, don’t worry! Sexuality is complicated and what works for some isn’t necessarily going to work for someone else. There can be many reasons why clitoral stimulation might not work for someone: street, medication, sleeping issues, and more.

If you’re not in the moment when it comes to clit stimulation, it can be trying to achieve an orgasm. Stress, anxiety, and other external factors can weigh heavily on one’s mind and make climaxing via clit stimulation but a dream. Medications, too, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can also stand in the way of an orgasm.

If you’ve tried to stimulate your clit, both internally and externally, but it’s just not working for you, don’t fret. It may just be a matter of changing your medication, learning how to be more mindful so you can be in the moment, or exploring other erogenous zones that just might be a better match for what you need to feel pleasure.

Q: Is it possible to over-stimulate the clit?

Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Let’s unpack this.

During clit stimulation, the entire vulva becomes aroused and engorged with blood. All those thousands of nerve endings are tantalized and working their magic to make sure you have a pleasurable orgasm. Once you do, the clitoris can become sensitive. You might find that touching it directly after climax is too much to bear; this is even more the case if you have an especially sensitive clit. In these instances, it’s just a matter of stepping back and giving your clit the chance to take a breather, relax, and basically gain its composure—and it will.

What’s also important to realize in these moments, contrary to myths, is that you can’t numb your clitoris with excessive stimulation or by using a vibrator. Nor do you only have a finite number of orgasms, so you better use them sparingly—that’s all bupkis. If you experience an over-stimulated clit, rest assured that it will pass. Then you can get back to clit stimulation again!

7 Creative Ways to Orgasm from Clit Stimulation by Amanda Chatel originally appeared on Rumble & Buzz

How to Stand Out in the Growing Pleasure Products Industry

The sexual wellness industry is constantly growing and evolving, with more and more people embracing pleasure and seeking out education on how to be more sexually empowered and skilled. In what seems like an overly crowded industry, how can new products and young companies break through the noise? The answer lies with authenticity, innovation and ability to identify and fill a gap in the industry.

The founding of Lavinia was your less-than-typical entrepreneurial endeavor and never in my wildest dreams did I expect to create a community like the one we’ve established. My original plan in life was at the complete opposite end of the sexual spectrum — I believed that I was called to a life of study and reflection, to be a nun. That all changed while I was studying abroad. I met a “Francois” who, not surprisingly, took a dim view of lifelong vows of celibacy. In stepping away from nun-hood and into a life where sexuality was expected, my very apparent lack of experience felt like a constant burden. I found myself scared to ask, scared to explore, and doubting my sexual worth. No one gives you the rulebook or the tools to feel empowered, let alone pleasured.

After spending some time researching, I learned three very important things. First, I learned the chemistry of cannabis makes achieving an orgasm easier, makes multiple orgasms more accessible, and makes orgasms more intense. Second, I learned that the cannabis product I wanted didn’t exist. And third, I realized I was not alone in what I was feeling. It was at that moment that I decided to use my experience to supply what was clearly missing from the industry — to create not just a product, but a community focused on normalizing and finding empowerment in pleasure.

According to a 2018 study in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy titled “Women’s Experiences With Genital Touching, Sexual Pleasure, and Orgasm: Results From a U.S. Probability Sample of Women Ages 18 to 94, Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy,” only 18.4% of women report that intercourse alone is sufficient to experience an orgasm. That means 81.6% of women don’t orgasm from intercourse alone without additional clit stimulation. With four out of five women not experiencing orgasms from intercourse alone and 95% of heterosexual men usually or always orgasming during partnered sexual activity, feelings of sexual inadequacy are hard to ignore as a woman. But with so many women experiencing the same thing, the concept of creating a space designed for empowering pleasure and conversations around pleasure became less of a novelty and more of a necessity.

Creating a new brand in a crowded space is one thing. Convincing consumers that your product and brand is a necessity in the industry is a whole other challenge. The best way to do that? Communication. Listening to your consumer helps you to grow as a brand and keep making products that fill a gap in the industry. The same way that communication in the bedroom is key to a pleasurable experience, communication between company and consumer is key to bringing authenticity and necessity to the sexual wellness industry.

