Hello my lovely readers! Today I’m coming to you from London (yet again) and life is good. Never a dull day, that’s for sure! And when I think fun and excitement my mind often wanders to Knicker Rocker Glory and the fabulous owner: Ruby l’Ace.
Ruby is my Eroticon sponsor this year and I had the good fortune of meeting Ruby in person at one of her amazing craft days (along with her lovely other half and adorable dog). She is the glorious rockabilly-vintage embodiment of everything right in the adult community. Warm, inviting, informative, and truly passionate about providing the best user experience possible.
But I’ve rambled on enough. Time to let the lovely lady herself take centre stage (I would have it no other way).
Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview!
Allow me to say I adore the vibe of your site (pun intended). You recently went through a relaunch in terms of branding and I’d love it if you could tell us more about the new site and what you were hoping to convey through its aesthetic?
Brilliant, thanks so much! After trialling the website on a generic platform for about 6 months I wanted to be able to offer something completely different to anything else out there, whilst also reflecting myself as a person. I love my vintage, and after being treated to a boudoir photoshoot I knew I wanted to try and recreate the same positive, sexy atmosphere on my site. I didn’t want it to feel scary to someone who wasn’t necessarily used to shopping for sex toys online. I also thought about how I would like to shop online for my sex toys, and worked it back from there.
I notice that you offer a personal shopping service (something which is quite unusual for a retailer nowadays). May I ask why you decided to offer this service and how you go about it?
Some people shop online and know exactly what they are after. Others are browsing because they are either unable to make it to a suitable shop, or because they value their privacy. Yet that doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have questions or wouldn’t appreciate some advice along the way. After someone contacted me asking all sorts of questions regarding BDSM equipment, they eventually just held their hands up, gave me a budget, and asked me to do it. I then came back with a proposal of products, explaining any differences between various options, and from which they selected what they wanted. It took a lot of stress out of it on their part, and I knew that they were getting what they needed and wanted. I hate people wasting money! We have a contact section on our website where people can simply get in touch with what they are looking for. Sometimes what you think you want isn’t actually what you need for the job!
What is the most challenging part of running an adult retail store?
Getting people to notice you and trust you. You are forever fighting against the big guys, as well as the strict social media rules regarding advertising. It is so hard to get people to find you without being present on a high street somewhere.
Do you think some obstacles are specific to the online market? If so, what might the most prominent ones be and how do you work around them?
As mentioned above, the strict rules regarding online advertising on sites like Facebook are a real nightmare for an online adult shop. You are not allowed to promote anything relating to sexual enhancement (so you can promote condoms for their birth control properties, but not mention any ribbing for enhanced pleasure, for example). Even though you can really restrict who sees your content. It’s as if sexual pleasure is still the ultimate taboo (and last time I checked, we are here because someone had sex at some point…). Though red lacy lingerie in the run up to Valentine’s is absolutely fine and has NOTHING to do with sexual enhancement, obviously. Because we wear that stuff every day for our own comfort… Getting round it though? You just have to keep trying to be creative. There are no magic answers I’m afraid or we would all be doing it.
Flipping the coin (or maybe the double-sided paddle) what is the best part of running an adult retail store?
Oh I do love the paddle analogy! The people in this industry are amazing – I have never met a more supportive and open minded bunch (your good self included).
Would you care to tell us more about your background and how it may have inspired your choice to go into the adult retail sector?
My background is a complete mix – I have a degree in Forensic Biology, so I have a solid understanding and interest in the human body. But coming out of uni at the start of the recession meant I took a detour into the wine industry (I just needed a job/money). It was only supposed to be for a few months, but I ended up working in the industry for 10 years, ending up as a sales/account manager. It became clear to me that I much prefer the customer care side of things, and a previous job had given me experience of running an online business, so I had some of the business background in place. But why the adult industry? There is an amazing erotic boutique down in Brighton called She Said, and I had always said to my husband that if possible I would work there. The atmosphere, the service, the products, are all amazing. So when an opportunity of redundancy came up about this time last year, I decided to do something about it. I’d been thinking of how I would want to do this for about 2/3 years, and had a business plan, brand name, and was tracking down suppliers within a week. I firmly believe in sex being fun, safe, and part of a healthy lifestyle, and wanted to promote this to others. I also will talk about anything, and it seems people are very happy to talk to me too!
