An Open Letter to the Sex Toy Industry

As I sit here in yesterday’s clothes and a forehead wrinkle that would make most upper class women instinctively reach out to rub it smooth and tell me the wonders of Botox, darling, I’m really happy that I have a job where I can sit here at home and do a little work and then do a little of this or that and put in my time in snippets. It works around my doctor visits and my grocery shopping and my trips to see/help my mother1. Some days it leads me to sex toys and sex toy manufacturers that absolutely disgust me; some days it simply leads me to companies that merely annoy me because of their cheesy crap and half-ass site; other days I’m shown the better side and see that there is good in the sex toy world.

I will start out addressing the small companies, the niche companies who are ultimately good eggs with products ranging from pretty decent to admirable. I write this post not to just let off some steam but with the smallest glimmer of hope that maybe…….just maybe….some of these words will land on the right computer screen and be taken to heart. Maybe one change will happen.

Dear Small Company;

You are trying hard. You are fighting the good fight, perhaps. You are making your items out of body-safe materials and you are not trying to pass off a wolf in sheep’s clothing as an innocent lamb2. But your online presence is really fucking important. Your website is super fucking important. As a customer I want photos and I want details. Lots and lots of details. I want to know the every dimension and exactly how it works. I don’t want some artistic/”French”/mysterious website that is more about the visual than the information. I can see your item or your kit and yet I have no fucking idea what exactly it is? I’m not going to buy it. As a person working for a reseller I want high quality photos of every item and every color and even more details than I’d want as a customer. Why do you make our jobs hard, when all we want to do is sell your product? How can we underlings write up your great products so that Consumer Joe Schmoe who doesn’t know jelly from silicone can see that they’re better and that they should buy your item instead of some dodgy crap from the Walmart-equivalents3 of sex toy manufacturing?

Update your site. Make it easy to browse and easy to read. Sure, go for your artistic merit but don’t let it take over the main goal: Showcasing your worthy sex toy product and telling us why it’s worth twice the money for what looks like the same thing from the Big Guys. Don’t skimp on the information about you and the toy. At all.

Dear Middle-but-good Company;

You’ve managed to become a name. A brand that people trust. You use silicone and I trust you that it’s actually and honestly 100% medical grade silicone. Now I will fully admit to not knowing a damn thing about how your stuff is manufactured and why your dildos cost as much as my monthly cable-slash-phone bill4 so I don’t feel that I can whine about them being so pricey. But it is really hard to sell your product to those people who haven’t learned their lesson yet or just are too cheap to care – all they see is $55/$75 for a sex toy when hey there’s one over there for $19.95! Some of those people will eventually learn; maybe after their doctor explains that the burning redness is from that dildo, or maybe after a storage mishap and their dildo melts.

Dear Luxury Sex Toy Manufacturers;

Despite being a toy snob, I’m not really a fan of you on the whole. Sometimes I am, like with Njoy but then they kinda fall into the small-niche moreso than luxury. But Njoy at least lives up to their price tag. You luxury guys….eh. You’re all about the bells and whistles and the super pretty packaging. A vibrator that you can customize to your preferred shape or rotation is impressive on paper but when I actually go to use it and find that all your promises are as useless as a fake Hallmark card? I’m gonna be harsh and pissed that I spent (or theoretically spent if given it for review) upwards of $100 on your sex toy, thinking that for sure YOU got me and finally…something good.

To you I have two things to say: Let your products speak for themselves – and save the buyers money by cutting back on that fancy ass packaging and the brooch5 and the extras. Second, for fucks sake gimme a better vibrator motor! If the cheap shit companies can use a motor that produces vibrations that go beyond tickling the surface of my skin so can you. The women and men who are buying your toys are not delicate fucking flowers. Put a decent motor in there that produces a vibration to be proud of, dammit, and then the controls for multiple speeds will make everyone happy – from the delicate flowers to the tough cookies. I do not like or support Doc Johnson on the whole (as an example) but unfortunately they make a couple bullet vibrators that are perfect – motor-wise. Zini, Lelo, Je Joue, JimmyJane, Nomi Tang, and others who create different/fun/new/pretty/innovative sex toys: I’d be backing you if your motors weren’t as limp as a wet noodle 9 times out of 10.