We have built the brand around the feeling of being alone in your sexual journey and realizing that it takes having a conversation to know you’re not alone in what you’re experiencing. To continue to expand, Lavinia must provide products that meet the needs of the community. Conversation and feedback are therefore major components in being a consumer-centric brand. In addition to communication around what consumers are experiencing and seeking out in their sexual journey, a wider conversation about stereo-typically taboo topics is something we pride ourselves on as well. Having a clear set of values as a brand lends itself to the authenticity that consumers crave in a constantly growing industry like the sexual wellness industry.

By valuing the authenticity behind a brand, supplying the innovation to create game-changing products, and identifying a gap and providing a fix for a common issue, new brands can stand out in this growing industry and become leading names in sexual wellness.

How to Stand Out in the Growing Pleasure Products Industry by Katie Enright originally appeared in XBIZ

A Look at the Latest Developments of Water-Based Lube

For as long as water-based lubricants have been around, there have been preservative systems in place to maintain the integrity of the product. To understand preservative systems, however, we need to take a step back and look at the most basic reasons why we need to know about preservatives in the first place.

First, while we may tend to associate the word “preservative” with chemicals or additives, preservatives actually occur naturally all around us, keeping the growth of microorganisms like bacteria and fungi at bay. Fruits and vegetables have preservatives built right into their genetic makeup. Otherwise, the fruit would rot before it had a chance to ripen. You will find naturally occurring sodium benzoate in a variety of berries, as well as methylparaben in both strawberries and blueberries. In grapefruits, the seeds help preserve the entire fruit from rotting, which is why grapefruit seed extract is used in several products as a natural preservative.

The challenge with preservatives is that they can often be irritating; even naturally derived substances like grapefruit seed extract can still cause sensitivity. Using the right preservative is therefore especially crucial in the world of personal lubricants because the product is used on some of the most sensitive areas of the body. The ideal solution is to find a preservative that is safe, nonirritating, and effective at keeping microorganisms under control.

Given the importance of preservatives in our everyday lives, there has been tremendous research globally on the safety of preservative systems. Some of the more widely used preservatives in personal care and cosmetics include tocopherol acetate, propylene and butylene glycols, disodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, anisic acid and parabens including methylparaben, polyparaben and butylparaben. With so many to choose from, there are several challenges brands may face when it comes to picking the right preservative for their products. Although research has eliminated several preservatives that are deemed dangerous, brands are still dealing with misconceptions that have pushed them to seek out different ways to preserve their products.

For example, the widespread mistaken belief that all parabens are dangerous has caused a lot of brands to eliminate the ingredient from their products. However, there are five types of parabens and three of them are safe to use — like methylparaben, which, as previously mentioned, can be found naturally occurring in strawberries and blueberries. The other two have been eliminated from use and have not been seen in products for a long time.

Another challenge brands may face is making sure the preservatives they choose are sufficient. A combination of several of the previously mentioned ingredients is often needed in order to fully protect the product. However, over years of research, preservative systems have dramatically changed and evolved as new and better techniques for preserving products have been discovered.

As we were developing our new glycerin- and paraben-free formula, we challenged ourselves to find new and better techniques separate from the current industry standard to preserve our new formula. We researched and studied what leading manufacturers were using in baby care brands. We figured if the ingredient is safe to use on babies, then it is likely safe to use in a lubricant. That was when we discovered a small but powerful preservation system with only one ingredient, Caprylhydroxamic Acid.

Caprylhydroxamic Acid, or CHA, is an amino acid naturally derived from coconut oil. It has a neutral pH, which is great for leave-on and rinse-off products such as lubricants! CHA uses “hurdle technology” to kill off harmful organisms and is a gentle preservative that ensures product safety and longevity. Hurdle technology works by combining more than one approach. These approaches can be thought of as “hurdles” that the pathogen has to overcome if it is to remain active. The right combination of hurdles can ensure all pathogens are eliminated or rendered harmless in the final product. This type of new preservative technology eliminates the need to use several different ingredients to kill off a wide range of organisms and is effective at lower use levels. Additionally, CHA is a great alternative to parabens.

