VIP Interview With Joe Hanson Co-founder Of Empire Labs

Empire Labs was established in 1996 in San Francisco Bay. They originally designed skin like materials which were made for medical or prosthetic purposes. They became so popular that they worked with Hollywood to create products for movies to add special effects especially in horror movies. They were asked to make realistic penises for movies and they developed a work method which allowed anyone to easily create a DIY Willy. From here, they were able to develop a retail version which is now shipped worldwide.

Empire Labs adapted this process so that people at home can create their very own products for affordable prices. It offers an exclusive experience which you will not be able to find anywhere else and you will be able to keep the irreplaceable souvenir for yourself!

Empire Labs products include Clone-A-Willy and Clone-A-Pussy. Clone-A-Willy is a kit which allows people to create copies of their penis and/or testicles which can be used as a personalised sex toy. Clone-A-Pussy is a kit which allows people to create copies of their vagina. They are made from high quality materials that are American made and body safe.

This is a VIP interview with co-founder Joe Hanson of Empire Labs which will explore his success in the adult lifestyle industry.

Silicone Penis Casting Kit Image
Buy Now | Empire Labs Sex Toy Range

Tell me about yourself?

Our experience began in the Bay area in the 1996. Co-founder Dr. David Claus drew inspiration from a handful of sources. He was creating kits for a specialized orthotics process, which led to creating dildo kits for movie sets. During this time, I was running an advertising agency in NYC that I had founded working out of my bedroom with a friend, while I was working nights as a crew member of the original Blue Man Group show.  My agency specialized in assisting small businesses to sell & market their products through the mail and bought ad space for them in national magazines like Playboy and Cosmopolitan. We first met first over the telephone and kept in close contact until we worked a trade show together in Las Vegas promoting the then “Make Your Own Dildo Kit”, which eventually became Clone-A-Willy.  in 2001 we expended and moved the company to Portland, where we are still today. All of our molding kits are assembled right here on site.  It gives us the ability to closely monitor all the compounds for quality and consistency.  It’s one of the reasons we have so much continued success.

What are your favorite quote’s that inspire you?

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” ~ Goethe

I have lived by this quote my entire life and it is one of the main reasons Clone-A-Willy exists.  We basically invented an entirely new product category and it was a tough sell in the beginning because there was nothing else like it at the time. Buyers had nothing to compare it to to gauge sales and/or interest with their Customers.  We decided to offer our products to stores, distributors and websites free for them to sell on consignment.  They only had to pay for product they sold, and could return any unsold items to us at no cost.  We even paid for shipping! It was hard to say no to free product!  Our strategy paid off and now Clone-A-Willy has become a staple of any Company selling adult novelties, almost anywhere in the world.

What inspired the creation of your company originally when you had made medical and prosthetic parts?

While finishing up my chemistry dissertation at UCLA, I ran into an old friend who had just started working in the film industry creating special effects.  My friend asked if I could formulate some very specific polymers for him, as there was essentially nothing affordable on the market that could do what he needed. Among the unique physical properties he required were: precise viscoelastic characteristics, able to cure at room temperature, completely body safe, and it can’t be too expensive!  After a bit of experimenting with step-growth polymerization I came up with a semicrystalline 2-part polymer that fit his needs perfectly.  It was fairly simple and inexpensive to produce, so I mixed up loads of it.  My friend began using it for all kinds of projects, and soon most of the effects studios around Hollywood were using it in some aspect.  Eventually I connected with a medical prosthetics company where we were able to create ultra-realistic looking artificial limbs.

Your design process is quite unique with clients or retail customers asking for products, what did you learn from the design process?

We do all our own designs and R&D in-house.  All our departments work closely together, especially when we are working on a new product.  We always encourage everyone that works for us to share their ideas.  We have worked hard towards supporting an open and creative work environment, where everyone’s opinions are welcomed.  We’ve learned so much over the years from both our Customers and our Employees.  I think the stand out lesson though is that you never know what you can do until you try!

Empire Labs Professional Team Members Image
Image: Empire Labs Team Members

What are your favourite memories and moments from working at Empire Labs?

I’ve had the opportunity to travel and attend trade shows and conferences all over the world and I am grateful for all that combined experience.  Winning the ANME Industry award for Best Product of the Year in 2016 has to be one of my favorite moments. It was so rewarding being recognized by the folks in our industry for one of our achievements.

