Throughout my journey of creating The WaterSlyde, several women have given me their support, knowledge and guidance. One of the most influential women to whom I am utterly grateful is Casey Murphy.
Okay, I’ll just say it: I love her. Casey has over 12 years of experience in the adult novelty industry. She has a plethora of knowledge of almost every sex toy created – and the business behind them. She’s also guided many women throughout different stages of their careers, and I can say with confidence that I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Casey to talk about her journey, and am excited – especially for all you entrepreneurs out there – to share our conversation.
Tell us a little about your story. How’d you get started?
In a nutshell, my story goes from pleasure products industry employee, to pleasure products small business owner/entrepreneur, to pleasure products business expert!
My job experience in the sex toy industry, which I entered in 2005, has primarily included marketing and sales roles. Within these positions at sex toy manufacturers and distributors, I acquired experience with the sex toy making, product education (recurring – that never stops), sex toy consumer trends, niche markets (BDSM in particular) packaging and quality control, retail/B2C business strategy, event coordination, and so much more!
In 2017, I was working in sales for a sex toy distributor. My job was to sell relevant pleasure brands and products to my customers – retail, online, home, party, sex toy store owners, etc. But I felt most fulfilled when I had the opportunity to offer advice on how to grow their business – and compete.
Some of my customers at that time were long-time pleasure product business owners; others were just getting businesses off the ground. Having these conversations – and hearing excitement in their voices and knowing the ‘lightbulb’ had just gone off when I would suggest a marketing opportunity, or explain SEO, or share social media strategy tips – showed me that I had much more knowledge than I realized.
Being a source of creative inspiration and critical insight to my customers started to shed light on a different life purpose that I would eventually pursue. Recognizing my ability to help even well-seasoned industry veterans re-invent their businesses gave me the confidence to start my own business.
And so The Pleasure Parlor was born???
Yes! In November of 2017, I created The Pleasure Parlor — an online boutique, pop-up shop and a body-positive, sex-positive space for women to learn about different modalities of pleasure. I learned how to build my website from the ground up. Implemented the SEO strategy that I had been taught years before. Wrote my own content and product descriptions from the heart; taught myself Photoshop slowly. I did everything my way. I had nothing to lose and wanted to believe that my business could be successful without following anyone else’s formula.
I wanted to parlay my experience into multiple business models under the Pleasure Parlor umbrella. I declared the Pleasure Parlor as a traveling pop-up shop and subscription box business as well, and made those things happen by making different connections, utilizing my creativity, and – finally – sheer force of will.
We’ve all faced challenges, seemingly from every direction, though those moments often sever as inspiration. How about you?
When I started out, I felt that I had to prove to my semi-conservative family that it wasn’t ‘bad’. Let’s be real…there will always be someone who cringes when they hear the words ‘sex toy’. Those two words are (still) never muttered at the family dinner table. We don’t even really talk about anything pertaining to my job/industry…and all this time, I’ve just wanted to scream “WHAT IS EVERYONE SO F&%$#@* AFRAID OF?!”
That mission evolved into wanting to slay the stigma around sex, pleasure, and everything in-between on a larger scale. So I geared the Pleasure Parlor towards femmes and couples who were interested in exploration BUT needed ‘permission’ from someone else. I wanted to be that person! So I poured my love and product knowledge into a curated selection of sex toys and kits that were accessible even for the most apprehensive individual/s.
What led you into you to be a Pleasure Business Mentor. In fact, what is a pleasure business mentor?
After two successful years of being in business online, I’ve started to re-focus my efforts on helping other women build unique pleasure-centered businesses from the ground up – usually with zero resources. Starting and running a business demands way more personal growth and mindset shifting than one might imagine. Even though I had more industry knowledge than the average entrepreneur when I started, that was only a fraction of what I needed to push through the challenges and personal limitations that surfaced. Mindset techniques were invaluable getting over those limitations, and I love incorporating them into work with clients now.
So, to make a short story long, I consider myself a mentor who shows femmes how to build purposeful and profitable pleasure-based businesses, whether e-commerce, brick-and-mortar, or otherwise. Especially for those who don’t consider themselves entrepreneurs in this industry yet.
When people first hire you as a pleasure business coach, what kind of questions do you get?
The most common question is “how do I _____?” — fill in the blank!