Dear Big Boys who’ve been around since the internet was invented and then some;

I’mma go ahead and name names right here – I’ve said this all before, it will come as no shock and I am not shy in voicing my disgust. CalExotics. Pipedreams. You guys make a lot of shitty products, some downright offensive products, and some eh products. I don’t trust you, I don’t like you. But you’re a big company and you’re everywhere. You have the Walmart angle. All of a sudden your previously labeled “jelly” toy is now suddenly body-safe non-porous TPR? Nope. Don’t believe you. Especially when it still fucking stinks to high heaven. Your perpetuation of disgusting gender stereotypes and bad ideas that you sell with copy that would make your own mother blush and you justify it by saying that it’s flying off the shelves so it’s what guys want6 and by golly you gotta give the people what they WANT! Fuck that. Have some fucking integrity. Topco, Doc Johnson – you might have some (minor) redeeming qualities/products but overall you’re crap. You, too, are contributing to the unsafe materials and shoddy mechanics and the bottom line is that you don’t care. You are a politician.

I can’t say anything to the powers that be in your companies. You will never EVER change. All I can hope for is that somehow those of us who know better are able to drown out your voice with the voices of the people who care and who are trying to produce something with integrity rather than make a buck.

Dear Resellers/Retail Stores who are determined to carry every product made;

I get it. You’re in this to make money. You’re one of a million other sites and the competition is stiff. But really, do you have to lower your standards and put flowery copy writing on utter shit and sell the items that might actually cause cancer, or at the very least are a colossal waste of the consumers money? Adam & Eve was the first site I bought a sex toy from. But when those first two sex toys quickly showed their ugly underbelly I lost faith in them as a whole. And I never shopped there again. You can make money AND have integrity. It requires a little more hard work, though. The internet isn’t the land of the quick, easy buck anymore.

I’ve been reviewing sex toys for 3 years. I’ve reviewed more than some people, but far fewer than others (which is probably because after the first year I was reluctant to review something that I just knew I wouldn’t like and it’s hard to review item after item that leaves you jaded and I’m not easy to please – but I’m not impossible either. I just refuse to sugarcoat a half-ass product). I’ve seen a lot. I’ve grown to know that I don’t have to put a positive, happy spin on every review I do even if the product wasn’t my thing or is overpriced. Would it help pad my bank account, as an affiliate? Sure it would. But that isn’t the reason I started reviewing toys and I’m going to be blunt. If that means I am the only person on the web saying that the latest high-tech Lelo toy is a sopping wet disappointment? So fucking be it. I’m not trying to be mean, I’m trying to be real and save other people like me the money.

It’s heartbreaking to see the little companies die. Jollies LLC made some great sex toys and they were really innovative without trying too hard (Zini, Je Joue, etc). Their products were at once simple yet unique yet just what we needed at the quality we wanted. But they went the way of the little corner bookstore after a Barnes and Noble moved in two blocks down. And it’s sad.


Jaded but Hopeful (in a cheerful Comic Sans font)


(If you are a “recipient” of one of these letters, for once I will allow companies to comment on a post. I generally don’t because they’re usually just trying to get a free link but if you are genuine in your response then I’ll post it. But don’t be offended if I remove the link to your company’s site and please….use your real name in the comment name field, and not the name of your company)

  1. Despite of course the fact that I can’t/don’t feel comfortable telling her exactly what I am doing and who for because I really don’t want to have that conversation and she’s a very suspicious woman of all things internet
  2. I’m looking at you, CalExotics, publicly proclaiming that ALL of your TPR and PVC and “Cyberskin” and other squiffy hybrids are all free of phthalates and are totally body safe. For trying to say even that all your TPR is non-porous when I’d bet it isn’t because you’re too cheap and only in this to make money
  3. I would consider this to be large companies who produce thousands of various items at low cost, mark them up 300%, don’t care what materials they’re using, mass-produce with shoddy quality control and are around because they were they first and they simply have the most stuff at places like Rt 15 Adult Book Store. Companies like California Exotic Novelties, Doc Johnson, Topco, Pipedream, BMS Enterprises, and Nasstoys.
  4. and no, I don’t have Vonage
  5. Yeah I’m talkin to you, Lelo, with that Insignia line that looks really fancy but is actually just plastic and mediocre vibrations
  6. Yes, I’m talking to you, Pipedreams, with your “cum dumpster” copy on overpriced body parts

20 Responses

  1. aagblog says:

    Because SERIOUSLY, a brooch?

