*Story by Brian Sofer
(Editor’s note: Brian Sofer is the director of e-commerce and digital marketing for Sportsheets)
With more than 25 years banked in pleasure products history, innovation and success, Sportsheets remains one of the industry’s most iconic brands. Entering a new decade, the Sportsheets crew has a new CEO, location, team and vision for the future. The company is set to launch Nexus Collection this fall and we had a chance to speak with Sportsheets CEO Julie Stewart, vice president of products Karina Figueroa and creative/brand director Chaney Cox about the company’s first dildo line in 10 years.
SOFER: Congratulations on the new collection! Let’s get right to it — talk about Nexus — six new dildos – give us the rundown: material, sizes, colors, shapes, etc.
FIGUEROA: The Nexus Collection carries out our Sportsheets look and feel, providing original designs, inclusiveness and focuses on the demands of our customers. Brand new shapes, styles and colors all help bring new life to these Sportsheets dildos. The Nexus Collection is built with body safe silicone and comes in 5” and 7” solid dildos with a different color variation that are built to stand out. Nyx and Jinx are tied in with the 5” while Galaxie and Hux pair nicely with our 7”. On top of that, we are introducing a brand new shape that expresses our thinking. Lennox and Banx are our new 8” hollow and hollow vibrating dildo, respectively, to help expand our strap on/harness collection.
SOFER: Was Nexus developed for a specific demographic?
COX: While we certainly know products speak to everyone differently, we typically try to design and manufacture items without chasing a specific demographic. For our new collection, we’re very excited to show these beauties in gender-neutral colors, funky packaging that pops on a shelf while continuing to offer the quality which Sportsheets is known. Our aim is to have a full and diverse product lineup so people can find items that speak to them even as their desires evolve. Someone looking for a high-quality silicone dildo today like those in the Nexus Collection may also be the same person who loves our Under the Bed Restraints tomorrow.
SP: What’s the significance of the name Nexus?
COX: Nexus is defined as ‘a connection or series of connections linking two or more things’ and it really spoke to our belief in prioritizing connection, between a person and their own body as well as with their partner’s. In a more literal way, the Nexus collection helps us expand our footprint for our harnesses as well.
SOFER: What played into the timing of the release?
FIGUEROA: Why not now? It’s amazing to see product lines you’ve worked on come to fruition and stand out in the marketplace. It gives us a platform to build on our existing family of products while shedding more light on our harnesses as well. The end game is always about finding how to connect to people and how to help them connect to themselves, lucky us we get to try to do that by introducing them to our new collection of dildos!
SOFER: Talk about how being one of the better strap on/harness manufacturers played a part in developing Nexus. Do you think Sportsheets has a better perspective on dildos/attachments than some other manufacturers?
FIGUEROA: We focus on our products and how they help customers have a better way to stay connected. We purposely created these products to be tied in with our Sportsheets brand, as well as EM.EX. Already receiving a high demand and positive feedback helps us release more and more product.
SOFER: Where do you see dildos in the Sportsheets product mix going forward?
COX: Expanding our selection of dildos is a natural progression for us. We definitely hope to continue growing the collection in the years to come!
SOFER: Did Nexus follow the traditional process of development for Sportsheets? How did the challenges of 2020 impact this release?
COX: We’re going to take a guess 2020 hasn’t been traditional for anyone, but we’ve met the challenge head-on. With so many starts and stops throughout the year we’ve certainly had to shift focus several times and it’s been interesting to say the least. While the focus has been on this launch for some time, we’ve also added to our team, and implemented digital platforms like our new YouTube channel, live virtual trainings and the Sportsheets Reseller Support site.
SOFER: Sportsheets is one of the more dominant brands in the BDSM and Soft Bondage space – but you’ve had some big success with the Sincerely brand of vibes – tell us about that.
FIGUEROA: Yes, over the past year we benefited from some great publicity courtesy of the Kardashians Poosh website. They featured our Peace vibrator as one of the product picks on their site and it helped get the word out. Recently having Unity written up in New York Mag with a positive quote from pop star Phoebe Bridgers helped as well. People are seeing that the Sportsheets brand goes beyond just BDSM.
SOFER: Traditionally, who is the Sportsheets consumer?
COX: After 27 years in business we can definitively say that our customer doesn’t fit one specific mold. The spectrum of personal intimacy and sexuality varies so widely that we see all types of folx dipping their toes into the Sportsheets waters. While we’re known for our BDSM selection we’re able to provide for anyone looking for vibes, harnesses, lubes and dildos as well. So much of our engagement with “civilians” is happening through education from store associates/educators and they can confirm, adult toys including ours are loved by all.
SOFER: This has been an unprecedented year, go back to March—what were you thinking at that time regarding the future of the company?
STEWART: We can sugar coat and answer this in a way that sounds like we had everything under control, but the truth is, we were very unsure and still are to some degree. There’s always a responsibility to make sure our team has answers but many days, there were no real answers to give. This isn’t the place you want to be in when so many people rely on you. In the last few months there’s been such a massive demand for products that we’re much more optimistic about what’s to come but that optimism is cautious.
SOFER: How is Sportsheets supporting its reseller partners with the challenges they may still be facing?
STEWART: Sportsheets is committed to supporting our B2B partners. We’re allocating resources and recruiting talent to do just that because we truly feel we’re all in this together. Everyone at Sportsheets is available to our wonderful customers to help in any way we can.
FIGUEROA: The Sportsheets Reseller Support site, or SRS, is a user-friendly archive of branded resources, signature Sportsheets lifestyle photography, company logos, style guides, videos and product imagery that has everything an e-commerce and/or marketing team needs to create effective Sportsheets promotions for their stores, websites, e-blasts, videos and social media channels.
SOFER: As an industry leader, big picture-wise what do you think the future holds for the pleasure products/bedroom business?
STEWART: One of the silver linings of the last few months has proven that exploration is still alive and well and folx who aren’t able to participate in normal day to day activities because of the pandemic are most certainly not shy about exploring BDSM, lingerie, costumes and more to replace their normal hobbies. The massive influx of orders over the last few months has given us hope that people are wanting to connect to themselves and partners in new ways even in times of crisis. Looking further down the road, we’ll continue digitizing and taking advantage of technology that can enhance our products and our business.
For more information, visit sportsheets.com.