“How do I….start a website. Grow my social media. Find the right products. Price products and shipping on my website. Host a pop-up shop. Work with influencers. Stay up-to-date on industry trends. Launch my business. Get exposure.” The list goes on and on…
Truth be told, those answers are not impossible to find. Everything that I was equipped with originally, I had to figure out on my own, as did most grassroots entrepreneurs. Google is your friend – pretty much anything you are looking for can be found online.
Self-learning on Google can also send you down that rabbit hole. What do you do you stay on track?
The primary benefit of working with a mentor is that you’re receiving all of their prior hard work and time – years spent learning – wrapped up into a step-by-step roadmap. Additionally, a lot of first-time business owners think it’s just a matter of getting from point A to point B; checking one goal off the list and moving to the next. But in reality, it’s not that easy to get from one point to the other.
Our minds want to tell us we’re going to fail – that we don’t have the time; that it’s all pointless. A great mentor / coach recognizes the power of your vision every day, and should be there to guide you through the recurring limiting beliefs. Ninety-five percent (95%) of online pleasure products entrepreneurs give up because they don’t see web sales within the first three months. That is, if they don’t give up before even launching.
The adult pleasure market is oversaturated, so you have to be committed: to the long-haul as a business owner, and to executing your idea fearlessly – no matter how dim the outlook may seem. It’s not always going to be easy, but working with someone experienced who can show you the ropes — and simultaneously remind you of your brilliance when you want to give up — is often an invaluable part of the process.
What first drew you to the pleasure products/adult novelty industry?
I didn’t have my sights set on it at all and fell into this industry by chance. A friend I was playing roller derby with in 2005 mentioned an opening at her company, XBIZ, in the advertising department. At the time, I had no experience in advertising and I DEFINITELY wasn’t seeking a job in this business. It just ended up happening.
I was a journalism major and had worked at Universal Music / Interscope Records. But I’m an open-minded person and wanted to learn the advertising/publishing aspect of it. So I gladly accepted the position…without having any idea that it would lead me to where I am now.
It’s a complete trip to think about this journey hindsight. If I ever doubted the universe, I don’t anymore. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. And for that I wake up grateful every damn day to be here, building my own businesses after an amazing 15-year journey down the (x-rated) rabbit hole. 😉
You must almost consider yourself one of the early female pioneers?
That is very kind of you to say! I hadn’t really considered myself a pioneer. I’ve been in the industry since 2005, but have always just been plugging away in the background — writing, marketing, sales, whatever was needed, ya know?
In 2009 I was working for a French novelty brand which was new to the space, and I spent two years helping them break into the US market. Their main product didn’t vibrate! That was a super hard sell for a minute, haha! But it eventually caught on , and that year XBIZ created a category at their awards show for “Best Non-Powered Product” – which we won!
I’m no Susan Colvin, but I feel like that was an awesome achievement. Non-vibrating sex toys were considered overlooked (and underrated) prior to that.
There are so many sex toys on the market. What are some of the most important features you would advise consumers to consider?
Well, sex toys aren’t one-size-fits all by any means, so a specific feature to one person may be irrelevant to the next person. Purchasing sex toys is a very intimate process, so I’d suggest starting with personal preferences.
The initial question I always ask first-time consumers with vulvas is “do you prefer external or internal stimulation?” From there, “how sensitive are you to vibration? Are you looking for a toy with deep and rumbly vibrations, or ultra buzzy vibrations? Do you prefer direct clitoral stimulation – a Le Wand massager for example – or indirect contact stimulation, such as the Womanizer’s ‘Air Pulse’ technology?”
For me personally, body-safe materials regarding toys is nonnegotiable; silicone, glass, wood or stainless steel, for example. With condoms and lubricants, it’s avoiding artificial ingredients, so stay clear of glycerin, parabens, fragrances and dyes!
We met on Instagram when you reached out about The WaterSlyde. I’m forever grateful for your support!
The WaterSlyde caught my eye immediately because it was sooo different than anything I’d seen in my previous 12 years in this industry. The industry is such a bubble sometimes. Manufacturers struggle to see anything beyond what is right in front of them. We all get caught up in creating “the next best thing.” Truth be told, 75% of the sex toy industry is re-inventing the wheel – and when I say ‘wheel’’, I mean the ‘rabbit vibrator’!