  2. Erik says:

    I agree with you on some points. Not so much on others. I owned a chain of adult toy stores for 15 years.

    I’ll start with retailers because I was one. We sell what people buy. The number one thing people want is a low price. If we didn’t provide a low price people shopped elsewhere. If I put out a certain color at a certain price it would see. Plain and simple. It was VERY tough to sell anything over 50$. We would extoll the virtues of the better made higher priced item, but the consumer didn’t care. If they didn’t why would we?
    ~ I believe I did recognize this fact.

    Cal exotics btw is female owned and female run.
    ~ They’re not 100% female, there’s plenty of men there, but really I don’t give a crap. Gender is not the issue. They’re still producing utter crap and (I believe) lying about the quality of their materials to the point where that could be hazardous – if I trusted that their TPR was indeed non-porous and used it that way, and it turned out to be porous? Bad things could happen for me and/or others I share with.

    ALL companies lie about what the toys are really made of. Let me repeat that. ALL COMPANIES LIE. Every single one of them has admitted to me in person that they do. The cost of manufacturing sex toys would be astronomical if they didn’t use some plastics softeners which are “cancerous”.
    ~I’m going to just ignore this one because no comment from me will matter in this sentence.
    Actually I’m not going to ignore it. All companies lie? Really? 100% pure medical grade silicone, nothin but the silicone, they’re lying? Oh and Wikipedia articles lie, too, about silicone? Quoting: “Silicone is a material of choice for soft sex toys, due to its durability, cleanability, and lack of phthalates, chemicals suspected of having carcinogenic and mutagenic effects on the skin and mucous membranes.[13][14][15]

    The little guys are finding it very hard to compete with the big boys who are offering generous discounts for wall space.

    If you want change you’re not going to get it by trying to call out the manufacturers. They are making a fucking fortune. The owner of pipedreams drives a rolls royce. The owner of Doc Johnson drives a bentley…etc. You need to get consumers to stop being so cheap. Tell them there are toys which are made better and worth the money. Until they are willing to spend it retailers will buy the 2.75$ vibe and sell it for 12.95$, and the manufacturers will mass produce that vibe that costs .75 and they sell for 2.75$. Again, until people change their spending habits what incentive do any of them have for change.
    ~Which is what I and other sex toy reviewers/bloggers ARE TRYING to do. But until you resellers start putting the warning on the toys that are porous and may contain phthalates, the consumers don’t know. If you had an informative section on your site about sex toy materials and such then there would be some consumer education on your part and you might actually get an upsell as as the customer reads about the jelly and pvc horrors and rethinks the cheap item they were about to purchase. If I’d been able to read that information during the first years I purchased sex toys I would never had bought the things I bought. Never. I would have looked at the more expensive silicone toys with a new eye. You are pawning off ALL responsibility onto what… sex bloggers? Sex educators? We would reach a FRACTION of the audience compared to a retailer having an educational section on their site and having every toy list out the materials and that material word linked to a page or a tooltip describing the pros and cons of that material.

  3. Kara_Sutra says:

    Like I said yesterday during our twitter convo, it takes posts like this to change things, to bring attention to the issues and help make a difference. To allow the unknowing an opportunity to glimpse into the world of intimate accessories and see what’s actually going on behind the smoke and mirrors. To put pressure on the big guy to make the changes, rather than just saying they did by plastering a “phthalate free” sticker on a package. To help educate consumers and differentiate between the good, the bad and the ugly, while also providing the community with an open forum to discuss the issue without fear of a possible backlash. Things can change, and they will. They just need some time and a careful and continual prodding to get there. :)

    P.s. I LOVE that you did this!!!

