Modernizing the Sex Toy Industry Through Empowerment and Purpose - Ella Paradis | EP. #26
On this 26th episode of The E-Comm Show, our host and BlueTuskr CEO Andrew Maff is with Tino Dietrich of Ella Paradis, a sexual health and wellness brand pushing to modernize the sex toy industry by empowering people to discover themselves and improve their overall sexual health through an accessible platform for high-quality intimate products.
Listen to this sexiest episode yet of The E-Comm Show as Tino shares their journey with building Ella Paradis–from being able to identify gaps and opportunities in the market to taking on new approaches to reinvent the system all while empowering and encouraging people to take control of their sexuality and their sex lives in the sexiest, most intimate and inspiring ways.
As Tino best puts it, “The only way you’re gonna change the system is [by] changing the way you approach it.”
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Modernizing the Sex Toy Industry Through Empowerment and Purpose
Andrew Maff and Tino Dietrich
Over the past seventeen years, Tino has established himself as a leading digital media expert with extensive knowledge of social networks and social discovery. He was an early-stage investor and later a member of the leadership team of Avid Life Media, a leading social entertainment company that operates one of the most successful online dating communities in the world. He played a pivotal role in its launch in several countries, which resulted in the company's membership growing from a few hundred thousand to over 14 million members worldwide.
We literally have a gazillion ways to communicate but we still are facing the same problem. We don't communicate.
Hi everyone it's Nicole Banks that she pretty sure can charge a shopprettypieces.com Hi, it's Emily Miethner of travel cat and your cat backpack. Hey, this is Tannner Leatherstein with PEGAI and you are listening to and you're listening to and you're listening.
Welcome to The E-Comm Show, presented by BlueTuskr. The number one place to hear the inside scoop from other ecommerce experts share their secrets on how they scaled their business and are now living the dream. Now, here's your host, Andrew. Hello,
everyone, and welcome to another episode of The E-Comm Show. I'm your host, Andrew Maff. And today, things are gonna get a little sexy. I'm super excited about this one. I'm here with Tino Dietrich of Ella Paradis. Dino, how are you doing, buddy? Ready for good show?
I'm ready. Thank you for having me. Hello, I am so excited to have you on the show. And I know it's biased because I say that about everyone who comes on the show. But you know, you and I've spoke before we've done a lot of work together. I know a lot about your business. And I'm super excited to learn how things got started, how you got through, you know, those initial struggles in the beginning that every owner goes through and all that fun stuff. But why don't I give you a second here and let you kind of introduce yourself and tell everyone a little bit about your background? And oh, pretty
sure, sure. Very happy to do that. So I'm
in digital since early 2000. And started in the online dating space, which at that time, was adult. So when we went to affiliate shows and whatnot, we were standing there was you know, everything adult slash very porn. But next to me was the guy from match.com and whatnot. And today, obviously, that, you know, makes you laugh, because Massa calm clearly is not at all anymore. And but you know, things have changed over the last 20 something years. And
so I got stuck with digital, I really liked it, even though it was kind of a late bloomer. And something that kind of stuck with me was the the void in the area that we're working on right now. Which is cater to people. Mainly, in our case, it's women a couple in the sexual health and sexual wellness space. And, of course, the last two, three years have obviously given the whole thing a bit of a different acceleration. But even before it was very, still very adult and very female, degrading and whatnot. And that has changed. So I saw that early on. And then 2015 I started the company was my two co founders. Yeah. So you were obviously in, you know, you're very on the digital side, obviously, on the social and the dating side. So you've developed a bit of a, like, almost like a relationship expert data as well, correct. I, I've been always data driven.
And I've always try to leave my opinion out of discussions when it comes to that. So when people ask me about relationships, and whatnot, you know, I, I look at data. And I may be surprised myself. But I know data has aligned. So whatever you and I think maybe one thing and then we look at data and we say, Wow, interesting. And I've always followed that path. So that's where I come from. But yeah, of course you learned was data too. How did you get into this industry specifically, like you saw an opportunity, but what was like the first steps that you took to kind of get our party up and running. So I it was a personal situation where my wife went after we moved here for good in 2013. And she wanted to buy some laundry and she said, Oh, I'm going over to Europe. I can pay it over there. And I said, Oh can buy it here too. And she's like, No, it's a lot of Victoria's Secret. And I'm like, Come on, let me show you like classic guy, you know.
