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Meet Trailblazer Casey Murphy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Casey Murphy.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Casey. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I definitely never anticipated owning a pleasure-based business! I was a Journalism major in college (and a Catholic school student!) and ended up landing a marketing internship at Interscope Records/Universal Music in 2001 on a whim… a whole other story in itself. I was 19, and when I first started, was compensated in college credit, advance CDs, concert tickets. I loved it so much that I left college to pursue a job with the company, and worked my way up into the College Marketing department. A few years later, Napster came into existence and digital music resulted in job positions being eliminated left and right. I ended up leaving Universal and getting a job – again, on a whim – in the advertising department of an adult industry news publication. This position was a little closer to my Journalism background, but definitely not anything that I had anticipated when I envisioned my future early on. That was in 2005 – and I have been in this industry ever since. I moved into the novelty/pleasure products side of the business in 2008, working in marketing and sales for pleasure products manufacturers and distributors. Those job roles required me to learn about the manufacturing process, sex toy trends, retail business strategy, and so much more.

In 2017, I was working in sales for a product distributor, and while my job was to sell products to my customers, I got the most fulfillment helping them re-invent their retail & marketing strategies. Some of whom were long-time pleasure product business owners, some of them were just getting off the ground. Having these conversations showed me how much knowledge I had under my belt, and being a source of innovation brought me joy that no other job had done before. Seeing that I possessed the ability to inspire even well-seasoned industry veterans gave me the motivation to start my own business. In November of 2017, I created The Pleasure Parlor — an online boutique, pop-up shop and a body-positive, sex-positive space for women to learn about different modalities of pleasure.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Honestly, if I knew the amount of personal development work that was involved in running a business, I may not have ever started! I had conceptualized a business model for about a year prior to starting, but what truly was the ultimate catalyst for taking action was depression. I know that sounds like it doesn’t make sense, but I was in such a rut mentally that I decided to start the e-commerce component of The Pleasure Parlor as a distraction from what was going on in my head. I needed something to occupy the 5 hours after work and before bed every night, and watching TV was not cutting it. So, I chose to build a website and learning how to do that was definitely a great escape at the time. I ended up making a lot of progress on the website, setting up pop-up shops, and booking speaking events but little did I know, that is when the real work started. Writing a business plan, getting your business documents in order, growing a social media audience from scratch; all of the little tedious things when I first got started were the easiest things to do, in hindsight. The gritty challenges appear when you start to up-level – and it all comes from inside. Limiting beliefs can be your own worst enemy- and it requires you to dig deep and lean into resistance, fear, and doubt. I thought that my former experience had primed me for any hurdle that I may have encountered – customer service issues, staying relevant in an ever-evolving ecommerce landscape, etc… but there were so many different challenges that I never anticipated, and many of them came right back around to my own self-worth.

A big part of the internal work that one might experience starting and running a business is very much about challenging your belief systems — at least for me. Maybe other business owners have it easier, but keeping your footing while walking an unconventional path is bound to shake things up as you grow. The questions I always come back to are – why do I believe in what I’m saying? How do consumers and clients find value in what I do? How am I helping? How do I shift, and move past my fears to fully show up as the best version of myself? The bottom line is always my ‘why’ – which is that everyone deserves to feel GOOD, everyone deserves to experience pleasure, and that sexual energy is life force energy.

A few tips for those just starting:

-Do not sell yourself short to try and please everyone when you first get started. Know your worth right off the bat- know that what you are offering is special and unique, and stick to your vision
-Consumers are ultimately not buying products; they are buying your energy and experience. How can you set yourself apart from your competition? How can you create something, unlike any other business? The answer is to know that your business is an extension of who YOU are! That is something that can never be duplicated! Your customers and clients are a former version of you — so what problem are you solving for them? How you communicate this in your story has everything to do with attracting your ideal, or ‘soulmate’ customers. If you can achieve that, you will never have to view your pitch as a ‘hard sell’ because the right people will be naturally attracted to your direction.
-When it comes to your success, don’t just envision it- PLAN FOR IT! I thought that I would never hit 50 web orders in one day– one order a month was like a miracle originally! I expected growth in a year, and I just wanted to create unique products at the beginning that would be easy to manage, if I only had one or two orders at a time. But out of nowhere, my website got a major spike in traffic overnight, and I was slammed with orders for products that I had to personally curate individually for every customer- and I sank underwater so quickly. I lived by the “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it” motto for a very long time, until it bit me in the ass and almost tanked my business!