  4. Molly Rene says:

    I only own three vibrators/dildos. That’s all I can afford because I agree 100% with you about buying high quality products. I’d rather have one really expensive, really well made vib from a really sex positive company then 12 shitty ones.

  5. Kake says:

    I’m totally with you on the Lelo thing. I was sooo stoked when I ordered the one Lelo product I have, having heard sooo much hype. At that moment, they seemed to be THE company you HAD to have SOMETHING from, because, gosh darnit, they were “just that good.” Well, said product arrived on my doorstep in its oh-so-lovely packaging and I’ll admit, I was impressed at the time (now I couldn’t care less – I have toy boxes and/or or I could just buy/make an inexpensive padded pouch. I don’t really NEED your fancy-ass packaging anymore, ffs, please don’t charge me more for your pretty but unnecessary extras, Lelo and the like). I immediately charged it, of course. First, compared to the much less expensive and much, much more powerful rechargeable wand massagers I have (yes, I bought a Lelo clit toy – DOH!), the charge time is ridiculous, about 3x as long as it takes me to charge my wand massagers and they have overcharging protection built-in, which my Lelo product does not (meaning I could kill the toy if I go out of town for the weekend and forget it on the charger or the like). After charging it, of course I tried it out (after waiting some 3+ hours, on pins and needles from anticipation, for the stupid thing to charge). Oh. My. God. Talk about being utterly underwhelmed and that is putting it mildly, to say the least – I don’t think I really know the proper word to describe the depth and enormity of my disappointment. I’ve used the thing 3-4 times total. It has failed to get me off at least half those times and when it DID work, the orgasm took FORFUCKINGEVER to reach and was weak and wimpy at that. Their vibrations are crap and their products aren’t worth the inflated price tag, imho.

    Personally, I’ve been liking Evolved a lot but they seem to be growing at a very fast rate, which worries me. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

    I’m just glad that that Lelo was on super-sale and I had a giftcard as well. So, as it was part of a much larger order, which I saved over $100 on, not to mention the free next-day shipping and handling, in essence, it was almost free. Thank the almighty heavens. *laughs*

    ~Yeah, I haven’t tried any clit toy beyond that first Mia from them. I was told by others that the early ones, the pretty Nea and Lily, were just as weak if not moreso. I’ve been told the Siri and Mia 2.0 have more power but still lack. Yet you will find that oh…..80%? of the reviews of Lelo toys are gushingly positive. I was, too, at first. Like I said I’d been used to utter crap and was impressed by their elegance. I thought it was MY fault for needing a strong vibrator. I truly have to wonder if women like you and I are truly in the minority and the level of power is great for most everyone else? Or if there are too many reviewers who sugarcoat product reviews (esp product reviews from the luxury companies) just so they will be considered for a future product review from Lelo. I know I wasn’t contacted by Lelo or offered the Tiani by EF because they both are familiar with my reviews and feelings and both knew I’d not be favorable. I only got it through someone else because, probably, of traffic or pagerank or something.

  6. Sarahbear says:

    I’m glad you’re getting some responses from this post. I’ve got nothing to add but I did want to respond to yours and Kake’s discussion to say that there are women who don’t need loads of power, like me. My clit is super sensitive. I can barely stand the eroscillator on it’s second setting (not the one with the stronger motor that Epiphora got). There may be a handful of times I was able to use it on that setting.

    I think it’s important for us as reviewers to make note of our own needs (as you do by saying you need really strong vibrations and I do by saying I am really sensitive) so that we’re not misleading our readers.

    ~Oh I don’t doubt there are many women who are just like you Sarah. At all. I’ve personally known 2 myself.
    but YES I wish more reviewers would qualify by saying that they do or do not require power/intensity – I remember just before I became a reviewer when I was searching for reviews on a few toys, looking for qualification on just what sort of vibrations I could expect from the Snugglepuss vibe. Of course the manufacturer and the retailers are not going to readily admit when something is weak and surface-buzzy.

