XBIZ 2016: We-Vibe Founders Discuss Company's Road to Success
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — In their Visionary Keynote address, Bruce and Melody Murison gave XBIZ 2016 attendees a look at their life eight years ago as they were creating what’s considered one of the most successful sex toy brands.
“Many of you have contributed to our success,” Bruce Murison said. “For all of you distributors and retail store owners, thank you for buying and stocking our products. Thank you for believing in us.”
Murison attributed We-Vibe’s success to the success of his marriage to Melody. Throughout their joint speech, the Murisons revealed how they complement one another with Bruce being the risk-taker and Melody being the voice of reason.
“This is the most exciting time in our industry in more than a century,” Bruce said, noting that the percentage of sex toy users has gone from 15 percent to 50 percent.
“Ten years ago when I started We-Vibe the industry was short on innovation,” he said. “Vibrator design hadn’t changed in more than 40 years.”
The Murisons offered historical facts about the development of sex toys over the decade, noting that the vibrator was the fifth electrical home appliance to ever be created.
“By the 1920s, vibrators disappeared from mainstream stores because porn gave it a bad name,” Melody said, adding that it wasn’t until the infamous “Sex and the City” rabbit vibrator episode that sex toys were marketed to women again.
According to Bruce and Melody Murison, the We-Vibe was created on highway 81 in Pennsylvania. Bruce, however, had always aspired to be a product inventor and kept an “inventions folder.”
“I always wanted to create a product and take it to market but the project was always too huge and costly,” Bruce said. “One day I was watching TV and saw this Kohler commercial about a shower head system that with the push of a button controls the water pressure, temperature and wow, it was a eureka moment. I realized that I had invented that 20 years earlier. It was a eureka moment in that I learned that if you don’t do it, someone else will.”
Bruce said that he wanted to create a product that would put to use his engineering skills and Melody’s tech and quality assurance background. While on a road trip through Pennsylvania, the Murisons began brainstorming when they got the idea of creating a vibrator that was intended to be used by couples.
“I thought it was good idea,” Melody said. “But I didn’t want to tell anyone about it because we come from a small town and I also had never been in a sex store before.”
Bruce said he began researching and saw that the sex toy industry was ripe for innovation and became excited about developing the product. According to Melody, she was apprehensive thinking about the sacrifices their family would need to make in order to invest in the venture.
“Melody and I truly are partners in life and business,” Bruce said. “While I bring the technical skills and lack of fear, Melody provides business sense and has a great eye for beauty.”
Before launching the new company, the Murisons and their three children decided to embark on a seven-month world trip in which they gave up their material belongings to camp on islands and lived “survivor style.” Bruce Murison was emotional discussing the experience, calling it a “trip of a lifetime.”
“It gave us the courage to launch We-Vibe,” he said.
The We-Vibe couples vibrator was launched at the International Lingerie Show in 2008.
“It was great seeing people’s reactions,” Bruce said, adding that within the first six weeks, the company had sold 20,000 units. To date, the company has sold more than 4 million units all over the world.
Eventually, the We-Vibe began getting mainstream attention. The vibe was even recommended by Oprah.
“The best compliment that I’ve heard was a store owner who said that his Christmas We-Vibe sales saved his business,” Melody said.
Ever since, Bruce says his mantra became “the harder I work, the luckier I get.” However, after a couple of years, the founders decided to step away from the company. “Sometimes the best thing for a company is for it to avoid ‘founder-itis,’” Bruce said.
The Murisons eventually made their way back to their posts, and are now actively running the company.
“It’s an exciting time to be in the industry,” Melody said. “The awareness about sex is growing and continuously improving. There are many changes on the horizon.”
Melody likened the sex toy industry to the car industry, pointing out how both industries are marrying with technology.
“Bring on the future,” she said. “We invite you to be a part of it.”