I notice in your About Us page that you only sell products made from body safe materials, which is fabulous! What informed this choice? Have you experienced any difficulties as a result of this (perhaps where your ethics have been tested?)
It actually came about as a result of buying cheap and cheerful sex toys over the years (as you do, when you’re starting out) and being pretty much always disappointed. There are loads of companies out there who will sell you the cheap stuff if you want it. Fewer places put a value on quality, and for me that goes hand in hand with the materials products are made from. One of the first vibrators I bought from a well-known high street store was purple in colour – and it proceeded to leech the purple colour all over the towel I stored it on. I was just thinking ‘I put that in my body!!’. As a result, if you spend £10 or £100 with me, I want the customer to be getting the best possible value. That includes not running the risk of putting something toxic on or in your body.
You also sell quite a few items to help with sexual health and wellbeing. How important is it to you to make sure that these products are readily available for customers? Do you feel more could be done to normalize their use and, if so, where do you place your efforts in this endeavour?
Massively important! Because of the nature in this country to not talk about sex or sexual issues, we force people to hide their problems away, and feel ashamed about something not quite working right. This makes me so angry!! I have suffered with depression for years, and that is something else people are ashamed to talk about, but I will talk to anyone about my own experiences in the hope that by talking about it I may help one other person. The same goes for the sexual wellness products – sometimes the body goes wrong, often through no fault of our own, but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. Certainly more can be done, we just need to talk about it more. As most people will Google before they set foot at a doctor’s surgery (I always advocate going to your doctor, but this is what happens in real life), we try to write blogs and create online content focussing on specific issues. Such as asking you to write about your experience with Vaginismus. We also have a Save Our Sex feature where people can contact us anonymously and ask a question they may be finding embarrassing or difficult to answer. Our resident sexpert Cheryl Kaye from Horny Geek Girl offers her advice, and we publish the answer on our blog (again, completely anonymously)
so that it can act as reference for someone else in the future. This is quite a new feature, and we’d love for more to use it!
One of the things I love about your company ethos is that you’re always keen to collaborate with other likeminded local adult businesses (your gorgeous gift hampers come to mind). Do you have any independent companies in mind that you’d like to give a shout out?
I love working with other independent business – they truly love their products and the help and support I receive from them in turn is fantastic. Plus it is so nice to stock products which are different and have a story. Massive shout out to the guys involved in our hampers; not just because of the hampers, but for all they do that doesn’t get seen by the outside world – Pixie and Andrew from Kink Craft (whom I also work with for our Afternoon Tease events), Mark from Sheets of San Francisco, Adam and Monika from Godemiche. They have all helped me in so many ways and their products are stunning. Also to Annabelle from Beautifully Undressed, who is a brand partner selling some exquisite boutique lingerie (and is so passionate about what she does). Lastly to Elizabeth and Neil at LUVSENSE with their stunning LUVVU ceiling mirror. You are all an absolute pleasure to work with and inspire me greatly.
And, finally, a tricky one for a sex store owner: What are your top five favourite adult products?
Haha, it depends on the mood, but as of today these are my favourites…
1) The Sheets of San Francisco Throw. Such a liberating product that allows you to completely let go and play as you wish. Plus, machine washable. Sorted.
2) Rocks Off Ignition Rechargeable Bullet. It packs so much power for such a discreet and affordable vibe; it is my go-to bullet in times of passion and hasn’t failed me yet!
3) Lube – either Sliquid, Yes, or Give Lube due to their natural and vegan friendly ingredients. Even the slightest touch becomes intensified with the addition of a little lube and it is such an easy addition to your play to make a huge difference!
4) Godemiche Ambit Dildo. Made in the UK from platinum grade silicone, these are amazing products with such beautiful presentation. The range of colours and finishes (rainbow, glitter, UV, pearlescent to name a few) are stunning and the Ambit can be used vaginally, anally, with or without a harness. Such good value, too!
5) The Fun Toys GPLug and GRing. these are remote controlled butt plugs. Let me say that again, REMOTE CONTROL BUTT PLUGS. Aaaaaannnd you can control two or more butt plugs at the same time!! So much fun!! Plus, the small size is really cute…
What a great interview! I don’t know about you but I feel like Knicker Rocker Glory is one top notch company and I can’t wait to share tea with Ruby again real soon.