  7. Erik says:

    Yes they all lie. If it was 100% medical grade silicon they wouldn’t be able to get the toys out of the molds. Also, what they have to coat the molds with to get the toys removed is a chemical worse than pthalates. It’s sickening what these companies do…I COMPLETELY agree. I’ve had point blank face to face discussions with the owners of most major toy companies. They can’t make toys cheaply enough without these chemicals. Most toys are made in China. I think only DJ still manufactures in their warehouse in the valley. Just imagine the crap they are really using in the materials if you’re finding melamine in baby formula and dog food. Do you think they care about sex toys?
    ~I know they don’t care about sex toys. And I’m also agreeing that many toys are still made in China. But I think what you’re missing out here is that my calling-out to the major toy companies isn’t my entire focus here. I know damn well they won’t change. But I know too that there are other toy companies besides the big ones and they are not lumped in with what you’re talking about. Go ahead then, by all means, name names. If you’ve talked face to face to these companies who produce this shit and lie about, please tell us who they are. If not, why won’t you? It sounds like you’re not in the business anymore where calling them out would do you any harm, and especially not on my small blog where I’m the one already bitching about them. One of the things I linked to in an earlier post about stinky sex toys actually was about that very thing – the chemical used to release the toys from their molds was improperly used or the item not washed or SOMETHING and the supposedly “not jelly” toy she got really smelled bad. And so they admitted to using that chemical. And she could smell it. And so my point in that post was that if it stinks there is a good reason and it is a warning. I’ve never received a true silicone toy from any DECENT sex toy manufacturer that had any odor to it. Again, please name these companies if you care so much.

    I’ve tried education in person as to materials used….and guess what I’ve found out over 15 years of selling tens of thousands of vibrators…most people don’t give a shit. They want cheap. The people who care are a tiny minority. Who’s going to pay retailers to have someone write that info? The hours to program it into their site? Even the most “female friendly” retailers don’t do what you’re talking about.
    ~ Um….yes, actually, they do. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t have brought it up. Have you looked at They don’t carry toys with phthalates and have a lot of educational information on their site. Graphics for every item so that you know what you’re buying. Even EdenFantasies, while being admittedly run by a douchey guy with some questionable business practices, has a entire database on materials, ratings on their safety, etc. Yes they still sell the cheap shit toys but at least they make it a point to inform buyers even moreso than the manufacturer might as to the pros and cons of the materials.

    This has been written about for years. AVN did a 10 page articale about it 7 or 8 years ago. Nothing has changed. Not one thing. People are voing with their wallet, and until that changes the industry won’t change.

  8. Britni TheVadgeWig says:

    Erik, I was a sales associate at a sex toy store for several years. I disagree with you entirely that people don’t care what their toys are made from. I was able to easily sell the nicer, body safe products (regardless of price) when I spoke to the customer and explained the differences. Sure, there were still some that were going to go for cheap, but the overwhelming majority bought the more expensive product. The OVERWHELMING majority. And they were always grateful for the information and education.

  9. Kara_Sutra says:

    Erik, I too worked at a brick and mortar store and know first hand how easily it is to upsell a customer. Once they knew the difference in materials, the added functions, life span, quality and ease of use it was a no brainer. Like Britni said, some opted for the lesser of the two, but it was a very small number and mostly those that just wanted to be in and out.

    As for the AVN article, that was 7 years ago, Vixen Creations, Happy Valley, Lelo, We-Vibe, Je-Joue, Jimmy Jane, Leaf, Swan, Bad Dragon, Njoy and many other body safe, quality products weren’t on the forefront like they are today. Don’t say nothings changed when it clearly has.

  10. Violet says:

    What Id like to know is how a company like LELO can spend so much money on creating the technology behind their new remote control toys but completely miss the fact that the remote needs a direct line of sight with the toy in order to work. Did they not do any market testing? As you said to me and I discovered myself the remotes do work up to the 15 feet or so that they claim they do .. or at least until the toy is in use. At which point these $150+ toys become completely useless for the couple’s play they are so strongly marketed for.
    ~ What I’m finding odd is that so far, you and I are the only ones to report any problems. Any other reviews I’ve read seem to have experienced no problems or aren’t mentioning them.

