These Female Entrepreneurs are Removing Taboos from Adult Toys

Entrepreneurial pair Ariane Fricke and Carmel England have big plans for selling adult toys to women online – and it starts by taking sensuality seriously.

Entrepreneurs Ariane Fricke and Carmel England have set out on a course to redefine the adult toy store, launching Doris Nyx online.

There’s no surprise that adult toys and related products have already found a home online. Everybody knows ‘sex sells’, but online the sense of anonymity allows people to feel free to browse and buy things they may normally consider taboo.

Today, in a world where dating apps like Tinder are considered de rigueur, what’s stopping the sales of erotica from losing its traditional stigma? Given the adult toys and pleasure market is predicted to grow from $16 billion to $55 billion worldwide over the next six years, there’s certainly a significant opportunity.

It is exactly this mentality that Fricke and England have brought to Doris Nyx, and by tailoring their offer specifically for women, they are able to work with a familiar demographic.

“Doris Nyx is far more than just a shop, it’s a stylish online destination based around three main pillars: the products, our magazine and the design. The site will feel familiar to women accustomed to browsing leading lifestyle brands and shopping for fashion and beauty products online. Why should buying lovetoys be any different?” asks Managing Director and Co-founder, Ariane Fricke.

While we know just how much sex culture pervades almost every corner of the internet, Power Retail interviewed Fricke and England to discover how Doris Nyx sets itself apart from the rest, while also performing the hard work required of any best practice online retailer.

Doris Nyx adult store

Doris Nyx markets adult toys and related products to women.

Doris Nyx


Specialty product: Adult toys and pleasure products

Platform: Shopify

Financials: Xero

What are your professional backgrounds and how did you end up coming up with the idea for Doris Nyx?

Fricke: I’m an experienced project manager and entrepreneur having spent years working across Europe and in Australia in the eCommerce and telecommunications sector developing and managing new ventures prior to opening Doris Nyx.

England: I’m a seasoned marketer, writer and consultant, with an international background primarily in the arts and not-for-profit sectors.

Fricke: Looking at emerging business trends that were shaping the international market in my previous job, I saw an opportunity for taking adult toys mainstream in Australia in a stylish, fun way. Over a casual lunch Carmel got so excited about the idea that she jumped on board and added her excitement, energy and expertise to make the project happen.

What were the challenges that had to be faced in order to launch? When did you launch and how long did it all take to set up?

Fricke: We had to defy geographical, time-zone and technological challenges to set up the company, as we were both in different continents at launch.

England: The birth of the company coincided with my pre-arranged overseas trip and volunteer placement in Bolivia, but we didn’t want to lose momentum just because I was not in Australia. We kept in constant communication using a variety of tools that support online collaboration. In fact, we used time zone differences to our advantage, each working while the other was sleeping to ensure a fast and smooth operation.

Fricke: We started working on the concept in early December 2013 and launched the business at the end of February 2014.

Doris Nyx website

A brief glance at the Doris Nyx website reveals the tasteful way it markets its range, reinforcing a message of sensuality.

What are your Unique Value Proposition(s) and how do you communicate them to your audience?

Fricke: Sexy, sassy and fun is only a click away! Doris Nyx is an environment where people can find a top quality selection of toys and accessories from internationally renowned quality brands discretely and without the smuttiness often associated with these types of products. We are far more than just a shop, we’ve created a stylish online destination based around three main pillars: the products, the magazine and the design. The site will feel familiar to women accustomed to browsing leading lifestyle brands and shopping for fashion and beauty products online. Why should buying lovetoys be any different from buying from a mainstream fashion website?

England: As well as a focus on quality, bodysafe toys across different price ranges and an easy online shopping experience, we’re building a bank of online content aimed at entertaining, educating and engaging our diverse audiences, exploring different facets of people’s sexuality. We want our customers to make informed choices about their purchases so we provide them with resources to explore their playfulness, all in a taboo-free environment.

How do you market to potential customers? This can’t be as straightforward as in other product categories. What have you had to do differently?

England: We are constantly exploring different ways to attract new customers, from different ways of using SEM, to generating content that is both entertaining and valuable from a content marketing approach, to using landing pages to cater to specific customer requirements.

Doris Nyx

This cheeky style of creative has been used to good effect via Doris Nyx’s social channels.

Fricke: Engaging with our audience, for example via social media, has to be done in a smart cheeky way. Especially potential customers that are using their social media on company computers and mobile devices are very reluctant to follow a page that sells adult toys. Instead of posting large scale images of our products, we try to entertain our followers with stories and images that are in line with the items we sell, but are not that obvious.

What marketing channels do you use and what do you find has the greatest efficacy? Are there any that simply haven’t worked for you?

England: Organic traffic, price comparison engines and word of mouth have been working best for us up to now. Traditional SEM is a channel that is challenging because of the competition and cost for high value keywords. We are constantly testing and evaluating new concepts and approaches based on the lean startup methodology.

What software or other technologies do you use to enable your business online?

Fricke: The different areas of our business run on a variety of online solutions: from Shopify as our e-commerce sales platform, to BufferApp to manage our social media, through to Xero for our accounting. Setting up the business being physically in different timezones we have kept in constant communication via Skype, Gmail and What’s App, and built the business purely using tools that support online collaboration, such as Google docs, Trello and Dropbox. We also couldn’t have achieved the amount of organic search visibility we have thus far without the help of the team at The Website Clinic – they have performed some truly awesome work to increase our SEO-related traffic.

What challenges are you currently facing and do you have any predictions for the year ahead?

England: The main challenge is to overcome the limitations and prejudices that you face when selling adult toys. For example Facebook Ads will never be possible, no matter how tasteful the ad is, as adult products are banned. Building up trust in the market place will take some time and patience.

Do you plan to introduce anything or change the way you’re currently doing business in the near future? If so, why?

Fricke: The advantage of running an online business is that you are constantly testing and adjusting your business to see what performs best. We have tested running toy parties and while this is an interesting concept it is not one we will focus heavily on as it’s currently so labour-intensive. We will optimise our logistic processes in the near future and a bit further down the line we will explore the option of setting up pop-up stores, but for now the focus is on optimising the online experience.

If you were to offer other entrepreneurs your best piece of start-up advice, what would it be?

Fricke: Trust your instincts and use your network to help and support you. If you are excited about your business idea and it has legs to stand on, you will get great people to join forces with you and be successful.

England: Be bold! Don’t be afraid to change perceptions. Believe your passion is infectious.

Doris Nyx creative

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