There's a lot of stuff out there," X-or online toy store CEO Jennifer Grant sighed. "And it's all kind of the same. Our mission is to pick out the good stuff - so you don't have to."
The results of Grant's enterprise are to be found at www.ilovexor.com, the tagline for which is, "Your sex life will thank you."
ilovexor.com is the product of Grant's own adventures in wonderland. "I've been thinking about doing it ever since I bought my first sex toy, when I was about 19 years old," she said. "I realized there was nowhere for women to go. Since then, there have been a lot of woman-owned stores that have opened up. They're not that 'overnight raincoat' experience."
Grant's premiere toy purchase, in terms of geography, happened smack-dab in the middle of the wimmin's movement: San Francisco her own dag self, if you can believe it. "I was at UC Berkeley for school. Ten years ago, Good Vibrations was an underground lesbian bookstore. It wasn't for 'everybody.'
"That was when I realized that something had to be done."
She turned her hand at various 20-something occupations, moving to Los Angeles four years ago and clerking at the brick-and-mortar Love Boutique. "Working for them got me the experience to start X-or," Grant revealed. After this came a stint throwing adult toy parties in people's homes. She tried her hand at the naughty Tupperware lady scene for a while, and finally resolved to go solo.
"I decided to start online first - most people open up their retail store [first]. We wanted a new business model." At the time of this interview, in April, ilovexor.com had been up for almost four months, and Grant was feeling pretty optimistic about business. "We're already getting a steady trickle of sales, and we haven't done any marketing."
So far she attributes hits to word of mouth; "but we're also doing something called 'X-or On Tour.' It's a series of promotional parties, kind of like the [adult toy] parties." The parties are thrown in private homes, although Grant is not entirely against public venues. However, "It tends to get kind of rowdy in bars.
"As soon as you get girls and toys in a public place, it can get scary," she teased.
Search engines also provide a goodly number of surfers. "This traffic is very reassuring because it shows us we're doing the right thing, that obviously people like us."
Grant's focusing on site "optimization," but is a little leery of all the firms... and the cost. "We're looking to do it ourselves. We've done so much research at this point."
Certainly, the site runs like the product of careful planning. Beautiful, hip, friendly and easy to navigate, it's a hopeful model for the adult shopping experience of the future.
The X-or team is comprised of the usual start-up triumvirate: "Me, myself, I," Grant laughed, a bit ruefully. "I have a programmer and a designer who are consultants."
The site also features a zine, which plays host to articles, advice, Q&As, topical news links, and a cast of characters, available via e-mail to readers, chiming in on personal issues.
"It's taking on a life of its own," Grant said about the X-or zine. "People are really getting into it. Our blowjob issue turned out really well. It was a marketing idea we weren't even sure we should do, and it blossomed."
Future plans include a print catalog, where zine features would manifest on the page. "Make it a fun thing to read," being the idea.
ilovexor.com's hook, most certainly, is the X-or Demos, featuring not only educational narrative and a thorough visual examination of whatever toy or dildo or pleasure enhancer, but also a spicy hardcore demonstration, thanks to the genital talents of performer Nikita. Coming soon are more Demos. "We're going to do another series, with the 'rabbit' and some of the other [toys] we missed the first time - the more complicated ones, the ones where people are like, 'What the hell is that?'"
Grant plans to continually upgrade and expand the Website, with an eye to more interactivity. The emphasis at ilovexor.com is on... everybody.
"It's for men, women, couples. We're trying not to alienate anybody, because everybody does it."