    I am interested though as to what issues you’ve had with BMS enterprises? They are one of the companies I would recommend to someone with tastes such as yours (which are very similar to mine in terms of the strong deep vibrations) due to the immense power of their power bullet technology – the redeeming quality of the jopen line in my mind.
    ~ Yes the Power Bullet is very powerful and that’s great. But they make a large amount of CRAP otherwise. Funny, the crappy companies are the ones with the powerful motors and the better companies have wimpy motors. WTF? lol

    Thank you for writing this. It shouldn’t be up to the consumer to educate themselves about material safety, rather I feel it is the job of the retailer and manufacturer. Erik’s comments are a huge cop out. I’m sure if you mentioned that phthalates can cause birth defects customers would think twice about wanting to save $20-$50

  11. Erik says:

    I never said I wouldn’t name names. What do you want to know?

    As to those who worked at brick and mortar stores I’m not going to argue. My only point is the VAST majority of shoppers. I owned the largest chain in south florida and Los Angeles. I saw hundreds of thousands of people. If that wasn’t the case stores wouldn’t be selling them 10 to 1 over better made items. Look at any major manufacturers top 50 and I bet you the cheap stuff is what they are selling to. It pays for everyone in the supply chain to sell cheap toys. The margins are higher because they cost less to produce, and thanksfully it’s what customers are buying.

    As for it being a cop out…maybe…but why would I want to hurt my business at the time? No other brick and mortars were saying anything. Why would I possibly scare my customers? You have to remember it’s a business. Should we spend huge money to test every sex toy? I know for a fact they lie? Should I have not carried any toys? How would you suggest I handled it? ALL SEX TOY MAKERS USE CHEMICALS KNOW TO CAUSE PROBLEMS. ALL OF THEM. ALL OF THEM. Do I tell a customer this one doesn’t contain cancer causing materials, but it’s coated in them? The paint or dye contains them?

    Wanna know the best thing you can do with any and all sex toys…put a condom on it before using it.

    I think this is worthy cause I do, but get the chlorine and other chemicals out of our food first. What they put in our food daily is going to kill us a lot quicker than sex toys.

    This is my last response. Thanks for the dialogue guys. =)
    ~ You’re right I’m sure about the food. But when I hear of women have skin reactions ranging from itching up to severe burning and redness, from jelly toys, that bothers me a lot. And despite my debating your points, I do appreciate your input!

  12. Metis says:

    I don’t think what Erik is saying is a cop out at all. You wanted responses and I think his are truly honest to his experience. I think he’s fucking amazing to write his opinions here too. Thank you.

    Doc Johnson, Topco Sales and Pipedreams all manufacture a portion of their products in the states. None of these products have electronics. I don’t know of any business making electronics domestically.

    About 3 years ago, someone can find it on my companies old myspace blog, I heard at a seminar from one of the big companies that they were beginning to label correctly- and that in fact it had been their practice to label TPR’s as silicone. This was not news to me, but it was amazing they were admitting it. I suspect someone had sued. You don’t get that kind of action without a lawsuit. That company was the worst, in my opinion, at mislabeling. Now I don’t know whether we just think all the chemistry that smells is phthalates or if it’s something else- which is just as likely. Realize though that if your product smells it’s chemicals leaching. That is the bottom line. And if your putting them near your mucous membranes… well you’re ingesting those chemicals.

    Regarding business plans- Erik tells the tale of the older, very successful strategy of making stores that sell $500 to $1000 a day (or more). The way you built your empire was to have more stores- to build large chains. One of the most fascinating things that happened with the feminist stores is that with education one business with only 3 stores, Good Vibrations through education and having a new attitude towards quality, was able to make (as stated in their last publicly disclosed earnings report) $11,000,000. Of course that didn’t make them a sound business. I think they sold the next year for a fraction of that- and they didn’t disclose net numbers.

    Also, if wishes were so both GV and Babeland wouldn’t sell jelly toys. I’m not sure if they do or not now, but both used to. They used them very much as a tool to show the difference in quality vs price. According to sales people in both chains, they were sad that people often even when a sales person explained clearly the differences… still choose the cheap phthalate toy over the quality.
    ~I don’t know about the GV brick stores but I’ve found recently that both stores have stopped carrying jelly. They’ve stopped carrying anything that might have phthalates in it from what they say on the sites and what I can see. Does this mean they have less stock overall and therefore less chances for a sell? Yes. But they’ve established a name and many people will shop there because of that.