This description of CHA serves as a quick information snapshot based on the years of data collection, research and development. In the future, CHA will likely become a common preservative of water-based formulas where product safety is the top concern. ID Lubricants backs this ingredient 100%, and we are utilizing CHA as the preservation system in our most recently launched product. Innovation is the foundation of our work and permeates our company culture, so I am pleased to share this latest find with the industry while encouraging my colleagues to incorporate it into their own future formulations.

A Look at the Latest Developments of Water-Based Lube by Gregg Haskell originally appeared in XBIZ

Strategic Retail Merchandising Tips for Navigating Today’s Supply Chain Issues

At this point, I think it’s safe to say that everyone has experienced some form of delayed shipment since the pandemic began. Vendors are struggling with overseas logistics, ports are backed up with whatever shipments have successfully made it off the boat, and products are taking much longer to transport to the final destination.

As an owner of both a wholesale company and a retail chain, no one understands the frustration better than I do. However, there comes a time when we must accept that there are factors beyond our control, and take action to succeed with what we have. So, what is the solution here? In my opinion, the key to success in these times, whether you are an online retailer or a brick-and-mortar store, is creative merchandising.

The first thing you want to do is make sure you always order your bestsellers in bulk. In terms of lingerie, there are some pieces that we just know will sell all year long. You know what I’m talking about: black lace or sheer fabric, crotchless styles, skimpy panties and hosiery basics. We could probably flatten a cardboard box and write “For Sale” on it with a permanent marker and these items are still going to sell out. These are the items you want to place bulk orders for. Gone are the days where you can replenish orders when you’re running low on a hot item and expect your delivery to arrive shortly after. The thing is, you just can’t be sure that your wholesaler won’t sell out of that item as soon as it hits the warehouse floor. It’s important to understand that if it is selling well for you, it is probably selling well for other retailers too. Run your numbers or survey your staff to figure out what your store’s hottest sellers are and allot a significant amount of your budget to place a larger order.

Of course, the real challenge lies in the dreaded seasonal items. Seasonal items are obviously important to carry, as we rely on them to keep retail spaces looking fresh, but when they come in late, we could have a tough time selling them because they look out of place in the store. We are feeling this now with the aftermath of Christmas. But here is the good news: many of those holiday items can be re-merchandised to work for Valentine’s Day or could even convert into one of those year-round bestsellers discussed above.

On our wholesale side, I can’t even count how many times we have moved styles, sometimes even whole collections, from our Holiday line to our Main line. We even reshot some of the styles this past couple of weeks so that they would have a Valentine’s feel to them. For this strategy to succeed, from a wholesale perspective, we need to re-market these pieces with fresh images for our retailers, portraying a more versatile theme. For example, if a red lace bra set is shot on a model wearing a Santa hat, our retailers see it as a Christmas item. They merchandise it for the holiday season and the end customer can’t visualize it any other way. When the season is over, if the retailer has no updated image to accompany the item, it gets tossed in a box in the back room for the next eight months. But it’s a red bra set. It should be a best-selling staple! For this reason, we like to provide our retailers with a variety of images, some of which are holiday-specific and some of which are not.

Unfortunately, not every wholesaler has the means to provide multiple images and not every retailer is able to organize a costly, time-consuming photoshoot. Luckily, there are still other ways to re-merchandize. For online retailers, you obviously do need an image so do your best to neutralize the one you have. If you have a graphic designer on staff, have them remove the festive background. For those who don’t have a graphic designer, there are apps out there now that do a pretty decent job at background blurring or removal. If the model is wearing a Santa hat, crop her head off. Online shoppers love a detailed closeup anyway. Next, you want to organize your items in a way that creates a story. Consider capsule trends to do this and add new themed graphics along the sides and banners.

For brick-and-mortar retailers, we suggest removing the images altogether and let the products sell themselves. Not only can you create a story here, but you get to create a full experience. Window displays are the obvious place to start. If you are transforming that red lace bra set from Christmas to Valentine’s Day, drape sexy sheer fabric around your windows and add all the gimmicks, battery-powered candles and a mix of red and pink faux flowers as an example of how to create a mood. Then take it a step further in your own way. If you are re-merchandising sparkly black or silver styles that you ordered for New Year’s Eve into Valentine’s Day pieces, black and silver heart-shaped helium balloons tied to the center of a display are a cost-effective way to set a scene. Also keep in mind that scents and music play a part in overall customer experience. Moving a winter piece into summer? Try a tropical scent and reggaetón music in your store. It might seem silly, but it works.