Clearly, you're wrong. Let me fix it.
I have to say that I was very wrong. Victoria's Secret owned it. It was amazing. To see that one company and go completely blindsided there really took that space. And I said wow,
How's that possible? And at that time, you know, it was one of the most profitable retail companies in the world per square foot. I mean, believe it or not, I mean, it wasn't money printing machine, amazing marketing. And I said, Hey, so where do women actually go? Because I look, I'm from Germany. I know, we're all everybody thinks we're a bit more open minded, you know, and the nude beaches and whatnot. And but still, I said, Where do people go here? You know, what do they do? Where do they shop? And I figured out that there was nothing. And I said, there's more to this. So was my experience in relationships and what people are looking for, I said, there's a huge opportunity here to help people to find ways to connect to improve their, you know, sexual health life in an in an end. And that's how we started. I mean, there was literally nothing, it was 2015. So I know, you know, in this, this category, specifically, it's a little because it's still, I guess you could say, theoretically, like taboo to a certain extent, you're dealt with a lot of restrictions. Like there's certain areas that you can't advertise, sometimes you can say certain things, you can't say other things. There's platforms that will allow you to advertise, there's ones that won't. So how is it over these years? Because even today, I can imagine it was probably worse in 2015? How were you able to kind of get your brand out there and get it moving? So it's a good? It's a good question, because
I do believe it's very subjective. When it comes to restrictions, and there are a couple of companies that, you know, try to advertise in our space, sexual health and sexual wellness advertise in New York, and the subways and whatnot. And they made a, you know, big buzz around it. And we had the same issues in dating at that time, you know, like, we had a psycho core core, like, older women dating younger men. And and at that time, Google said, Nah, that's not good. We don't like that. And then we had a sugar daddy site, and that was totally fine. So older man, younger girls Convo problem, you know, and we were like, so who makes up these rules? Like, who decides what's good or bad? And obviously, that led to a lot of PR and media buzz at that time. And I feel today, it's very similar. So when it comes to pleasure, it's a no, no, when it comes to female sexual health, it is always pleasure when it comes to man. It's a dysfunction, you know, erectile dysfunction, pe be cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So that is always pushed over to the health side. And we probably all have seen a Viagra ad over the past few years. No problem. But when it comes to female sexual health, you don't see a lot of ads out there. So there's your first issue. And you really have to work around these issues. And I always say, it's like water, you got to find your way, you can find this observed, and you can be very upset about it. A lot of people are, you know, trying to make buzz out of that. But I think you've got to be more intelligent, because you're not going to change the system, you only change the system by changing the way you approach this. And that's what we did. We go on a lot PR, we obviously try and use PPC, you know, the classic channels were totally restricted when it comes to social. But you know, the old saying sometimes the shortest
distance between two points is not a straight line. And that's what you have to do here. Yeah. And your your business has gotten to a point where you're, you've pretty much exhausted a majority of the avenues on digital. So now it's just a matter of optimizing them. And you know, making sure that they're all used, they're being utilized correctly. Have you gone into any more traditional side of marketing? Like you mentioned, the subways and things like that. Have you thought about going that route?
Yeah. Yes. And that is obviously the next step.
There, it depends, obviously, because we cater to different demographics. And it depends who you speak to, obviously, and you need to understand how their usage of media or whatnot. So if you build the funnel, you got to understand when and where do you make your consumer slash customer. And if you want to build that relationship, it is super important that you find the right tone at the right moment, especially when it comes to our subject because it's so intimate, and a lot of things people don't want to talk about it. They won't even admit it to their partner or to themselves sometimes. So you really have to
Be very, very sensitive to that. But content is key content is key and King, or queen. So I know you have your own private label. And you also offer a lot of other brands on your own site as well. So you're basically almost like a marketplace for this industry to a certain extent. How do you decipher when to? Well, hey, when did you decipher to create your own private label? What did you see that was missing? And then be how do you decipher whether to you know, promote your private label versus promoting some of the other brands that you also offer on your site.
