The interview was presented to you by: the Sexshopers editorial team
Answering questions: Jacob Treskov (Soho wellness)
Please tell us about yourself.
I was born in Leningrad in 1979. In 1990, with my parents and my twin brother Mikhail, we emigrated to Berlin. I graduated fr om Yale University in 2004 and started work for Tommy Hilfiger fashion brand. In 2007 I created Soho Fashion, today it is the largest distributor of branded footwear and accessories in Russia. In 2020 I created Soho Wellness with the aim of leveraging the expertise and connections from the core business to promote sexual health products.
Wh ere did Soho Wellness come from?
This is the new direction of our parent company, Soho Fashion. We added the word Wellness because, first of all, we consider our products something that helps to relax, get to know your body better, love yourself... and these are the components necessary for physical and mental health.
What are you going to do in the 18+ market?
We are planning to create the new generation distributor to sell more sophisticated and premium devices. We start with wholesale and our own online store – deserved.ru. In the future, acting on the principle of our parent company, we are planning to open our retail and franchise in order to “verticalize” the margin and present our products in the correct concept.
What is your philosophy, do you have any global goals?
Our global goal is to bring this category to the light. Both physically, by putting our products in public stores, and psychologically, by starting a serious public discussion about this taboo topic. We are already represented in Tsvetnoy in the Ribambelle Home project, and recently signed an agreement with the Golden Apple, the leading chain of perfumery shops in Russia. We have successfully started cooperation with the HSR24 store and created a merchandize based on the new book by Alexander Tsypkin “Ideal Che”. Cooperation with shops from the fashion & beauty segment is ahead. But we are also open to “classic” adult stores that value transparency, stability, fast delivery times, exclusive models and fair prices.
How do you understand the term “sexual wellness”?
It's like wellness, but from a slightly different angle. What is wellness? This is from the word well, well-being. In simple words – when everything is good. Sexual wellness is for any product that makes our sexuality and our relationship better.
What brands are you planning to work with?
We have signed exclusive contracts with Je Joue, Bswish, EDC, Rocks-off, So Divine, Unbound, Minna Life (Lemon), Lovely Planet. We are at the final stages of signing contracts with a number of companies, whose names we will gladly announce to you a little later!
In your opinion, what is the difference between your company and other Russian wholesale companies in the adult goods industry?
We are like New York compared to London. The latter was being built for a long time and spontaneously, while New York was built according to a clear plan. We have adopted the best solutions from the fashion industry, which is many times older and larger, and we do everything according to a pre-developed plan. This is an understanding of brand promotion, transparency, longevity and the correct construction of communications.
How do you expect to attract customers?
Good service, fast deliveries and fair prices. As in Fashion, here we have developed a unique system of discounts and bonuses.
How did the idea of switching from shoes to dildos come about?
We have not switched, we have expanded our range. First people were wearing shoes, but now... (he laughs). Seriously though, this is an accident that was not accidental. On February 14, I was introduced to the founders of Tizzi.ru, a very cool resource and online store for sexual wellness, and I realized that this is a very interesting segment, which has a lot in common with fashion, but which is far behind it. This means that our experience can be very relevant. And I was not mistaken.
Why do you focus on brands that are not yet popular in Russia? Why are you sure they will be a success?
We work with everyone who wants to work with us on our terms. It is quite reasonable that brands that are already on the market are in no hurry to change partners and prefer to see how we show ourselves. As for the guarantee of success, after almost 20 years in distribution, I know that there are no such guarantees. But we have a variety of analysis tools, and we set conditions for suppliers to minimize our risks and maximize the likelihood of success.
Let's go back to your cooperation with the large retail chain – Golden Apple. Do you think that you will be able to change the mentality of people and they will be able to learn how to buy sex toys in a cosmetic store?
Definitely. This works all over the world, and there is not the slightest reason to assume that will fail. I heard the same thing when I brought Tommy Hilfiger sneakers to Russia in 2005. That in Russia there are different fashion preferences, a different climate, a different approach... but look now what we wear, even in winter...
What tools from the shoe business are you planning to use in the 18+ segment?
All of them! But the main things will be clear planning, logistics, correct financial model, and of course our connections.
Thanks for the interesting conversation!