Tell me about how your company, Pure Romance, was born.
I was home from work on maternity leave with my daughter and was watching the Phil Donahue show. The show was featuring a company that recruited women to sell adult sexual products by hosting parties in their homes. I was really intrigued by how empowered the women seemed as they freely discussed their sexuality.
So I picked up the phone and called a friend of mine Ė someone who youíd think never had sex, she so rarely talked about it Ė and asked her if sheís ever heard of such a party in our neighborhood. To my huge surprise she said she was recently at a party where she and her friends bought fun sex toys! Wow, I could hardly believe it.
So I dared myself to pick up the phone, call the company featured on the show, and ordered a kit. When my husband came home a few days later and saw it, he told me that I definitely had the post partum blues and need to get some medication quickly.
A few weeks later I started holding parties in my home for women from the neighborhood and it really opened my eyes. The women had all these questions about their sexuality, questions they did not want to discuss with their gynecologist. So I decided to get much better educated so that I can be helpful in answering the questions. I got tons of books and tried to create a safe haven at my parties for women to talk about things they didnít talk about anywhere else.
After a few years, the company from which I was buying my kits for the parties shut down. This was such a difficult time for me. I had 4 kids and my husband just left me because he wanted to be with someone more successful. I had $7,000 to my name and felt pretty desperate. But I decided that instead of crying my eyes out I wanted to start my own company to keep doing what I had been doing for so long. I invested $3,000 and bought the remaining kits from the company that was shutting down. And thatís how Pure Romance was born, in the basement of my home.
What are some of the challenges youíve encountered as you grew your company?
The hardest thing has been to do this in a completely male-dominated industry. Women have always been told to be good girls and good girls donít buy sex toys. Itís been a challenge to empower women to be open about their sexuality, to not feel wrong about talking about it and enhancing it. But I always say that being sexual is part of being a WHOLE woman and we should never deny that.
What has always kept me going is seeing how the women open up and how excited they are when they overcome their intimidation. Pure Romance now has more than 10,000 consultants Ė this is what we call women who buy our products and host parties in their homes Ė and each one of them is my inspiration.
What has been the most rewarding part of seeing Pure Romance grow?
So many things. To know that thousands of women are making their own living for the first time in their lives is just incredible. You know, our top consultants make $18-20,000 a month! And the fact that these women are making a living by empowering other women, but getting together and strengthening their community - that is a wonderful thing as well. I know all of our consultants personally and I travel a lot to meet with them. I always try to offer as much support as possible, to encourage them, to let them know that there are part of a community, not just out there on their own.
All of my 4 kids now work at the company, and my son has recently taken over as the President. It has been incredible to have my familyís support during all these years and I canít describe how rewarding it is to see my kids be part of something I created.
You might find this curious, but my ex-husband also works at Pure Romance. Iíve learned that having forgiveness and letting go are such important things in life, and itís great to have him as part of our team. He is so passionate about what weíre doing!
Something I am very proud of is our breast cancer support program. One of our consultants wrote to me, saying she had breast cancer and telling me how grateful she was to have found Pure Romance. She felt it was so important to not neglect women who have had breast cancer, who might have lost their breasts, and to help them feel sexy and find vigor in their life. I was so touched, I decided that we should have a program for survivors of breast cancer, to help them regain or maintain their sexuality, to be educated about how to do this.
What advice would you offer to other Daring Females who might be thinking of starting their own companies but are intimidated to do it?
The best business advice I ever got came from my brother-in-law. He told me that I could never try to know everything, and that instead, I should surround myself with people who want to help me reach my goal, who can be passionate about it with me. I have been very lucky to be surrounded by such incredibly supportive and hardworking people, and I think the most important job for any entrepreneur is to build a team like that.
You know, Iíve been scared to death at every step of creating and growing Pure Romance, but I did it anyway. Iíve always tried to listen to my inner voice and trust my gut Ė and most of all, to never turn back, to keep running forward towards my goal. None of this has been easy and it has not been a joy ride Ė along the way I often did not take paychecks, I had to support 4 kids on my own, and faced many hardships. But I was chasing something I cared so much about and my strength came from that.
To learn more about Patty and Pure Romance, please visit www.PureRomance.com.