Suppliers stop sending vibrators to Russia, customers are trying to return used condoms. But all problems can be solved, says Katya, a sex educator and co-founder of “the most sincere store for adults” called Katya’s Secrets.
The sex shop has been in existence for 4 years, and during this time he managed to survive the pandemic, the blocking of popular social networks and the unrest after February 24th. But first things first.
What made it worse was that I had to deal with it alone. Then the third partner had already left us, and my young man had a tragedy in the family and he could not help. I remember this state: I am sitting alone, in front of me is a huge list of orders, half of the goods are not available, and I have to write explanatory letters to customers … I sat at the computer for eight hours and started crying.
Then we all, of course, debugged. Now we have a pre-order option – that is, the user cannot buy a toy that is not in stock. We also switched to a mixed system: some of the orders continue to go through dropshipping, some we send ourselves from a warehouse where we rent shelves. The most popular goods are stored there, as well as those that we bought at a favorable price tag or brought from Europe.
Then there was a moment when Telegram was blocked. All of our orders come from there. At that moment I thought: “The end of my business activity. I close everything. I’m going back for hire.” But in the end, many people installed VPNs , and we revised our strategy and began to attract new traffic sources. And everything got better.
— Where do you order toys? Are there any supply issues right now?
– We order all goods not directly from manufacturers, but from suppliers – it’s more convenient. Now there are problems with the import of toys from European brands. Some have simply stopped cooperating with Russia , others have to use complex supply chains, which is why goods cost two or three times more.
You can advertise womenizers endlessly, but people will not give 50% of their salary for a vibrator. Therefore, now we are trying to look for inexpensive and medium-priced products of good quality – safe and effective. Vibrators should be available to everyone!
Now we have two important areas: the search for new suppliers in Europe and in Russia. In Europe, there are all brands, and the cost of goods is much lower, but there are difficulties with delivery to our country. In Russia, there are still few worthy manufacturers, but they appear. For example, we recently signed an agreement with a cool young Russian brand Miogi. In short, everything is solved. We continue to live.
– How many toys do you own?
— I have about 40 sex toys at home. This is not the largest collection. I know sex bloggers who have over 300 of them.
– You have a section “Katya recommends”. Do you test toys for him yourself?
— At some point, I cooled down to test drives. I have a “gentleman’s set for the feast and the world” – these are two or three toys that I usually use. Something really new doesn’t come out very often. Now, for example, interesting rotators have appeared, one of which I will take for myself. But this rarely happens.
Fortunately, I have a team that is always happy to test drive a new toy for themselves. We also give something away for reviews to bloggers we trust. Then the products that we like are included in the “Katya recommends” section.
Is there seasonality in your business?
– Yes. Black Friday, New Year, gender holidays are the peaks of consumer activity. April-October is traditionally not the most successful period. We make discounts on some products every month, and in June we hold a lot of marketing and content activities dedicated to the store’s birthday.
Interestingly, this year March was the most successful month in terms of sales. Turnover amounted to 3.1 million rubles, and profit – 1.1 million before deducting the cost of salaries to employees and advertising. I read an article that said people masturbate more when they’re stressed.
After February 24, people started buying up sex toys. It was kind of crazy.
And they were not stopped by the fact that the price of some of the goods doubled – from 4,000 to 8,000 rubles. It seemed illogical. But sometimes it’s hard to predict buying behavior.
When the pandemic began, there was also a surge in consumer demand, which we did not expect.
— How do you think your sex shop is different from the rest?
— I hope that we are perceived not as an impersonal store, but as a team of girlfriends with whom you can consult and share your problems. We try to create a trusting atmosphere.
I do not like the phrase “business with a human face” – it is very hackneyed. But this is a story about us. I never put my interests ahead of the interests of the individual buyer. In practice, this means that the consultant will not sell an expensive, unsuitable toy if it can fit into a smaller budget. But at the same time, we still run a business and our goal is to earn. We just try to do it ethically.
We are honest about the quality of our products. We do not censor the reviews of the bloggers we work with. If they didn’t like the toy, we’ll say so.
In addition, we are one of the sex shops with an educational focus. We devote a lot of time to education, write texts based on expert sources, invite specialists, and adhere to the principles of evidence-based medicine.
How many people work in the store? How do you interview them?
– I have a small team, and there are no extra people in it. Apart from Sergey and me, Katya Secrets employs five people: a consultant, two advertising managers, a content manager and an operations manager. The latter does all the routine work: places orders, deals with the assortment and suppliers. Outsourcing has an accountant and a developer.
