The 12th of June was quite a big date in the adult industry calendar, it’s the annual Erotic Trade Only Show – or ETO for short. The show is an industry event where suppliers from all around the world come to showcase their stock and debut their new lines to their peers in the industry. There’s also a very glitzy award show in the evening where the industry votes for what they think are the best brands, suppliers or new products. It’s pretty much the Oscars for the UK Adult Industry, and for the first time in my career working within the adult industry – I was there!!
I knew I was attending about 2 months ago, which obviously meant that I had to lose about 12 stone, gain killer abs and get the most perfect suit that would make people weep at my rugged and masculine beauty when they saw me. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when two days before I was due to go, that I had managed to gain 6lbs, the closest I’d gotten to killer abs was a Bel Ami DVD and I still had no suit. Thankfully the hubby was feeling very generous with his credit card and after a very stressful shopping trip I not only had a suit but something to wear for the Sunday part of the show. (I also had a KFC…. I like to eat my feelings.) This was followed by a frantic bag pack the night before and setting my alarm for a 6am start on Sunday.
After an uneventful drive down to Birmingham with my colleagues I arrived at the NEC in Birmingham. I got the chance to give hugs to some people that I’ve not seen in years from other Nice ‘n’ Naughty stores and we were ushered into the reception to be given our ID badges before entering the centre. This is where I managed to spill my coffee on my very nice, clean ID badge that I would be wearing all weekend. (Seriously can’t take me anywhere!)
I did a very quick walk round the whole of the NEC just to try and get my bearings and take it all in. Who knew that many sex toys in one place would be so colourful?! There were a lot of companies that I knew and a few that I had heard of and one or two that were completely new to me, so I was pretty excited to meet some new people and see what was coming out this year.
My very first stop was the Blog Spot, which was set up by blogger extraordinaire Cara Sutra – I had been excited to go there as this is all still really new to me and I was excited to meet people who not only knew what to do, but how to excel at it. I was lucky enough to meet Voluptasse who was so welcoming and had a couple of really nice words to say to me (and she even made sure I got a goody bag!) – I have to say that this was one of the highlights for me and not just because I got this amazing pic taken while I was at the Blog Spot.
After all that excitement, I decided to go see a few of the stalls, introduce myself and see what was coming out this year. This is where I discovered that I should have added business cards to my list of things to take with me. I really enjoyed the walking round part, its fun to be able to walk round stalls and see things that are going to make a splash in an industry I’m excited about and to be able to speak to people who have the same passion as you.
I bumped into a Gladiator on my wanders,
it’s really not every day you get to write that) who was in the Scala Stand to show off his range of (beautiful!) crystal butt plugs. The Scala Stand was absolutely amazing – not only did they have some amazing items on show, a great atmosphere but they also had a free bar. (I stuck to coffee! I like to be 90% caffeine at all times)
From here I was led over to the fashion show; I suddenly felt like Wilhelmina Slater ala Ugly Betty, models were working it up and down a catwalk, showing off the star outfits from the clothing suppliers who were in attendance. I also managed to sit down for a minute and take the weight off my rapidly aching feet. From the fashion show it was time to do the rounds again and I walked over to see Rocks Off and their amazing new Ruby Glow. Next was the lovely people at Net 1 on 1 who were show casing some amazing items from Loving Joy. They had a brilliant game of Dildo or No Dildo and for all caffeine lovers – free energy drinks from the new male toy range Lingox. I took about 6! (This blog is actually being powered by my last can.) After seeing some great new ranges that are coming from them I wandered over the E-Stim stand, where I not only got an amazing greeting from all but a bag of pick n mix! The E-Stim stand was great and they have got a new item coming out at some point this year! (No spoilers from me!)
I popped to see Bathmate (there’s actually a big review of their kit coming next month!) to see their new jelqing lube and from there I went to see ABS who were rocking a Jo Bar. I had a GORGEOUS cosmo shot with lube and vodka but sadly before I knew it, the show was coming to an end and people were making their way homes.
Luckily I was attending the awards show that night, so I bid farewell to those I knew were going home and tottered over my hotel room. Where I sat down and kicked off my stylish yet affordable shoes. I had just under an hour before I was due to go over to the awards show, so if you can imagine a Wonder Woman style change (or just me spinning on the spot trying to put a suit on while singing the Wonder Woman theme tune- whichever is easier) I was suited, booted and ready to go.