What movies do your products make an appearance in?

Here’s a list of the most memorable:

  • Jersey Shore – MTV
  • The Osbournes – MTV
  • Hollywood Darlings – Pop TV
  • Black Ink Crew – VH1
  • Jobs That Don’t Suck – MTV2
  • Movie: Neighbors

What do you love most about your brand?

That Clone-A-willy brings people together!  Our Customers get to experience something unique that was once only reserved for rock (and porn!) stars.

What are your best sellers?

The “Skin Tones” and the Glow-in-the-Dark kits.  I think the Skin Tones (Light, Medium & Deep) sell the best because they help make the final replicas look even more life-like and real.

Silicone Penis Casting Kit In Deep Skin Tone Sex Toy Image
Image: Silicone Penis Casting Kit In Deep Skin Tone
Silicone Penis Casting Kit Glow In The Dark Sex Toy Image
Sex Toy: Silicone Penis Casting Kit Glow In The Dark

What products would you personally recommend?

Get a Clone-A-Willy Kit! you’ll have fun AND you’ll end up with the most personalized sex toy on the planet!

It’s not just for men! Our kits are really about the experience..most people have never made a mold of a body part before and are looking for something new to do.  Our products are very popular at bachelor & bachelorette parties.  We sell a good number of our kits to people that travel frequently as well as the military.  It’s the perfect sex toy for a long distance relationship.   As far as the motivation, our customers have told us they wanted something fun and different to do…it’s almost impossible to make one of our kits with your partner without having a have a few laughs in the process. .AND you get a high quality totally custom, body-safe silicone sex toy…all for around $40!

Tell me what’s involved in the process of creating the homemade dildo?

Our home molding kits come with everything you need.  All you need to do is basically cut the molding tube to size and then mix warm water with the included molding powder.  Once you pour the mixture into the tube, you insert yourself and wait about 45 seconds and you have your mold!  The last step is to mix the silicone, (we have different skin tones, modern colors and three different glow-in-the-dark colors!) and pour it into the mold with the included vibrator and let it sit overnight.  When it’s cured, usually in a bout 12 hours, you have an exact vibrating replica of yourself that will outlast the real one!

What chemicals and ingredients are used in the creation of the homemade dildos?

All our compounds are made in the USA, are phthalate and latex free and are completely body safe.  Our silicone is 100% platinum cured.  Since we hand craft each kit right here in Portland, OR, we are able to keep a very tight control on quality.

What safety issues and precautionary measures are involved with the creation process?

None whatsoever.  If you are extremely hairy, it might be a good idea to trim down a bit before you start.  We also recommend making your mold over a hard surface for easiest cleanup.

What other adult products and services does your company offer?

We also have the Clone-A-Pussy Kit, which makes a silicone or solid milk chocolate replica of any vulva!

Clone A Pussy In-Home Moulding Sex Toy Kit Image
Image: Clone A Pussy In-Home Moulding Kit in Hot Pink

How does the Clone-A-Willy differ from traditional dildos?

It’s the most personalized sex toy on the planet.  We have one product, but millions of possibilities!  We have a few different Clone-A-Willy kits available, including chocolate candy version, but our most popular are the silicone kits, which come in various modern colors & skin tones.  The finished silicone replicas show every detail of the penis being copied and is soft to the touch and pliable.

Is this a one-person or two-person cloning process?

We have found that most people make our kits with someone’s help…it’s really a couples product.  But it can easily be made by yourself as well.  We’ve had a lot of military guys clone themselves overseas and send one home to their partner.

What’s the largest homemade dildo that a customer has created so far?

The beauty of our product is we don’t actually see anyone’s private.  Our molding tube is 11 inches long and we do have a larger tube for anyone extra big.

What do individuals think of their partner’s cloned penis?

To me, the biggest compliment a man can get is knowing his partner used a copy of himself to get off.  Everyone has a different preference when it comes to sex and what feels good..and every penis is different.  From what we hear from our Customers, and we get lots of positive letters, is that they really enjoyed the experience of making a Clone-A-Willy Kit.  I wouldn’t say we are the only sex toy you ever need, but I would say Clone-A-Willy is the the most personalized sex toy on the planet.

What issues are commonly faced when using the Clone-A-Willy for the first time?

Not reading the entire directions first.  For best results it’s a good idea to read through the steps and familiarize yourself with the process before you start.Save

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