Meet Kathi Sherman and James Hubbard of Pepper’s Parties Too, located in Hattiesburg, MS. Like many pleasure products retailers, Kathi and James have had a hand in a little bit of everything, including home parties and sexuality seminars – until finally, demand for product and education inspired them to open a brick-n-mortar store in January, 2012.
And though the South has a reputation for being a somewhat difficult region in which to build an adult-oriented business, they have found their success being supported by customers, as well as local city officials.
How’d they do that?
“Pepper’s Parties Too is bright and educationally entertaining, and is promoted as a ‘Couples Boutique’ instead of a sex shop and the locals and out-of-towners embrace it,” said Kathi.
“We’ve done several types of events in our store – but our latest venture is Sexy Secrets Seminars where we have the opportunity to do some real adult education. Our first topic was ‘Keeping the Spice in Your Relationship’ and it went so well, we had to do a Part 2 encore. This week, we discussed the basics of restraint and fantasy play,” Kathi added. “I feel an obligation to discuss safety techniques and educate the consumer so they have a positive experience. Future seminars include ‘Finding the Mysterious G-spot,’ ‘Pelvic Floor Muscles,’ ‘Rope Tying,’ ‘Are Hormones the Problem,’ ‘Getting the Most out of Your Pleasure Products,’ and ‘Sex After 30-40.’”
Prior to opening the shop, Kathi and James operated out of their own home, with the goal to bring grown-up sexuality education to Southern Mississippi. Kathi tells a funny story of one neighbor that decided she’d better report them for having so much foot traffic in-and-out of the house.
“One lady (very religious Pentecostal lady in her late 60′s) decided she’d had enough and called the local police department. She told them we were probably selling drugs because people came and went all day long. They informed her that we didn’t sell drugs, but we did have things that can give you a buzz! Without even notifying us about it, our local PD would stand up for us during City Council meetings telling the town that we weren’t doing anything wrong or illegal. The fact that we worked by appointments and didn’t have a flashing neon sign was our saving grace, too. James later became a reserve officer and Taser instructor for a few years as a way of giving back to our community!”
With backgrounds in psychology, both Kathi and James know the value of community building. By reaching out and being open to interaction with local authorities and consumers, they seem to have avoided many pitfalls that can be encountered when opening an adult boutique.
James also is an early proponent of the FSC’s Code of Ethics program. The program encourages all FSC members to place a COE emblem in stores or on packaging, content clips and websites, as a visual cue to customers that they are dealing with a business that upholds high business standards and ethics.
“I see COE endorsement as an avenue to community participation, and provides a huge business opportunity. Because we can now go the professional community and give them a concrete endorsement from our industry that says “Pepper’s Parties Too’s Sexual Health & Wellness Center meets certain standards. We can more easily extend our community integration to doctors, clinics, alternative health providers, and many more targeted community groups,” James said.
“In today’s economy being able to tap the side of the economy that has disposable income is a critical business development path,” he added. “COE is a tool to building relationships in our community and in the long run, increased revenue!”
We really couldn’t have said it better ourselves – COE can be used as a valuable business tool for any FSC vendor business. It tells potential customers and the public that you care about an ethical, responsible approach to doing business.
Speaking of ethical and responsible, Kathi and James make sure to participate in their community through local business and entrepreneurial groups, and also as Indy car race officials.
“We inspect the cars pre- and post-race for safety and technical compliance. We are also on pit lane during the race in fire suits and helmets, as pit techs, monitoring pit stops and race activities. This season, we put our race activities on hold and focus only on our business. But can’t wait ‘til next season,” James said.
And we can’t wait to see Pepper’s Parties Too succeed in bringing Southern Mississippi some great educational and pleasure product resources. Both Kathi and James are – pardon the pun – off to the races!