Of course, there will be the odd piece that gets left behind in all this. Sure, the red velvet with the white marabou will just have to wait until next year, but you will be surprised at the versatility of your existing stock once you start analyzing it. Most importantly, try to remember that even the Amazons and Walmarts of the world are dealing with supply chain issues, so your customer is desperately looking to you to get creative for them.

Strategic Retail Merchandising Tips for Navigating Today’s Supply Chain Issues by Marcus Horea originally appeared in XBIZ

A Look at the Benefits of Role-Play for Couples

What’s the No. 1 issue for couples in the bedroom? Boredom. It seems inevitable — after a certain amount of time with the same partner, it’s easy to slip into a routine that feels less exciting or satisfying.

But this is easily remedied, and there’s a simple antidote: Couples who make a point to routinely insert novelty and playfulness into their sex lives fare much better in the happiness and satisfaction department.

Keeping a brightly burning flame lit is one thing, but how do you reignite something that flickered out long ago? Couples in this position often feel stuck; they don’t know how to get back to enjoying sex like they did in the beginning of their relationship, back when sex felt carefree and playful.

Remember that sex is play. The first step is reframing how we think of sex. There’s a reason so many people refer to sex as play — that’s exactly what it is. Think back to when you were a child playing pretend games with your friends.

You’d invent all sorts of scenarios like cops and robbers, doctor’s office, playing house, or even pretending you are animals at the zoo. When you played, you let go of all your inhibitions; you were so focused on the fun and connected to the play, there was no space for hesitation or judgments.

For many of us, it was especially invigorating taking on the personality of someone or something different, and adult play can be surprisingly similar — though as grownups, we can use these games as a platform for sexy role play.

Role play is the key. Sexual role play can help use break through our intimacy roadblocks. When we play a character that is different from ourselves, our creativity flourishes. The uninhibited nature of role play helps uncover hidden parts of our personalities; we become more daring, find it easier to vocalize our desires, and our self-consciousness diminishes.

Some people say they aren’t comfortable with role playing; they feel silly, ridiculous, or downright embarrassed. What if they mess up or make a fool of themselves? How is feeling more self-conscious supposed to make you feel less self-conscious?

This is a very real hurdle that can be difficult for some to overcome, but using props and costumes is one of the best ways to get past this. Looking the part and having the right accessories can help you slide into your character and let go.

Animal role play

Pet play is a fun place to begin your role play journey. It lends itself to dominant/submissive dynamics and you can find plenty of accouterments to enhance your scenes.

With this type of play, one person acts as the trainer and the other is the pet. The pet’s sole focus becomes creature comforts while the owner exerts control by dishing out rewards and punishments.

Although puppy play is one of the most popular types of animal role play, the imagination is limitless. You’re free to be anything you want. A simple White Fox Tail Anal Plug and Ears Set or Brunette Pony Tail Anal Plug can be the springboard you need to fully step into your role.

Medical play

For most of us, playing doctor comes naturally. It’s a common childhood game, and for adult play it lends itself to naughty exploration. Medical play is also ideal for people of all experience levels.

Hardcore medical fetishists and those newly dabbling in role play can find it just as satisfying, and it can easily be adapted to most fetishes. Doctor/patient relationships often incorporate dominance and submission, humiliation, bondage, pain, sensory deprivation, or fear.

Accessories like blindfolds, restraints, electrosex devices, urethral sounds, and enema equipment can easily become part of a hospital themed storyline — all products that XR Brands proudly makes!

Completely restrain your willing patient while you test their sensitivity and reflexes with a Wartenberg Pinwheel, for instance. Rolled along the soft inner thighs and over the genitals, it is sure to bring about a spirited reaction.

Remember, pleasure product shoppers are often looking for more than just a toy.