So the our industry has, I would say, almost every criteria or classic niche market represents
there is very low brand recognition. Our industry is almost driven by commodities, you know, like you buy sugar and, and salt and pepper at the supermarket. So they just buy a sex toy of vibrator. Brands are not that known, it's changing
for many different reasons. And when we started private label, the reason was that, because of low brand awareness, it made so much more sense for us to build our own brand, versus to build other people's brand. Because every time we went out into the market, and we're selling someone else's brand, we were helping to make a market for them. So it was clear to us that we say, hey, that dollar is better spent in our brand than than anybody else. And then classic niche, all the other players will start to go direct to consumer as well. So they will bypass you sooner than later. You know. And I think that's what many people in also in other niches find themselves stuck with, you know,
it's interesting to see.
So why not flip the site and solely focus on your private label and get rid of all the other brands that you are helping?
I do believe in choice is important.
you know, the path I see for our brands is that we're learning so much more and actually aggregating so much data, which the next step for us will be to really build products, and make recommendations based on the AI that we're developing. So we're a complete data driven company, but that needed first to have enough traffic to have enough data to make these decisions.
One of the things I've been saying for a long time was very proven to me when I when I had the opportunity to start working with you guys. Because one of the things I always thought about is, you know, look at Amazon massive selection, right? So if you need something, you go to Amazon, they have it huge selection. And my theory was as time goes on, we're gonna start to see marketplaces carved out for certain categories. And when I met you guys and saw what you were doing, I go, this is exactly what I was talking about. It's basically a marketplace for the sex toy industry. So is that kind of how you see Ella parody, like growing into is like, we want to have every single sex toy product, have you thought about potentially opening it up to a similar approach to Amazon where you can let people sell their product on there and they handle the whole process? The answer is yes.
As a next step, it
probably it's not Allah, because Allah as a property will remain what it is. But Allah will become part of an ecosystem that I referred to earlier. We're branching out into the private label will become its own sort of say pillar within that ecosystem. And then we will also build a house of brands to be able to cater to different demographics, preferences, and so on and so forth. But not everybody loves the same way so to say, So, different different needs, and once and then the marketplace is to me a very logic extension that we will be able to offer and because of the data that we aggregate, we will then allow consumers to obviously be catered in the best possible manner, right.
I think that is, to me, most important is that you have the best possible solution out there. And if that means that it is an outside solution, why not right?
But I think that's also Amazon's E Success ingredient is really that they are making sure that you as the consumer will get the best possible product choice. Yeah, exactly. I completely agree like I, Amazon's big thing is, you know, focusing on their customer, all they care about is their customer to the point where they've even changed their algorithm consistently for sellers to work with. So that the sellers are also forced to cater to the customer, and make it make a ton of sense. You mentioned that, you know, you started the company, because you saw a hole in the market here in the States, have you done anything to kind of venture back overseas and start to bring Ella into anywhere in Europe or anything like that?
So that is an interesting question.
When I worked in online dating, we were was our brand, one of the very few brands that worked in a nationally match.com was never able to branch out into Europe, it's a different brand over there. eHarmony, it's a different brand. So there are not many brands in general.
Zalando is Zappos, Zappos in the US solando in Europe, they're not many brands that work. cross border, there are some, there are some, for sure. However, I believe that in our industry, and in our market, the needs are really different when it comes to culture, and continent. I think even the US as a melting pot has a very diverse, you know, and I wouldn't say difficult but deallocate markets to cater to. And it's completely different than Italy or Germany, right? So you would have to come up with a different system.
And people say like Amazon, of course, but Amazon is one out of a gazillion, right? How many people try it and fail. So I think, why not become the champion over here. And then think about the next step. And when I say over here, you know, you can include Canada, you could probably even look at Latin America as the Hispanic portion of the US. And then and then. And I think that's amazing. That is a wonderful market.
You also have a lot that you have going on still in Europe, correct?