The WaterSlyde was genius because it centers around a very, VERY common method of self-pleasure – the bathtub technique – and doesn’t require any bells and whistles to resonate with consumers. I was like ‘wow, this is so simple and obvious, I can’t believe it hasn’t been created before….’ And again, that really has everything to do with you being an inventor from outside the industry.
Needless to say, I loved it immediately – even wrote about it – and wanted it to succeed. So I took a look at the ribbon to see how it was constructed and, yes, messaged you on Instagram out of the blue!! I kept thinking, “She’s totally onto something…this product has huge potential, and I want it to be perfect when she brings it to market!”
From there, our friendship was born. 🙂 Learning about the time and energy that went in to simply choosing the right ribbon – among other things, I was eager to get you as much as exposure as possible. The WaterSlyde deserves all of the credit, love and affection in the world!
Where do you see the industry going in the next 5 years?
Into the future, baby! I see even more tech entering the space. I see product design becoming much more refined; sleek simplicity meets high efficiency (see Lora DiCarlo and the “blended orgasm”). I also see business models and priorities shifting focus from creating objects – pleasure products – to more experiences, I hope. I see an intriguing integration with mainstream on the horizon; more overall acceptance on a social level.
As far as media and censorship…that remains to be seen, but I’m really, really trying to stay optimistic. Let’s hope someone will soon develop a safe space for sex wellness brands, fans and consumers to engage in an Instagram-style atmosphere. It’d be mixed with a marketplace without the rules and regulations that we are constantly navigating on a day-to-day basis right now. Wouldn’t that be extraordinary?!
What does it mean to you to be a Babe With The Power?
Being a Babe With The Power means continuing to walk through the fire despite how broken or lost we might feel; and, ultimately, having the courage to let your passions burn brighter than your fear.
I was going through old journals a couple weeks ago and found an entry from 2002 when I was really struggling with life: “I know I am driven and powerful. I just need to work on getting out of this place, and getting to where I need to be.” At the time, I didn’t feel powerful in any capacity, and I had no game plan whatsoever.
And I was like, “wow, somewhere during that time, I found my power. My self-worth. My purpose. And it happened when I wasn’t even looking.”
After re-reading that entry, all of my frustrations, failures, growth, learning experiences and accomplishments since that day flashed through my mind. And I was like, “wow, somewhere during that time, I found my power. My self-worth. My purpose. And it happened when I wasn’t even looking.”
I know how much positive impact you had on me. How about the mentor(s) who helped you along the way?
Thank you! Yes, I’ve had SO MANY mentors.
- Alec Helmy at XBIZ gave me my first opportunity in this industry. From there I was able to learn every aspect of the adult business – the video/DVD side (way back when), affiliate world, and novelty.
- From there, working directly with Mike Herman (former President of Stockroom). He taught me everything I know about SEO and e-commerce, as well as instilling me with so much confidence. The man is a genius, and he has always praised my creative abilities.
- Autumn O’Bryan (formerly SexToy.com) is an all-around badass bitch. She’s a real-life superhero who can literally do anything. Her mindset really inspires me.
- Dr. Sadie Allison (TickleKitty) pushed me to learn and write about topics that I otherwise wouldn’t have explored.
- David Joseph (formerly Red Light District). He’s an AVN Hall-Of-Famer, has owned multiple big businesses, and has the biggest heart I know.
They are all knowledge-seekers. Community creators. They want everyone to succeed: their employees, their colleagues, their consumers. They all bring out the best in their employees by expressing appreciation, and by doing so they make coming to work every day a valuable and fulfilling experience.
On a certain level, I feel like many of those who have landed in this industry have been misfits in life. That’s what makes the bond in our community as special as it is.
You’ve been a wonderful friend and advisor for me for the past 3 years. Thank you. So, what’s next for you?
I’m still working hard on my online boutique, thepleasureparlor.com, but I’m in the process of building my creative consulting website – stay tuned!!!
About The Author
Inventor of The WaterSlyde, a revolutionary, patented feminine hygiene device / stimulator, and co-owner of Lovability, Maureen Pollack believes in removing the stigma surrounding sexual health and personal hygiene. She is also an intimacy coach, helping empower women in all stages of life to embrace intimacy through coaching and lifestyle products. A book and feature film about Maureen’s journey as a “mompreneur” are currently in pre-production.