We’d love to hear more about The Pleasure Parlor.

In my professional 9-5 which I still love and maintain– as well as in my own business, I am a Jill of all trades, I suppose. I wear the hat of a copywriter, a publicist, a creative marketing specialist, and a pleasure products educator. The Pleasure Parlor social media accounts blend pleasure education with business tips and mindset techniques; I create based on what feels good to me, and the feedback that I receive from followers.

When I set out to build my own business, I didn’t want to be -just- an online boutique, or -just- a brick-and-mortar store, or -just- an educational workshop- I wanted to do it all. I wanted to incorporate unique, handpicked brands and products that I believed in, and an aesthetic that would resonate with women of my generation in an approachable way. The Pleasure Parlor is known for the pop-up shop, online boutique, curated pleasure kits — and more recently, spirit + strategy-focused business coaching for femme-identifying entrepreneurs.

I am not the best at giving myself praise — I feel like there are still so many things on my list that haven’t come to fruition and until I hit specific goals, I won’t feel fully satisfied. The struggle of a perfectionist! I’ll receive messages or emails from followers, industry colleagues, event attendees, or online publications commenting on how much my message/work/content resonates, which always stops me in my tracks and helps to stand back and appreciate the milestones thus far.

Ending up where I am now pretty much happened when I wasn’t looking; it’s like I woke up one day when I was 36 and was like, ‘holy sh-t, I’m a writer and a full-time creative. These are things that I specifically manifested, sometimes I don’t even realize it until I go through old journals. When I was a kid, I remember writing story after story -and regardless of the topic- I just remember wanting to make readers feel something. Writing was my emotional outlet, and it continues to be. INVOKING this emotion out of people is still my primary forceXXXX,

With all of that said, I am most proud of creating opportunities when they weren’t standing right in front of me, having the courage to ask without hesitation and being vulnerable speaking about a sensitive topic without fear of judgment to create an unconventional career that utilizes my passion and talents to serve others.

Do you feel like there was something about the experiences you had growing up that played an outsized role in setting you up for success later in life?
Being raised by a very creative mother influenced me to think outside of the box and put my own unique spin on whatever I’m working on. She had her own small business – a gift basket company, and at one time, a vintage boutique. She was always putting personal/sentimental touches on everything – whether it was creating a package for a customer or decorating the house around the holidays. Watching her make everything extra special definitely impacted the way I approach my own branding and product offerings; she never went for generic or status quo and made magic with the resources she had. Fostering that kind of innovation when I was younger has extended itself into just about every area of my life. Creativity has no limits – and I thank her for instilling that belief in me.

On the flip side, growing up Catholic left some residual shame and guilt in regards to human sexuality, in my own experience. Often I will filter my answer when someone I don’t know asks what I do for work because I never know what the reaction is going to be, and I don’t always have the energy to sit with the tension that arises when I give an honest response. Every time I censor myself, I’m reminded of how important it is to do this work. Frankly, I’m tired of pretending. Like, exhausted. Orgasms are responsible for the creation of humanity, let’s start there! I’d like to think that no matter who or what you believe in, our divine purpose in this life is to feel good. As much as Sex and the City and 50 Shades of Grey busted the doors wide open on a more accepting social perspective towards sex toys, there is still so much work to be done – and that is why I keep going.

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Image Credit:
Photos of Casey by Arkady Brown

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