Yeah. I mean, you know, obviously, and Asia. So, you know, the pandemic, put a little bit of a stop on that. So, yeah, that well, that's actually a good point. So I assume, based on the fact that everyone was staying at home with their partners, did you see a really nice increase in 2020? Because I did see that the first time you guys made the Inc list of the top 5000 You are in the top 500. And it was during 2020. And when I saw it, I was like, Yeah, I mean, that makes sense. I was stuck at home with my wife. So I get it.
Full disclosure, that was 2019. But the list comes out 2020. So
that's a good point. But we've read make the list again and 2020. But
yes, what we saw was a huge spike. And then in 2021, I think people needed to start to collect their thoughts. And while there was a lot going on, you know, first they got bored, and then they they were all like afraid. And you know, I think this year will be the year where we start to structure our new way of life. And I think there will be a new way of life in many different areas. Yeah, I agree. That's a good point. I forgot that those come out later. So
So what is it like, you know, you're you've gotten the business. So far, he hasn't been around 2015. When you started, you said Correct.
On paper, then it took us about a year to put together the platform.
We've reached out to suppliers. This is how broken and outdated the industry was. And partially still is. People were like, yeah, no problem sent me a fax, you know, once a week, and then I send out the product. And we were like, no, no, no, we're talking about hundreds of products a day. You know, at that time, we were, you know, today we're doing 1000s But whatever. And I said I cannot send you a fax every day was hundreds of orders. So took us a long time to find a supplier that was willing to work on an API with us. I mean, this is how crazy it was. And then we were still shipping by hand the first packages and and putting them
all on the floor and stuff like that. Yeah. So yeah, I mean fast forward today. We
We have different fulfillment centers, we have our own third party logistics operations and Las Vegas. And
you basically, you I mean, we could argue that you are like the grandfather of modernizing the entire sex toy industry, at least here in the States, and getting them to catch up on like, hey, sell your stuff online.
I would say it's a lot, and it would be more grandmother.
So I think at least we've we've given the industry, a solid push in that direction. And a lot of people were super skeptical, right? Because they were like Amazon was the devil,
destroying existing supply chains and distribution channels and destroying, you know, small shops and whatnot, almost like bookstores in the 90s. Was Amazon. Yeah. So with the fact that, you know, you started from scratch, God got the business to where it is now, which is incredibly impressive, and most ecommerce sellers dream of, what is it that kind of motivates you to keep going and keep pushing and keep innovating on?
Well, I think our customers, I think, to, to, to read, because some people, right, and so people will even call and share their stories. And I think
when when I started this, I had a vision. And I said, I sat at that time I said, we want to become the Martha Stewart of this industry want to give people guidance, what Martha Stewart did to the kitchen, and the living room and the garden, and myself we want to do to the bathroom and the bathroom, right? And inspire people to change their life. And I think what people also because of COVID, obviously started to realize is that there's a mental health component, there is a there's more there's a personal care component, when you look at holistically, a happy and healthy life. So I think there is a lot more to do in this country. Just to mention, if you're stuck, you know, you have 100 million people pre diabetes and diabetes, it means that these people could suffer from from, you know, issues that I feel we can help with to a certain degree at least
there, you know, many men suffer from EDI, you know, but they may have a blood pressure problem. And I think, you know, educate everyone and help them to live a better, happier and healthier life is enlightening and empowering. And I think that's what keeps me up and excites me. And, you know, there's still a long way, I don't think that I will be able to get to the finish line per se. Because it's, it's a long way to go. But it's it's amazing and inspiring. And, you know, you're making good money and making people happy. I mean, that's that. That's amazing.
So with that motivation that you take going forward, I know, you know, the business gotten a lot bigger, the team's gotten a lot larger. What is your day to day like? Like, how do you channel that energy? What are you mainly focused on right now. So recently, we took on a new CEO, which allows me to step back and became executive chairman and focus on on product.
And that really is what I'm doing now is to focus what I mentioned earlier as to where do we go next? And how do we really build out the vision.
And our new CEO is a very data savvy, tech savvy individual, who I think is amazing, because he will be able to drive this this transition much better than than I do, how we say, you know, the entrepreneur has to do the right things. And the manager has to do the things right. You know, so I know that.