    You know who I am… so let me say that I was the first to write about materials in AVN’s now defunct Adult Business News and it was a former employee of mine, Jenn Ramsey, who wrote that big centerfold article about sex toy materials that you have mentioned. The article I wrote was weak, because I didn’t want to offend the industry as a whole. Jenn’s was also, in my opinion weak, especially about phthalates, because the editors again did not want to offend their advertisers.

    But I think the general consensus is that things within the industry have changed. I’ve been manufacturing for almost 14 years. When I started, products that were full of phthalates were labeled “Jelly(tm)”- and they were HOT (selling wise). I don’t see any one touting the quality of pvc anymore.

    I know that some of the big guys actually have done some limited silicone manufacturing- not very successfully (thankfully). My company still the largest purchaser of silicone in this industry (for RTV we are the biggest purchaser in North America (period), and as so I have sales people from every raw silicone manufacturer try to sell us their products- most touting who they already sell to. I know what most of them have used and the general cost. The materials that are commonly in use domestically by the big guys didn’t meet our qualifications.

    Adding to the confusion is when someone labels a product “Platinum Silicone” and then trade marks it Siligel. What is it? I don’t know. And I only recently read it in a blog so I can’t even confirm that this is the labeling… but it certainly confuses the issue.

    And since we are talking quality and that all silicone is not the same- the fact that now China is making so much of the silicone vibrating toys, including the Lelo, means that the companies really need to have qualified their materials and kept an eye on the factories to make certain that that quality is maintained. I know for a fact Lelo’s is… others I’m not so sure of.

    Oh and regarding web know how for small nitch businesses… your asking a lot. First most small manufacturers are doing everything they can to get their line launched (I have heard rumors of one small company, with trick electronics that by the end of development barely owned any of their own shares since it had cost so much to bring their products out they needed investors). It’s not that often savey business people launch a WeVibe. Much more often you see someone like NobEssence launch something visionary and totally sustainable and keep their day jobs so they can still support their family. Most nitch businesses are about passion, and their owners don’t even dream of driving the RR or the Bentley (and yes these are the cars some big owners drive). They are trying to afford health insurance (something I did without for the first 7 or 8 years) and navigating labor laws etc… if they can afford the help.

    Anyway… that’s my opinion. This discussion is just beginning. Please keep your minds open and your fingers typing- it’s kinda fun changing the world.

  13. Metis says:

    I’m not sure I made that one point clear regarding small nitch manufacturers- most don’t have the band width to be able to do what they do, and be savvy with a website and time to twitter- interact with people like yourselves that could really help their business grow.

    Often, just like bloggers, their first websites (if they manage one at all) are made by friends doing a trade or a favor. The business is grateful that it’s up and wishes they could make it with a bigger budget and an art director and copy writer, but it just isn’t realistic.

    Other than that… I just wish I could clean my comma’s and my parentheses. LOL

    ~ I can understand that; but I’m seeing sites for oh…Bijoux Indscrets. Boston Pump Works. The former is a company producing somewhat cheesy items but marketing them in an upscale way and their site is all artsy while telling me nothing about their products. The latter makes quality penis pumps. Not an item I know much about, but I know enough that glass and metal are far better than plastic. But yet their site is awful, their descriptions lacking. I’ve seen other small companies who have a site that yes, it cheap looking and old style BUT they at least do have very detailed info on every product and photos. A happy medium? I never formally had training on website design. I’ve managed what I’ve done through hunt and peck skills and taking the long route and such. If I were a company, a small company, I’d find a way to do that myself. But again I can see your point.

  14. buzzvibe says:

    But wait, Erik! You were going to name names… I want to know specifically which companies admitted to lying about their materials. I’d also like to know who you spoke to from said companies–was it a marketing rep, somebody from the research and development department, a worker on the production line, the CEO, who? Please tell us.