Many are hoping to find support and tools to help reignite their sex lives, so turn on your empathy and help your shoppers think outside the box as they browse the merchandise. Suggest scene ideas and display complimentary items together, even.

Role play may just be the exact thing they didn’t even know they were looking for.

A Look at the Benefits of Role-Play for Couples by Rebecca Weinberg originally appeared in XBIZ

How to Create Long-Term Investment, Commitment Among Employees

In a country driven by progress, upward mobility and capitalism, we often forget what success truly looks like and means. We prioritize profit over people, and in doing so cannot maintain employees and staff. No wonder that, in what was called the Great Resignation, over 38 million individuals quit their jobs in 2021. Changing that culture is a daunting task, but we can start by looking closer to home.

The adult retail market is expected to grow to a $52.7 billion industry by 2026, but whom are we allowing to share in the success and financial rewards of this growth? We may win awards for our businesses and leadership, but none of that would be remotely possible without the countless staff and employees who put in incalculable amounts of time and effort to make and sell the products we profit from. They deserve to be invested in. That means investigating our internal structures and practices to ensure that we are truly progressive from top to bottom, with an essential focus on the foundations of our success and especially our employees, without whom we would not be the industry we are today.

Adult retail and sexual wellness is a multibillion-dollar industry, so there is no excuse for employees to be living paycheck to paycheck without benefits, support and possibility for growth. Most of the wealth is sitting at the top while those who are the backbone of this industry — sales staff and reps, production teams and stock associates — have to settle for a store discount, pizza party, or free product every so often. We can do better, by implementing an industry standard minimum wage that represents appropriate compensation for workers’ talents and skills and offering significant benefits like health insurance, gym memberships, professional development programs, staff retreats, and even assisted continuing education programs. That’s how we create long-term investment and commitment among employees.

Professional development is key to a successful staff. Present resources for staff to expand their breadth of knowledge of this business and the field of sexuality. There is a wide array of free business programs available online through sites such as Coursera where staff can take courses from accredited institutions such as Harvard, Dartmouth and Wharton on retail essentials and business strategies. Don’t merely convey sales goals to staff — equip them with the knowledge to understand your business goals, how to achieve them and what the overall big picture is of the business. When people can comprehend and visualize the intricacies of why that $5 add-on lube is essential and key to our sales, there will be more drive and ambition to make those add-on sales and to achieve goals together. Invest in sexual health and wellness certifications for staff. Work with sexual health education centers and professionals such as Anne Hodder-Shipp and Everyone Deserves Sex Education to create a program that caters to the needs of your staff. By educating staff on the nuances and intricacies of business and pleasure, you create a safe space for your customers to come, explore and spend. The ROI is evident.

Benefits are essential for maintaining employees and reducing turnover. The average retail turnover is 60% which accrues over $19 billion in cost. To increase employee retention, I propose we not only improve our hiring practices and workplace culture, but also implement an adequate benefits program that delivers true value, such as the distribution of company stock to employees. Show them the success of the business is just as much theirs as it is ours. Giving shares of the business to employees helps them become an integral part of the business and supplies drive and inspiration to succeed. Benefits should also include company-sponsored health insurance, paid vacation, sick and mental health days, student loan repayment assistance, and even parental leave and childcare support. Solid, inclusive and enticing benefits programs attract top talent while creating a sustainable and profitable workplace environment.

Employees are investing in us; we must invest in them. An industry-wide minimum wage should be implemented to guarantee the mass wage gap is diminished and that players across the board can work in this industry at a rate that allows them to live comfortably. The U.S. minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, which is unacceptable as the cost of living and inflation have increased dramatically. A $20-per-hour minimum wage, plus commission and extra incentives, would ensure that individuals can not only survive in this industry, but thrive. As this industry grows and our companies get richer, we have a human, moral and practical obligation to share that wealth.

With higher pay, enhanced benefits programs, and professional development, we can tackle our high turnover rate, appropriately elevate our staff, and create safer spaces for our customers to shop, which in return will allow us to further benefit and profit. When we come together, we succeed together.

How to Create Long-Term Investment, Commitment Among Employees by Kit Richardson originally appeared in XBIZ