by Kim Marks, AYLI Owner and Founder
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” –Lao Tzu
2023 has been a challenging year for so many reasons, yet in spite of the pain there will always be pleasure. Thanks to boundless community support, this has been a year of incredible growth for As You Like It. As always, the pride and satisfaction I feel in my business is a direct result of the amazing team we have and the ongoing support of the community. I’ve been slinging sex toys for over a decade now, providing gender affirming care, educating people about sexuality and intimacy, and generally working to increase the amount of pleasure in the world. I’m immensely grateful to be able to honestly tell you that I still fucking love what I’m doing, every single day.
This year I’ve been able to invest in my team, so I can feel confident that every customer will have an experience at As You Like It that is not just properly informed but also based in emotional sensitivity, open-mindedness and creativity. In Ashland we brought on our new team members, Miranda and Adam, and in Eugene we are joined by Loki, Javay and Salem. I love to offer not just on-the-job training and support but continued education in the form of specialized trainings in topics like trans/queer theory, social activism, trauma awareness and more.
It isn’t just the team that is learning more this year. We have finally been able to bring back workshops! We are currently offering 1-2 workshops a week in both Ashland and Eugene. Themes include kink, communication, bondage, pleasure education and even “How to Make Love to a Chatbot.” Be sure to check out our online calendar to see the full list of upcoming events!
Our products have expanded this year with so many unique, local businesses! Recherche Clothing is an Ashland lingerie maker we have carried for years and will bring up to Eugene this month. Local sticker/patches/buttons makers, Pansy Punk and Proud Colors are always giving us fresh content. Eugene woodworker Torrid Timber brought us some beautiful and creative gear for human furniture and CBT (and we don’t mean cognitive behavioral therapy!) This year we brought in a new gender affirming apparel maker, Pack Animal. Pack Animal is a one-man artisanal brand, owned by a trans, BIPOC, Canadian man, who makes products in expanded sizes, both large and small. They offer great fit and stylish fabrics.
To name all the wonderful businesses we work with would be a long list but I definitely want to shout out to our new neighbor in Eugene, Sabersmyth. They make heirloom quality leather kink gear. Stop by their new space right next door to our shop and witness the sights and sounds of handmade leather crafting.
Owning a business doesn’t just allow me to partner with local vendors. I have also had the uniquely cool experience of being a Community Partner for feminist porn icon, Madison Young’s, ongoing TV show, “Submission Possible.” Season one is available now on Revry.TV and we’ve heard a rumor that season two will be just as delightful.
We were nominated for two awards within the sexuality industry this year! The AVN Awards nominated As You Like It for best retail chain and XBIZ nominated us for Retailer of the Year! It’s always satisfying to know that the work we do is noticed within the industry.
Overall I’m impressed with myself to know that after ten years, we aren’t just chugging along, doing the same thing every day. 2023 has brought more of everything. More team members, more workshops, an expansion of the Transponder voucher program, and a more diverse selection of toys, books and other products. We are the only brick and mortar vendor of Thistle and Spire lingerie, a fairly new brand that is exploding in social media, in Lane and Jackson counties. Our website has even grown and changed! We now have curated collections on “sex and age” and “sex and disability,” and we’re doing more online sales than ever before.
Working within the system we have now–trying to make a difference and chip away at changing the world–will always be a work in progress, and I am still and always learning. The world is in pain and systems are constantly failing all around us. On top of that, 2023 has been a particularly difficult year for me personally, and for some of the people I care about most in this life. So it’s wonderful to realize that the industry has noticed us, our community has noticed us, and we are making a difference in people’s lives, every day. The work that we do couldn’t happen without the support of our community. Thank you all, from our radical hearts to yours!