I think hiring is my forte. When a vacancy opens up, I spend a lot of time recruiting the right people . I cut off 95% of candidates at the resume and test stage. This approach allows you to form a strong team and avoid staff turnover. Only one person left us in the entire history of the store.
We communicate informally with candidates. It is important for me that a contact arises with a person, so that we have some kind of common vibe. So, once we discussed kinky parties , about which one of the applicants wrote a diploma. Therefore, I often look for employees among subscribers. The best employees are brand fans.
– Who is your audience?
– 85% of buyers are women aged 18-34 who share the values of feminism and sex education. There is a small category of guys who buy something for themselves: mostly masturbators, condoms, cock rings , prostate massagers.
Initially, we had the positioning “author’s sex shop for girls.” We did not sell products for men, but there were many requests from subscribers to launch a similar line. And we thought, “Why not?” And now we position ourselves as “the most sincere store for adults.”
But still, more often men order something for women. Often they already know exactly what they need and just come to the store with a list. And sometimes we make some kind of selection of interesting products for girls – and the guys come just for them.
— Are there regular customers? How often do they shop at the store?
— We have many regular customers — people who lead an active sex life. We have those too! They place orders several times a year, but mostly they buy not toys, but consumables: condoms and lubricants.
— Are there any strange buyers?
– Meet. Recently, for example, a man asked for a return of used condoms . But in general, this does not happen very often.
How do friends and family feel about your business? Do you find it embarrassing to tell someone about it?
“I don’t have sanctimonious people around me. All my friends support me. And besides, I give them the opportunity to buy toys at a discount!
Mom , in principle, is also normal about my choice. But my grandmother thinks that I sell cosmetics. She is 80 years old and still has a hard time accepting the idea of a condom. When I was 26, she said: “In order not to fly, you need to finish in a rag.” Then I realized that there was no point in dedicating her to my business.
The rest I calmly talk about what I do. I think it should be embarrassing for those for whom talking about sex is something indecent.
About sex education
– What facts about sex or about the structure of the body struck you at the time?
– At the age of 24, I was struck by the fact that, while engaging in oral sex, you need to protect yourself. I learned about this from a guy who refused a blowjob without a condom. At first I was deeply offended, and then I was very surprised.
Another fact that has become a discovery for me is that a man gets orgasms from partner sex much more often than a woman. And this is not due to the fact that his partner is frigid. And because of the fact that our entire culture is permeated with the idea of penetrative sex . While most women need clitoral stimulation.
I did a poll on my channel. Only 10% of women answered that they get an orgasm only from penetration. This is very little.
— What, in your opinion, are the main tasks of modern Russian sex educators now?
– The first task of sex educators today is to eliminate ignorance in the field of physiology and intimate health. We still have men who think that a woman is pissing from the same hole they put their dick in. Many do not know about the prevention of abortion and STDs.
The second task is to normalize the conversation about sex, helping people to accept their sexuality and the sexuality of other people. We like different things. This does not mean that someone is bad and spoiled.
Well, the third task. In a conversation about sex, the topic of psychological literacy is often touched upon. It is impossible to build a healthy and rich sex life if you do not know how, for example, to defend personal boundaries . Sex education should teach people to talk openly about relationships.
– Has society changed during the time that you are engaged in sex education? Has it become more open?
Yes, the situation has improved. But I think we are still in a vacuum. There is a joke among sex bloggers: “We, like parrots, say the same thing to those who agree with us.”
Of course, we manage to improve someone’s specific life. But most of Russia does not sit in fashion blogs and lives on backward ideas about intimate health and sex. At the same time, it is not very clear how to educate such people. We have a channel on Yandex Zen, where they leave comments like “Ha-ha-ha, will you give me a pussy?”
I think that’s why no one goes to work with that audience. I want a return, a result from my work. And when you knock on a blank wall for a long time, burnout begins. Therefore, ideally, sex education should be carried out at the state level. On TV they should say at least basic things: “Buy condoms.”
What is the most popular sex toy for girls?
– Satisfyer Pro Penguin Next Generation clitoral stimulator. 100%.
What is the most popular sex toy for guys?
– Let’s say the Hedy X Experience Mini Masturbator egg .
— The most versatile sex toy?
— Unisex vibration massager Satisfyer Partner Multifun 3 black . It has many use cases.
— The most unusual sex toy?
– A lot of them. But you can choose, for example, a snail vibration massager for double stimulation Snail Vibe .
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