  15. Metis says:

    I don’t think GV has any less products available. I think they’ve just reevaluated what they offer which is awesome. I know they let out a press release that they were planning on doing so but so did Adam & Eve. My prior comments were on the historic way they and Babeland did business.

    I know my friend Chris Kalev just took over as GM for LA Pumpworks and is right now reviewing his website and the marketing. He would love to hear what it is you find lacking in his site because he realizes they are selling to people they already market to but not broadening their customer base.

    And Buzzvibe, while I realize its frustrating not to have names, etc… I think those of us in the industry with friendships and alliances really do walk a tight rope with these kind of discussions. As I wrote before, you may not agree with Erik’s experiences, but you have to respect that they are his and applaud that he has the balls to write them here where the readers are going to be frustrated with many of them.

    It’s sales reps and management we all talk with. Having said that, often sales people don’t know much about what it is they are selling. They just go for the sale and try to agree with their clients as much as possible.

    For instance, I’ve been the go to person for several people in the industry regarding silicone, this includes for someone who used to work for a lube company but now works for a competitors silicone toy manufacturing company. I’m happy to answer his questions. They are usually general questions that educate store clerks and work for both of us. Our cooperation has been win/win.

    On the other hand, in Australia I was talking with another manufacturer after our infamous alighting of a “silicone” product on fire. He told me that his products from China were made of the highest quality silicone. I looked him in the eye and kind of chewed him out. None of his super clear, very stretchy cock rings were silicone, nor any of his other items. I don’t know if he was unaware that this was true or if he was just pulling my leg knowing what we’d just done (which I’ve since been assured he was doing).

    I do know that a retailer who went to China to avoid the middleman told me the Chinese company had shown him really nice designs and when it came to the final deal they asked him whether he wanted “silicone” written on the package or not. He asked what it was made of and they again asked what he wanted on the package. It didn’t seem to matter what it was made of- materials were just marketing ploys.

  16. buzzvibe says:

    I see now my earlier comment may come off bitchy, and that’s now how I meant it. I didn’t want actual names, nor did I expect to get any. I meant who as in their title/position in the company. Thanks for explaining, and I apologize for the confusion.

  17. maggiemunkee says:

    vaguely related, i remember when GV bought out the Grand Opening! physical space in boston. Grand Opening! went online-only and… i was so disappointed. very little quality, lots of jelly, lots of lubes that looked sugar-laden.

  18. Mr_Shay says:

    Currently being a representative of more than one brand and of course being the educated product of a very well known brand out there, I have to say that I can agree with some of the things being said and have to disagree with some of the comments. Companies hire me to help them out with what the public is commenting on and listening to what the public wants. Managing these international brands in the US market is a lot of work and I have to say that the brands that I have selected to be part of my portfolio all do have the same mentality: create something better at an affordable price. As some of the brands mentioned in comments, etc are currently going through changes, I feel some of the comments are not warranted, but can agree and these are the things that people need to express to the manufacturers and this is a forum as good as any to do so, so thank you for that.

    It is appreciated by them to understand what the different experiences are and what they can do to give you a better experience. I have asked one of the designers to chime in and will see if he does. He had put a challenge to the industry in a recent article to increase the standard of toys. While some might not “hit it out of the ball park” on their first run, you should know that they are always at the drawing board and lots of them make themselves available for feedback and discussion so if you ever feel you don’t have an ear, I have to say, yes you do.

  19. Thanks for writing this and all the work that you do! You are an inspiration, reading your blog for the last few months inspired my wife and I to start our own.

    The kinds of toys I’m most used to purchasing, items such as fetish clothing, floggers, restraints, collars, and similar leather gear are often made by craftsmen here in North America. At least the good stuff is made here . . .

    I normally look for small niche companies where I can communicate directly with the craftsmen or owners. I’ve never been dissatisfied in dealing with this kind of maker/seller of adult gear.

    It’s eye opening to learn how much (all?) of the vibrator industry is centered in China. I have a natural distrust of products made in China, I guess that’s something I’ll need to get over . . .

    I do appreciate all of your efforts to make adult toys safer and better . . .

    Thanks again!

  20. Adriana says:

    I agree with many of the points on here — especially about luxury sexy toy companies.