Valentine’s Day has come and gone. You’ve polished off your chocolates, your roses are starting to wilt—what now? Bunnyjuice® lovekits might be just what you’re looking for.
Is your interest piqued? Yep, so was ours. Bold, bright, and playful, this growing Hood River-based company is not your typical adult toy store. First, it sells its lovekits in hotel rooms (and online), not in a seedy strip mall storefront. Second, its brand proclaims that intimacy products need not be a source of embarrassment or shame.
Well, if bunnyjuice isn’t ashamed, then neither are we. So we sat down with CEO Tod Guenther to talk about the birth of this quirky company and its progress to date:
What was the spark that inspired the birth of bunnyjuice?
Oddly enough, I think maybe there were two sparks. The first inspiration was simply the desire to start something new – a product-based business versus a creative services company. I’ve worked for years promoting, creating, and branding other people’s products, so I was really searching for a scalable venture or idea that gave us a product that we could apply our talents to.
The second spark happened while staying in a hotel room in San Francisco (this is much less exciting than it sounds). I was on a photo shoot and at the end of the day, just before going to bed, I noticed that the hotel offered condoms on the nightstand. I thought this was a pretty progressive amenity—one I’d never seen before. I also remember thinking it was cool that the hotel actually acknowledged that people were having sex in their rooms, and that they promoted safety.
Being married and in a monogamous relationship, this offering had no particular value to me, but it did make me think. What if there was something for couples, maybe something sold through the mini bar, specifically designed to liven up intimate encounters? Nothing over the top, but definitely more than just a condom. Perhaps some fun little toys or oils that could be enjoyed by couples and singles alike?
What problem does your business solve?
Our bunnyjuice® lovekits have taken the taboo out of adult products by creating a fun and very approachable brand that leaves people happy and feeling good about themselves, their bodies, and their partner. By approaching the “adult space” in a clean, refreshing, adult way, we’ve created a user experience that’s non offensive, smart, and built on the philosophy of sexual wellness for everyone. We launched our products through the hospitality channel, which allows people to interact with our brand in the privacy of their own room. No seedy corner store, no judgments, no nervousness—just a new, wonderful experience that we hope makes them feel equally comfortable looking for us online when they return home. We really do make love… better!
Everyone wants the reward, but very few are willing to take the risk.” (Tweet this)
What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
Never a dull moment. You’re constantly learning.
What has been the biggest surprise in your entrepreneurial experience to date?
Risk/Reward. Everyone wants the reward, but very few are willing to take the risk. The other big surprise was that Las Vegas is one of the most conservative markets in the U.S. and risks absolutely nothing (well, that they risk nothing actually wasn’t so much a surprise).
Your biggest success?
When we finally cracked Las Vegas and landed our first 4,000-plus room property and got reorders. At that point we knew we were on the right track.
Do you have a failure story to share? What did you learn from this failure?
Obviously, nobody wants to fail so I think the goal is to control the size of the failures while trying to avoid them. Maybe the biggest takeaway I have is that when it happens, and it will, own it and move on – worrying about failure only cripples you in the end. Luckily for us, we haven’t had anything huge. Tickle feathers not getting through customs (because we didn’t specify the breed of chicken correctly) wasn’t so great, but we survived. Getting pulled off a flight because your checked baggage is vibrating – this is more our world.
As an entrepreneur, what keeps you up at night?
Everything: new ideas, bad ideas, thinking about the next business day, juggling life, money, work and family. Actually, now that you mention it, sleeping seems to be a big failure of mine. I could definitely do that better.
What is the best entrepreneurial advice you have received (and from whom)?
“Trust your instincts and stay true to yourself. Always look to hire people better than you are and let them do their job.” – Dad
“Never forget you’re your best salesperson.” – Wife
What is your #1 piece of advice for a budding entrepreneur?
Trust your instincts and stay true to yourself. Always look to hire people better than you and let them do their job. Never forget you’re your best sales person.
What song best describes your entrepreneurial journey?
Flashdance – “Oh What a Feeling.” Maybe it’s because I just watched “The Internship” but I can’t seem to get that crappy (sorry Irene Cara) song out of my head now.
Imagine your venture becomes wildly successful. What does that look like?
Paid vacations, better cuts of meat and a warmer climate from time to time. Plus, I can finally pay my CFO Patty McCulla what she’s worth (thanks Patty).
Can you describe your typical day?
Starts early, ends late, and I get to talk to many interesting people in between. About half of those discussions always start off feeling awkward, and about 10 percent always end that way. It’s kind of like talking about sex with your parents every day.
Own [your failures] and move on. Worrying about failure only cripples you in the end.” (Tweet this)
What’s your favorite local business and why?
I have a few. Number one has to be Nike. I’m a U of O grad – GO DUCKS! And am in awe of anyone who can go from a waffle iron to a mega brand. McMenamin’s is another one, for creating a whole new industry, before it was popular, while at the same time building a unique and recognizable look through preservation of historical Oregon properties. I also like the Rejuvenation story. A business that started as a labor of love, that went from salvaged house parts to highly desirable things, is amazing. Getting people, and companies, to want and then pay for things they once considered trash is even more amazing. I think they all share an “ahead of their time vision” and these kinds of people always inspire me. They take the risk and somehow actually make it work when most people simply question why.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A surgeon, of course.
Do you think Oregon is a good place to start a business? How has it helped you, and what challenges has it posed?
I always say yes and no. Our quality of life is tough to beat, especially as we’re based in both Hood River and Portland. Creatively, there’s a lot happening here with great talent to pull from. The NW has always been very open-minded and the general public, as individuals, seem to get us. So that’s nice. From a startup standpoint, Oregon still feels very tech-heavy and green-driven, which is good, but not so much for us.
Any other tidbits or fun facts to share?
Can you believe U.S. consumers spend over a billion dollars a year on vibrators alone? Fifty three percent of U.S. women own a vibrator (and those are the ones who admitted to it). Seventy eight percent of those women are in a relationship.
As you think about the growth of bunnyjuice to date, what are you most thankful for?
A supportive family and all the people who have given their time, energy and belief in not only our company, but me. You can’t do it alone.
I’m forever grateful to have Patty McCulla, as our CFO. She’s an inspiration to me daily and without her, we would not be where we’re at today. Benton Wong also has been part of bunnyjuice from the beginning and always provides the clear voice of reason when things start to get exciting. Thanks guys!