The ETO Awards show was something else! Everyone looked absolutely stunning; there were suits and dresses galore! The show is done in two parts – we had a sit down 3 course meal. Each course was amazing – I’m not the best of cooks (my favourite dish to make is called justeat.com)
After this the awards show started – I was a bit apprehensive about this as Nice ‘n’ Naughty were up for an award for the Best Retail Chain and Best Individual Store (Liverpool). I actually felt like I was at the Oscars and had been practising both a Halle Berry style speech and making sure I didn’t do a Sheridan Smith if we didn’t win.
The Winners of each category are below –
|Best New Female Product||Doxy Die-Cast massager|
|Best New Male Product||Quickshot|
|Best New Couples Product||RO-Duet|
|Most Innovative New Product||Jack Socket (Electrastim)|
|Best New Product Range||King Cock|
|Best New Lingerie Range||Dreamgirl 2016/2017|
|Best New Playwear Range||Kink|
|Best Consumable||ID Glide|
|Best Fetish Products Brand||Fetish Fantasy|
|Best Pleasure Products Brand||Rocks Off|
|Best Luxury Brand||Lelo|
|Most Innovative Brand||We-Vibe|
|Best Sexual Wellbeing Brand||System Jo|
|Best Consumable Brand||ID Lubricants|
|Best Lingerie Brand||Seven til’ midnight|
|Best Playwear Brand||Kink|
|Best Fetish Products Distributor||Mister B|
|Best Specialist Products Distributor||E-Stim Systems|
|Best Pleasure Products Distributor||ABS|
|Best International Distributor||Scala Playhouse|
|Best Lingerie Distributor||Kevco|
Before long our category was up – Best Retail Chain. The nominee’s were listed, time slowed and through what can only be described as slow motion the words “Best Retail Chain are *10 year pause* Nice ‘n’ Naughty” were spoken. There was whooping, there was smiling and most importantly there was a huge sense of pride and humility. We had been voted the best retail chain by our peers! The Operations Director gave a quick speech thanking everyone for voting for us and we were given the award and a bottle of champagne before having our picture taken for the ETO magazine. We got back to the table as Best Individual Store was announced – it wasn’t the Liverpool store but that didn’t take away from our Best Retail Chain win! We went through the rest of the awards show buzzing and clapping as the following awards were handed out –
|Best Retail Chain||Nice ‘n’ Naughty|
|Best Individual Store||Sh! Womens Erotic Emporium (Hoxton Square, London|
|Best Specialist Retailer||Uberkinky|
|Best Online Retailer||Lovehoney|
|Best Erotic Author||Tabitha Rayne|
|Best Erotic Journalist||Girl on the net|
|Best Store Manager||Tracey Whitmore|
|Best Sales Team||Creative Conceptions|
|Best ETO Stand||Net 1 on 1|
|Best use of Social Media||Doc Johnson|
|Best Trade Marketing||Lelo|
|Editors Award||John Addy|
The rest of the night was a bit of a blur of dancing, laughing, selfies and one too many shots. (I am partial to a sambucca).
The Monday was upon me before I knew it and despite having a somewhat fuzzy head I was still excited to go round and see the stands that I had missed the day before. The atmosphere was certainly more tame than the Sunday, but powered by 3 cans of the Lingox energy drink and a handful of pick n mix from the E-Stim stand (I missed breakfast) I had a walk about again. I had a chance to see the Mister B stand, fucking machines and had a look around the Cyrex stand and had a chat about the Jack Socket. I got to see a brilliant stall for The Bondage Guy who had some of the best candles I’ve ever seen and in pretty much every single colour as well!
The Monday was a much more of a fragmented day for me, partly due to being so tired and my feet were pretty dead by this point so when we decided to head home around 4 I was sad to be leaving because I’d had such a wonderful time, but I was ready for my bed!
All things considered this was easily one of the most exciting things I’ve done in any sort of professional setting or industry setting. I always knew I worked in one of the most exciting and friendly industries around but to be surrounded by everyone for 2 days really was nothing short of amazing for me. I am literally counting the minutes until next year, where I will have lost 12 stone, have killer abs and a suit that makes everyone weep. Failing that – I’ll just wear more comfortable shoes.