I gotcha. And you're also writing a book right now. Correct?
I am Yes, I'm in the last
in the last face, so to say. So what is your book going to be about? It is about my last, oh, it's about my life to a certain degree, but it's about the last 20 years, mainly because I talk about communication. And I literally there is a song called escape by Rupert Holmes. And it's called the pina colada song. And that's when if you like pina colada, I'm not gonna sing here.
You have time, go ahead.
They're the lyrics. But everybody who knows the song, they everybody sings the song and I'm asking, Do you know the lyrics, right? It's about this guy. He's in bad weeds, the paper, it's 1978 or 79. And he's bored of his, you know, it's like a one hour recording of your favorite song. So we read the classified ads, there's this ad, and it says, Hey, if you're like, also bored, blah, blah, blah, he answers to the ad, he sets up a meeting at the bar at O'Malley's, and guess who comes in? You know, he's like, I knew the smiling and instant the curve over face, it was my own lovely lady. You know, and
interesting, fast forward 2022, we literally have a good Delian ways to communicate.
But we still are facing the same problem, we don't communicate. So it's not about communication, per se. It's really about the quality of communication. And I talk about relationships. And you know, what I experienced when I talk to, you know, divorce lawyers, therapists, data, obviously, even prostitutes and whatnot, you know, and I say, why do we cheat? And why do we part ways when we used to be in love? And where do where did we drop the ball, it's not like you go to bat on Friday, and woke up Monday morning, it's a divorce, you know that that is a process. And that's what I try and explain in this book and try and give some ideas for how to circumvent and avoid that, which is really why I built this company. Right? So there's a logic extension to it. And, but communication relationships is not only in partnerships, you know, in intimate partnerships, it's also in job like, right now you're not, you know, we do communicate, but is it good communication? Do I understand what you're asking me? Do I answer the question, you asking me yada, yada, yada, right? And that's really where a lot of people, for some reason,
drop the ball. And then in any relationship deteriorates, and the rails? Yeah. So what is your your stance on today's dating apps? I mean, you've been in dating apps since day one. Yeah. How are you how it's just now it's just a picture and a swipe? So what's what's your, your stance on that? Because that sounds like horrible communication to me.
Well, it's very superficial, right. And I believe,
when I started in online dating, what I saw the is I said, this is like television. And when I grew up, we only have like three stations, you know, and today, we have like a good billion stations, including streaming and whatnot, you know, so this is the same but took the same path. And
it started with any possible
niche, you know, uniform dating, Jewish dating. I mean, there's everything now. And I think it over complicates things a lot, you know, and at the end of the day, depends what you're looking for. Obviously, if you're kinky, and whatnot, and you're looking for a niche, then you will find it. So that's good. But if you're more on the broader side of things, it's also getting a lot more complicated.
You might be better off just go to the bar. Yeah, that's a good point. Oh, back to basics. Yeah, it's, it's, it's very interesting. I've been in a relationship since I was in high school. So I never got to do the dating app thing, but it is very impressive. When my friends are standing next to people at a bar and there's staring at their phone and just swiping Yeah, and I'm like, this is like just go talk to her. She's right there and see who else is around here. Like what are you doing?
Yeah, and that's what you you're missing out? You're literally missing out on opportunity right in front of you. Yeah, I agree. It's the forest because of the trees or something. Yeah.
You know, thank you so much. I don't want to take up any more time I know you're super busy. I really appreciate having you on the show. While you take a second let everyone know where they can find out more about you I'll party and if you have any insight into where your book will be available.
I will let you know when my book is available so you can share that I don't even have show notes idle yet. I don't even have a title yet. So
but yeah, obviously on our website. Paradis Ella and then Paradis is like paradise. No espn.com And yeah, the goal there and everything else you get the newsletters and whatnot will be in the new perfect you know, super appreciative thank you so much for being on the show is great Eisley everyone who tuned in thank you as well please make sure you rate review
Do subscribe all that fun stuff on whichever podcast platform you want to or YouTube or ecommshow.com or wherever out okay, Google it. But thanks again. Appreciate it. We'll see you all next time. Have a good one.
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